The blessed month of Ramadan is near and I pray that you and your families will find this Ramadan to be very rewarding - one of charity, good deeds, recitation of Quran, reflection, repentance, attainment of taqwa and ALLAH Ta’Alaa’s Mercy and Forgiveness.
We as Muslims are so fortunate that ALLAH Ta’Alaa has bestowed upon us this beautiful month of fasting which He preserved exclusively for the Ummah of Rasool ALLAH Muhammad (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam).
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ (١٨٣)
“Oh you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may achieve Taqwa.”
The word Ramadan in the Arabic language means “to abstain”. Amidst this life of modern convenience, luxury, and instant gratification of almost every desire; there is nothing more awakening or greater source of increasing our gratitude for the immense favors and bounties ALLAH Ta’Alaa has rained down upon us than thirty days of self-sacrifice from the base desires of the human soul. Muslims sincerely fast by not only abstaining from food, drink and physical desires, but also from false speech, vain talk, foul language, disputes, lying, and every evil deed, so that we may learn self restraint and develop taqwa.
Taqwa is often translated into piety or God consciousness, and sometimes fear of ALLAH Ta’Alaa. It is derived from the root word Wiqayah which means “shield”. The Ullama (high-ranking Islamic scholars) have understood and interpreted this connection as follows: “Taqwa is to shield one’s self from ALLAH Ar-Rahim’s wrath by rushing toward what he has ordered and strictly avoiding that which He has prohibited. The Prophet (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Saum (fasting) is a shield (or a screen or shelter) from hell-fire.” (Agreed upon)
“Whoever observed fasting in the month of Ramadan with perfect faith and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven.” (Agreed upon)
“Whoever stood to pray Tarawih (eight rakat and three of witr after Salat Al-Ishaa each night in Ramadan) with perfect faith and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven.”
“The people will continue to be in welfare as long as they hurry to Iftar”. (Agreed upon)
“When one of you breaks their fast, they should do so with dates as they are blessed. If they can’t find dates, then (break the fast) with water because it purifies.” (Tirmidhi)
“When Ramadan starts the doors of heaven are opened and the doors of hell are closed. The devils are chained.” (Bukhari)
“Every good deed of the son of Adam is multiplied in reward 10 to 700 times except for fasting – for it is for Me and I will grant the reward for it, he leaves his passion and food for My sake. The fasting person has two moments of happiness: One moment when he ends his fasting for the day (Iftar) and the other when he meets his Lord. And the smell which comes from the mouth of the fasting person is more beloved to ALLAH than the smell of musk (a beautiful fragrance).” (Agreed upon)
“Whoever does not abstain from deceitful speech and actions, Allah is not in need of him/her to leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari)
“Whoever forgot while he was fasting and ate or drank, he should complete his fast for it was ALLAH who fed him and gave him drink”. (Agreed upon)
“Oh ALLAH I kept the fast for you, and with your sustenance I am breaking (my fast). The thirst has gone, and the veins replenished, and the reward confirmed, if ALLAH wills.” (Abu Dawud)
Generosity is boundless in Ramadan and many Muslims enjoy entertaining guests seeking the great adjure that is derived from such an act. It is proper etiquette to invoke ALLAH Ta’Alaa with a special duaa for the host:
“Oh ALLAH bless them in what you have provided them, and forgive them and have mercy upon them.” (Muslim)
So what is it about this scared month that is so special other than the gift of fasting? This month has within it the greatest night of the year which is Lail Al-Qadr (the night of decrees when the sustenance, deaths, and decisions about our lives are made by ALLAH). Also, ALLAH Ta’Alaa exalted this night selecting it for entire Holy Quran to be sent from the Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (Preserved Tablet) to the Baytul-Izzah (a house around which 700,000 angels continuously make tawaff, enter and never return) which is located in the heaven of this world. Rasool ALLAH (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) received it as revelation during His twenty-three year mission as the Seal of the Prophets and Mercy to all of mankind. ALLAH Ta’Alaa describes the virtue of this night in Quran:
وَمَآ أَدۡرَٮٰكَ مَا لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (٢) لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَلۡفِ شَہۡرٍ۬ (٣)
“And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is? The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months.”
What more could we ask for than to absorb ourselves in ebaada (worship) for only one night of the whole year and it equal a thousand months! Not only does it have such a great return for a 24 hour period of time in terms of reward, but it is also a night that holds great forgiveness as well. Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Whoever stands (in prayer) during the Night of Al-Qadr with faith and expecting reward (from ALLAH), he will be forgiven for his previous sins.”
SubhanaALLAH! Imagine how great is the Mercy and Forgiveness of our Creator that we worship him sincerely by standing one night in pray out of the 365 nights in a year and we can attain such success. This further shows the greatness of this night and how easy ALLAH Ta’Alaa makes it for us to return to him in full submission seeking His Pleasure. Yet, there is something else so wonderful about this night:
تَنَزَّلُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيہَا بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّہِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمۡرٍ۬ (٤)
“Therein descend the angels and the Ruh by the leave of their Lord’s permission with every matter.”
On this glorious night, angels and Al-Ruh (Angel Jibril, alayhi sallam) descend with blessings, mercy, and peace just as they do when the Quran is recited—they surround the gatherings of Thikr (remembrance of ALLAH) and lower their wings out of respect for the student of knowledge. The Angels give the greetings of Salam (peace) to worshipers in the Masajid.
How will we know which night to search for to gain all of this reward? It occurs in every Ramadan and our Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) has advised us on how to not miss it:
“Seek it in the last ten nights of Ramadan. In the ninth it still remains, in the seventh it still remains, in the fifth it still remains.” (Fath Al-Bari)
The meaning of this is that you should look for it on the odd nights within the last ten nights of Ramadan because it could occur on any night. One should not isolate a particular night while neglecting all the other odd nights so as to not risk missing it. Umm Al-Mumineen Aishah (radyiALLAHU anha) said,
“Oh Messenger of ALLAH! If I find the Night of Al-Qadr, what should I say?” Rasool ALLAH (sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Say: “Oh ALLAH! Verily, You are the Oft-Pardoning. You love to pardon, so pardon me.” (Ahmed)
May ALLAH Ta’Alaa grant us all the health and towfeeq to fast this beautiful month of Ramadan; and to count us amongst those who shall inherit Jannatul Firdous Al-Alaa! May we all witness the Night of Al-Qadr in a state of perfect faith and full expectation of His Rewards and Mercy, Ameen Ya Rabb!
1 The Holy Quran; Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:183
2 The Pillars of Islam & Emaan, Muhammad bin Jamil Zeno
3 The Holy Quran; Surah Al-Qadr, 97: 2-4
4 The Pillars of Islam & Emaan, Muhammad bin Jamil Zeno