Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim
by Umm Abdul Rahman bint Dean
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.”
Who amongst us is not in need of the purification and reward which fasting brings? Fasting is the only act of worship that is for ALLAH Ta’Alaa alone in that nobody except Him really knows if one has met all of its conditions - for He is AL-Alim AL-Baseer (All-Knowing, All- Seeing). And it will be him alone who will give its reward. Each day we fast seeking the pleasure of ALLAH Ta’Alaa, we are glorifying the Creator thus instilling in our hearts more mercy toward His creation. Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) was sent as a Mercy to mankind, so emulating His Sunnah in the way that we fast is extremely virtuous, and gives us the best example of how to feel compassionate to the condition of those of lesser means.
It is the Sunnah of our Prophet (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) to eat Sahur (pre-dawn meal), and it is well known that he ate his favorite foods and also ate dates. Also, much emphasis has been placed on rushing to break the fast with some dates and water which is called Iftar (breaking of the fast at maghrib). Rasool Allah (sallahu alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it." (Bukhari)
“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)
So basically, we are informed by the Prophet himself (sallalhu alayhe wa sallam) that there is much benefit in following his Sunnah, and much research has proven that it is indeed beneficial and the best and most nutritious thing to end ones fasting.
The virtues of Ramadan are many, and it brings great joy to the hearts of those Muslims who complete it - as that is the true essence behind our celebration of Al-Eid. Rasool ALLAH (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) said:
“When Ramadan starts the doors of heaven are opened and the doors of hell are closed. The devils are chained.” (Bukhari)
ALLAH Ta’Alaa says:
“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)
With all these promises, we all desire to fast for the pleasure of ALLAH Ta’Alaa and not to render our fasting null and void. The following advice is something to take into consideration throughout this sacred month. Rasool ALLAH (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) said:
“Whoever does not abstain from deceitful speech and actions, Allah is not in need of him/her to leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari)
If one accidentally forgets and consumes food or drink, they should not despair because Rasool ALLAH (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) has said:
“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)
An-Niyyah is an essential part of the fasting in Ramadan because it must be made either before the month begins to fast the whole month or more correctly it should be made before fajr athan of each day of fasting. This is what differentiates the obligatory fasting of Ramadan from the fasting which is defined as Sunnah and nawafil (optional) because it is ok to declare the intention to fast until shortly before Dhur salat if one has had no food or drink after the time of Fajr. So it is essential to make your niyyat to fast and to not neglect it in order to ensure the validity of your fasting.
One of the times of accepted duaa is right before you break your fast due to the severe hunger and thirst that you feel at that moment, and the intense urge to quench it immediately. However, with a little patience if one makes an effort to remember ALLAH Ta’Alaa and call on him for whatever needs one has or whatever desire you may wish to be fulfilled then it is an opportunity one should not miss. The Prophet (sallalahu alayhe wa sallam) used to say at the time of Iftar:
“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