08 August, 2009

Welcome Ramadan !

In the name of Allah the beneficent, the Merciful
Time passes away swiftly. We welcomed Ramadan last year and said 'good bye' to it, a little time has passed and the blessed days and nights of the 'spring of blessings' are about to reach us again. Every instant of these blessed days is valuable. Those, who have recognized the purpose of their lives i.e. {And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me}
(Surah Al-Zariyaat 51:56),
Work hard to spend every jiffy according to the will of Allah. Ramadan increases the humbleness and enthusiasm in prayers even in the life of such people. {The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind}
(Sahih Bukhari)

When an honorable guest is about to visit us, we start preparations many days before his arrival. Those who are conscious of the significance of this guest of Allah, the holy month, start preparation for it in Rajab and Sha'ban. Many narrations make it clear to us that Prophet SAW started preparing for Ramadan in Sha'ban. {Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah (SAW) used to count the days in Sha'ban in a manner he did not count any other month} (Sunan Abu Dawud Classified as Sahih by Allama Albani).

Introduction to Ramadan:
We gather necessary information about the guest before his arrival. To welcome Ramadan, in a good manner it is necessary that we have the essential information about it. We have to get our self acquainted with the holy month of Ramadan and also introduce it to our family and friends. Allah Almighty has given the best introduction of Ramadan himself, {The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein…}
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185). Ramadan and Holy Quran have a close link. Hazrat Jibrael (AS) used to meet Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the nights of this holy months and the Apostle of Allah (SAW) recited the holy Quran to him. The Holy Quran was revised twice in the last Ramadan of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Ramadan is a golden opportunity for us to strengthen our relation with the Holy Quran.

Introduction to Fast:
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran {O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa}
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:183). This verse of Holy Quran contains the mention of prescription of fast, importance of fast, wisdom behind fast and prescription of fast on the earlier nations. Allah Almighty, addressing the believers directly, says {O you who believe!}. Here Allah is not advising any one else, He is addressing us, those who claim to be believers. Allah is telling us that you are not the first one on whom these fats are prescribed in fact they were prescribed on the earlier nations as well. This has been said to elaborate the importance of fast. Fast is not a burden which has been laid on you, in fact it is an excellent source of building up your personality, cleaning your hearts and beautifying your soul. Further more the wisdom of fasting has been elaborated: {so that you attain Taqwa}.
This is the same Taqwa which is the source of closeness to Allah. Taqwa is the name of that lightened state of the mind of a person which opens up the straight path to him.

Fast is a shield:
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said {Fast is a shield}
(Agreed upon). The purpose of fast is not just to remain hungry and thirsty from morning to evening, in fact fast is a shield that protects us from every deed which is detested in Allah's eyes. There are two hidden wisdoms in fasting. Firstly, when we leave for Allah those things even which are permitted for us normally how can we commit those acts which are forbidden in all circumstances. Secondly, modern psychology tells us that he who can control his desire of hunger and thirst can control all his other desires as well. For this very reason Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advised us to eat less and regarding fast he specially said {O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e. his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse etc.), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power} (Agreed Upon).

Mental and Physical Preparation to attain maximum benefit from Ramadan:

To derive utmost benefit from the holy month it is mandatory that you prepare your self mentally and physically to welcome it with all zeal and zest. Holy Prophet (SAW) also used to prepare his companions (Sahaba) for Ramadan. Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said {The Prophet said, "None of you should fast a day or two before the month of Ramadan unless he has the habit of fasting (Nawafil) then he can fast that day} (Agreed Upon). This Hadith proves that Holy Prophet (SAW) disliked fasting just before Ramadan except if a person is habitual of voluntary fast and his fast coincides with it. He said on another occasion {When mid Sha'ban comes then don't fast until Ramadan comes} (Sunan Ibn e Majah, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Nasai, Allama Albani classified it as Sahih). The wisdom behind these instructions is to prepare people for the Holy month. Commenting on this Hadith Sheikh Bin Baaz said {this is an authentic hadith as Sheikh Nasir Ad-Deen Al-Albani said. What is meant is that it is not allowed to start fasting after halfway through the month. But if a person fasts most or all of the month, then he is following the Sunnah} (Majmoo` Fatawa Ash-Shaykh Ibn Baz 15/385). Another narration says {The month Prophet (SAW) liked the most for fast was Sha'ban, he joined it with Ramadan}
(Sunan Abu Dawud, Allama Albani has classified it as Sahih). Shortly, the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) is to fast the whole of Sha'ban in preparation for Ramadan. If we don't follow this Sunnah then it is not encouraged to start fasting after mid Sha'ban lest a person might get ill and when Ramadan arrives some of the precious moments of the month would go waste. This was regarding physical preparation; consider the following narration for mental preparation. {O Muslims! A noble and generous month has come to you. A month in which a night is better than one thousand months, and this month is the month of charity, patience, and mercy. In this month the gates of Paradise become wide open and the gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are chained}
(Sunan Al Nasai, Classified as Sahih by Allama Albani). Shortly, it was the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to prepare his family and companions for Ramadan, mentally and physically. To derive the maximum benefit from Ramadan we must pursue his foot steps. One more narration would further elaborate Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) eagerness for ibadah in this Holy month.
{Narrated Aisha: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers} (Sahih Bukhari).

Educational Preparation:
We should learn the fiqh
issues related to Ramadan and fasting before Ramadan begins. We should read the verses of Quran of Surah Al Baqarah 183 to 187 and also {Kitab al Siyam} (Book of fasting) from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and we should get the answers to the questions which rise in our mind from the books of Tafseer and scholars. A scholar's value is more than the worshipper. Reality is that if we have knowledge about Ramadan, benefits of fasting and fiqh issues related to fasting only then can we acquire maximum from Ramadan.

Virtues of Ramadan:
Basically, humans have two types of motives. One acts due to some fear or when he is overwhelmed by love. In context of Ramadan and fasting we find lots of Ahadith on virtues and for those who show laziness in fulfilling this obligation, there are warnings also. It is the saying of the Prophet (SAW): {He who leaves a single fast of Ramadan without any (valid) excuse or illness, even if he keeps fast the whole era cannot be its expiation}
(Sahih Bukhari).

There are various Ahadith on the virtues of fasting and Ramadan and it is not feasible to cite all of them here. However I will present a bouquet of Ahadith pertaining to the virtues of Ramadan.
  • There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, 'Where are those who used to observe fasts?' They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it (Sahih Bukhari)
  • When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained (Sahih Bukhari)
  • Allah said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.' Fasting is a shield or protection (from the fire and from committing sins) (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith e Qudsi)
  • Whoever prayed at night in it the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven (Sahih Bukhari)
  • Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven
  • By Him in Whose Hands my soul is' the unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk (Sahih Bukhari)
  • Every good action is rewarded by ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for Me, and I reward it (Mawtta Imam Malik)
  • Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove, because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years' distance (Sahih Muslim)
  • Abu Umaama (RA) said: "O Messenger of Allah, command me to a deed that will benefit me in front of Allaah". The Prophet (SAW) said: "Observe the fast as it has no equal deed".
  • Five (daily) prayers and from one Friday prayer to the (next) Friday prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins. (Sahih Muslim)
  • There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting (Sahih Bukhari)
  • There are three people whose supplications are not rejected: Father, the person who is fasting and a traveler (Al-Saheeha)
  • The fast and the Qur'an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Qur'an will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted (Masnad Ahmed, Bayhqi, Allama Albani classified it as Sahih)
  • When the Prophet returned after performing his Hajj, he asked Um Sinan Al-Ansari, "What did forbid you to perform Hajj?" She replied, "Father of so-and-so (i.e. her husband) had two camels and he performed Hajj on one of them, and the second is used for the irrigation of our land." The Prophet said (to her), "Perform 'Umra in the month of Ramadan, (as it is equivalent to Hajj or Hajj with me (in reward)" (Bukhari)
Value your time:
Keeping in mind the virtues of Ramadan, deem every moment as precious and try to take full advantage of it. It is advised to us concerning prayer that we should perform every prayer as though it is the last prayer of our life. Similarly we should think of this Ramadan as the last Ramadan of our life and value every moment of it.
Fast of the heart:
Regarding fast Allah says {Fast is for me and I will give its reward} (Sahih Bukhari) meaning thereby that we numerals cannot help us understand the good deeds earned by fasting, it depends on Allah's will. On the other hand we find Ahadith such as {There are so many of those who fast who earn nothing from fast except hunger} (Sunan Ibn e Majah, Allama Albani classified it as Sahih). This in fact is the state of affair; many people do abstain from eating but forget the fast of their heart and tongue. They have hatred in their hearts for others and other Muslims are not safe from hands and tongue. Just ponder for a moment, what fast actually demands from you. If your fast doesn't encourage following the other commandments of Allah as well, it doesn't make you feel the pain and afflictions of the Muslim ummah, it doesn't inculcate in you the desire to live and die for Allah then don't cheat yourself and understand what you are calling fast is not fast. {Whosoever does not leave bad words and bad actions, Allah does not care if he leaves his food and drink}
(Sunan Ibn e Majah, Sunan Tirmidhi, Allama Albani classified it as Sahih). Fast is to submit all your wills to Allah. In fast we leave those things which are permitted in normal circumstances then how can we even think of going close to those acts which are banned in all circumstances. Ramadan is a tremendous opportunity to give up those bad deeds to which we are addicted, and we commit them the entire year. Allah has prepared an air of good deeds for you. Reward of all good deeds is multiplied many times, doors of paradise are opened, doors of hell are closed, devils are chained, and you learn to control your desires of hunger and thirst; if you are not going to leave those sins now then when are you going to depart them?

A firm decision to live for Allah:
We learn in this month to discipline our selves for Allah. We follow a prescribed routine of eating and drinking. It is in our mind all the time that we've to follow Allah's commandments in such mundane acts as eating and drinking. We transform our habits, as if we are taught that we are not the servants of our habits but we are the servants of Allah. Enter the holy month with an aim that this workshop will transform your live and submit yourself to the guidelines of Allah the complete year.
Association with the Ummah:
Ramadan is not an individual experience, it is a collective activity. Whole Ummah keeps fast in this month. Fasting in Ramadan helps in understanding the tribulations of the poor. Thirst and hunger remind us of the people who struggle for the basic needs whole of the year. This month gives us the message of generosity and humbleness.
Ramadan and Quran:
Will this Ramadan also pass like previous one? Will we keep on thinking that just by reciting the Holy Quran we've give it the due right? How much life has passed and we are concentrating just on reciting or memorizing the Quran. When will the time come that we start understanding the Holy Quran, pondering over it and spreading its teachings. There is still some time and by the grace of Allah Ramadan is coming that has strong relationship with Quran. Start this month with a firm intention that this will be my life's best Ramadan. I will make my bond strong with this Quran. I will recite the Quran keeping in mind that this Quran is revealed for me and when my relation is strong with this Quran, ultimately my relation with Allah and his pious people will get strong. It's my prayer that Allah guides us to do all those deeds that make Him happy and help us restrain from all those deeds which make Him angry and this sense of worship remains with us whole of our life. (Aamin)

Author : Mohammad Awais Tahir

The author may or may not have the same views on the topic and would not like to be quoted on what has been said above. The author, however, deems nothing wrong with changing opinions, hence, he does not wish to amend/remove posts that do not resonate with his current thinking. 
“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”

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  1. BarakALLAHu Feeka.
    Thats indeed a great analysis of Ramadan Mashallah.
    We can also focus on what other good deeds are and can enlist them so that it becomes easy for our Muslim brothers and sisters
    1- Namaz,as u mentioned should become the first and foemost priority and we should make
    conscious effort to bring "khushu" in it.Brothers better start going to mosque.
    2-Give Charity ( Kullu Maroofin Sadaqah )Even a
    smile is a charity.
    3- Do a lot of Astagfar and zikr Allah
    4-Uphold ties of kindship
    5-Learn to be grateful to ALLAH "shukar"
    6-Be patient " Sabr".
    7- Self analysis ( daily and in black n white)
    8-Value the last ash-ra
    9-Search eagerly for shab-e-qadar
    10-Don't forget to celebrate the last night of ramadan ( by worshipping Allah rather than wandering aimlessly in markets)

    And finish the following before ramadan starts:

    1- Shopping (ladies, pay attention)
    3- Taubah o astagfar ( so that the burden of
    our sisns is released)
    4- Learn to stay away from the "cause and
    sources" of sins and those that would waste ur time.
    5-Cleaning,brooming,dusting,washing and beautifying the house(time to work for dar-ul-akhirah)

    6-Ramadan p-lanner.

    Thats all for now. Inshallah if I get to learn anything else, I will share.

    Ur article is mashllah very well written May ALLAH accept this from u and enable us to purify our soul and intentions for him.

    TaqabaAllah minna wa minkum

    Was salam

  2. Ma sha Allah, JazakAllah for giving us some practical advices to benefit from Ramadan.

    If you could write up the points under some heading and in a good form, it'll be great, so that I can put it up on my blog as well.


  3. JazakAllah MashAllah.

    Superb article like always.

    Rizwan Alam

  4. Masha Allah great work
    may Allah bless u

  5. This month being a training period to be followed by other 11 months of the year. will make a man a pious & distinct personal.

    sana khan

  6. This month being a training period to be followed by other 11 months of the year. will make a man a pious & distinct personal.

    sana khan