HOW DO WE WELCOME RAMADAN?
Praise to bee ALLAH. Peace and blessings be upon the messenger of ALLAH, his family, his companions and those who follow him until the Day of Judgment. ALLAH has blessed this month with numerous advantages and virtues over other months, and distinguished it due to the following merits;
· This is the month in which the noble Qur’an was revealed. ALLAH says:
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an” (2: 185)
· In one of the odd nights of the last ten days of this month, there will be night of Decree. Worshipping ALLAH in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months. ALLAH says;
“The night of Al-Qadr (decree) is better than a thousand months.” (97: 3)
One thousand months means 83 years and 4 months, which the average person does not complete. This is one of the best graces that ALLAH has bestowed on this Muslim Ummah, granting us a very tremendous night in this month.
EXCELLENT DEEDS OF RAMADAN
The best deed of this month is fasting. ALLAH’s messenger said: “all the deeds of the children of Adam (people) are from them, and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times to seven hundred times. ALLAH the All-Mighty and noble say: ‘except for fasting, which is for me, and I will give the reward for it. He has abandoned his food, drink and desires for my sake.’ 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. The smell coming from the mouth of a fasting person is better to ALLAH than the aroma of musk.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In order version of the Hadith, ALLAH’s messenger said: “Whoever observes fasting in Ramadan with firm belief and hope of reward, his past sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
Those bountiful rewards and merits will not be attained merely by abandoning one’s routine menu of food or drink. Rather it will be achieved only by those who really observe fasting in a proper manner, then shun all evil deeds and vices, such as telling lies, backbiting, false speech, obscene behavior, and absurd acts. ALLAH’s messenger said: “whoever doesn’t abstain from speaking falsely, and acting upon false speech, ALLAH does not care for his abstaining from eating and drinking.” (Al-Bukhari)
And he said: “Fasting is shield; so on a day that one is fasting, he should not indulge in offensive behavior or arguing; if anyone verbally abuses him or provokes him, he should say; ‘I am fasting’.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
2. THE NIGHT PRAYER
Another good deed of Ramadan is to perform the night prayer, with utmost humility and obvious reverence to ALLAH. Describing the very qualities of the servants of the most gracious, ALLAH added:
“Whoever prays night prayer in Ramadan, with firm belief and expecting a reward for it, his previous sins are forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
3. GIVING IN CHARITY AND DONATIONS
The third good deed of this blessed month of Ramadan is charity and benevolence narrated Ibn Abbas: “the messenger of ALLAH was the most generous of people, and he used to be more so in the monthe of Ramadan when Jibrael (Gabriel) visited him. Jibrael used to meet him on every year in the night of Ramadan until the end of the month. The messenger of ALLAH used to recite the Noble Qur’an to Jibrael, and when Jibrael met him, he was more generous than the fair wind [sent by ALLAH with glad tidings (rain), referring to doing charitable deeds].” (Muslim)
It is well understood from this Hadith that spending in charity and doing kind acts during the blessed month of Ramadan is more virtuous than during the other months.
The goal of giving in charity and donating is to attain the pleasure of ALLAH. This will be achieved by spending wealth, in the way of charity, on those who are poor, needy, indigent, orphans, widows, oppressed and downtrodden people of the community, etc., taking care of their social needs.
4. PROVIDING FOR ONE TO BREAK THE FAST:
Another good deed is to provide the food or drink with which one will break their fast. ALLAH’s messenger said: “he who provides a fasting person something with which to break his fasting, will earn the same reward as the one who was observing the fast, without diminishing the reward of the latter at all.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
In another version of Hadith, ALLAH’s messenger said: “He who provides a fasting person something with which to break his fasting, or he who equips a fighter (with war materials in the way of Allah), will earn the same reward as the one who was doing it.” (Al-Tirmidhi, graded authentic by Shaikh Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Targhib, no. 1072)
5. INCREASING THE RECITATION FO THE QUR’AN
The blessed month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an revealed. Thus, this blessed month of Ramadan is even more special in relation to the Qur’an, because ALLAH distinguished it by revealing the Qur’an during it. Another reason is that on every night of Ramadan, the angel Jibrael (Gabriel) used to meet the messenger of ALLAH, who would recite the whole Qur’an to Jibrael.
The companions of the Prophet and their successors would concentrate on reciting the Qur’an during this blessed month, completing it within ten, seven, and three or even less days according to their best ability. Some of the scholars are firm in their view that reciting the whole Qur’an in less than three days is prohibited according to an authentic Hadith. This is related to ordinary days and normal circumstances, while, blessed times and sacred venues are exempted from this general rule.
6. FEAR AND WEEPING WHILE RECITING THE QUR’AN
It is necessary for everyone who recites or listens to the Noble Qur’an to be attentive with a sense of humility. This can be achieved it both the one reciting and the listener are familiar with the translation of its meanings, since reciting the Qur’an in rushed and melodic style is restricted. Nevertheless, the fact is that the Qur’an is not a title disseminating stories and tales; rather it is to be recited with the absolute intention that it is a testament meant for the true guidance of all humanity. Every single verse of the Noble Qur’an, issuing promises and threats, giving good news and admonition, is to be recited contemplatively. Wherever any verse mentions the mercy of ALLAH, begging forgiveness, good news and the bounties that ALLAH grants to the believers, and then it is recommended for one to supplicate to ALLAH to be granted his request. Similarly, wherever there is mention of warning and admonition, punishment and menace, then it is recommended to seek ALLAH’s protection from that. Our pious predecessors were reciting the Qur’an, understanding the contemplating its meanings repeatedly, as if they were submissively standing before ALLAH while doing so. Those who listen to the Qur’an in such a manner, with understanding while contemplating over its meanings are also influenced in such a tremendous fashion.
7. TO PRACTICE I’TIKAF
One of the special deeds of Ramadan is I’tikaf. The Prophet used to pay close attention and give special importance to his good deed. During the last ten days and nights of Ramadan , The one in such a state confines himself to the mosque, concentrating on worship, leaving worldly activities and affairs. The Prophet was very punctual for this practice, ad it is reported that once he missed the practice of I’tikaf, so he performed it for another ten days from the last ten days of the month of Shawwal, (Al-Bukhari). The Prophet used to perform I’tikaf every year in the month of Ramadan for ten days, and during the year of his death, he stayed in I’tikaf for twenty days. (Al-Bukhari).
Performing I’tikaf means to continue oneself in seclusion in a mosque for the purpose of worshipping ALLAH alone, leaving every worldly and personal affair. One’s mind exclusively concentrates on the goal of pleasing ALLAH. He is engaged in various types of worship, repentance, and beseeching ALLAH’s forgiveness. He offers as many voluntarily prayers as he can. Saying statements of remembrance and invocations to ALLAH, etc. in this sense, practicing I’tikaf is a combination of many acts of worship.
8. SEARCHING FOR THE NIGHT OF DECREE
The night of Decree: a single night of it is more virtuous and meritorious than one thousand months. This night will occur in one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. The exact time of its occurrence is an absolute mystery. One of the possible reasons behind its secrecy is that a true believer should endeavor in worshipping during those uneven nights so as to attain all the rich reward and virtue of that tremendous time.
ALLAH’s messenger ahs described its superiority and said: “whoever prays during the night of decree, with firm belief and expecting reward for it, his previous sins are forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In other words, whenever you endeavor in worshipping in the odd nights of the last ten nights, then you will definitely attain the virtues of the night of decree.
9. PRACTICES OF THE Prophet DURING THE LAST TEN DAYS
It is clear that performing I’tikaf is confined to the last ten days of Ramadan. The night of decree is likely to occur during one of the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan, and by searching for that night it is better to stay awake during the whole night, increasing in all types of worship including the nightly prayer, and the remembrance of ALLAH.
Moreover, the messenger of ALLAH would prepare himself to be more diligent in worship, particularly when the last ten nights of Ramadan began. He would keep awake at night for prayer and devotion, and awaken his family. Narrated Aishah. “When the last ten nights (of Ramadan) began, ALLAH’s messenger would keep awake at night (for prayer and devotion), awaken his family and prepare himself to be more diligent in worship.” (Muslim)
In another version of the Hadith, Aishah said; “ALLAH’s messenger used to strive more (in worship) during the last ten nights of Ramadan than he did during other time.” (Muslim)
Therefore, we also endeavor in these last ten days to devout ourselves in worshipping ALLAH, and seeking his forgiveness.
10. SPECIAL INVOCATION FOR THE NIGHT OF DECREE
Aishah said, “I asked ALLAH’s messenger: ‘O messenger of ALLAH! If I realize the night of decree, what should I supplicate in it?’ he replied, ‘you should supplicate: Allahumma innaka Afuwwun, Tuhibbul-Afwa Fa’fu anni’
O ALLAH! Your are the most forgiving and you love forgiveness; so forgive me.’” (Al-Tirmidhi, graded authentic by shaikh Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi, no. 2789)
11. PERFORMING UMRAH DURING RAMADAN
Performing Umrah in Ramadan is especially virtuous. Narrated Umm Sanan Al-Ansariyah The Prophet said to a woman: “perform Umrah when Ramadan comes, for Umrah in Ramadan is equal to Hajj (in reward).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In another version, with Al-Bukhari; ALLAH’s messenger said to her: “… as it is equal to Hajj with me (in reward).” (Al-Bukhari)
12. TO INCREASE THE INVOCATION
ALLAH, the most high has encouraged supplication, as we read in the noble Qur’an, while he mentions the issues and rules pertaining to the blessed month of Ramadan. ALLAH says:
“And when my servants ask you (O Muhammad) concerning me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey me and believe in me, so that they may be led a right.” (2: 186)
In a Hadith, ALLAH’s messenger said: “the supplication of a servant continues to be granted as long as he does not supplicate for a sinful thing or for something that would cut off the ties of kinship, and he does not grow impatient.” It was said, “O ALLAH’s messenger! What does growing impatient mean?” he said, “it is one’s saying, ‘I supplicated again and again, but I do not think that my prayer will be answered.’ Then he becomes frustrated (in such circumstances) and gives up supplication altogether.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet mentioned a person who is wandering, lost; his hair is disheveled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky and thus makes the supplication:
“O lord! O lord! But his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are unlawful. And his nourishment is unlawful, how can, then his supplication he accepted?” (Muslim)
It is very obvious that there are certain conditions and manners to be met in order for our supplications to be granted, as mentioned in the following Hadith. Additionally, whoever observes these rules, then he will reap more reward for his actions. ALLAH’s messenger said:
“whenever a Muslim supplicates – no for sin nor breaking the ties of kinship – ALLAH responds to his supplication in one of three ways. Either his invocation will be answered quickly, or deferred (its reward) from him into the hereafter, or a similar kind of trouble will be averted from him.” Upon this they (companions) said, “what if we ask for a lot?” ALLAH’s messenger said, ALLAH is more plentiful in responding“(Imam Ahmed, and a similar version by Al-Tirmidhi which was graded authentic in Saikh Al-Jami As-Saghir, no. 5714.)
13. EXCELLENCE OF SUPPLICATING IN ONE’S ABSENCE
People should not only supplicate on their own behalf, but they should also increase in prayer for their friends, relatives and neighbors, in their absence, with sincere heart.
ALLAH’s messenger said; “The supplication of a Muslim for his (Muslim) brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says ‘ameen! (May it be for you, too).” (Muslim)
14. TO AVOID INVOKING CURSES
The human being is naturally feeble-minded and impatient. Once he feels uncomfortable of faces disturbance from anyone, he immediately invokes curses on others, sometimes even on his own children or himself. ALLAH’s messenger said; “do no invoke curses on yourself or on your children, or on your possessions, lest you should happen to do it at a moment when the supplications are accepted, and you prayer might be granted.” (Muslim)
15. SUPPLICATION OF THE OPPRESSED
It is of paramount importance to remember that no Muslim should unjustly hurt and does not oppress another Muslim, nor any human being, since the supplication of the oppressed is instantly answerable from ALLAH. ALLAH’s messenger said: “Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between him and ALLAH.” (Al-Bukhari)
16. FULFILL THE OBLIGATIONS AND SHUN THE EVIL DEEDS
This month is a special month for seeking forgiveness, repentance, and mercy from ALLAH. In other words, every Muslim should endeavor to abide in repentance to ALLAH, by which ALLAH will excuse his minor sins. Meanwhile, as far as the human rights are concerned, there will be no pardon unless these are fulfilled in this world, case by case. For instance, if you have stolen from someone, you must reimburse him for it. If you abused him or slandered him, you should approach him asking his pardon and apology. If you have possessed some land illegally of have some materials that do not really belong to you, then you must return the same to its proper proprietor. Despite the proper manners, if the rights of others are not fulfilled, then one’s repentance and supplications are not acceptable. Similarly, if he neglected the commandments of ALLAH, being disobedient in all dealings with him, for instance, he takes bribes, or earns money from usury and interest, of deals in illegitimate and forbidden business, of makes deals by swearing with false testimony, lies and threats. These are all evil actions that must be abandoned. Otherwise, ALLAH will not respond to you supplication.
17. AVOID MUTUAL ENMITY, GRUDGES AND MALICE
It is very essential, to be eligible for ALLAH’s mercy and forgiveness, that we keep away from mutual enmity, holding grudges with each other, having malice towards each other, and we must not break the ties of kinship. If one of us severed relationships due to a dispute over worldly affairs, then we should immediately reconcile unselfishly, and excuse each other for the sake of the relationship. Otherwise, ALLAH will not respond to our player, preventing us from his mercy and forgiveness.
ALLAH’s messenger said; “the gates of paradise are opened on Mondays and Thursdays, then every servant (of ALLAH) is granted forgiveness if he does not associate anything with ALLAH in worship. But the person in whose heart there is rancor against his (Muslim) brother, they will not be pardoned. It will be said about them; ‘hold both of them until they reconcile with each other.’” (Muslim)
From this Hadith, it is very obvious that mutual enmity and malice between Muslims are grave sins, and therefore they must be shunned. Because of the consequences of these behaviors, ALLAH’s messenger has warned the Muslim from breaking his relationship with another Muslim, and persistently shunning his Muslim brother for more than three consecutive days.