“The month of Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed, guidance for people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever is present for the month let him fast through it. Anyone on ill or on a journey (who does not fast) should make up an equal number days (outside Ramadan). Allah wants ease for you and does not want hardship for you so that you complete the period and glorify Allah for what he guided you and perhaps you will be grateful”. (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
In these ayat from the Quran Allah tells us the importance of the month of Ramadan. One of the greatest favours he has given us is the Quran a guide and criterion between right and wrong.
Ramadan is a month of mercy and blessings for the believers. It is a season for worship, generosity and kindness. It is an occasion to become closer to Allah and strengthen the relationship with him. There is plenty of opportunity to please Allah. Ramadan is the month to revive and strengthen Iman. Iman goes up and down. The sign of strong Iman is the amount of worship one does. The doors of mercy are wide open and the doors of Allah’s punishment are firmly closed. The forces of evil, shayateen are chained up. Nothing stands between us and success except desires.
Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “When Ramadan comes the doors of Jannah are firmly opened and the doors of the fire are firmly closed and the shayateen are chained” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Once the Prophet (saw) said to the Sahabah, “Ramadan has come, a blessed month, Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast… (An-Nasai and Al-Baihaqi)
Ramadan is not about hungry days and long nights in the Masjid. It is not an excuse for laziness or weakness. To the contrary it is a time for strength and to exert one’s effort in the worship of Allah. Two of the greatest victories for Muslims happened in Ramadan, the victory at Badr and the conquest of Makkah, the centre of the Muslim world and the focus of Muslims through out the world.
The real purpose of Ramadan is to come out a better person at the end of the month. Ramadan cleans away the sins that may have accumulated over the year. At the end of the month a Muslim should hope to be forgiven and saved from the hell fire. There are several ways of achieving forgiveness, through fasting, praying at night, reading the Quran, feeding the poor.
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever fasts in Ramadan with Iman and seeking reward (from Allah) his past sins will be forgiven”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever prays during Ramadan with Iman and seeking reward (from Allah) his past sins will be forgiven”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
To achieve forgiveness through these actions two conditions must be met:
• Complete and truthful Iman
• A desire for the reward from Allah
Fasting doesn’t only involve going hungry for the day. The objective of fasting is to gain Taqwa, piety, by doing what Allah commands and keeping away from what He forbids. Fasting means avoiding all that is forbidden, avoiding looking at haram, listening to haram, speaking haram. Otherwise the only gain from fasting is hunger and thirst.
The Prophet (saw) said, “Perhaps someone fasting, his share is hunger and thirst”. (Al-Hakim and Ibn Khuzaimah)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever does not abandon false words and deeds Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink”. (Al-Bukhari)
One of the Salaf said, “The easiest fast is keeping away from food and drink”.
Jabir said, “When you fast let you hearing sight and tongue abstain from lying and haram leave harming the neighbour. You should be calm and collected the day of your fast. Don’t make the day you fast the same as the day as you don’t”.
Qiyam (praying at night)
To receive the desired result from Salah at-Tarawih it should be performed calmly with humility and without haste. Two Rakah with humility and concentration are better than twenty quick ones. Quality of the Salah is more important than quantity. The Prophet prayed long at night. When he read the Quran in the Salah he reflected on the meanings. The Sahabah followed the same example. They didn’t race to finish one Juz in twenty Rakah. What is important is that the Quran is read in a manner that the listener can follow and take heed.
Ihsan (generosity and kindness)
Since this is the month of mercy, Allah has mercy on those servants who are merciful to others. The Prophet (saw) was the most generous of people. He was most generous in Ramadan. This is a chance to be grateful for what Allah has given us by giving to others in need. Sadaqah and Zakah are means of strengthening the ties amongst Muslims. They provide a way for the more fortunate to show the less fortunate that their suffering is felt. Fasting should remind us of the hunger of those who are constantly fasting not by choice but by necessity.
One of the Salaf was asked why fasting was enjoined. He replied so that the wealthy may taste hunger and not forget the poor.
Fasting, Praying, feeding others will help us to enter Jannah.
The Prophet (saw) said, “In Jannah there are rooms, the inside can be seen from the outside and the outside from the inside”. They asked, “Who are they for?” He answered, “For one who speaks good words, feeds others, fasts regularly and prays at night while people are asleep”. (At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad)
Ramadan is the month of Quran. Muslims should use this month to get acquainted with the book of Allah. If Muslims held onto the Quran and followed it they would not be in this state of weakness and humiliation. The Quran is a book of guidance, a manual for life not just for Ramadan. The practice of the Prophet was to read the whole of the Quran in Ramadan. Many of the Salaf read it many more times than this. Some of them left other acts of Ibadah for reading the Quran showing the importance they gave to it. Reading it is not simply for barakah but for the message it conveys.
Let us remember that this Ramadan if we change ourselves for the better Allah will change our condition for the better. Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change themselves.
We ask Allah to praise and grant peace upon the Messenger, his family and followers.
By Abu Talha (Tayyibun Institute)