Ramadaan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Ramadaan means to burn. The fasts burn away the sins.
Virtues of Ramadaan:
Salman (RA) reports: “On the last day of the Sha’baan, Rasoolullah (SAWS) addressed us and said: “O people, there comes upon you now a great month, a most blessed month, in which lies a night greater in worth than one thousand months. It is a month in which Allah Ta’ala has made compulsory fasting which should be observed by day; and He has made the Taraweeh by night a Sunnah. Who so ever tries drawing nearer to Allah Ta’ala by performing any virtuous deeds in this month for his shall be such reward as if he had performed a fardh (obligatory observance) in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a fardh, for him shall be the reward of seventy fardh in any other time of the year. This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward of true patience is Jannah (paradise); it is a month of sympathy with one’s fellowmen; it is the month wherein a true believer’s rizq (provisions) is increased. Whosoever feeds a fasting person in order to break the fast (at sunset), for him there shall be forgiveness of his sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam (hell) and for him shall be the same reward as for him (whom he fed), without that person’s reward being diminished in the least.”
Thereupon we said : “O Messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can provide enough a fasting person to break his fast.” The Messenger of Allah replied : “Allah grants this same reward to him who gives a fasting person a single date or a drink of water or a sip of milk to break the fast. This is a month, the first part of which brings Allah’s mercy, the middle of which brings his forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from the fire of Jahannam (Hell). Whosoever lessons the burden of his servants (bondsmen) in this month, Allah Ta’ala will forgive him and free him from the fire of Jahannam.”
“And whoever gave a person, who fasted water to drink; Allah Ta’ala shall grant him a drink from my fountain such a drink whereafter he shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah.” (Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah in his Sahih).
Where Allah Ta’ala has admonished and threatened evil-doers with punishments and misfortune, he has also opened the doors of mercy and reward for those who repent and seek forgiveness. This blessed month of Ramadhaanul Mubarak is the season of harvesting Allah’s blessings, wherein the doors of the skies, Jannah and abundant mercies are opened, and the sinful are favoured by being pardoned and rewarded. The Saum should be observed with all its importance and Aadaab. Muslims should come to the Masjid and enlighten their hearts through the means of Taraweeh, Tahajjud and the recital of the Qur’aan-e-Kareem. It is a time to wash away the dirt of all sins by Istighfaar and Taubah. If one has the right due to another, one should fulfill it. Care should be taken of the poor, the needy and the lonely. Treat subordinates with kindness. How wonderful would it be, if it is so happens that the Ummah makes this vow in this month that they will at least abstain from sinning and execute fully all the rights due to Allah Ta’ala and his creations, then there is hope that Allah Ta’ala may change our fate.
Hazrat Ubaadah bin Saamit (RA) reports that Rasoolullah (SAWS) said one day when Ramadhaan had drawn near, “The month of Ramadhaan, the month of blessing has come to you, wherein Allah Ta’ala turns towards you and sends down to you His special Mercy, forgives your faults, accepts prayers, appreciates your competition for the greatest good and boasts to the angels about you. So show to Allah you righteousness, for verily, the most pitiable and unfortune one is he who is deprived of Allah’s Mercy in this month” (Tabrani).
Hazrat Kaab bin Ujrah (RA) relates: Rasoolullah (SAWS) said: “Come near to the pulpit, and we came near the pulpit. When he ascended the first step of the pulpit he said: “Ameen”. When he ascended the second step he said: “Ameen”. When he ascended the third step he said: “Ameen”. When he descended, we said: ‘O Rasool of Allah (SAWS) we have heard from you today something which we never heard before.’ He said, “When I ascended the first step Jibra’eel appeared before me and said: “Woe to him who found the blessed month of Ramadhaan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness.” Upon that I said: “Ameen”. When I ascended the second step, he said, “Woe to him before whom they name is mentioned then he does not recite Darood (invoke Allah’s blessings) on you”. I replied “Ameen”. When I ascended the third step, he said: “Woe unto him in whose presence his parents or either one of them attains old age, and (through failure to serve them) he is not allowed to enter “Jannah”. I said “Ameen”. (Fazaail-e-Ramadhaan).
Guard your fast
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) relates that Rasoolullah (SAWS) said: “Many who fast, attaining nothing by such fasting except hunger, and many who perform Salaah at night attaining nothing by it, except the discomfort of staying awake at night.” With regard of this Hadeeth, the Ulamah have mentioned three different interpretations: Firstly this Hadeeth may refer to those who fast during the day and then make iftaar with such food which is haram. All the reward receiced as a result of fasting is destroyed because of this sin of eating haraam. Secondly Rasoolullah (SAWS) may have meant those who fasted properly, but during fasting kept themselves busy with backbiting and slandering. Thirdly, the person referred to, may be him who while fasting, did not stay away from evil and sins. Here all forms of sins are included. Likewise, in the case of a person performing Salaat at night but because of backbiting or any other sinful acts (ex., allowing Fajr Salaat to pass by), his noble act is rendered futile.
This is the month in which a believer should earn his aakhirat. Allah Ta’ala multiplies all actions that are done during the month of Ramadhaan. Every nafl act gains the reward of a Fardh act, and every Fardh act’s reward is multiplied 70 times.
To be saved from the curse of Jibra’eel (A.S) upon the Aameen of Rasoolullah (SAWS), hereunder follows some guidelines as to how a person can derive the maximum benefit during this blessed moth of Ramadhaan.
1. One should not miss the takbeer-e-ula of Maghrib due to one’s iftaar.
2. After the Maghrib Salaat, one should engage in Nawaafil Salaat i.e. Salaatul Awwabeen (mimimum of 6 rakaats and a maximum of 20 rakaats)
3. When having meals. One should not eat beyond one’s capacity.
4. It is advisable to read Ahadeeth concerning the virtues of Ramadhaan with the family for at least 5 minutes after the meal.
5. One should perform Esha Salaat with jamaat and thereafter perform the Taraweeh Salaat (all 20 rakaats) [males in the Masjid and females in the confines of their homes].
6. It is sunnat-e-muakkadah to perform the 20 rakaats of Taraweeh Salaah.
The Taraweeh Salaah
1. While performing Taraweeh, to sit between each set of four rakaats and engage in Tasbeeh silently.
2. One should make an effort that at least one Qur’aan’s recital should be heard in the Taraweeh Salaah for the month of Ramadhaan.
3. One should participate in gatherings of taalim that takes place in the Masaajid.
4. It is better to engage oneself in ibaadat after the Taraweeh Salaah and if this is not possible then one should retire to bed immediately.
Actions to engage in
1. Increase charity
2. Increase the tilaawat of the Qur’aan more than is normally done.
3. To lengthen the rakaats of Nawaafil Salaat.
4. To perform I’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadhaan.
5. To remain awake during the night of ibaadat.
6. Feed fasting people.
7. To make the effort of Deen and striving in the path of Allah Ta’ala.
8. Remember to utilize all one’s free time in doing good deeds.
Actions to abstain from so as not to erode the reward of one’s ibaadaat.
1. One should not indulge in any sinful acts.
2. Fasting of the tongue I s refraining from:
b. Arguing or quarreling
d. Spending one’s time in futile activities e.g. discussions even if one is not participating in the discussion, one should not even listen to such conversations
e. Talking unnecessarily to non-mahram females/males.
3. Fasting of the ear is staying away from:
b. Listening to non-beneficial talks and discussions (radio or otherwise).
c. Listening to gossip
4. Fasting of the eyes is to protect oneself from:
a. Gazing at non-mahram males/females.
b. Watching television programmes.
5. Visiting places to pass time. One should avoid such places, as the month of Ramadhaan is a month of ibaadat.
6. One should control one’s temper.
7. Neglecting and missing Salaat should be avoided at all costs.
8. Abstain from participating in watching sporting events.
Virtues of Laylatul Qadr
Hazrat Anas (RA) reports: “Once when Ramaadhan commenced, the messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: a month has verily dawned over you where in lies a night better than a thousand months. Whoever misses such a night has been deprived of all that is good; and none is deprived of it, except he who is really unfortunate.”
I’tikaaf (seclusion in the masjid)
The meaning of “I’tikaaf” is to seclude oneself in the msjid, with the express intention (NIyah) of I’tikaaf. According to the Hanafi school of thought, there are three types of I’tikaaf:
a) Waajib I’tikaaf (Obligatory I’tikaaf )
I’tikaaf becomes compulsory when a person makes it obligatory upon himself. For example, when a person makes a vow to Allah Ta’ala that if Allah fulfils a certain wish of his, he shall perform so many days I’tikaaf becomes compulsory. Or a person may just make an unconditional vow, whereby he makes I’tikaaf waajib upon himself for a certain of days.; this becomes obligatory for him from that moment onwards.
b) Sunnat I’tkaaf
This was the general practice of Rasoolullah (SAWS). It means to seclude onself inside the masjid for the lat ten days of Ramadhaan.
c) Nafl I’tkaaf
For the third category i.e. Nafl I’tkaaf, no special time and no specific number of days are fixed. A person may make a niyyah (intention) for any number of days at any time, even for his whole life. While Imaam Abu Hanifa (R.A) states that I’tikaaf must be for not less than a full day, Imaam Muhammad states that there is no limit as to the minimum period of time. The “Fatwa” confirms this latter view. Therefore it is desirable for any one entering a masjid to make the “Niyyah” (intention) of I’tikaaf for the period that he will remain in the masjid, so that, while he is in Ibaadah, he also earns the reward of I’tikaaf.
Objects of I’tikaaf and its advantages
In view of the above, it is advisable that everyone entering the masjid to join the congregational prayer should, on entering the Masjid, make the niyyah for I’tikaaf, in that case it means that as long as one remains busy with salaat, zikr listening to lectures or sermons he also receives the reward for the I’tikaaf. This reward for I’tikaaf is great as indicated by the fact that Rasoolullah (SAWS) always performed I’tikaaf. This example of him who resides in the masjid in I’tikaaf is that of a person who, having gone to certain place to appeal for something, remains there until it is granted. It is similar to a person who comes begging at our door and then refuses to leave until he has been granted his request. I am sure that even the person with the hardest heart amongst us will eventually give in to his request. How much more Merciful is Allah Ta’ala, and when someone persistently sits at His door, what doubt can there be in the fulfillment of his wishes. Allaama ibn Qayyim, in explaining the significance of I’tikaaf writes that the actual aim is to divert the heart away from everything except Allah Ta’ala, and to draw it near to Allah Ta’ala, thereby forming a complete spiritual connection with the Creator. All worldly connections are thus cut off, for the sake of gaining Allah Ta’ala’s attention and all thoughts, desires, love and devotion become centred around Him. As a result, an attachment to Allah Ta’ala is attained – a love and friendship that will be the only support in the loneliness of the grave. One can possibly imagine the great ecstasy with which that time in the grave will be spent.
In ‘Maraqiul Falaah’, the author writes that I’tikaaf, when properly and sincerely performed, is among the most virtuous deeds. One cannot possibly enumerate all the great advantages and benefits in it. What takes place in I’tikaaf is that the heart is drawn away from everything else except the Creator, while the soul is laid at His door step. All the time, one remains in a state of Ibaadah, even when one is asleep, one is still in His worship striving for nearness to Him. And Allah Ta’ala says (according to a hadeeth):
“Whoever draws near to me (the length of) one hand, then I draw nearer to him (the length) of two hands, and whoever draws near to Me by walking, I draw nearer to him by running.”
Moreover, in I’tikaaf one seeks refuge in the house of Allah Ta’ala, and is safe therein from all enemies.
Where to perform I’tikaaf?
The best of places for I’tikaaf is the Masjidul Haram in Makkah Mukarramah. The next best is the Masjidun-Nabawi in Madeenah Munawwarah, and the next best in Baitul Muqadas.
Thereafter, comes the Jumu’ah Masjid in one’s own town, and last but not least, the masjid nearest to one’s home. Imam Abu Hanifa (R.A) stipulates that the masjid should be one wherein the five daily prayers are regularly performed, while Imaam Abu Yousaf and Imaam Muhammad agree that any Masjid acceptable to the shariah can be entered for I’tikaaf.
The above applies to the males. As for the females, they should perform I’tikaaf in the prayer room (masjid aside in their homes). Where no such demarcated place exists, any room or part of the house should be set aside for this purpose. Thus, I’tikaaf is in fact an easier task for women. The domestic duties can be performed by daughters or servants under her supervision and the woman in I’tikaaf, while remaining in a section in her own house, is spiritually rewarded for it. It is so very unfortunate that, in spite of this relative ease, our women-folk still remain deprived of the blessings of I’tikaaf.
Hazrat Abu Saeed Khudri (RA) reports that Rasoolullah (SAWS) once performed I’tikaaf in a rent (inside the masjid) for the first ten days of Ramadhaan. Thereafter, he extended it to the middle ten days. Thereafter, he put his head out of the tent and said: “Verily in search of Laylatul Qadr did I perform I’tikaaf for the first ten days and extended it to the next ten days for the same purpose; then I was told that this night is in the last ten days; so those with me should also continue the I’tikaaf. I had indeed been shown that night and then made to forget which one it shall be. And verily did I see myself prostrating to Allah with my forehead in mud on the morning after that night. Therefore, seek Laylatul Qadr among the last ten nights of Ramadhaan; seek it among the odd ones”.
Hazrat Abu Saeed Khudri (R.A) says: “That same night it rained. The roof of the masjid leaked, and I saw Rasoolullah (SAWS) performing ‘sujood’ (prostration) in muddy clay, and that was the morning of the 21st night.”