Ramadan is opportunity of a lifetime (PART 1)
- Translation of the lecture “Ramadan is an opportunity of a lifetime” by Dr. Nawal al-‘Eid
- Saheeh at-Targheeb by al-Albaani
- Riyadus-Saliheen by Daar-us-Salaam
Virtues of the month of Ramadan
- The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and the defiant Jinn are bound in chains and all the gates of Hell are closed and none of them remain open, and all the gates of Paradise are opened and none of them remain closed, and every night a caller from heaven will announce, ’O seeker of goodness and virtue! Come forward;’ and ‘O evildoer! Halt (desist), and do not come forward;’ and a large number of sinners are released from Hell at the command of Allaah (i.e. decision of forgiveness and deliverance is taken for them), and all this takes place on every night of Ramadan.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah on the authority of Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) and authenticated by al-Albaani and he graded it Hasan]
The Scholars said: “The gates of Jannah (Paradise) are opened in this month because many righteous deeds are performed and ascend to Allaah (Ta’ala) during these days. Allaah (Ta’ala) loves that the deeds of the believer ascend to Paradise, and the angels are occupied in building his dwellings and palaces and planting gardens for him.” Therefore, while offering the Salaat (prayers) one should feel that the deed is ascending directly to Paradise. This is an encouragement for those who seek Allaah’s reward.
On the other hand, the gates of Hell are closed because only a few sins are committed by the believers, and because of Allaah’s abundant forgiveness for His slaves during these days.
A caller from the heaven will call, “O seeker of goodness and virtue, come forward,” so seek help from Allaah (Ta’ala) and perform good deeds profusely. For those who used to establish the night with three Rak’ah voluntary prayers, let them offer more, and whoever used to give one or ten dinars in charity let him give more.
“O evil doer! Halt (desist)!” Until when will you commit these sins?
During the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, disallowing them to influence the believers by whispering to them, thereby misguiding them. The evil hidden in man (due to Shaytaan) is weakened, but the self still remains which persistently incites to evil. If a person does not abandon sinning in the month of Ramadan, then this indicates that evil is rooted in the self of that person.
Reasons behind committing sins in the month of Ramadan despite the devils being chained:
I- The mighty ones among the Jinn are chained but not the Qareens [devil companions who are entrusted to accompany every person].
II- When a person observes fast, the blood circulation becomes weak and the flow of blood is constricted; accordingly, the whisper of the Shaytaan (devil) becomes weak.
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily the devil runs through the body of the son of Adam like the flow of blood.” [Saheeh al-Jamie no. 1658]
III- The chaining is for all the strong ones among the Jinn and Qareens (devil companions), but there remains other matters and factors which require a person to strive against the self, such as the self that persistently incites to evil, the worldly life, desires, evil friends, etc. Only one means of evil is removed (taken away), but still there are other means which require one to struggle and strive against the self.
Evil companions are more harmful to man than evil demons.
Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-An’aam (6:112):
“And thus We have made for every Prophet, an enemy- devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion.”
Al-Qurtubi said: “If it is asked, ‘we see many evil actions and sins happening in Ramadan. If the devils are chained then how can that happen?’
The answer has a wide range of diverse opinions.
- Evil actions are reduced on the part of those who fast meeting all the conditions of fasting and taking care to observe the proper etiquette or
- Only some of the devils are chained up, namely the Maarids (strong ones), and not all of them, as is said in some reports or
- Evil is reduced in this month, which is something noticeable – fewer evils happen in this month than in other months. If all of them were chained up, that does not mean that evil and sin would not happen, because there are other causes of evil apart from the devils, such as evil souls, bad habits and human devils.” [Fat-h al-Baari]
Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat an-Nahl (16:25):
“They will bear their own burden in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also of the burden of those whom they misled without knowledge. Evil indeed is that which they shall bear!”
Every night a caller from heaven will call, starting from the Maghrib Prayer, “Don’t commit sins! Desist!”
Be aware of the call of the angel and do good. Don’t be of those who observe fast but abstain from doing good or who break their fast by doing evil (or forbidden acts).
2- “Fasting is a protection and a fortified fortress from Hell-Fire.” [Reported by Ahmad and authenticated by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jamie’ no. 3880]
Al-Bukhaari also reported a Hadeeth on the authority of Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter from Hell-Fire). Therefore, the person observing fast should avoid sexual relations with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should say to him twice, ’I am observing fast.’”
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) added, “By him in whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a person observing fast is better with Allaah (Ta’ala) than the smell of musk. (Allaah says about the fasting person): ‘He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times.’”
There are four kinds of desires which fasting restrains:
a) The desire of the stomach
b) The desire of the private parts
c) The desire of anger
d) The desire of talking
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does not give up lying (making false statements) and acting on those lies and evil actions, etc., Allaah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink [i.e. Allaah will not accept his fasting].” [Al-Bukhaari]
False statements include every false matter, such as lying, songs, backbiting, gossiping, etc.
Fasting is a shield, but only for the one who observes true fasting.
3- It is one of the greatest months in which invocations are answered and wishes are fulfilled.
Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:186):
“And when my slaves ask you (O Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) 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 aright.”
For every Muslim there is a granted invocation:
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allaah has people Whom He redeems from the Fire every day and night (in Ramadan), and every slave has a prayer that is answered.” [Reported by Ahmad on the authority of Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) and authenticated by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jamie’ no. 2169]
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There are three persons whose invocations are never rejected: the just ruler, the fasting person at the time of breaking his fast, and the invocation of an oppressed person… for which the gates of heaven will be opened and the Lord, the Blessed, the Most High will say: ‘By My Might I will give you support even after some time.’” [At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by al-Albaani no. 2526]
4. One of the virtues of this blessed month is the companionship with those whom Allaah has praised.
Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions about the best companionship in Surat an-Nisaa’ (4:69-70):
“And who obeys Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then they will be in the company of those on whom Allaah has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets, the Siddiqun (those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them), the martyrs, and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are! Such is the bounty from Allaah, and Allaah is Sufficient as All-Knower.”
Imaam Ahmad recorded that ‘Amr ibn Murrah said: “A man came to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said: ’O Allaah’s Messenger! I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that you are the Messenger of Allaah, I pray the five (daily prayers), give the Zakaah due on my wealth and fast the month of Ramadan.’ The Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Whoever dies in this state will be with the Prophets, the truthful and the martyrs on the Day of Resurrection as long as – and he raised his finger – he is not disobedient to his parents.’” [Saheeh at-Targheeb and authenticated by al- Albaani no. 2515]
In another version he said: “I observe fast in the month of Ramadan and establish its nights with prayer (Qiyam).” [Saheeh Ibn Khuzaimah no. 2212]
5. Redemption from Hell-Fire
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “At the breaking of every fast Allaah (Ta’ala) will choose people to free from Hell-Fire, and that is (happens) every night.” [Ibn Maajah and authenticated by al-Albaani and he said it is Hasan, Saheeh no. 1340]
Think about Allaah’s generosity at the time of breaking the fast; that as you are raising a date to your mouth to eat, Allaah is freeing people from Hell-Fire at that moment. Hope that you may be one of them.
The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for forgiveness of sins and being freed from Hell-Fire; the loser is the one who wrongs himself by not taking advantage of this month.
Jibreel (Gabriel) (‘Alayhis salaam) invoked with the following supplication and the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Aameen”, i.e. “O Allaah! Respond.”
One day the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ascended the pulpit one step, and said: “Aameen,” then he ascended the second step and said, “Aameen,” and then he ascended the third step and said: “Aameen,” then he rose on the pulpit and sat. The Companions asked: “For what do you say Aameen?”
He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Jibreel (‘Alayhis salaam) came to me and said: “May his nose be soiled with dust in whose presence mention is made of you and he does not invoke blessings upon you (i.e. invoke for the Salaat upon you),” and I said, “Aameen.” He (‘Alayhis salaam) said: ”May his nose be soiled with dust who finds his parents, one or both, approaching old age and he does not enter Paradise (by rendering service due to them).” I said: “Aameen.” Then He (‘Alayhis salaam) said: “May his nose be soiled with dust who has entered the month of Ramadan and comes out without being forgiven.” I said: “Aameen.” [Authenticated by al-Albaani in Fadl as-Salaat and in Saheeh al-Adab al-Mufrad]
Undoubtedly, this invocation by Jibreel (‘Alayhis salaam) and the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is granted by Allaah (Ta’ala). They invoked that the person who enters the month of Ramadan not be forgiven, and for him to be disgraced and humiliated. The statement, “may his nose be soiled with dust,” means: (1) May he be disgraced.
(2) May Allaah keep him away from Paradise.
(3) May Allaah enter him into Hell-Fire.
Allaah’s Mercy is so vast, and this person had great opportunities to attain Allaah’s forgiveness, but he transgressed against himself by neglecting these opportunities and he wasted them. “The father is the middle gate of Paradise, if you wish you keep it (by being dutiful to him) or you lose it (by being undutiful to him).” [Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Saheeh no.1900]
6. The Night of al-Qadr
When the month of Ramadan started, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Indeed, this month has started, in which there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived (of something great), and no one is deprived of its good except the real deprived one.” [Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb no. 1000 and authenticated by al-Albaani]
The truly deprived one in this life is not the one whose wishes were not fulfilled, but he is the one who entered the month of Ramadan and had the opportunity, i.e. he had a night in which worshipping Allaah by establishing the night with prayers, invocating, asking forgiveness, etc. is equivalent to worship performed for a period of one thousand months, but he missed it. It is also confirmed in the two Saheehs from Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever established the night of al-Qadr with prayer with sincere faith and hoping for Allaah’s reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” [Al-Bukhaari]
Advice for you during this month:
Be keen to take care of the following five matters during the month of Ramadan, hoping to attain Taqwa (piety):
First: The Qur’an
Allaah (Ta’ala) says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:185):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).”
The Salaf (the righteous predecessors) used to stop their study circles during the month of Ramadan and they also stopped relating Hadeeth to the people. Instead, they engaged themselves in reciting the Qur’an. They used to say: “Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an.”
One should recite the Qur’an in a way that will foster a change internally, a recitation with understanding and pondering over its verses (Tadabbur), a recitation which will have an impact on one such that it will draw (outline) for him the way of his life.
Let not your concern be to recite it profusely and finish it many times. Focus on your recitation and understand what is read such that it will have an impact on you and increase your faith.
Allaah (Ta’ala) enjoined fasting upon His believing slaves so that one might attain Taqwa (piety). Allaah (Ta’ala) is in no need of our abstinence of only food and drink; the main goal that one should try to achieve is Taqwa (Piety).
The Scholars said that the sign of the acceptance of one’s fast in the month of Ramadan after it has finished is practicing Taqwa in all of one’s affairs.
The means to attain Taqwa
Jibreel (Gabriel) (‘Alayhis salaam) used to meet Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) every night in Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an. [As reported by al-Bukhaari, Book of Revelation]
Although Jibreel (‘Alayhis salaam) would have been able to finish the Qur’an with the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) thirty times and even more, he was teaching him the whole Qur’an once in the whole month of Ramadan. Why only once throughout the month? The scholars said it was because that helps to have a better understanding. However, in the year that he passed away, Jibreel taught him the Qur’an twice.
Example for Tadabbur
In the beginning of Surat al-Baqarah after the story of the cow, Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala) mentions about one of the aspects of hardness of the hearts, when He (Ta’ala) says:
“Then after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness.” (2:74)
Because of their (children of Isra’eel) frequent turning away and opposition to Allaah’s Commands, Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions that their hearts became hardened. This is as if you are being told, if you resemble them in turning away from Allaah’s Command, the result will be hardness of the heart.
Allaah (Ta’ala) describes how He commanded them and what they said in Surat al-Baqarah (2:93):
“And remember when We took your covenant and We raised above you the Mount (saying), ‘Hold firmly to what We have given you and hear (Our Word).’ They said: ‘We have heard and disobeyed.’”
When Allaah (Ta’ala) mentions about the children of Isra’eel to us, it is in order to warn us against resembling their attitude which caused them to be cursed.
Reciting the Qur’an with Tadabbur is a means of attaining the forgiveness and love of Allaah (Ta’ala).
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever wants (wishes) to love Allaah and His Messenger, then let him read the Mus-haf.” [Saheeh al-Jamie’, and authenticated by al-Albaani no. 6289]
It is narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) that he said: “Do not scatter the (recitation of) Qur’an out like the scattering of sand, and do not rush through it like the hasty recitation of poetry. Stop at its amazing parts and make your heart move with it. None of you should let his concern be to reach the end of the chapter.” [Al-Baghawi, Ma’aalim at-Tanzeel]
Anas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, Allaah has Ahleen (close slaves) from among the people; (they are) the people of the Qur’an; they are the special people of Allaah.” [Saheeh al-Jamie’ and authenticated by al-Albaani no. 2164]
Al Manaawi (Rahimahullaah) said: “The special people of Allaah are the ones who memorize the Qur’an and act upon it. They are named “Ahl-Allaah” out of respect for them as it is similarly said, “House of Allaah.” They are the ones whom Allaah brings closer to Him.”
Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) reported that he said: “Whoever recites the Qur’an, then he will not be returned to decrepit old age, and this is in reference to Allaah’s statement in Surat at-Teen (95:5-6):
“Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, except those who believe.” i.e. except those who recite the Qur’an. [Saheeh at-Targheeb no. 1435 and authenticated by al-Albaani]
Recitation of the Qur’an is a means of filling the house with angels because recitation expels the devils from it.
In a chapter in his Saheeh with the title “The descent of peace and tranquility and angels at the time of the recitation of the Qur’an,” Al-Bukhaari (Rahimahullaah) mentioned the story of Usaid ibn Hudair (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu). When Usaid was reciting Surat al-Baqarah at night with his horse tied beside him, the horse was suddenly startled and appeared to be troubled. And when he stopped reciting, the horse became quiet, and when he started again, the horse was startled again. Then he stopped reciting and the horse became quiet too. When he raised his head and looked towards the sky, he saw something like a cloud containing what looked like lamps. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Those were angels who came near you to listen to your voice, and if you had kept on reciting till dawn, they would have remained there till morning when the people would have seen them, as they (angels) would not have disappeared.”
The more angels descend in your house, the more this is a means of descending of good, granting of (responding to) invocations, and expelling the devils from the house.
Accordingly, based on the aforementioned points, one should take care of reciting the Qur’an, but not with superficial recitation. Rather, it should be with contemplation and deep thinking such that it makes one want to live with the people of Paradise when one reads about them, and makes one afraid when one reads about the people of Hell.
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned us against being from among those who recite the Qur’an without understanding. He (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) dispraised the Kharijites [Khawarij] saying: “People from my nation will come out, who recite the Qur’an, and your recitation (of the Qur’an) compared to theirs is nothing, and your Salaat and Siyaam compared to theirs is nothing. They recite the Qur’an thinking that it is for them (i.e., a plea for them) yet it is a plea against them. Their Salaat does not reach their throat. They come out of the religion of Islam as the arrow comes out of the game’s body.” [Saheeh al-Jamie’ no. 8056]
Al-Bukhaari reported that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “From the offspring of this man will come out people who will recite the Qur’an continuously and elegantly but it will not exceed their throat (they will neither understand it nor act upon it). They would go out of the religion (of Islam) as an arrow goes through a game’s body.”
In Surat al-Hadeed (57:16), Allaah says:
“Has not the time yet come for the believers, that their hearts should be humbled in remembrance of Allaah? And that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture before, and the term was prolonged for them so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were rebellious.”
This verse was revealed three times to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) concerning the Sahabah (the Companions) (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhum).
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said: “Only four years separated our acceptance of Islam and the revelation of this verse, in which Allaah subtly admonished us.” [Muslim]
It was also reported that it was revealed after seven years and again thirteen years after they embraced Islam.
Allaah is prohibiting the believers from imitating those who were given the Scriptures before them, the Jews and the Christians. As time passed they changed the Book of Allaah that they had, and they also threw Allaah’s Book behind their backs and were impressed and consumed by various opinions and false creeds. Consequently, their hearts became hard and they would not accept advice; their hearts did not feel humbled by Allaah’s promises or threats.
Make a daily program for yourself to recite the Qur’an with Tadabbur (contemplation and reflection).
Second: Taking the Sahoor (the Pre-Dawn Meal)
Taking Sahoor facilitates fasting and one will gain an increased reward.
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Take the Sahoor for there is blessing in it.” [Agreed upon]
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also said: “Taking the Sahoor is a blessing, never abandon it even if only with a gulp of water. Verily, Allaah and his angels confer Salaat upon those who take the Sahoor.” [Narrated by Abu Sa’eid al-Khudri (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), reported in Saheeh al-Jamie no. 3683 and authenticated by al-Albaani]
The Salaat of Allaah means that He praises the person in the presence of the angels, and the Salaat of the angels means their invocation for forgiveness and mercy for him.
TO BE CONTINUED…