THE BLESSED MONTH OF RAMADAN
Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 4024206462
Human beings look for what they think of as happiness in thrills and chills, in things and events, ininstant gratification. Surely, this type of thing is fun, but it's transitory(short-lived). To be truly happy - contented, at peace with oneself – one must be true to oneself, honest with those around. One must treat other people fairly.
The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful, we shall be happy all the time, regardless of external conditions, but if it is disturbed or troubled in any way, we shall never be happy, no matter how good our external conditions may be. External conditions can only make us happy if our mind is peaceful. We can understand this through our own experience. For instance, even if we are in the most beautiful surroundings and have everything we need, the moment we get angry any happiness we may have disappears. This is because anger has destroyed our inner peace.
If one wants true and lasting happiness one needs to develop and maintain “inner peace”. The only way we can do this is by training our mind and body through spiritual practice. For Muslims Ramadan gives the opportunity of Siyam (fasting), Salaat (ritual prayers), Tilawat-e-Qur’an (recitation of the Qur’an) and Dhikr Allah (Remembrance of Allah). The blessed month of Ramadan brings happiness, goodness, spiritual enlightenment, rewards, and physical and spiritual benefits to all the Muslims. Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims of all ages. Children look forward to the excitement of sighting the moon and eating special meals with their families. Adults appreciate the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins. As Ramadan emphasizes Muslim brotherhood and community, all feel a particular closeness towards Allah and amongst their family and friends. Muslims have to change their whole physical and emotional selves during these 30 long days of fasting. “Atyab at-tihani Bi-munasabat hulul shahru Ramadan al-Mubarak” is Arabic for: “The most precious congratulations on the occasion of the coming of Ramadan”
WHAT IS RAMADAN?
The word, Ramadan is derived from the Arabic root word ramida or ar-ramad signifying strong burning heat and dryness, especially the ground. Thus, the word Ramadan indicates the warm sensation in the stomach as a result of thirst. Spiritually, Ramadan burns out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground. The hearts and souls of believers are more receptive (readily open) to the warnings and remembrance of Allah during Ramadan, just as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun's heat. While the heat helps shape, form, and mold virtually every matter - including metal, plastics, plants and living cells - Ramadan undoubtedly helps a serious believer to remold, reshape, reform, and renew his/her physical and spiritual nature and behavior.
RAMADAN is called the blessed month because:
In this month, the whole Qur'an was sent down to the first sky from Lawhe Mahfuz. In the month of Ramadan, there is the night (Laylathul Qadr), which is better than 1000 months. In this month, the thawaab of good deed is equal to the fardh of another month. This is the month of patience and the reward of this patience is Jannah. This month teaches the lesson of kindness towards others. In this month, the Rizq (daily bread) of Muslims is increased. In this month, the first ten days are of mercy, second ten days are of forgiveness and the last ten days are of being freed from Hell. The month of Ramadan is a month in which the Mercy and Blessings of Allah Ta'ala descend upon us continuously. Ramadan is the most important month of the year. It is the month that the believers await with eagerness. During Ramadan the believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection from Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator. It is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout the Muslim communities. It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his Iman, purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Said, "Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven," "Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven." The rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.
Qur'an was revealed in this month
Whenever the month of Ramadan approaches, happiness and joy return to the Ummah, because Ramadan brings two of the greatest gifts of Allah, namely the fasting month of Ramadan and the celebration of the revelation of Al Qur'an.
"The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed as a guidance for humanity, as a clear proof of that guidance, and as a criterion for distinguishing between right and wrong" (2: 185).
Ramadan was the host month that received final revelation, Al-Qur'an Al-`Azeem. Allah (SWT) conferred this book upon humanity through His Messenger Muhammad bin `Abdullah. According to a Hadith the reading of Al-Qur'an has been mandated by its Author (Allah (SWT)), for the believers all the time, particularly in the month of Ramadan. From the beginning of Islam, Muslims read Al-Qur'an while fasting in the month of Ramadan. By reading the Qur'an the believer cherishes the privilege of directly conversing with the Creator of the Universe. But the Qur'an is also a Huda (a guidance). And as Huda – as true guidance – it teaches us how to live our lives as complete human beings. It teaches us how to live our lives with respect, dignity, honor, and love. It further teaches us that Allah Ta’ala is a divinity that embraces the concerns of all humanity. Ramadan is the month of spiritual excitement in the Muslim world. It is the month of fasting and recitation of the Glorious Qur'an, which was revealed during this month-the month of Tahajjud and Qiyam Al-Lail, Taraweeh prayers, Sadaqah, Zakat-ul-Fitr, Zakat Al-Mal. The spiritual training during the month of Ramadan cannot be complete without a great deal of reading of the Book of Allah. This divine Book deals with the questions of total life: creed, moral instructions, administration of warnings, giving good news, lessons from historical events, interpretation of the material and natural phenomenon, inviting humanity to their Creator, and admonishing the unbelievers. Ramadan affords a believer an opportunity to cross-reference his entire life with the reading of Al-Qur'an; and anyone who observes this practice during Ramadan has a better chance of graduating to a higher spiritual level.
Fasting is a powerful expression of Allah that takes the Muslims to the blessings of His mercy, and a key to uncouple the mysteries of His nearness. Fasting is a discipline that provides direct communication between the believers and the Creator. This is an act of 'Ibadah that develops self-worth, self-strength, self-rebuilding, self-discipline and self-control. The institution of fasting moves the believer from unauthentic to authentic. It enriches the vital needs of human being, both physical and spiritual. Fasting is a characteristic form of worship ('Ibadah) prescribed as part of an overall system of Islam. Fasting directs the fasting person to the art of balancing the spiritual essentials with physical needs. Fasting strengthens the will power that controls our actions. Fasting awakens the mind and stimulates clear thinking and consciousness of Allah. Fasting is the sobering of a mind and reconstruction of our spiritual faculties. Fasting makes the individual ready and prepared to meet the Creator.
To a Muslim, fasting not only means abstaining from food, but also refraining from all vices and evils committed by us consciously or unconsciously. For it is believed that if one volunteers to refrain from lawful foods and sex, they will be in a better position to avoid unlawful things and acts during the rest of the year.
The third pillar of Islam, Zakat, is an opportunity that should not be lost on eligible Zakat payers: to mix Ramadan with mandatory gift giving so as to carry on the commands of Allah (SWT) and to combat greed of an affluent person and to help needy meet his essential needs, and thus build a bond of strong relationship in the Ummah.
HADITH ON RAMADAN
Abu Hurayrah (ra) relates the Messenger of Allah (saws) said when one Ramadan came: "A blessed month has arrived. Observing it in fasting is mandated on you (the believers). During this month, the gates of Paradise will be opened and the gates of Hellfire will be closed. The evil ones (Shayaatin) will be handcuffed. In it there is one night, during which worship is better than worship in a thousand months. Whoever is denied its blessings has been denied the biggest blessing." (Ahmed, Nasaee, and Baihaqi). This hadith emphasizes the importance of being mindful and aware of the rules that govern the 'Ibadah of fasting. For one of the key words in every 'Ibadah is "muwafaqah Ash-Shari'ie," observing in accordance to the commands of the Lawgiver.
THE MERITS OF FASTING
Islam is built on five pillars. Each represents a unique institution through which the believer builds his/her relationship with the Creator and the creation. Of all the pillars of Islam, none is more special than Siyaam or fasting. While there may be an appearance of Riya, or show, in all other pillars such as- Salaat, Zakaat, Hajj, and even the Kalimah - there is no such possibility in fasting. The only One Who knows that you are really abstaining from food and drink is Allah, the Almighty. It is easy to pretend to be fasting; while secretly, you may eat or drink.
It has been reported by the way of Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Prophet (sas) reported that Allah (SWT) said in a Hadith Al-Qudsi: "All services of the son of Adam are for him except fasting. It is for Me, and I will reward him for it. Fasting is a shield. On the day you fast, do not use obscenity, nor yell at others, nor act ignorantly towards them. However, if anyone abuses you verbally or attempts to draw you to fight with him, say 'I am fasting' two times. The Prophet (sas) then states: I swore by the One (Allah) in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the breath of the faster is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgment than the scent of musk. The fasting person experiences enjoyment twice: he is pleased when he breaks his fast, and he is pleased when he meets his Maker" (Muslim).
Certainly, there is only one reason why a believer will put himself or herself through this ordeal or trying physical exercise and that is to seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT). The fast is the single most important device to test the Iman, or faith, of the believer and the depth of his sincerity and commitment to the concept of Tawheed, the Oneness of Allah.
The hadith also states that fasting is a shield, an armor protecting the believer from sinful acts (ma'asi). When you eat, the blood flow increases considerably, and the energy level increases, making it easier for Satan to use your own energy level to tempt you to commit sins. In another hadith, the Prophet states: "Satan runs in the circulatory system of the son of Adam in the same way blood circulates in our system; so tighten his passages with hunger." (Bukhari/Muslim)
Fasting enables the believer to guard against his archenemy. It also helps him against human evil by putting the patience and perseverance gained from fasting into use with forbearance and forgiveness. Otherwise, in this case, Al-Qur'an allows the believer to repel evil without transgression.
Also it is the month of social activities among Muslims. During the month the entire lifestyle of Muslims undergoes a dramatic change, with the nights wearing a festive look. The whole pattern of private and public life is transformed along with the timings for schools and universities.
The spiritual fervor of Ramadan supersedes all other activities throughout the year. No one can explain the happiness unless he seeks the blessings of this month day and night. For these and many other reasons, the following is recommended for those who wish to benefit from this month. Preparations in this regard should start at least from the month of Rajab, two months in advance. Allah has revealed in Surah Al-Tawbah (Repentance) concerning the four sacred months:
The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year); so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred.” (9: 36)
(Zul Qi’dah, Zil Hijjah and Muharram; and then the month of Rajab, which is between Jamada II and Sha‘ban.)
Therefore, it is recommended that Muslims increase their fasting in those months so as to be close to Allah. Moreover, they would be preparing themselves for Ramadan before it comes. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban. The Prophet said: ‘Many people are unaware of this month's significance; it is between Rajab and Ramadan. In this month the deeds of the people are lifted to the Lord of the Worlds. I like my deeds to be lifted while I am in a state of fasting.”
Ramadan is the month of fasting. As the Qur’an says: ‘0 you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was a prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self-restraint (Taqwa).” (2:183)
Taqwa can be realized through three opportunities provided for us by the fast:
The disciplining of the will (tarbiyat ul-Iradah)
The purification of the self (tazkiyat un-Nafs)
The purification of the soul (tasfiyat ur-Ruh)
Allah (SWT) says: " That He wants you to complete the prescribed period (of fasting) so that you are able to magnify the greatness of Allah for His having guided you, and so that – perchance – you may be thankful" (2: 185).
The greatness of Ramadan therefore lies in the opportunity it offers for the development of Taqwa – a virtue that allows us to truly participate in that great cosmic celebration in honor of the revelation of the Qur'an as a Huda to all people, which is, as mentioned earlier, Ramadan itself. Ramadan allows us to magnify Allah Ta’ala as He ought to be magnified, namely, with complete awareness of our earthly duties and spiritual work; and, therefore, to be of those who are truly thankful to Allah. It is a virtue too, which is ultimately celebrated in the Quran itself, for Allah says: " The best of you are those who have learnt Taqwa" (49: 13).
Recommendations to increase the spiritual strength 1
* Try to reduce the number of hours that you watch TV, and instead spend sometime reading Qur’an, Hadith, Sirath, Fiqh, Shariah and any literature about Islam.
* Avoid looking at any unlawful or salacious pictures whether they are from commercial magazines of departmental stores or otherwise.
* Avoid going to theaters. Instead try to go to Masjid, and make it a habit at least once a day.
* Avoid eating in excess, and try to curb your eating habit. Don’t eat unless you are hungry and try not to overload your stomach.
* For those who have the habit of drinking coffee, tea or soda, try your best to reduce their consumption.
* For those given to smoking cigarettes, try to curb this habit before Ramadan.
* Those fond of music, rap-music and songs should reduce the time spent on them. Instead they should recite or listen to the Noble Qur'an.
* For those who enjoy playing cards, cut it out and fill your time with something useful.
* For those who enjoy picnics to enjoy social outings, apply a break on this habit before Ramadan.
* If you have friends who do not practise the teachings of Islam, try your best to avoid socializing with them.
* If you travel quite often for the sake of business, try to do local business so that you will be close to your family and your local community.
*If you are a late night sleeper, go to bed early, so that you will be able to wake up early for Salat Al-Fajr.
*Try to fast Mondays and Thursdays as of today.
* Keep yourself in a state of Wudoo’, most of the time.
* Evaluate yourself daily before going to sleep. Thank Allah for the good deeds you have done, and apologize to Him for the mistake you have made.
* Give yourself the time to isolate yourself for contemplation, remember Allah through Zikr: Tasbeeh (Subhaan Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), Tahmeed (Al-hamdu Lillah) and Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah). You will be elated spiritually and you will enjoy life tremendously.
* Those of you, who can perform Umrah before Ramadan, please do so.
* Start giving charity on a daily basis no matter how little it is.
* Find time to pray the extras, such as Duha Salat, Qiyam Al-Layl and Tahajjud.
* Find time to help others with your wisdom. Knowledge, and other talents.
* Try to educate Muslims and non-Muslims through articles.
* Associate yourself with Muslim scholars, Hafiz, Qari’ and other Ulama so that you will be able to learn from them.
* Train yourself to do good and render services free of charge to others.
*Try to learn how to make Da'wah to non-Muslims. It is an art with knowledge and diplomacy.
To prepare ourselves before Ramadan approaches us is far better than waiting till it comes. To prepare ourselves for anything else in life is a sign of wisdom and maturity. To train ourselves step-by-step is an excellent idea instead of last minute training. Muslims should train and prepare themselves well in advance before Ramadan and Hajj.
THE WISDOM BEHIND FASTING 2
There are reasons and wisdom behind every single act in Islam, no matter how small. It is possible to know the wisdom behind some acts, and for others we may never know. Salaat, for instance, is a daily training for purifying the believer and reminding him or her that he/she is a member in a community of believers. Fasting, on the other hand, is an annual institution containing all conceivable attributes for human excellence. It is a training for the body and soul, a renewal of life, encouraging the spirit of sharing and giving. The following are some of the general benefits:
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer