Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and Muslims are required to fast during this month. The fast is to abstain from food, drink and marital relations from dawn until sunset, but Muslims are also encouraged to increase in their worship in general and also the recital of the Holy Qur’an. In accordance with the practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Charity is also encouraged in this month and many choose this time of the year to fulfill the requirement of Zakaat.
Experience has shown that effects of ibaadat (worship) in the blessed month of Ramadhan remain upon the remainder of the year. Whomsoever practices any virtue informally therein, ease of performing A’amale Salihah overtakes them thereafter.
Similarly, whoever prevents them self from sinning therein, for the remaining eleven months abstentation will become easy. In reality, prevention from sins in Ramadhan is not too difficult because, it is established that the Shayateen are imprisoned. Consequently, less sinning occurs generally because of removal of this stimulant.
However, sins do not totally disappear because the other orchestrator: one’s nafs (self) is present. Even in this month it will instigate sins but, yes, its schemes will lesson because only one stimulant is now active.
Therefore, the impositions of this one month should be accepted. All parts (of one’s body) should be saved from sin.
It is related by Abu Hurairah (RAA) that the Apostle of God (sallallaho alaihi wa sallam) said “When the month of Ramadhan comes, the Gates of Heaven are thrown open and the Gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are put behind bars” In another report, the “Gates of Mercy” are mentioned in place of the “Gates of Heaven”. [Bukhari and Muslim]
Commentary – Commenting of this Tradition, Shah Wali-ullah remarks that as the devout bondsmen apply themselves to worship and good-doings during the month of Ramadhan and spend their days in God- remembrance and recitation of the Qur’an while Fasting, and a major part of their nights in Taraweeh and Tahajjud, supplication and repentance, under the influence of their high spirituality and devotional exertions the hearts of the common Muslims, too become more inclined towards prayer and piety and they, on the whole succeed in abstaining from good many sins. Owing to the generation of the atmosphere worship and virtue in the Islamic circles, people who are not wholly disregardful of transcendental truths develop a fondness for things that are pleasing to God and an aversion for acts that are repugnant to Him. moreover, in this blessed month the recompense on even smaller acts of moral goodness is made much greater by God than on other days. In consequence of all this, the gates of Paradise are opened and of Hell are closed for such people and the devils are not left free to tempt and mislead them.
It would be clear that all the three things – the throwing open of the gates of Heaven, the shutting up of the gates of Hell and the binding of the devils in chains – are in respect only of the bondsmen who feel disposed towards good-doing in the month of Ramadhan, and out of the keenness to partake of its blessings engage themselves enthusiastically in worship and other religious duties. As for the Apostates, the negligent and the heedless who care little for Divine injunctions and produce no change in their daily lives at the advent of Ramadhan, these tidings do not apply to them,. When they have opted out, of their own accord, for the path of error and omission and taken willingly to follow Satan and doing his bidding there is nothing for them except disappointment with God as well.
It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of Allah (sallallaho alaihi wa sallam) said : “When the first night of the month of Ramadhan (comes), the devil’s and defiant Jinn are bound in chains and all the Gates of Hell are closed and non of them remains open and all the Gates of Heaven are thrown open and none of them remains closed and the heavenly herald announces, “O seeker of goodness and virtue! come forward; and O lover of wickedness and evil-doing! Halt, and do not come forward” and a large number of (sinning) bondsmen are released from Hell at the command of God (i.e., decision of forgiveness and deliverance is taken for them), and all this takes place on every night of Ramadhan.” [Tirmizi and Ibn-i-Maja]
Abdullah Bin Abbas narrates that the Apostle of God (sallallaho alaihi wa sallam) was superior to all men in generosity and the doing of good to the people in general, but in the month of Ramadhan his benevolence knew no bounds. In Ramadhan, Gabriel came to him every night and the Prophet (sallahu alaihi wa sallam) recited the Qur’an to him. During Ramadhan the Prophet (sallaho alaihi wa sallam) appeared to be faster than the wind in generosity and benevolence. [Bukhari and Muslim]
As the blessed month of Ramadhan approaches, we need to prepare for it in such a way that we can gain the maximum benefit of this month. For many, Ramadhan comes and goes. However, very few people actually benefit from this great month. Our teachers advise us to live the whole year as if we are in the month of Ramadhan. This magnanimous achievement can only be attained when the actual month of Ramadhan is spent properly. In order to acquire a droplet of the reality mentioned above, Insha Allah, I hope to mention ten points that were given as form of advice to me and many others.
1.Discipline: Most people already know to abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from one’s spouse during the daytime of Ramadhan. However, a level of discipline must be developed to do righteous acts and abstain from those acts which would earn the displeasure of Allah. That was a basic form of discipline that needs to be developed but along with that, one needs to have discipline in following a particular routine or schedule for Ramadhan. This will be the real life changing factor for an individual. They wake up for suhoor but also pray Tahajjud at that time. Recite some Qur’an. They eat. Make dua’ while waiting for Salah. They pray Fajr. Recite Qur’an and make zikr. Rest if they need to.
The idea is to make a schedule and act accordingly the whole month without sacrificing their schedule. This is the desired discipline that is required.One may ask, “Why did he not just put the first point as a ‘making a schedule’?” Well, the answer is very simple. Anyone can come up with a schedule, but it takes real discipline to abide by it.
2.Devotional life (‘Ibadah): Ramadhan is the month where Allah allows us to really fulfill the purpose of our being, and the purpose of our creation. Allah created us all to worship Him, and Him alone. Here, I will not mention virtues of various acts or worship because those can be found in the many books on the merits of certain deeds. However, since Ramadhan and Qur’an are closely connected, I will say that much of our devotional life should be focused on the Qur’an.
Reciting at least the entire Qur’an once in this month. Understanding it from erudite scholarship of our community or from accepted commentaries and Tafaaseer. I am not asking that a person recites the entire Qur’an and completes one entire commentary of it in one month. Perhaps it may be feasible to recite the entire Qur’an and start off a regimen of a Tafseer and try to finish it on an annual basis.
3.Identifying with the Ummah: It is important that we feel our fast, i.e. feel hunger and thirst. Apart from that, we can use this to our benefit by making other people’s fast count for us as well. This means that if we feed or give to drink something to someone who fasts, we can get the reward of their fast as well.
Another aspect of identifying with the Ummah is to be grateful for whatever Allah has given us and realize that a little of that we need to give to others so that they may have a decent Ramadhan and wonderful ‘Eid. See what the Ummah is going through and see how we can actively participate to help the Ummah in any way possible.
4.Contact with the Qur’an: Ramadhan is the month wherein the Qur’an was revealed. This is the month of the Qur’an. It is extremely essential to establish a relationship with the Qur’an. Without going into much detail, I will just mention something practical with regards to the Qur’an and Ramadhan.
For the average person, i.e. one who is not scholar or is not a Hafiz, they should read at least one juz per day so that they finish at a minimum one entire Qur’an for the month of Ramadhan. If one can do more, than Alhamdulillah, no one is stopping anyone. The next thing is to understand the Qur’an. So take the first volume of Ma’ariful Qur’an (for example) and read one section of the Arabic part (if one can) and then read the translation, then read the commentary. Do this every day without fail. Obviously the whole commentary will not be completed in one month, but at least a schedule to read a portion regularly will be developed and hopefully within a year it could be completed.
Also, one should try to memorize those chapters/surahs which are read often like Mulk, Kahf, Ya Seen, Waqi’ah, and Sajdah. Also memorize Surahs from the last juz at least and more if possible.
5.Mujahadah: Ramadhan is a month of sacrifice and struggle. It is a month where Allah wants our time, our health, our wealth, and our whole being. We literally live the whole year for everything and anything. It is just one month…can we not live one month solely for our Creator?! So what if we have to sacrifice our sleep, and random other luxuries that we can do without anyway. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” The amount of sacrifice and struggle we put into this month, Allah will reward us in this world and the next accordingly.
Give yourself to Allah, and see what Allah has in store for you.
6.Dua’: The essence of worship is supplication to Allah. This whole month, Allah is willing and readily open to accept all that we ask of Him. It is only to our own loss and detriment that we lack in begging Allah for the things we need. Prioritize your supplications. Ask firstly for yourself, then your family, community, then the Ummah at large. Within that, prioritize and ask for things pertaining to the hereafter, then ask for things pertaining to this world. Just remember one thing when it comes to dua’, the point of dua’ is not that we need something or we need protection or refuge from some other thing, the point is that Allah told us to supplicate to Him, and that is why one should make dua’ abundantly. There are certain things Allah loves to do, and one of them is to answer the supplications of His servants who call unto Him.
One final aspect regarding dua’ is crying or pretending to cry. Tears are something foreign to Allah and therefore He has immense value for tears. The whole year we become filthy and impure spiritually by sinning, Ramadhan is the month where we purify our spirits by bathing our spirits in our tears.
7.Good Company: Ramadhan is a month to maximize on good deeds and keep bad deeds at zero. Being in the company of the righteous will allow one to attain this goal. I will keep this point short. The minimum benefit one gets by being in good company is that one will not sin which in turn will cause one to become the greatest worshiper based off the hadith of Tirmidhi wherein Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) took Abu Hurayrah (Radhiyallahu ‘anhu)’s hand and said, “O Abu Hurayrah, abstain from all prohibitions and you will become the best worshiper.”
The maximum benefit is that being with the people of Allah, Insha Allah; a person may just Attain Allah. What can be greater?!
8.Gratitude: The secret to an increase in anything is to be thankful for it. To make sure that we see this month the next year, appreciate it this year. Be thankful for all that we have in every aspect, even the basic things we neglect and take for granted. We have Iman, we have Islam. Alhamdulillah, we are the best Ummah. We have been given the best book, i.e. the Qur’an. The best way to appreciate a bounty is to use it for its purpose.
Allah has blessed with infinite blessing and bounties. Ramadhan is one of those bounties, so to fully appreciate Ramadhan, we must spend it the way Allah would like us to spend it and attain out goal which is Taqwa.
9.Following the Sunnah: Anything of the beloved is also beloved. That is a principle of love. Allah has proclaimed the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) as His beloved. If we follow the Sunnah and show a resemblance, then we can also gain the focus of Allah. Particularly follow the Sunnah acts which the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) performed in Ramadhan.
If we have to do something, might as well do it the best way possible. The best way for anything to be done is the way of the Sunnah. If by any chance it was some other way, Allah would have had His Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) do it that way then.
10.Istiqamah: Imam Junayd Al-Baghdadi (RA) said, “Steadfastness is greater than a thousand miracles.” Please do not tire one’s self out in the initial stages of Ramadhan, rather figure out a routine that works and stick to it regularly. The most beloved of actions to Allah are those that are done consistently even though they may seem minor. We all need to be thankful for the good that we have done and also for the evil we are able to abstain from. We also need to be thankful for whatever level of steadfastness that we have. We want to make Ramadhan last beyond Ramadhan as well. I’ll end with a quote from one of our mashaaikh, Shaykh In’aam-ul-Hasan Kandehlawi (RA) said, “Whoever lives their life as they do in Ramadhan, then death will come to that person just as the moon of ‘Eid comes for the fasting person.”
Fasting is a Shield
Fasting is a shield [Bukhari]
Fasting is a shield for a person which protects them from Shaytan, Allah’s punishment and Jahannam. However, one needs to make sure the shield is not damaged in any way. Otherwise it will not be effective in doing its job. The actions that damage this shield and render it useless are sins like Backbiting, Lying, Evil Glance, Swearing, Nonsensical Conversation, Arguments, Slander, Haram Sustenance, and every other evil.
Besides the compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan, one should try to fast during those days for which Rasoolullah (??? ???? ???? ? ???) has mentioned many rewards, for example:
?6 days of Shawwal
?Day of Aarafah
?Ashoora (9th & 10th or 10th & 11th of Muharram)