Reminders for Muslims on 1438/2017 Ramadan
Here is Ramadan again, the month that true believers strive to acquire as much as possible rewards with the best of their physical and spiritual abilities. Ramadan is not a month of sloth and wickedness. It is the month for the acquisition of spiritual elevation, for the spread of love, mercy and forgiveness, as well as attainment of psychological and socio-economic balancing. The rich feel for the poor and every believing Muslim struggles to achieve the pleasure of his/her Lord and humanity.
As we welcome our blessed nonpareil month, I want to remind my Muslim faithful of a few important things that will guide us through it and assist us in receiving the best results in it, In sha Allah with Grade A. Allah has enjoined Muslims to remind themselves and to aid themselves in spreading piety and good deeds, not otherwise in spreading evil and enmity. I wish to sincerely say to all Muslims of Nigeria and the world: “Ramadan kareem!” May Allah make it easy for us and grant us all the good things in it.
Allah (SWT) prescribed fasting in details saying: “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn taqwaa (piety and righteousness).” (Q 2:183). Allah enjoins fasting the few days of Ramadan saying: “... And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” (Q 2:184). And Allah described those who have taqwaa saying: “The most honored by Allah amongst you are those best in taqwaa." (Q 49:13).
One of the greatest exponents of the meanings of the Qur’an, Ibn Abbas, in explaining taqwaa gave it four components as follows:
i) The fear of Al-Jaleel (Al-Jaleel is one of the beautiful names of Allah)
ii) Working in accordance with At-Tanzeel (the Qur’an)
iii) Satisfaction with little (contentment with little provisions)
iv) Being ready for the Day of the Journey (Death)
These four signs of taqwaa assure the believer of Allah’s pleasure. In other words, these signs will enable a believer to do introspection and determine if he/she has the skill of taqwaa or the signs of Allah’s wrath. Taqwaa further demands giving preference to Allah and his commands over creation; loving and following the Prophet (SAW) more than any other, even from oneself; having compassion on creation by looking after their affairs in this world and saving them from the harm of the next world; and being in the constant presence of Allah that He is within, hears and sees everything. That is to say, Allah is present in all dealings and affairs of the life of this world.
Allah tells us that within Ramadan the constitution of Islam, the Qur’an, was revealed: “Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong)" (Q 2:185). The revelation of the Qur’an in Ramadan is enough indication that it is a month for safety, security and divine abundance. Whoever wants the best in this life and the hereafter should adhere to the Qur’an.
There are many ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on Ramadan. Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:”Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Imam Bukhari). What more does a believing Muslim need in life more than to be forgiven his sins and be admitted by Allah into the Paradise! The episode of Angel Jibril (Allah be pleased with him) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is a valid point of reference. The holy Prophet was ordered to endorse a prayer by saying “Ameen” after the Arch Angel Jibril met him and supplicated to Allah saying: “Woe to them who witnessed the month of Ramadan but were not forgiven by Allah”. We seek refuse from Allah against such category of Muslims.
Ramadan is the greatest month in the Islamic calendar. It was singled out for mention by its name in the Holy Qur'an. What it stands for, therefore, can only be imagined by the limited human powers and knowledge. It is the only month whose fasting is compulsory on every mature and capable Muslim. It is a month which accommodates a pillar of Islam with its days described by Allah as few but with immeasurable blessings and rewards. Waa'ila Ibn Al-Asqa' narrated that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) said, “The Book of Ibrahim was revealed in the first night of Ramadan, the Torah six days in Ramadan, the Bible (Injil) thirteen days in Ramadan and the Holy Qur'an in twenty four days of Ramadan”
The revelation of the Qur'an in Ramadan means that it was started in it. And the beginning of revelation was in the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr) as clearly stated in the verse “Verily we revealed it (the Qur'an) in the Night of Power” i.e. Allah started to reveal the Qur'an in that blessed Night. It was then revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in parts within the period of twenty three years approximately with the first verse being “Read by the Name of your Lord Who created”, revealed to the Prophet in Ramadan while he was in the Cave of Hiraa, meditating and worshipping Allah.
From the Qur'an and the Hadith, many benefits of Ramadan are derived. Allah the Almighty, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom, preferred some people over others; nations over nations and individuals over individuals. Some places are also preferred to others. Some time, periods, days and months are preferred over others with divine gifts and nourishments. Those who attend them with worships, obedience to Allah and other good deeds meet everlasting happiness and peace, as well as spiritual victory and sanctity. On the other hand, those who perpetually engage in vices and unlawful merriments lose in this life and the hereafter. The Prophet (SAW) has confirmed this saying, “Verily there are grants from Allah, within the days of your life. Search for them (even with difficulty) for one may meet a single grant that will keep him off misery forever”. Allahu Akbar for this wonderful gift for believers! The greatest of all the gifts is in the month of Ramadan.
Some other divine favours and material gains are: Ramadan has been praised and preferred by Allah. Had man known exactly the good and mercy in it, they would wish the whole year to be Ramadan. But Allah is so merciful and wants easiness for His servants. That is why He has singled out only one night in Ramadan for the decree of every event.
Worthy of mention is that the pre-Islamic people honoured Ramadan in their life. Islam came and multiplied its honour and sanctity. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) spent this noble month worshiping and meditating in the cave of Hiraa before his prophethood. Furthermore, in Ramadan, the doors of Paradise are opened and the doors of Hell are shut. When Ramadan approaches, an angel will call out saying, “O ye that desires good, rejoice; O ye that desires bad, restrain”.
Ramadan stirs the power of will, true intention and decision to overcome the ordinance of the mind, and to withstand pains and difficulties with patience and hope in Allah. A believer realizes that his/her fast is not for a transient benefit or urgent merriment but for the sake of acquiring spiritual strength and bodily reinvigoration for worship which guarantee attaining the happiness of Allah. Verily, real observers of fasting live happily and adopt a life of goodness, a life above whims and destructive tendencies as they aim what are noble and everlasting.
Prophet Yusuf (peace be on him) used to fast a day and break for a day. When he was asked: “Why do you fast so much while you are in charge of the land treasuries?” His answer was simply: “I fear that if I am satisfied to forget the hunger of the hungry men”. And that is clear point for fasting Ramadan which also ensures good health, cures various sicknesses because, according to medical experts, most of the diseases suffered by mankind sprout from the stomach which is filled with all assorted stuff, clean or unclean, done or undone, lawful and UNLAWFUL.
Ramadan, additionally to a Muslim, is the month of religiosity and generosity. The Muslim recites, learns and teaches the Holy Qur'an more than ever before. He seeks for Allah's forgiveness and repents from sins. He encourages himself in worship, seeks for Allah's blessings and mercies. He exerts efforts in carrying out other good deeds especially in the last ten days and nights of Ramadan. He engages in the pursuit of other useful knowledge, enjoins what is good and forbids what is bad amongst humanity. He abandons all that is evil in word and in action. Imam Bukhari narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” False speech here includes all statements that are haram such as lying, abusing, backbiting, slandering and cursing.
A significant distinction of Ramadan is the Night of power which is more than the good deeds spanning 1000 years – that is about 83 years. How many of modern men live up to such number of years! A gate in Paradise called Ar-Rayyan has been dedicated for those who fast the month of Ramadan. Allah knows our individual abilities. Allah does not put an unbearable burden on His servants. He has ordered believers in Islam to fast Ramadan knowing that they can observe it. That is why He has granted waiver for the old and weak. He has permitted the sick and traveler to differ it to other days after Ramadan because He desires ease for His servants in the performance of all obligations He prescribed on them. Allah alone knows those who sincerely observe the Ramadan fast and He alone can ascertain the reward each observer attains. Ramadan kareem, once more!
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]