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How do we observe Ramadan? – Hafiz Nadim Zahir

Translated
Abu Sinan
Checked & Revised
Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari

 

Taken from Monthly Al-Ḥadīth Hazro No. 119, P. 17-26

الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلوة والسلام على رسوله الأمين، أما بعد

All praise is for Allāh, Rabb of the ‘Ālamīn (all that exists), and may His Praise and Peace be upon his Trusted Messenger, to proceed – The month of Ramadan is a month of mercy, blessings, happiness, and forgiveness, which requires us to (as always) ensure that we aren’t deprived of attaining its virtues. Perhaps this is the last Ramadan of this life, and perhaps a blessed month like this is not destined for us again. Do you not see the people that used to break their fasts with you, and stand with you in the Night Prayers of Ramadan? Why is it that you no longer see them? Their ordained times have completed.

“And Allah does not delay a soul when its appointed time comes.” [63:11]

Rather, you too appear to be standing in the same line, and your turn will arrive in an instance. So why do you not do something beneficial with the remaining hours of this life and reform yourself? Escape from the quagmire of sins and disobedience and dive into the spring of ascetism and piety! One might ask, ‘Is there any way to reform ourselves?’ Yes! Our Generous Rabb has bestowed the best opportunity upon us, and it is ‘The Month of Ramadan’. Is there any way to spend the days and nights of this month so that our Rabb, Most Merciful, becomes pleased with us, and acknowledges and accepts our actions? It is vital that one remembers the following matters:

Repentance

Firstly, look back on your life to whatever extent you have sinned, whatever there is of disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, whether it is in speech or action, then sincerely repent to Allah for everything. The meaning of Tawba (repentance) is:

  • Acknowledge those sins
  • Return from doing those sinful acts
  • And have the resolve to never do them again

“Oh you who believe! Turn back to Allah with a sincere repentance, perhaps your Rabb may expiate your sins from you, and enter you into Gardens under which rivers flow.” [66:8]

Try to shed a tear out of the fear of Allah if possible, as the Prophet ﷺ said,

“A man that cried out of fear of Allah will not enter the Fire until the milk returns into the udder.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi No. 1633, Sahih)

And he, ﷺ, also said,

“Allah will shade seven on a day where there will be no shade except His…[and one of them is] a man that remembers Allah in solitude, and his eyes overflow [with tears].” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 660, Sahih Muslim No. 1031)

Acquiring Taqwa (Piety)

Naturally inclining towards abandoning sins, doing righteous actions, fearing the consequences of your sins, and trying to save yourself from falling into them is Taqwa (Piety), and one of the most important purposes of the Month of Ramadan is to acquire Taqwa.

“Oh you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you, as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that you may become from those that have Taqwa.” [2:183]

Having Taqwa has many worldly benefits, and benefits one in the afterlife, mention of which can be found repeatedly in the Qur’an and Sunnah on many occasions.

“And whoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make for him a way out [of difficulty]. And provide for him from [ways] he could not imagine.” [65:2,3]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Have Taqwa of your Rabb, Allah, and pray your five [obligatory prayers], and fast your month [of Ramadan], and pay the Zakat of your wealth, and obey those that possess authority over you, you will enter the Paradise of your Rabb.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi No. 616)

Preserving the Fasts

Guarding and preserving the fasts is a necessity, because if we show signs of laziness and negligence in this matter, and we are unable to keep the fasts in accordance with the correct method, then we may remain deprived of its virtues and blessings. Due to this, it is necessary that we save ourselves from telling lies, slandering, backbiting, fighting and arguing. In particular, one must guard their tongue and fear Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said,

“Many fast and do not gain anything from their fast except hunger, and many stand [in the night prayer] and do not gain anything from their standing except a sleepless night.” (Sunan Ibn Majah No. 1690, Sunan Ad-Darimi No. 2722, and its chain is Sahih)

Meaning, a man who does not save himself from mentioning falsehood, then his fast does not benefit him at all. The Prophet ﷺ said,

“Whoever does not give up lying, and acting by it, then Allah is not in need of him leaving his food and drink.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 1903)

Qiyam Al-Layl (The Night Prayer)

Qiyam Al-Layl is from the important means of establishing a connection with Allah, Exalted is He, and its virtues increase greatly in Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Whoever stands in Ramadan (i.e., in the Night Prayer) with Iman, and hoping [for reward], his past sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 37)

On this topic, one should keep in mind that some people understand from this that, “Qiyam in Ramadan is better prayed alone at home, so we will pray at home.” But these poor people spend the entire night sleeping in their beds (rather than praying), except for who Allah wills, and some people reject Qiyam of Ramadan in Jama’at (congregation) as a Sunnah! For these people, a portion of a long hadith is presented in the hopes that they may rectify themselves: The Prophet ﷺ said in regard to the Qiyam of Ramadan,

“Verily a man is considered to have stood for the [entire] night in prayer when he prays with an Imam, until he leaves. (i.e., he is rewarded for the entire night if he prays in congregation).” (Sunan Abi Dawud No. 1375, Sunan At-Tirmidhi No. 806, Sunan An-Nisa’i No. 1365, Sunan Ibn Majah No. 1337, and its chain is Sahih)

It is hoped that one will avoid using tricks and excuses [to avoid going to the Masjid] by knowing the virtues of praying the Qiyam of Ramadan in congregation.

Increasing in Recitation of the Noble Qur’an

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Recite the Qur’an (i.e., increase in it), for verily it will come as an intercessor for those that recite it on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Muslim No. 804)

The reality is that the rewards and virtuousness associated with righteous actions are greatly increased in the Month of Ramadan, but looking around, you can see the people reading and listening to the Qur’an a lot, but in the other months, they don’t even have the taufiq to touch the Noble Qur’an, and we seek refuge in Allah from this.

Keeping the Tongue Moist with the Remembrance of Allah

One should abandon useless chatter and always keep their tongue moist with the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, Exalted is He. Sayyidah ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, said,

“The Prophet would remember Allah at all times.” (Sahih Muslim No. 373)

On another occasion, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Always keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” (Sunan Ibn Majah No. 3793, and its chain is Hasan).

One should adhere to the Morning and Evening Adhkar (supplications) as has been established using other evidence.

I’tikaf (Seclusion in the Masjid)

I’tikaf (i.e., to confine oneself in the Masjid) during the last ten days of Ramadan is a Prophetic Sunnah and is one of the best means of purifying the soul. Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said,

“The Messenger of Allah used to do I’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 2025, Sahih Muslim No. 1171)

The Last Ten Days

In these ten days, you must expend all your energy [doing righteous actions] so that Allah may become pleased with us, and forgive our shortcomings and wrongdoings, and so that we may increase in acquiring righteousness and the desire to better ourselves.

The Messenger of Allah was more generous than the fast wind in Ramadan. (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 6, Sahih Muslim No. 2308)

Sayyidah ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrates that,

“When the last ten days of Ramadan began, the Prophet would stay awake at night, wake up his family, and tighten his waist-wrapper (for worship).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 2224, Sahih Muslim 1774)

Laylat ul-Qadr (The Night of Decree)

Laylat ul-Qadr occurs during these last ten days of Ramadan, about which Allah says:

“Verily,We have sent it (the Qur’an) in the Night of Decree.

And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is?

The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.” [97:1-3]

Therefore, one should search for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten nights, as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Whoever stood during Laylat ul-Qadr [praying] with Iman, and hoping [for reward], all of his previous sins will be forgiven for him.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 2008, Sahih Muslim No. 760).

Also, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Search for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten [nights] of Ramadan.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari No. 2020)

One Important Matter

Those matters (i.e., virtuous actions) that one established in the blessed hours of Ramadan should be maintained throughout the remaining eleven months of the year. It should not be the case that a man observes Qiyam Al-Layl and the Ishraq (morning) prayer in Ramadan, but then outside of the Ramadan he does not even observe the obligatory prayers, waking up in the same quagmire of sins and disobedience as he was in before, all the righteous actions that he had amassed going to waste, and we seek refuge in Allah from this.

Because of this, it is vital that one takes accountability for himself, and always strive to choose the correct path, and spend every moment, every blink of an eye conforming to the Qur’an and Sunnah, so that he can become successful in the afterlife, if Allah wills. We ask Allah, Exalted is He, to choose us for his religion, and to become pleased with us – Ameen.

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