Author: Ms. Seen Noon
The ninth Islamic month, Ramadan, starts at the sighting of the crescent while lasting 29/30 days, and involves refraining from eating and drinking from suhur (before sunrise) till iftar (at sunset). Saum / Roza, one of the five basic pillars of Islam, also involves abstaining from evil wrongdoings, sinful behavior, foul speech and sexual relations. So to devote one’s heart and soul to the remembrance of Allah through recitation of the Holy Quran, dhikr, prayers, supplications, charity etc. Only those who are ill, elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, traveling, diabetic, menstruating, are allowed concession to observe their fasts later. The rewards and returns of the good deeds exercised in this month multiply manifolds, urging the Muslims towards an abundance of good-doings.
Here is an interesting depiction of Ramadan and its components:
Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal consumed by a fasting / non-fasting person, before the morning (fajr) prayer, to gain energy for the fasting day. It is a blessing to be a part of this meal, and it marks as the starting point of one’s fast. Then, as the time of Suhoor ends, the fast begins, and there’s a call for the fajr prayer.
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1923)
During this Holy Month there is a keen observation of the timely offering of the five obligatory prayers. Apart from these five, there are more prayers which are there to enhance our blessings and pleasure of Allah. Every believer tries his best to increase his ibadaah (prayers) in order to reap the rewards in the form of Allah’s blessings.
During the rest of the year, we are so involved in the daily routine activities that even the recitation of one page of the Holy Quran seems impossible. But in this blessed month, all of the fasting believers, along with those who are unfortunately unable to keep their fasts, increase their tilawah i.e. the recitation of the Holy Quran. Many are able to start the understanding of the Quranic translation as well, trying to re-establish their lost connection with this blessed book. It is all possible due to the blessing of the creator, and the rewards of it are huge in magnitude.
This is the month of gaining the blessings of the Almighty, seeking forgiveness, repenting, and engrossing oneself in making prayers and supplications, asking Allah to bless us, forgive us, and to accept our acceptable dua (prayers) by showering us by His generosity. It is advised to make dua in the last part of the night, before the morning prayers, in a state of purity, with whole-hearted zeal and piety.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“When the first night of Ramadan comes, the satans and mischievous jinns are chained up, and the gates of the Fire are closed, and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. And a caller cried out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed, O seeker of evil, stop.’ And Allah has necks (people) whom He frees (from the Fire), and that happens every day.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 1642)
While fasting in Ramadan is a component of the five basic pillars of Islam, similarly, giving charity / sadqah ensures that the fasting person gets rid of all evil from within, and is an essential part of a believer’s faith (iman). Sadqah doesn’t always have to be monetary, whereas it can be any good deed carried out to please Allah, and done in order to benefit the mankind. Its not fixed, unlike Zakat, and is not obligatory, but the rewards and returns of it are with Allah, and He will for sure enhance the blessings of the one carrying it out.
Allah, the Almighty says in the Holy Quran, in Surah At-Taghabun, Verse 16
‘So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend [in the way of Allah]; it is better for your selves. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.’ (64:16)
The fast is opened with the iftar, a meal eaten after the sunset, right at the time of the evening prayers; maghrib.
Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “ The Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he did not find fresh dates, he would use dried dates. If he did not those also, he drank a few sips of water. – Ahmad and Abu Dawood
How simple and how beautiful of a life was spent by the Messenger of Allah. He was not here in the world to live life to the fullest by enjoying huge dinner parties, rather, kept His life really simple and meaningful, a beacon of light for the generations to come!
Tarawi (or Taraweeh)
The nightly prayers, offered after the night / Isha prayers are named as Tarawi prayers, and are a part of every Ramadan night. The offering of this prayer rewards the person with pleasure of Allah, connecting a believer with His creator, and gaining plentiful rewards. It is a nafal prayer; that can be prayed in the mosque or at home, but is not compulsory. Tarawi, lasting the whole month of Ramadan involves the completion of the Holy Quran by reciting it during Tarawi each night.
Ramadan And Quran
This Holy Month brought to us the Quran via a revelation to our beloved Holy Prophet, around 610 A.D., on a Friday, the 17th, of a Ramadan night, by the archangel Gabriel (Jibril). The revelation took place in the cave of Hira, on a mountain, ‘Jabal an-Nour‘, near Makkah.
It is due to this special connection of the Holy Quran and Ramadan that we Muslims put in our sincere, wholehearted efforts to connect with the revelations of Allah. The recitation, along with the understanding of the verses, connecting them with our everyday lives, to enhance the learnings of the lessons taught and their applications, in order to become closer to Allah, the Almighty.
Ramadan And the Night of Power (Laylat ul Qadr)
In this blessed month there falls a night in its last ten days on either a 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th, as Allah wills, which brings to its people, answers to their prayers, acceptance of a seeker’s request of forgiveness and an abundance of Allah’s blessings. It is said that the Quran was revealed in one of those odd numbered nights, in the last ten days of Ramadan, and so it holds a special place with regards to the bounties bestowed upon those who stay up and pray to Allah.
Ramadan and the Soul Cleanse
The rewards being enhanced in this month make it appealing for the believers to increase in actively practicing to stop foul behavior, sinful speech, wrongdoings, evil desires etc. and in turn doing more of charity, good deeds, prayers, supplications, seeking forgiveness and repentance. These habits of attaining the pleasure of Allah, while increasing our weightage of good deeds, focusing on the afterlife, instill in us a behavior of being practicing momins (believers) and thus cleansing our souls for the whole year.
Ramadan and Charity (Zakat)
Zakat, one of the five basic pillars of Islam, is the distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, in order to maintain a sense of equilibrium and balance in the society, and a feeling of empathy towards the less-privileged society members. These donations range from small to big, depending on the amount of possessions under your name, so as to purify your earnings and at the same time multiply your rewards in this world and the next. By incorporating this ritual in Ramadan, the believers ensure that the poor are included in the religious festivities and a feeling of harmony prevails throughout.
The End of Ramadan / Eid
After fasting for 29 / 30 days (depending on moon sighting), there is a joyous arrival of Eid, in the month of Shawwal; a religious ceremony announcing the end of the fasts and celebration of successfully resuming the routine activities. Eid is meant to be enjoyed with your family, friends, near and dear ones, sharing meals together, exchanging gifts, wearing your best clothes, and spreading love in all its forms. For those who missed their fasts are instructed to make-up for them after the three specified Eid days ONLY, because everyone is meant to be a part of the colorful and thrilling Eid experience.
Allah, The Almighty, says in the Holy Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 183
‘O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.’ (2:183)
Ramadan is here, and we are keenly observing our fasts and religious obligations as firm believers. We witness this Holy Month once a year in order to shape our behavior for the next months to come. The fasts kept and the prayers observed along with the supplications and charity offered to please Allah, it all molds an improved version of ourselves as a better Momin (believer). Now, our Lord explains it to us that these fasts are mandated obligatory for us so that we may become righteous, better practicing Muslims, an asset to the society, and a source of goodness for our own selves and others around us.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.’ (Sahih Bukhari 1899)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ (Sahih Bukhari 1904)
The above two hadith are informing us of the mercy this Holy Month brings for us, by opening of the gates of heaven and closing of the gates of Hell. And, you know, Allah has kept a gate of heaven; from amongst the eight – Al-Rayyaan, specific to the people who kept their fasts as it is desired by Allah SWT, to enter Jannah (Paradise) through it. Even the devils are chained to make it easier for us to observe the rituals firmly and with utmost dedication without any distraction. How forgiving is our dearest Allah. The second Hadith talks about the purity of the process of fasting, that Allah SWT said that fasting is for Him and only He will give the reward for it. Although we are keeping our fasts to save ourselves from evil desires and wrongdoings to please Allah, but He takes this responsibility on Him that if we are fasting righteously, then we are doing it for Him only.