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Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said in verse [translated:], ‘how can we not give the glad tidings of the opening of the doors
Written by salahudeen
of Jannah to the believer, how can we not give the glad tidings for the closing of the doors of jahnanam, how can we not give glad tidings for the one who is sensible on the day that the shaytan is tied up and how is it possible that this time resembles any other time.’
Welcome to Ramadan, welcome to this beautiful month, it does not matter where we have spent our days previously; what matters only is what lies ahead. Ramadan is a month of mercy, it is full of blessing, and it is about salvation from the fire, forgiveness from the king of the heavens and the earth, a forgiveness from sins that exceeds what can be gained from all the other months and what might be gained from their days and nights. Remember that we hope that in this Ramadan we are, all of us, able to make up our shortcomings from all the preceding months and rectify our mistakes and of course this is how Yusuf was with his brothers.
Ibn al-Jawzi said, in his ‘The Likeness of Ramadan’, ‘another point is that Ya’qub had eleven sons who lived with him and whose actions he saw at all times and his eyesight did not return [because of any of their clothing], instead it returned due to Yusuf’s shirt, and he himself became strong as his eyesight became strong whereas previously he was weak. Likewise if the sinner smells the smell of Ramadan, sits with those who remind him of Allah, recites the Qur’an and befriends on the condition of Islam and faith and avoids back biting and vain talk, he will – by Allah’s will – become forgiven after he was a sinner. He will become close after he was far. He will be able to see with his heart after he was blind. His presence will be met with happiness after it was met with repulsion. He will be met with mercy after he was met with disdain. He will be provided for without limit or effort on his part. He will be guided for his entire life. He will have his soul taken out with ease and in smoothness after he dies. He will be blessed with forgiveness from Allah and he will be granted from the best levels of the gardens of Paradise.’
So, by Allah, take advantage of this greatness during these few days and you will soon see abundant blessings, high evels of reward and a very long period of rest and relaxation, by the Will of Allah. By Allah, this Ramadan, this is the true relaxation!’. Ramadan is the month in which believers rejoice and relax, not from physical work and ‘ibadah but they relax because the difficulties they face in other months are no more. They have a beautiful friend that visits them, they have every single blessing in that month, and by Allah, this is the true relaxation.
However, many of us tend to forget the blessings of Ramadan, [especially] when we settle into our nine–to–five day and taraweeh and breaking the fast starts to become a routine for us – and this is after the first week or so – we tend, then, not to have the same level of commitment as we did before and it happens to most people, simply because – and this is a true statement – blessings are not recognised in the presence of the blessing, blessings are only recognised in the absence of blessing and not when it is actually there. For we only recognise the ability to walk when we don’t have our feet, we only realise the blessing of our hands when we can no longer use them, we only realise the blessing of breathing air when we experience difficulty in breathing. So when Ramadan does come upon us we tend to forget the beauty of this month, so the following ten blessings have been gathered as a reminder, for those who are weary, who have forgotten the blessings of Ramadan:
Blessing Number 10:
The Hadith of the Prophet ‘alayhi al-salat wa’l-salam ‘Indeed, whoever fasts Ramadan having faith in Allah –in tawheed, in RasulAllah and this religion– and aniticipating the blessing of Allah then everything he has put forth from sins will be forgiven for him’ [man sama ramadanan imanan wa-ihtisaban ghufira la-hu ma taqaddama min dhanbin].
So if we were to fast Ramadan with full faith in our hearts that Allah subhanahu ta‘ala will accept,it from us and help us, were we to fast with full belief that Allah swt is the One who is merciful and the One who loves to forgive, if we fast Ramadan knowing that Allah is loving, that He loves us more than our own parents, knowing that Allah swt loved us so much so that He gave us another Ramadan, that He gave us the chance for yet another laylat al-Qadr that He gave us the chance for yet another i‘tikaf – another ten days before Allah – before we are alone in our graves for a huge amount of time. That if you were to fast this month expecting Allah to have mercy on us after having fasted this month with iman then Allah will forgive us our preceding sins and trespasses.
Blessing Number 9:
Rasul Allah said in an authentic hadith ‘whoever feeds a believer who is fasting then he will have the same reward as the one who is fasting without there being any decrease in their rewards’ [man fatara sa’iman fa-lahu mithlu ajrihi min ghayri an yanqusa min ajr al-sa’im shay’a]. It is very easy to feed people food, to give them a few dates, to give them something to drink, to add some water to the food or some extra quantity to the food to make it more. He says, ‘by Allah, this is very, very easy’. And yet, because of this easy thing, which we can do, were we to feed the fasting person we would get the same reward as him for fasting and for all the deeds that he did in his Ramadan.
Blessing Number 8:
The Prophet said, in an authentic hadith in al-Bukhari ‘the five prayers, one jumu‘a to another jumu‘a and one Ramadan to the next is an expiation of the sins that you have done between the two as long as the major sins have been avoided’ [al-salawat al-khamsa, wa’l-jumu‘atu ila al-jumu‘a, wa-Ramadan ila Ramadan mukaffiratun ma baynahunna idha’jtunibat al-kaba’ir]. If we avoid the major sins. If we avoid those things that Allah dislikes. By Allah, Allah would make one Ramadan of ours to the next expiation for every single sin that we might have accrued.
Blessing Number 7:
Rasul Allah said in an authentic hadith, ‘when it is the first night of Ramadan then all the shayatin are chained up and all the jinn are made incapable of spreading mischief, and all the doors of jahannam are closed up until not even a single door is open and all the doors of jannah are opened until not even a single one is [left] closed and a caller calls out every single night, in the beginning of the month, the middle of the month, the last part of the month, every single night of the month, in all of Ramadan: O the one who desires good turn to Him [Allah], O the one who desires evil ‘Withhold’ in that he will be incapable of spreading as much evil as he might in other months. This is yet another reason that Allah shows us that makes Ramadan such a blessing, that the doors of Jahannam have been closed and the doors of jannah have been opened, that every jinn is made incapable of spreading the same level of mischief and the major leaders of the shayatin and the major cronies of his are chained up – what a beautiful month!
It is for this reason that the Muslims experience and were blessed with the greatest of victories in the month of Ramadan. It was in Ramadan that the Muslims won against the Tatars, it was in this month that they won against the Mongols and it was in this month that we won in Tabuk, Mut‘a and in the mother of battles: Badr. It was also in this month that Makkah was conquered. So this month witnessed the greatest of Muslim victories and all of the enemies of Allah were made incapable of spreading mischief in this month.
Blessing Number 6:
The Prophet said, ‘indeed the Injil was revealed with thirteen days past of Ramadan, on the thirteenth night, and the Zabur was sent down on the eighteenth of the month’ and only Allah knows which night laylat al-qadr falls on, perhaps it is the 27th perhaps another odd night from the last ten nights. The point is that all the major books, not just the Qur’an, came down in this month. And it is for this reason that Imam Malik would command his students to close all of their books except for the book of revelation, he would say, close the books of fiqh that have been written by others and the statements of others and return to the revealed book, and this month was made special because of the books that He revealed therein.
Blessing Number 5:
The Prophet said in an authentic hadith al-Bukhari, ‘Never leave the suhur for indeed, even if it is a single gulp of water, for indeed Allah and His angels pray over the ones who has suhur.’ Allah and the angels in the heavens and the earth give their salam and salat on those who eat the morning meal before embarking on the fast. Do you know of another act of worship wherein the enjoying of food is considered blessed and rewardable? Is there another act where Allah and the angels pray upon the person who commits it, it is really only those who pray
in the first saff of jama‘ah who get this reward, here you are enjoying the best and tastiest of delicacies and yet we are told that Allah and His angels pray for the person who takes this meal.
Blessing Number 4:
Ramadan is specifically a month in which we have a multitude of acts of worship. We fast in this month, we give charity in this month, including zakat al-fitr, we pray taraweeh and qiyam al-layl in Ramadan, we perform our i‘tikaf in this month and perform ‘umrah in this month, we feed the poor and the needy during this month. So Ramadan is, really, the culmination of all good that Islam contains. Ramadan is the culmination of the good of the believer it is the good of all the acts of ‘ibadah that a believer has. There is no single month; there is not a month that excels in joining all the various types of worship except for Ramadan.
Blessing Number 3:
Lest you forget: the hadith ‘Every single act of the Children of Adam is for him, and he will be increased in it [by reward] from ten times seventy(?) times except for the fast, verily that is for Me, and I [alone] will reward it.’ [kullu ‘amalin ibn adam lahu , yuda‘afu al-hasanah bi ‘ashara amthaliha ila sab‘i miyati di‘fin illa’l-sawm fa-innahu li wa-ana ajzi bi-hi’ verily every single action of Ibn Adam is for himself – in that every single action is done in a way in which he recognises that he is engaged in that act/deed and he is aware that he is doing that deed and others who see him also recognise that he is doing that deed; so that every single act of worship whether that be ‘umrah, hajj, zakat, slaughtering etc., whatever the act the person who witnesses this act knows that you are engaged in this act of worship and thus these acts are for you and you benefit thereby from ten to seventy times in reward – except, He says, for sawm as it cannot be done to gain the pleasures of another, as when you look at the person who is fasting you cannot see that he is fasting as he looks the same as all other people, so the fast is truly, truly for Allah ‘azza wa-jall so what ‘ibadah is there that can compete with the fast?
In fact in an authentic hadith recorded by Ibn Majah in this hadith we are told that three people died [also reported in Musnad Imam Ahmad and authenticated by Sh alAlbani and others] and he said that Rasul Allah said of three people who passed away, he said ‘as for the one of them then he is better than the other two, the ‘two of them’ whom he was referring to had died as shaheed, whereas the other who was singled out as being better had not died as shaheed but rather he had passed away on his own bed at home. RasulAllah ‘alayhi al-salat wa’l-salam praised him as
being better as the difference between the three was that the one who died passed away in his bed observed the salawat and sawm, the Prophet continued and said, ‘the difference in the eyes of Allah between the one who has done this and the one who has merely passed away in battle is the difference between the heavens and the earth and that which is inbetween’. Can you imagine this, the person who has fasted Ramadan is so much higher and dearer in the eyes of Allah than the one who has died on the battlefield, which we know is the best way to die, it is the most excellent and fantastic of deaths but can it compare to one’s fasting every Ramadan and truly benefitting from it properly? Can it compare to the one who fasts knowing that Allah will reward him with iman? This is the question that we need to ask ourselves. And we need to remember the authentic hadith of the Prophet in which he stated, ‘indeed there are two times in which the fasting person is happy, the first time is when he breaks his fast and the second time is when he meets Allah swt for indeed it is for the sake of Allah that he fasted and it is for the sake of Allah swt that he truly went through the hardships of fasting.’
Blessing Number 2:
The Prophet said in an authentic hadith: ‘by Allah, whoever fasts a single day purely seeking the pleasure of Allah [alone] then Allah will put between him and the fire of jahannam a ditch that is the distance between the heavens and the earth’ [man sama yawman fi sabil Allah ja‘ala’llah baynahu wa-bayan al-nar khandaqan ka-ma al-sama’ wa’l-ard’]. This is a beautiful hadith, the reward for fasting one day purely for the rabb al-‘izzah wa’l-jalal, seeking the fast for no benefit but the pleasure of Allah, protecting oneself from haram and doing good in that day only and only for the sincere pleasure of Allah, by Allah this is something to rejoice on as between you and jahannam will be ditch that is as vast as the distance between the heavens and the earth.
Blessing Number 1:
The best of the best of the blessings that Allah has given with regards to Ramadan, ‘for Allah swt are those prisoners whom He has ransomed from His fire every single night’ [li’llahi ‘utaqa min al-nar wa-dhalika kulla layla] so in every single night Allah will look down at the earth and will say ‘I have forgiven for you Jahannam for ever’ and this person will never enter jahannam no matter what he does, no matter the sins that he has, no matter what he has done, this person will be completely free of the fire of Hell and he will, of a surety, enter Jannah and of a surety he will enjoy the eternal blessing of Jannah. The Prophet said that every night Allah chooses people whom He frees from the fire. Ask yourself. will tonight be the night that angels who are writing in ‘illiyin will record your name as among those whom Allah has blessed with this blessing? That He writes your name is the best of His books/companies. You need to ask Allah that He makes you among those people believing that He will answer you as Allah’s mercy knows no limits.
Ramadan is a race against time, it is absolutely and positively a race against time and this is for three main reasons:
i. Because a human being is not a creation of morsel of flesh and blood alone, rather he is time in itself. AlHasan alBasri is recorded to have said in a narration, ‘O children of Adam you are just time’ [innama anta zaman] so if time passes then know that a part of you dies.’ Remember: you are only time and if time passes you by then know that a part of
ii. Because there is a particular time in Ramadan that lasts between eight to twelve hours and yet it is the equivalent of 84 years of worship and this is the night of laylat al-qadr which equals 83.33 years of worship. In the UK our nights are approximately 6-10 hours, and if we take the approximate time of 8 hours then this is 125 months per hour, 2.08 months/62 days per minute and each second is worth you too has died. The reality of this will only truly strike you when you see your own children grow in front of you more than a whole day in worship ... just conceive this, by the time you realise that it is laylat alQadar your little ‘essential’ acts will be taking up months and months of worship! This is how excellent this night is, that Allah gives so much barakah in one half hour etc. There is no time to lose and this is why Ramadan is a race against time. To waste a second is to waste a day and more ... and so on.
iii. Because good deeds are multiplied in Ramadan. And to prove this we often resort to citing a hadith of Rasul Allah ‘alayhi al-salat wa’l-salam in which he stated that in Ramadan an obligatory prayer is worth seventy times its reward and a nafl prayer is worth an obligatory prayer in reward. However the reality is that this hadith is not authentic but this does not mean that good deeds are not multiplied. In fact there are other ahadith that tell us that they are multiplied. The hadith of Rasul Allah recorded in Bukhari tells us that a companion came to the Prophet ‘alayhi al-salat wa’l-salam and said that he was sad because he could not do hajj with the Prophet. The Prophet asked him why and accepted the excuse that the man gave him, he then advised him, ‘perform the ‘umrah in Ramadan for indeed the ‘umrah in Ramadan is like Hajj with me’. Would you agree that the hajj with rasul Allah is better than all that we have? Would not we sacrifice our worldly possessions, even our loved ones, at the chance to be among those who performed hajj with the Prophet ‘alayhi al-salat wa’l-salam? And this is the reward that we are told of, this is not equal to seventy times, it is much above that, so good deeds are multiplied by an unknown/unlimited number, and just like the ‘umrah equals a hajj with the Prophet then the same for a Qur’an read in the month of Ramadan.
Is not this an indication that Ramadan is a race against time that you might fill your bag of good deeds and that you might benefit from all the khayr and good deeds that you can do to excel in this
Examples from the pious predecesors [from Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’ of Imam al-Dhahabi or Hilyat al-Awliya’]:
- Imam alBukhari would read the Qur’an every single day once, so he would do a ‘khatam’ every three nights. Al-Shafi’i would read it sixty times, thirty times in the morning and thirty times in the night.
- You might think this is impossible but the truth is that this is not impossible and the huffaz can tell you that they can recite a juz’ of the Qur’an in fifteen to twenty mintues (not with full tajweed but it is possible) and you can thus finish the Qur’an in eight to ten hours. [Sh Bakr Abu Zayd, when he found that ‘Uthman radiAllah ‘anh would recite one qur’an in one qiyam and he went to Sh Muhammad Amin al- Shinqiti to say that it seemed impossible to him so they tried it, and they prayed ‘isha’ at 8.30, and they started round nine and prayed and fajr is 5, he said that at Surat alNas the adhan of fajr was given, and this proved tohim that it is possible. These people knew the benefit of the month of Ramadan and realised that reading the Qur’an once is not enough, reading a small part of it is not enough, why not read it every day and every night.
- Sa’id b. Jubayr would read a khatam [complete Qur’an] between maghrib and ‘isha in Ramadan [would delay ‘isha to the middle of the night].
- Sulayman al-Tamimi, a great scholar of his time, when he was passing away, his daughter cried, and he said, ‘don’t be sad, for indeed your father read the Qur’an 4,000 times in this house in which he is dying’.
Malik b. ‘Abd Allah b. Abu Bakr related that they would pray so much so that they would rush back to their homes and they would have to hurry with suhur as they were worried fajr would come in. They appreciated that the minutes and seconds of Ramadan were virtuous to the extent that they did not want to waste them.
- Ibn ‘Umar: Nafi‘ radi Allah ‘anh reported that ‘in Ramadan I used to see Ibn ‘Umar go to the mosque with a jug of water (at maghrib) and not come out until the fajr prayer had been called.’
- Da’ud. Husayn (?) another tabi‘i would say that ‘we would read Surat al-Baqarah in eight hours, and if the imam would take twelve rak‘at to read this then we would consider him to be lightening the load on us’, they would read the entire sura in eight rak‘ats!
- Abu Raja’(?) would say that their imam would read the Qur’an to them in ten nights, they would read the whole Qur’an once every ten nights, and other scholars would do it in seven nights.
Our Prophet was a Prophet of Mercy so let us look at his charity.
- In an authentic hadith it is stated that the Prophet would be even more charitable, and the most charitable, when Gabriel would come to him to teach the Qur’an, he would give like anything. And the hadith says, ‘he was even more giving than a rain laden cloud that takes its rain everywhere, to every part of the earth without restraint. Can you imagine how the rain sprinkles its water on the earth? This is what they described his as doing.
- Hammad b. Sulayman would feed five hundred people every day in Ramadan.
We should not delegate our charity and sadaqah entirely to organisations but we should, instead, feed those that we can, physically, ourselves so that we can supplicate Allah thereby later. For by delegating all of the good deed we actually miss the most beautiful part, the sweetness of the deed is in feeding people yourself. Ibn ‘Umar would only open his fast with the poor people and often he would go without as he would give his to those who needed it. Real charity is to give that which you wanted and even needed yourself, it [sadaqah] comes from sidq because it is a testification to the truthfulness you have for your brother.
- Verily fasting is not abstinence from food and drink but from lying, slandering, from idol talk and from foolish pursuits. This is what lying is [Ibn Abi Shaybah records this from ‘Umar radiAllah ‘anh]
- Jabir would say, if your body is fasting then let your hearing and sight also fast and your tongue, envelop yourself in tranquillity and peace and do not make the day you fast the same as the day you do not fast(?) it is for this reason that Abu Hurayrah, when he fasted he would sit in the masjid alone as this place was not conducive to the sins we might otherwise fall prey to and which we need to avoid.How can we benefit from this Ramadan and what can we do to ensure that it is special so that it leaves us charged, with a protection from evil and sins and a boost to our iman?
The final advice is to: