Ramadan – A Precious Gift


Fast Ramadan
The fragrance of the blessed month of Ramadan is already in the air and almost everyone has started feeling the slight sensation of excitement that this blessed month brings with it. Isn’t it amazing how we look forward to this month with such excitement and anticipation? A month where we spend more than half of the day – in the scorching summer heat – without eating or drinking and the nights in reading or reciting the Glorious Qur’an. For Muslims, Ramadan is a month filled with so much meaning and goodness that on the final day even the children do not want it to end. How can the believers not rejoice at the coming of this blessed month when Allah ‘opens up the gates of paradise, closes the gates of Hellfire, and chains up the devils?’ (According to hadeeth in Bukhari)
 
To reach the month of Ramadan and strive in worship in it is one of the greatest blessings from Allah. This has been explained in a narration by Talha ibn ‘Ubaydallah who reported that there were two men who had accepted Islam at the same time. One of them used to strive in good deeds more than the other, but one day he fought in a battle and was martyred. The other remained behind him for another year, and then he also died. Talha said, ‘I had a dream in which I saw that I was at the door of Paradise and the two men were with me. Someone came out of Paradise and allowed the man who passed away later to enter first. Then he came out again and allowed the martyred one to enter. Then he returned and said to me, ‘Go back, for your time has not come yet.’ Talha woke up and informed the other companions about this. They were all surprised and eagerly went to inform and ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) about it, who said, ‘What are you surprised about?’ They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Out of them both, this one strove harder (in Jihad) then he was martyred but this other one entered Paradise before him?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Did he not remain behind him for one year?’ They said, ‘Yes (he did).’ He said, ‘Did he not reach Ramadan, fast and pray with such and such number of prostrations in the year?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘So the difference between them is greater than what is between the heavens and the earth.’ (Sahih Ibn Majah 2/345, 346 – Al-Albani’s ‘al-Silsilah al-Sahihah)
 
What a gift and what an honor Subhan Allah! This is why the Muslims of the early generations used to ask Allah six months before Ramadan to grant them long lives so that they could reach Ramadan and they used to ask Allah the Almighty six months after Ramadan to accept from them. Do we do the same or do we take this blessed gift for granted, wasting away its precious days and nights?
 
Allah says: “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Qur’an 2:185)
According to scholars, the word ‘so’ (fa) in this ayah leads to the following paraphrase of one aspect of its meaning: “Fast this month because it is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down.” We celebrate the Qur’an in Ramadan by reading, reciting, listening to it while pondering over it day and night. Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated from her father (peace be upon him) who told her that Angel Jibreel would rehearse the Qur’an with him (in Ramadan) once every year, and he did so twice in the year of his death. (Bukhari).
 
Fasting and spending time with the Qur’an is what reconnects us to our Creator hence nourishing the souls and recharging faith in the blessed month. Since the body is restrained from food and drink and the soul is fed with its divine nourishment, we feel peaceful, satisfied and re-energized in Ramadan. This is what pushes us to hold ourselves accountable, to repent and reform before it gets too late. It helps us in bringing positive changes in ourselves for the sake of Allah and be foremost in the race of drawing closer to Him by doing good deeds.
 
It is said in Tafsir Al Qurtubi that: The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ramida or ar-ramad, denoting intense heat and dryness, especially on the ground. It is so called because Ramadan burns down the sins with good deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward, then Allah will forgive all of his previous sins.” (Muslim) He also said: “Verily, Allah has people He redeems from the fire at the time of breaking fast, and that is during every night. (Ibn Majah)
 
It is indeed from the extreme mercy and love of Allah, that He gives us the opportunity to increase in good deeds and be of the forgiven ones in this blessed month. Let’s make sure we don’t make it a month of laziness and sleep, or of practicing the art of cooking and planning lavish meals, or of shopping and entertainment. Rather, let’s prepare to welcome Ramadan by trying to learn all its virtues and rulings. Let’s make sincere intentions to do our best and prepare our Ramadan goals with detailed, realistic schedules for each day. According to a hadeeth, we will be rewarded for our intentions to do good deeds, even if we fail to actually do them. (Bukhari and Muslim).
 
Let’s sincerely repent from our sins and learn to forgive, forget and pardon others. It’d be wise to make a massive du’aa list and note down the times from the sunnah when our du’aas have higher chances of being answered e.g. while breaking our fast, in sujood and in the last part of the night before Fajr.
 
This could be our last Ramadan so let’s plan well and make arrangements to have the best one ever. It truly is the month of great gains and profits. The smart trader is the one who makes the most of this special occasion to increase his profits. May Allah make us witness Ramadan in a state of good health and strong faith and help us to be among the smart ones who do their best to gain maximum rewards. Ameen.
 
-Written by Mariam Anwer
Originally posted in Arab News
AN Gift Ramadan
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Rainfall: Mercy from the Almighty


rain is mercy

I struggled to make space for the four of us as I spread our prayer mats and took out the dates that I had got on the way to the masjid from my hotel room. It was another calm and tranquil Ramadan evening in the courtyard of Al Masjid Al Haraam in Makkah. Other than the usual shouts and yells of the volunteers distributing snacks for iftar, I could hear people around me beseeching the Almighty in the precious moments just before Maghrib (sunset) Prayer. Taking cue, as I started whispering my du’as (supplications), I felt sudden drops of water on my raised hands. Looking up I noticed unusual dark clouds covering the horizon beyond the beautiful minarets of the masjid before hearing cries of happiness around me as it started drizzling and then suddenly pouring. Being an ardent lover of rain, I was elated but what surprised me most was that very few of the people ran for cover and hardly any left their places of prayer. Most of them just stood up raising their hands high, saying Allahu Akbar (God is Great) in unison and then making their own different du’as while the rain came down in buckets. And when the Adhan (call for prayer) resonated across the whole place, I witnessed a precious scene, where the servants of Almighty broke their fasts with whispers of thanks and du’as while rejoicing over His gift – the gift of rain. I did not notice any irritated face that evening nor a word of complaint when everyone had to pray and prostrate in puddles of rain water. I remember the strange tranquility in the air as the rain poured over us and the imam while leading the Prayer, recited beautiful verses about the blessing of rain.

Allah says: “It is Allah who sends the winds, and they stir the clouds and spread them in the sky however He wills, and He makes them fragments so you see the rain emerge from within them. And when He causes it to fall upon whom He wills of His servants, immediately they rejoice.” (Qur’an 30:48)

As believers, we need to reflect on this great blessing that Allah sends to us. Rain is a great miracle of Allah – a miracle that is often taken for granted and sometimes often detested. Perhaps such people should take a look at the places deprived of rain, where drought has taken the people and other living things into its deadly embrace.

Rain is one of the most important factors for the permanence of life on earth and it plays an essential role for the continuation of activity in a region. It is mentioned in various verses of the Qur’an, where Allah gives substantial information about the formation of rain, its proportion and effects. Rain, as it pours down on us every once in a while, here in Saudi Arabia and ever so often in some other parts of the world, shows us proof of the existence of Allah and reminds us of His Mercy and compassion towards the creation. Allah says: “And it is He who sends down the rain after they [people] had despaired, and spreads His mercy. And He is the Protector, the Praiseworthy.” (Qur’an 42:28)

Very few might know the fact that spending time in the rain was a practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and His Companions. Anas narrated: ‘We were with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) when rain fell upon us. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) opened up his garment a bit so that the rain could touch his skin. We asked: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you do this?” He (peace be upon him) replied: “Because it has just recently come from its Lord.”’ (Muslim, 898)

The scholars have taken proof from this hadith that it is Sunnah (recommended) to expose your body and clothing to the falling rain. Out of happiness that Allah is sending down his blessing and moreover rejoicing that it is pouring down on us. And the meaning of the phrase (in the hadith): “Because it (the rainfall) has just recently come from its Lord.” is mentioned in the explanation of Sahih Muslim of Imam Nawawi by saying: ‘That the rainfall is a mercy which Allah has just created, therefore use it as a blessing.’

It is narrated by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that once when the rain fell from the heavens, he told his servant to bring out his mattress and saddle so that the rain may fall on it. Abu Jawzaa’ then asked Ibn Abbas: Why are you doing that, May Allah have mercy on you? Ibn Abbas then said: “Do you not read the book of Allah: “And we have sent down from the heavens water that is blessed” (Qur’an 50:9)…Therefore I would like the blessing to fall (incur) on them.” (From Imaam As Shafii’s book, Al-Umm)

It is narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that, when it used to rain, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to pray for beneficial rain and say: “O Allah, bring beneficial rain clouds.” (Bukhari)

He (peace be upon him) also used to say: “We are given rain by Allah’s mercy, Allah’s providence, and Allah’s grace.” (Bukhari)

The time of the rain is a time of mercy from Allah so; one should take advantage of this time when Allah is having mercy on His slaves and make lots of du’aa. There are many times and places where du’aa is answered and one of them is when rain falls, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Two will not be rejected, Du’aa when the Adhan is being called and at the time of the rain.” (Abu Dawood)

As believers, the closer and more intimate our relationship is with nature, the stronger and certainly healthier an impact such an affiliation can have on our faith and our relationship with the Creator. Allah invites us to look around us and above us, to observe when He sends us His mercy in the form of rain, to reflect and give thanks to Him. So let’s appreciate this great gift of rainfall and use this blessing to turn to Him with sincerity and be of His beloved ones.

-Mariam Anwer

Originally posted in Arab News on the 8th of April 2016

AN rain

Lessons from Surah Al Kahf


kahf

Musa’s (alayhissalam) story in Surah Al Kahf (ayahs 60-82) teaches us that the outer appearance of things usually fools us whereas only Allah knows what situation is best for any individual. A problem is not always a problem. Our knowledge about things is limited while Allah is All Wise and All Knowing. Only He knows better how that specific problem is going to be beneficial for a person. Similarly, we might complain about a certain system or worldly problem but then it’s always according to Allah’s Plan and His wisdom. He created this world and the creatures in it…how can we doubt about His decisions for us? Let’s never fail to remember that our Lord is the Most Merciful and He will never ever be unjust in His Decisions for us, whether it is in this world or in the Hereafter. Allah says:

وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا
And your Lord does injustice to no one. [Al Kahf 18:49]

Soon when the veils of the unseen will be lifted then we will know and be sure that what happened was right for us…and we couldn’t have chosen a better destiny for ourselves. Sometimes it so happens that we fail to get the things we really want but many years down the road we realise that what happened was best for us…not getting that specific blessing then was the best for us! So our duty is to strive and do our best and if things don’t go the way we want them to go then we have to accept the Decisions of Allah for us and not be angry or depressed as He is the Only One who creates us, provides for us, gives and takes from us!

-My reflections after studying Surah Al Kahf