Racing to Good Deeds in Ramadan


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Praise and thanks to Allah who has made us reach the blessed month of Ramadan yet again this year. He made it a month of mercy, forgiveness, du’aa and multiplied rewards. Every night of this blessed month, He invites the fortunate ones who witness it, to race and compete with each other in doing righteous deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, the jinn are restrained, and the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. A caller announces: O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short! Allah will save them from the Hellfire and that is during every night of Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi-682)

How amazing is that? Could our names be among the ones whom Allah removes from the list of people going to Hell? Insha Allah, Yes! With the devils being chained and the entrance to Paradise made so easy, racing to do all that Allah has commanded and trying our best to avoid all that He has forbidden has been made easy for us in this blessed month. Ramadan is without doubt a golden opportunity for all of us who hope to be saved from the Hell fire and yearn to dwell in Paradise, where we will have all that we desire. This is not a month of socializing and feasting even though it is common to see this around us. This is a month of competing with each other in improving our relationship with our Creator – A month where we ignore all distractions and race to him by doing lots of good deeds. Allah says, “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden [i.e. paradise] as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Qur’an 3:133)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There has come to you the month of Ramadan, a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with grace, sending down mercy, forgiving sins and answering supplication. Allah looks at your competition in doing good therein, and boasts of you before His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for truly the wretched person is the one who is deprived of the Mercy of Allah during this month.” (At Tabarani)

The Messenger (peace be upon him) and his companions would pray, fast, spend time with the Qur’an and be obedient to Allah all year round but in Ramadan, they would maximize their efforts to excel in various good deeds. Nothing can be better for us than following their footsteps in this world and then being rewarded by having their company in the Hereafter. The Messenger (peace be upon him) mentioned many actions which, if performed sincerely, grant us great rewards.

The best of such actions in Ramadan is fasting, which has been made obligatory by the Almighty. The exact reward for fasting has not been specified but it is expected to be tremendous because of the way this hadith describes it: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied between ten and seven hundred times. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said: Except fasting. It is for Me and I shall reward for it. He gives up his desires and his food for My sake.” (Muslim-1151) SubhanAllah! We need to perfect our fast by not just avoiding food and drink but also false and hateful speech and deeds so the rewards can be maximized. According to another hadith, there is a gate to Paradise that is called Ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last [one who fasted] has passed through the gate, it will be locked. [al-Bukhari and Muslim].

The blessed month of Ramadan is a celebration of the Qur’an as the blessed Book was revealed in it. Striving hard to spend the month in reading, reciting and listening to the Qur’an carries huge rewards. Regarding reciting it, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Laam, Meem’ is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Laam’ is a letter and ‘Meem’ is a letter.” (Tirmidhi-2910)

While for the one who listens to the Qur’an attentively (in prayer at the masjid or elsewhere), it was said that mercy does not come quicker to anyone than the one who listens to the Qur’an according to the words of Allah: “So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” [Qur’an 7:204] The words “you may” make it mandatory for Allah! (Tafsir Al Qurtubi)

In addition to studying the Qur’an, there is a narration by Ibn Abbas that emphasizes the need to be generous in giving all kinds of charity in Ramadan: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of people and he was the most generous in the month of Ramadan, when Jibril would meet him. Jibril used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an.” (Bukhari-1716, Muslim-4268)

Speaking of charity, you can also easily get the reward of fasting not just 30 fasts in the blessed month, but 60, 90 and so on! Surprised? Well, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Whoever gives a fasting person (food or drink to break their fast), they will have similar to the reward of the one who fasted, without any decrease for the one who fasted.” (At-Tirmidhi-Authenticated by Al Albani) Buy some dates and hand them over at some masjid, for the worshippers at the time of breaking the fast or hand over bottles of cold water and small packets of dates on the road sides at the time of Maghrib. If you are unable to do any of that, then just helping out in the kitchen and setting up Iftar with dates and cold water for your family will bring a similar reward insha Allah.

Making extra voluntary prayer along with the 5 obligatory ones is another way to race to Paradise according to the narration of Rabi’a b.Ka’b who said: I was with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) one night and I brought him water and what he required. He said to me: ‘Ask (for anything you like)’. I said: I ask for your company in Paradise. He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Or anything else other than it?’ I said: That is all (what I require). He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself to frequent sujood [prostrations].’ “(Muslim-990) Let’s rush to the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise by spending the nights of Ramadan in prayer as whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”  (Hadeeth classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)

According to a hadeeth, performing an Umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying the Prophet (peace be upon him) on Hajj.” (Bukhari-1764) But as for those who live far away from the blessed land of Makkah and feel sad because they cannot perform Umrah in this blessed month, well you can get the ultimate rewards of Hajj and Umrah, from right where you are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, and then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 units of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Hajj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)

“Race to [all that is] good.” says Allah in the Qur’an (2:148) and one can think of no better time to do this except in the blessed season that we find ourselves in. Restraining our temper and our tongues from evil or idle talk, helping those in need, being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us will make us gain not just tremendous rewards but also the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise in this blessed month. Some short but beautiful and meaningful phrases of praising, glorifying and exalting Allah taught by the Prophet should also be recited in Ramadan to get those extra rewards. He (peace be upon him) said:

  • “Whoever says Subhaan Allaah il ‘azeem wa bi hamdihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah the Almighty), a palm tree will be planted for him in Paradise.”(Tirmidhi)
  • “There are) two words which are dear to the Most Merciful (Allah) and very light (easy) for the tongue (to say), but very heavy in weight in the balance. They are: Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim (Glory and praise to Allah, and Glory to Allah the Almighty)’. (Bukhari)
  • “Glorify Allah a hundred times by just saying Subhanallah (Glorified is Allah) and a thousand good deeds will be written for you, or a thousand sins will be wiped away.” (Muslim)
  • “Say ‘Laa Hawla Wa Laa Quwwataa Illaa Billaah’ (There is no might or power except with Allah) in abundance, for indeed it is from the treasures of Jannah.“ (Bukhaari) This means that this phrase is a treasure that will be preserved and rewarded to the servant in Jannah if he utters it.

How Merciful is our Lord, Who enlightened us to countless good deeds that lead to His pleasure and Paradise – Alhamdulillah! Regardless how much we do and how much we offer we will always fall short fulfilling Allah’s rights upon us, therefore we must increase in seeking His forgiveness and always seek His guidance and help in doing good for His sake. He says: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways (the means to attain the acceptance and pleasure of Allah). And indeed Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an 29:69)

May Allah grant us the strength and tawfiq to make the most of this blessed month and be winners in this race to be among His beloved ones. Ameen.

– Written Mariam Anwer

A condensed version of this article originally published in Arab News

The best of company..


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In a hadīth from sahīh Muslim…

Sa’d ibn abi Waqqās was with the messenger of Allah and six other companions when Mushrikeen of Quraish came and asked to hear Qur’ān recited from the mouth of our Nabī (S). After making their request, the mushrikeen noticed that around our Nabī was a throng of companions—all from the poor an weak of society. So in pride and arrogance, the mushrikeen complained to our Nabī:

“أطرد عنك هؤلاء، لا يجترئون علينا”

They said, “Push these men away from here. They are below us (in wealth and prestige).” And from seven heavens above, Allah revealed this ayah to our Nabī, reminding him:

واصبر نفسك مع الذين يدعون ربهم بالغدوٰة والعشى يريدون وجهه ولا تعد عيناك عنهم تريدون زينة الحياة الدنيا | الكهف: ٢٨
  “And be patient (O Muhammad) with those who call their Lord in the evening and night, seeking (the pleasure of) His face; and do not turn your face away from them”—these poor companions of yours—“pursuing the glitters of this temporary world.”

A reminder to our beloved Prophet, that sometimes, the best of company are those lowest in society, who are humbled by their poverty and hardships.

Just beautiful. :)

Ali Ibn Talib and his Love for Abu Bakr – Farewell Speech


“The city of Al-Madeenah literally trembled on the day that Abu Bakr (radi Allaahu ‘anhu) died; in fact; other than the day of the Prophet’s death the people of Madeenah had never witnessed a sadder day, nor a day upon which they had shed more tears. Upon hearing the sad news, ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib (radi Allaahu ‘anhu) hurried towards Abu Bakr’s house, all the while saying, “Verily we belong to Allah, and to Him is our return.”

‘Ali (radi Allaahu ‘anhu) then stood outside the house in which Abu Bakr (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu) had died, and made the following long speech, which he addressed to Abu Bakr (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu) himself:

“O Abu Bakr, may Allah have Mercy upon you. You were the closest companion and friend of the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); you were a comfort to him; you were the one he trusted most. If he had a secret, he would tell it to you; and if he needed to consult someone regarding a matter, he would consult you. You were the first of your people to embrace Islam, and you were the most sincere of them in your faith. Your faith was stronger than any other person’s, as was the degree to which you feared Allah. And you were wealthier then anyone else in terms of what you acquired from the religion of Allah ‘Azza Wa-Jall (The Posessor of Might and Majesty). You cared most for both the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Islam. Of all people, you were the best Companion to the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); you possessed the best qualities; you had the best past; you ranked the highest; and you were closest to him. And of all people you resembled the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) the most in terms of his guidance and demeanor. Your ranking was higher than anyone else’s, and the Prophet (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) honored you and held you in higher esteem than anyone else. On behalf of the Messenger of Allah and Islam, may Allah reward you with the best of rewards. When the people disbelieved in the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) you believed in him. Throughout his life, you were both his eyes with which he (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and his ears with which he heard. Allah has named you truthful in his book when He said:

“And he (Muhammad (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who has brought the truth (this Qur’an and Islamic Monotheism) and (those who) believed therein (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism), those are Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons)” (Qur’an 39:33)

When people were stingy in their support for the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) you comforted him. And when people sat still, you stood side by side with the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), facing the same hardships that he faced. In times of hardship, you were truly a good and noble Companion of his. You were the ‘second of two’, his Companion in the Cave; and the one upon whom As-Sakeenah descended. You were his Companion during the migration and you were his successor regarding the religion of Allah and His nation. And truly good sucessor you proved to be when the people apostatized.

You did what no other Khaleefah of a Prophet did before you. You stood up firmly and bravely when his other Companions lost their resolve and became soft. And when they became weak, you adhered to the methodology of the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). You truly were as the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: weak in your body, but strong regarding the commands of Allah; humble in yourself, but lofty in your ranking with Allah; well-esteemed in the eyes of people, honored and great in their hearts. Not a single one of them had any reason to dislike you, to be suspicious of you, or to hold you in contempt.

The weak and humble you have always treated as strong and honorable, making sure you gave them what was rightfully theirs. And in this regard, you have treated relatives and strangers equally. Of all people, you respect those who are most obedient to Allah and who fear Him the most. In your overall character, you embody truth and compassion. Your speech has always been characterized by the qualities of wisdom and decisiveness. And you have always struck a noble balance between gentleness and firmness. You have always based your decisions on knowedge, and once you have made your decisions, you have always kept a firm resolve to execute them.

Verily to Allah do we belong, and to Him is our return. We are pleased with, and we submit to, Allah’s decree. And by Allah, other than the death of the Messenger of Allah (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) Muslims have never been afflicted with a greater calamity than the calamity of your death. You have always been a protector, a sanctuary, and source of honor for this religion. May Allah ‘Azza Wa-Jall make you join the company of His Prophet, Muhammad (salAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and may He not deprive us of your reward. And may He not lead us astray after you.”

People had gathered around ‘Ali (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu) and listened to his speech until he was finished. Then they all cried with raised voices, and they all responded in unison to ‘Ali’s speech, saying, “Indeed, you have spoken the truth.” [1]

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[1]At-Tabsirah, by ibn Al-Jawzee (1/477-479); and Ashaab Ar-Rasool (1/108)