How to raise the forefinger during Tashahhud


tashhad finger

It is preferable sunnah to point with the forefinger and move it during the tashahhud.

Firstly:

It is sunnah to point with the forefinger and move it during the tashahhud because of the reports:

  •  It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat during the prayer, he would place his left foot between his thigh and calf, and tuck his right foot underneath him, and place his left hand on his left knee, and place his right hand on his right thigh, and point with his finger. [Narrated by Muslim, 579].

In al-Nasaa’i (1270) and Abu Dawood (989) it says: “He used to point with his finger when making du’aa’ but he did not move it.”

This addition – “but he did not move it” – was classed as da’eef by Ibn al-Qayyim in Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/238. It was also classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Tamaam al-Minnah, p. 218.

  •  It was narrated that Waa’il ibn Hajar said: I said: I will certainly watch how the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prays. So I watched him and he stood up and said takbeer (“Allaahu akbar”), and raised his hands until they were level with his ears. Then he placed his right hand on his left hand, wrist and lower forearm. When he wanted to bow, he raised his hands likewise, and put his hands on his knees, and when he raised his head he raised his hands likewise. Then he prostrated and put his hands level with his ears, then he sat with his left foot tucked underneath him and put his left hand on his left thigh and knee, and he put the edge of his right elbow on his right thigh. Then he held two of his fingers and made a circle, then he raised his forefinger and moved it, making du’aa’ with it.

[Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 889; classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah, 1/354; Ibn Maajah, 5/170; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 367].

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen quoted this hadeeth – “moving it, making du’aa’ with it” – as evidence that moving the forefinger during the tashahhud should be done with every phrase of the du’aa’. He said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’:

The Sunnah indicates that he should point with it when making du’aa’, because the wording of the hadeeth is “moving it, making du’aa’ with it”. So every time you make du’aa’, move your finger thus indicating the exalted nature of the One to Whom you are addressing your du’aa’s. So we say:

“As-salaamu ‘alayka ayyuha’l-Nabiyyu (peace be upon you, O Prophet)” – you should point your finger because this salaam is a kind of du’aa’. “Al-salaamu ‘alayna (peace be upon us)” – you should point your finger. “Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad (O Allaah, send blessings upon Muhammad)” – you should point your finger. “Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammad) O Allaah, send blessings upon Muhammad)” – you should point your finger. ‘A’oodhu Billaahi min ‘adhaab jahannam (I seek refuge with Allaah from the torment of Hell)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min ‘adhaab al-qabr (and from the torment of the grave)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min fitnat il-mahya wa’l-mamaat (and from the trials of life and death)” – you should point your finger. “Wa min fitnat il-maseeh il-dajjaal (and from the tribulation of the Dajjaal) – you should point your finger. Every time you make du’aa’ you should point your finger, indicating the greatness of the One to Whom you are making du’aa’. This is closer to the Sunnah.

End quote.

  • Al-Nasaa’i (1273) narrated that Sa’d said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by me whilst I was making du’aa’ with my fingers and he said, “One, one,” and pointed with his index finger. Meaning: point with one finger, namely the index finger.
  • Ahmad (5964) narrated that Naafi’ said: When ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar sat during the prayer, he would put his hands on his thighs and point with his finger whilst looking at it. Then he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “It is harder on the Shaytaan than iron,” meaning the index finger. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Sifat Salaat al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), p. 159.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is mustahabb to point with one finger during “the tashahhud and supplication (du‘aa’)”. [Al-Ikhtiyaaraat, 38.]

The ahaadeeth above indicate two things:

  1.  That one should point with the finger throughout the entire Tashahhud
  2.  That one should move it when making du’aa’.

 

Secondly: 

It is Sunnah when pointing to look at your finger. 

Al-Nawawi said: The Sunnah is not to let your gaze go beyond the pointing finger. There is a saheeh hadeeth concerning this in Sunan Abi Dawood. You should point in the direction of the qiblah and intend when pointing to affirm the Oneness of Allaah and exclusive devotion to Him.  [Sharh Muslim, 5/81].

The hadeeth to which al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) referred is the hadeeth of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr quoted above. The version narrated by Abu Dawood is (989): “And he should not let his gaze go beyond his pointing finger.” [Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood].

Thirdly: 

It is Sunnah to point with it towards the qiblah. 

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that he saw a man moving pebbles with his hand whilst he was praying. When he finished, ‘Abd-Allaah said to him: “Do not move pebbles whilst you are praying, for that comes from the Shaytaan. Rather do what the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do. He put his right hand on his thigh and pointed with the finger that is next to the thumb towards the qiblah, and he fixed his gaze on it.” Then he said: “This is what I saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) doing.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 1160; Ibn Khuzaymah, 1/355; Ibn Hibbaan, 5/273. classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (7/56):

Pointing with the finger throughout the tashahhud and moving it when offering supplication (du‘aa’), and clenching the other fingers should continue until the salaam. End quote.

Whatever the case, the matter is subject to ijtihaad and is something concerning which the scholars differed. The different opinions concerning it may have to do with slight differences in the way the prayer is performed, so there is nothing wrong with differing from this ijtihaad and following what one thinks is more correct on the basis of evidence.

It also says in Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (5/368):

Raising the forefinger in the tashahhud is Sunnah, and the reason behind it is to indicate the Oneness of Allah. Whoever wishes may move it and whoever wishes may not move it. This matter should not lead to division and discord between seekers of knowledge. If a person does not raise it at all, or he raises it but does not move it, this is a minor matter that should not lead to denunciation and resentment. However the Sunnah is to raise it throughout the shahaadatayn, until the worshippers says the salaam, as an affirmation of divine Oneness. With regard to moving it, that should be when reciting the supplication, as is narrated in the saheeh Sunnah.

End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah, 5/368

And Allah Almighty knows best.

Click here to watch Shaikh Assim answer a question on this topic.

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Deprivation leads to Du’aa


araf

Allah will keep testing His servants until the sincere believers can be clearly differentiated from the weak ones and the hypocrites. The children of Israel were weak and oppressed waiting for years for the help and mercy of Allah so when Allah drowned Fir’awan and his people to save them, the Children of Israel took the calf as God, forgot Allah and started worshiping it.

It’s clear from this, that whenever Allah deprives someone of something, it is only so that he can come closer to Him by ways of du’a and worship asking Allah to fulfill that need. And Allah finally fulfills that need according to his own timing, his own way, it’s so that the servant can rise in eeman and gratefulness. But then insan gets the name ‘insan’ due to his forgetful nature. So when there’s no longer a need that needs to be fulfilled, he forgets Allah’s favors, disobeys Him and gets involved in Shirk. Reflect over this…and correct your affairs.

-Lessons from Surah Al A’raf

Masters of the youth of Paradise


hasan-hussain

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Husayn is part of me and I am part of him. May Allah love those who love Husayn. Husayn is one of my grandsons.” [al-Tirmidhi (3775), Ibn Maajah (144) and Ahmad (17111) – classed as hasan by at-Tirmidhi and al-Albaani]

Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was killed on the day of ‘Ashoora’, he was killed by the transgressing, wrongdoing group. Allah honoured al-Husayn with martyrdom, as He honoured other members of his family; He honoured Hamzah and Ja‘far (may Allah be pleased with them) with martyrdom, as well as his father ‘Ali and others (may Allah be pleased with them all).

His martyrdom was one of the means by which Allah raised him in status, for he and his brother al-Hasan will be the leaders of the youth among the people of Paradise, and high status is only achieved by means of trials, as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, when he was asked which of the people are most sorely tested? He said: “The Prophets, then the righteous, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested to a degree commensurate with his level of religious commitment. If there is firmness in his religious commitment, his test will be greater, and if there is any weakness in his religious commitment, the test will be reduced for him. Trials will continue to befall the believer until he walks upon the earth with no sin on him.” [Narrated by at-Tirmidhi and others].

Al-Hasan and al-Husayn had previously been granted high status by Allah, may He be glorified, and they did not go through the same trials and hardships that had befallen their predecessors, because they were born at a time when Islam was prevalent and they had grown up with honour and dignity. The Muslims venerated them and honoured them, and when the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died, they had not yet reached the age of discernment.

The blessing that Allah bestowed upon them was that He tested them with that which caused them to join the other members of their family, just as He tested others who were better than them. ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib was better than them, and he was killed as a martyr.

The two beautiful beloved ones who many are grieving for these days, were martyred as Allah willed it, and this was a blessing for them. They are now in Jannah with their grandfather (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) having a high status with Allah so why should we be sad for them? Instead let’s pray Allah gives us tawfiq to follow them in righteous deeds and that He has mercy on us and forgives us like He had mercy on them and that He unites us with them in Jannat Al Firdaws! Aameen!

Dealing with Grief


grieved

Allah created us unique and out of His mercy not only blessed us with intellect, feelings and emotions but also taught us how to use these faculties in the right way. Joy and grief are two such emotions decreed by Allah for us – emotions through which we can draw closer to Him if we comply with His commands. Being grateful and praising Allah when happy and patient when sad while accepting whatever He decrees is the characteristic of a true believer. For, everything that Allah decrees for a believer is good for him in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all his affairs are good, and that applies to no one except a believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is also good for him.” (Muslim-2999)

Remaining calm especially at the loss of a loved one can be devastating and the grief that follows cannot be belittled but a believer who has faith in His Lord’s promises doesn’t let shaitan overpower his senses and continues to be patient for His sake. He knows that everything good and bad is a test from Allah and the real purpose of the test is actually to make him learn to continue doing good deeds with patience despite the burden of the test he is facing. That’s when he is blessed with the mercy, guidance and reward of Allah as explained in the second surah of the Qur’an.

Experiencing negative feelings of sadness and anxiety or crying when grieving a loss is natural. Even the prophets went through such times and felt these emotions of sorrow and hurt but we need to learn and follow their attitudes of controlling their emotions and being steadfast in the obedience of Allah.

Anas bin Malik narrated: “We went with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to the blacksmith Abu Saif. He was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah’s Messenger took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later when we entered Abu Saif’s house, Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Messenger, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”  (Bukhari 23:390)

In another narration, Abdullah ibn Umar said: Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubaadah fell sick and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to visit him with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with all the companions). When he entered upon him, he found him unconscious with his family around him and he said: “Has he died?” They said: No, O Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) wept, and when the people saw the Prophet weeping, they also wept. He said: “Listen, Allah does not punish for the tears of the eye or the grief of the heart, rather He punishes for this” – and he pointed to his tongue – “or shows mercy (because of it).” (Bukhari-1304, Muslim-924)

These touching narrations teach us that being composed when grieving and submitting to the will of Allah does not exclude emotions. And while such emotions are characterized as a sign of human compassion granted by Allah, Prophet (peace be upon him) also placed limits on excessive display of grief. Merely crying when grieved is allowed but it is forbidden when it accompanies wailing or complaining. Furthermore, according to hadeeth, the family of a deceased is allowed to mourn him for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days.

Unfortunately we see many people nowadays spoil the image of Islam by grieving over the dead in ways that were forbidden by the Prophet (peace be upon him). They are seen beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords while complaining or uttering words of shirk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never prescribed for his followers to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr irrespective of his status. During his lifetime, he (peace be upon him) lost his beloved wife Khadijah, almost all his children and a number of companions were martyred such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah and Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib. He did mourn their loss, but he did not do any of the things that some people nowadays do. He or his companions did not strike their chests or scratch their faces, or shed blood or take the day of the loss of their beloved spouses, children or companions as a festival or day of mourning. Rather they used to remember their loved ones who had passed away; they used feel sad, silently shed tears and seek relief in prayer. According to a report by Abu Dawood, whenever something distressed him or pleased him, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say to Bilal: “Relieve us with it (i.e., the prayer).”  He (peace be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, tears his garment, or wails with the cry(words) of the Jaahiliyyah.” (Bukhari-1294, Muslim-103)

When one remembers his beloved who has passed away or when he remembers some similar calamity, it is best to say that which Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.” (Ahmad)

He (peace be upon him) also said, ‘A person will be in the company of those whom he loves’. (Bukhari) So be consoled, oh believers, and patiently endure as the life of this world is temporary and we will soon be reunited with our beloved in Paradise if Allah wills.

-Mariam Anwer

Special Days of Special Worship


 kaaba-reach
It is that time of the year again when we see millions of people from every corner of the world gathering together in Makkah, for Hajj which is the largest annual religious gathering that humanity knows. It is not just the sheer number of people, but also the diversity that is stunning. Indeed, the heart of every believer soars with joy and the eyes well up when they watch the live transmissions being aired from the Holy sites and every single one of them wishes that he/she was one of the blessed ones performing Hajj this year.
 
As the same feelings sweep over me, I can’t help but remember the time when it all started. The time when Allah commanded Prophet Ibraheem to build His House, purify it and then call people to it for pilgrimage. I remember and I wonder how our father Ibraheem must have felt at the honor and how he must have made the call. Allah talks about this, in Surah Al Hajj and says: “And when We designated for Ibraheem the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate. And proclaim to the people the Hajj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” (Qur’an 22:26-27)
 
Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on these verses: “This means: Allah says, Proclaim (O Ibraheem) the Hajj to the people, calling them to come on pilgrimage to this House which We have commanded you to build. It was mentioned that Ibraheem said, “O Lord, how can I proclaim it to the people when my voice does not reach them?” He said, “Call and We will convey it.” So he stood in his maqaam (Station of Ibraheem) – or it was said, on the rock, or on al-Safa, or on Abu-Qubays (a mountain) – and said: “O people, your Lord has taken a House, so come to it on pilgrimage.” And it was said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice could reach all parts of the earth, those who were still in the wombs or in men’s loins also heard. And everything that heard him, cities, nomad encampments and trees, and everyone whom Allah has decreed should perform Hajj until the Day of Resurrection responded, (saying): ‘LABBAYK ALLAHUMMA LABBAYK’ (HERE I AM, O ALLAH, HERE I AM). (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
 
Praise be to the One Who has made His House “a place of return for the people and [a place of] security.” (2:125).The hearts of those who love Allah are naturally attached to the House of the Beloved. Every time they see its image from afar they long for it and every time they are away from it they want to return. Although this narration amazes us, it also saddens many who are unable to undertake this amazing journey, either due to financial reasons, family obligations, or any other reason that may exist. Allah knows the state of hearts and He is especially Merciful towards His believing slaves when He decrees that whenever one resolves to do an act of worship but he is unable to do it because of some excuse, he will be granted the reward of one who does it. This is proven by the incident when the Messenger (peace be upon him) came back from the campaign of Tabook and when he drew close to Madeenah he said: “In Madeenah there are some people who, whenever you marched or crossed a valley, were with you (gaining similar rewards).” The companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, but they were in Madeenah.” He said, “They were in Madeenah because some excuse kept them back.” (Al-Bukhaari-4423)
We can also get the ultimate rewards of Hajj, from right where we are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 rak’ahs 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)
Furthermore, Allah has made the month of Hajj, Dhul-Hijjah blessed, and the first ten days of this month have been made the best ten days of the year so all good deeds done in this season carry extra rewards. The evidence of this has been reported in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Allah says: “By the dawn. And by the ten nights.” (Qur’an 89:1-2) The ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “There are no days in which righteous actions are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” (Al-Bukhari, 2/457)
 
Therefore, for those of us who are unable to be in Makkah right now for Hajj, let’s value these special days of the year and maximize our efforts to excel in various good deeds. We can:
• Pray all Fard prayers on time and try to pray extra nafl prayers for extra reward.
• Fast as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. (Saheeh Abi Dawood-2/462). And when the he (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the 9th – The Day of ‘Arafah, he said: “It expiates (sins) for the past year and the coming year.” (Muslim-1162)
• Keep our tongues moist with Takbeer (Allahu-Akbar), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillaah), Tahleel (La ilaha ill-Allah) and Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah)
• Try to read the Qur’an as much as possible as ‘every letter earns us more than ten rewards’ (Tirmidhi-2910).
• Increase in our worship, repentance and du’a during the day and during the night.
• Give charity and help those who are less fortunate to prepare for Eid.
• Restrain our tempers and our tongues from evil or idle talk, try being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us.
• Share sacrificial meat with the poor and be cheerful with everyone.
 
These ten days are truly special days of great gains and profits. The smart traders are those who make the most of this special season to increase their profits and seek nearness to their Master, whether there are at Makkah or far away. Perhaps Allah will accept from them as He accepts from the Hujjaj, because of their sincere intentions.
 
-Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News
 AN DhulHijjah

Racing to Good Deeds in Ramadan


ramadan

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