Isn’t Ramadan a nafs-killer?
When you want to eat you cannot eat, and there is blessing in eating at a time when you’d rather not eat! (sahoor)
When you want to sleep you push yourself to stay awake and when you’d rather be awake you know you have to get some sleep so you can remain sane…
It almost feels like you have no control over your life any more… you cant do what you please, its all about what Allah wants. This is exactly what we have signed up for:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ
Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. [9:111]
And this is what is expected of us:
التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah ], the travelers [for His cause] / those who fast, those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers. [9:112]
O Allah, accept from us our lives, and give us Jannah. Ameen.
– Taimiyyah Zubair
Origins of the Halloween Festival
If we go by definition and a brief history of the event, we find the following comments in the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. The date was connected with the return of herds from pasture, and laws and land tenures were renewed. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divination concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.”
By the 19th century, witches’ pranks were replaced by children’s tricks. The spirits of Samhain, once believed to be wild and powerful, were now recognized as being evil. Devout Christians began rejecting this festival. They had discovered that the so-called gods, goddesses, and other spiritual beings of the pagan religions, were in fact diabolical deceptions. The spiritual forces that people experienced during this festival were indeed real, but they were manifestations of the devil who misled people toward the worship of false idols. Thus, they rejected the customs associated with Halloween, including all representations of ghosts, vampires, and human skeletons – symbols of the dead – and of the devil and other wicked and evil creatures.
It must also be noted that, to this day, many Satan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred.
And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival.
Does Islam agree with all of this?
Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qur’an:
“Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah.” [Luqman 31:33]
And the commandment does not end there, Allah, the Almighty, has asked us not to even follow anything remotely associated to Shaytan (Satan).
“O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytan.”[an-Noor 24:21]
Apart from this clear warning, we have been asked to maintain our own identity as Muslims and not follow blindly the ways of the disbelievers, which we sometimes end up doing in a state of excitement or under the excuse of keeping a friendly atmosphere among friends and colleagues. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) warned us about this, saying:
“Whoever imitates a people, is one of them.”[Abu Dawood, 3512]
He (ﷺ) also warned:
“You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also.”
We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He (ﷺ) said: “Who else (than those two religious groups)?” [Sahih Muslim 2669]
Muslims are enjoined to neither imitate the behavior and customs of the non-Muslims, nor to commit their indecencies. Behavior-imitation will affect the attitude of a Muslim and may create a feeling of sympathy towards the indecent modes of life. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus pave the way for the Qur’an and prophetic Sunnah to be the correct and pure source for original Islamic thought and behavior. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behavior and moral character, and not a blind imitator dependent on other nations and cultures.
Even if one decides to go along with the outward practices of Halloween without acknowledging the deeper significance or historical background of this custom, he or she is still guilty of indulging in this ignorant festival which involves shirk, acts of disobedience and transgressions.
We must remember that we are fully accountable to Allah for all of our actions and deeds. If, after knowing the truth, we do not cease our un-Islamic practices, we risk the Wrath of Allah Who warns us in the Qur’an with the verse (which means):
“…So let those beware who dissent from his [i.e., the Prophet’s] order, lest a grievous trial strike them or a painful punishment.” [Noor 24:63]
This is a serious matter and one not to be taken lightly. May Allah guide us, help us to stay on the right path, and protect us from all deviations and innovations that will lead us into the Hell fire. Aameen.
“Help you one another in Al‑Birr and At‑Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” [al-Maeda 5:2]
The worst opinion is the one in which you lie to yourself and others, and then attribute it to God.
If you’re too lazy to pray, be honest with yourself, instead of saying prayer doesn’t make someone Muslim. It does. Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu’alayhi wa sallam, taught that Salaah is the dividing line between faith and disbelief.
If you’re too weak to wear hijab, be honest about your struggles—we’re all human after all—but don’t say hijab isn’t important in Islam. Our Lord doesn’t speak trivialities. If He spoke about it, it’s important.
If you don’t want your husband or wife to divorce you, then be honest about your deepest desires and vulnerabilities—we all have them—but don’t slander your husband or wife, saying they are bad Muslims to even want this.
If you are too spiritually weak or ignorant to understand the wisdom of polygyny for all times—we all have much to learn about our faith—then pray that Allah increases you in knowledge and understanding. But don’t say polygyny is haraam in today’s society.
Obeying Allah through marriage is never forbidden, no matter what society you live in.
But lying on Allah is *always* forbidden, no matter your motivation or excuse.
Allah says, “Woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah!’” (2:79).
Allah has already spoken about prayer, hijab, and marriage. Limit your “opinion” to His revelation…
Or await facing Him alone on the Day of Judgment, when you’ll be asked to explain why you felt you knew better than He.
—from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah
When the great scholar Sulaym b. Ayyūb as-Sulaym (known as Abū Fatḥ ar-Rāzī, d. 447 hijrī) was a ten year old child in his hometown of Rey, Iran, he went to a sheikh to learn recitation of the Qurʾān.
He narrates; the sheikh called me over and asked me to start reciting the Qurʾān. I started to recite Sūrat al-Fātiḥah but struggled to do so and couldn’t complete its recitation because of how poor my pronunciation was. So the sheikh asked me, “Do you have a mother?”
I replied, “Yes.”
The sheikh said, “Tell her to make duʿāʾ that Allāh grants you recitation of the Qurʾān and knowledge.”
So I went home and asked her to make duʿāʾ for me and she did.
When I grew up, I travelled to Baghdād and stayed there until I mastered the Arabic language and Fiqh. Then I returned to Rey.
One day, as I was sitting in a masjid teaching ‘Mukhtaṣar al-Muzanī’, that same sheikh entered the masjid and greeted us but did not recognise me. When he heard me teach–and he had no idea what we were discussing–he exclaimed, “How does one gain this much knowledge?!”
Sulaym narrates, I wanted to ask him if he had a mother, to tell her to make duʿāʾ for him. But I was shy to do so!
-Abū Fatḥ ar-Rāzī, d. 447 hijrī
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
“This Ramadan, I am afraid I won’t be able to do much Ibadah…”
Did you find yourself saying this to yourself or someone else? Perhaps it continued like this “… because I have exams”, or, “… because the fasts are super long and I have work”, or may be “… because kids have school” …or something else?
I know, Ramadan is exciting, but the fear is also real. However, before you decide not to set any goals for yourself this Ramadan, or allow yourself to take it easy, read on:
1. Ramadan is a month whose every day and night is Mubarak – in fact EVERYTHING about this month is Mubarak, including the food we eat at suhoor. Simply explained, mubarak is something that has barakah in it, and barakah is ‘when you get more out of what appears to be little’.
So while you may be genuinely afraid about your limited capacity and time assure yourself of Allah’s special aid this month, and take comfort in knowing that even the little will suffice inshaAllah.
2. Allah loves deeds that are consistent, even if they may be small. Ramadan is an opportunity we really don’t want to miss no matter what is going on in our lives, because it is unlike any other time of the year. So aim for something, even if it may be small. The nights are short for many of us, but Allah’s mercy and generosity is great. If we can stand in prayer for a few minutes only, lets do it.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Would any one of you like to return to his family and find there three large, fat, pregnant she-camels? We (the sahabah) said: Yes. Upon this he (ﷺ) said: Three verses that one of you recites in his prayer are better for him than three large, fat, pregnant she-camels. [Muslim: 1908]
Perhaps you can do more?
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites ten verses in the night, a heap of reward will be recorded for him, and that is better for him than the world and whatever that is in it.” [Saheeh at-Targheeb a at-Tarheeb: 638]
And of course, the reward for Ihsan is nothing but Ihsan.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites a hundred verses in the night, then the worship of the entire night will be recorded for him.” [Musnad Ahmad: 16958]
May Allah allow us to worship Him in the best way that we can this Ramadan, consistently and beautifully. Ameen.
– Taimiyyah Zubair