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

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Ramadan is literally Mubarak!


Mubarak Ramadan

“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

Why are the people of ‘Eeman happy on the arrival of Ramadan?


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Ramadan is here! But why are the people of ‘Iman happy?

1 – They’re happy because the Prophet (PBUH) would be!

When Ramadan would arrive, he would ascend the pulpit and announce,

قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَمَضَانُ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ
‘Ramadan has come to you! A blessed month!!’

2 – They’re happy because Allah creates the most perfect conditions for worship

Thus, in Ramadan, ‘all of the gates of Paradise open, and all of the gates of the hell-fire are closed, and the devils and rebellious Jinns are chained up’ Why? In order to set the perfect scene of worship for all those who really wish to draw closer to Allah like never before. Thus a caller calls out in Ramadan, ‘O you who wants goodness, come! And O you who wants evil, enough!’

3 – They’re happy because it’s a chance to scoop unprecedented amounts of good deeds

Bearing in mind how short our lives are compared to those who lived before us, we need this month to compensate for our far shorter lives. Thus ‘Laylatul Qadr’ is ‘greater than a thousand months!’ It really couldn’t get any better.

4 – They’re happy because it’s a golden opportunity to drop some of our heavy luggage of sins once and for all

Thus the Prophet (PBUH) would say, ‘May his nose be soiled in dust! (may he be humiliated and disgraced); the one who witnesses Ramadan but then isn’t forgiven from his sins!’ From Allah’s part, He has made the offer to forgive. From our end, it’s up to us to accept the offer and start serious repentance.

5 – They’re happy because ‘Allah frees people who were destined to the fire every single night of Ramadan!’

As you break your fast in the Masjid or at home, think to yourself, have I been set free from the fire yet? Or am I still waiting?

6 – They’re happy because Allah has taken it upon His Magnificent Self to reward those who fast

Imagine your employer saying, ‘Give so and so their wages. As for so and so, leave their wages to me. I will take care of them.’ Clearly, a massive reimbursement is on its way! With that in mind, Allah said, ‘Fasting is for me and *I* shall reward for it!’ Thus, only Allah knows what awaits them!

7 – They’re happy because the one who fasts experiences two joys which none other experience

‘When he breaks his fast, he is happy with his food. And when he meets His Lord, he will be happy with his fast’ (Prophet Mohammad PBUH) Why is this? Because, ‘Fasting and Qur’an will intercede for a person on the Day of Judgement.’

8 – They’re happy because this Ramadan could be the one that makes all the difference

Two men came to the Prophet (PBUH) and embraced Islam. One of them went on to die as a martyr whilst the other died a year later. Amazingly, one of the companions – Talha – saw in his dream that the one who died a year later entered paradise before the martyr. How could this be?! The Prophet (PBUH) told Talha, ‘Did he not fast an extra month of Ramadan?!’ Yes, this month could be the life changer!

9 – They’re happy because, at a time when the sun is out, fasting is major protection

Thus the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘Fasting is a shield’ Sins which we would have otherwise been far more susceptible to are now largely pushed aside.

10 – They’re happy because happiness upon Ramadan’s arrival is a real sign of ‘iman

Thus Allah said, speaking about the reactions of the believers when verses from the Qur’an were revealed,

وَإِذَا مَا أُنْزِلَتْ سُورَةٌ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ أَيُّكُمْ زَادَتْهُ هَذِهِ إِيمَانًا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَزَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَهُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ

“And whenever a surah is revealed, some of the hypocrites say, “Which of you has this increased in faith?” As for those who believed, it has increased them in faith, while they are rejoicing!” (Al-Qur’an)

 

-Written by Ali Hammuda

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

Sanity and the Qur’an


quran sanity

The thought of losing one’s mind due to old-age, illness or an accident is most certainly a worrying one to say the least. The gift of sanity, especially for a Muslim who consciously seeks to invest in every single second in preparation for the Hereafter, is a particularly precious one.

With that said, ‘AbdulMalik Ibn ‘Umair said,
كان يقال أن أبقى الناس عقولا قراء القرآن
“It used to be said, ‘The people who are protected most in respect to their minds are the reciters of the Qur’an’”

In another narration,
أنقى الناس عقولا قراء القرآن
“The purest of people in terms of their minds are the reciters of the Qur’an.”

Imam Al-Qurtubi said,
من قرأ القرآن مُتّع بعقله وإن بلغ مائة
“Whoever recites the Qur’an (i.e. frequently) will enjoy soundness in his mind, even if he hits the age of 100.”

Imam Ibnu Taymiyya said,
ما رأيت شيئا يغذّي العقل والروح ويحفظ الجسم ويضمن السعادة أكثر من إدامة النظر في كتاب الله تعالى
“I have never come across anything which nourishes the mind and soul, preserves the body and guarantees one’s happiness like that of perpetual looking into the Qur’an.”

Let the addiction begin... :)

-Written by Ali Hammuda