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
Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Abu `Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa’i all recorded a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah — and in the wording of An-Nasa’i’s version it states — that he said,
“The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) recited this Ayah,
﴿يَوْمَئِذٍ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا ﴾
‘That Day it (the earth) will declare its information.’ (Surah Al Zalzalah 99:4)
Then he said, «أَتَدْرُونَ مَا أَخْبَارُهَا؟» “Do you know what is its information?”
They said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,
«فَإِنَّ أَخْبَارَهَا أَنْ تَشْهَدَ عَلَى كُلِّ عَبْدٍ وَأَمَةٍ بِمَا عَمِلَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا أَنْ تَقُولَ: عَمِلَ كَذَا وَكَذَا يَوْمَ كَذَا وَكَذَا، فَهَذِهِ أَخْبَارُهَا»
“Verily, its information is that it will testify for/against every male and female servant, about what they did upon its surface. It will say that he did such and such on such and such day. So this is its information.”
-Tafsir Surah Al Zalzalah from Tafsir Ibn Katheer
Just as those on Haj are blessed with the opportunity to turn to Allah, repent and “come out as sinless as a newborn child” (Al-Bukhari), the ones not on Haj also get a somewhat similar opportunity.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting the Day of ‘Arafah (9th Dul-Hijjah) is an expiation for (the sins of) the previous year and an expiation for (the sins of) the coming year.” (Muslim)
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