You are about to embark on a remarkable journey, along with a billion other souls across the world, to challenge and push yourself to greater heights. Coming soon is a remarkable season of goodness, intense spirituality and soaring faith, with unimaginable opportunities for reward and virtue. But all of this requires adequate preparation and planning. Don’t let Ramadan this year catch you by surprise. Remember that failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.
Ramadan has come upon you, a blessed month. Allah has obligated for you its fasting. In this month, the heavens’ gates are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained. In this month there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived indeed.
[Sunan al-Nasā’i 2079, Musnad Ahmad 6851, 9133, 8631, authenticated by al-Albani]
This was the Prophetic welcome of Ramadan, with which he would congratulate his Companions and celebrate the arrival of the month of Ramadan. His Companions were known to anticipate and plan for this season for half a year and then miss it for another half.
All of us should formally welcome Ramadan as well. So gather your family, hold a meeting, and get everyone ready. Many Muslim societies have a beautiful practice of decorating or renovating their homes prior to Ramadan, and each of us should also thing of creative ways to send a signal to our families, friends and neighbors that this time is indeed very special.
Here are 7 things you can do to make this Ramadan more powerful.
Whoever stands for prayer in Ramadan with faith and anticipation, will have his previous sins forgiven.
[al-Bukhārī and Muslim]
Imām Nawawī [d 676H] states:
Standing in Ramaḍān refers to the Tarāwīḥ prayer. The scholars agree upon the fact that it is a recommended prayer, but differ on whether solitary prayer in one’s house is more virtuous or the congregational form in the masjid. The majority of scholars, including Imām al-Shāfi‘ī and most of his followers, Abū Ḥanīfah, Aḥmad, some of the Mālikī jurists and others, opine that the congregational prayer is more virtuous as this was practiced by ‘Umar and the rest of the Companions, and remains a practice of the Muslim nation and has become an overt symbol of the religion much like the ‘Eid prayer. Imām Mālik, Abū Yūsuf the student of Abū Ḥanīfah, some Shāfi‘ī jurists and others hold the view that solitary prayer in one’s house is preferable due to the Prophetic saying:
The best prayer is the prayer of a person in his house, apart from the obligatory prayers.
The ending of Ramadan is marked by festivities and cheers by all. Even those who don’t pray or fast do celebrate Eid. But why do we reserve our smiles and cheers for the end of Ramadan? This is a month of celebration, from beginning to end, and on each and every day. Farah (joy) is the flavor of this month. [click here to listen] (Based upon the editorial from the current Jumuah magazine)
We were honored today with the arrival of our sage and scholar from India Shaykh Yusuf Islahi, may Allah preserve him. Shaykh Islahi has a tradition of delivering nightly lectures during Ramadan that are highly beneficial and inspiring, full of profound insight and reflections from a lifetime of scholarship and devotion. Though they are recorded every year, their reach has been limited since they are in the Urdu language.
It is our intention to present, for the first time in the English language, here at StudentofIslam.com, a summary of the notes of his daily lectures.
Since there are oral lectures and time is limited, it is not possible to provide exact references for the verses and narrations. I will endeavor to post these notes every night, and try to modify these posts as I find references and additional materials. If any reader knows a reference, or sees an error, please post them in the comments. The audio is available here, courtesy of our brother Farrukh Raza: [—–]
DAY 1: ENGROSS YOURSELF IN THE QUR’AN
· One day, a man was fervently supplicating in the Prophet’s Masjid, “O Allah, make me among those who are your select few.” Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was the Khalifah at the time, happened to overhear him and reproached him for making a supplication not found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. The man, who happened to be a Companion, replied to Umar, “You should read the Qur’an O Umar. Haven’t you read the verse, And few indeed are those who are thankful.” I recalled this narration seeing the few people left in the masjid before me.
· Let me remind you that this is the month of the Noble Qur’an. Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed. We should read it, but remember that any book is not considered to be read unless we understand it. We should read the Qur’an in the same spirit we would read a very special and personal letter from a very special person.
· Remember that the Noble Qur’an has 4 rights upon us: reciting it, understanding it, implementing it and propagating it. Anything less than that would not be giving the Qur’an what it deserves.
· There is a beatiful Hadith Qudsi, where the Prophet informed us that Allah the Exalted says, “Whoever from my servants is engrossed in my Book, to the point that he does not find time to supplicate to me for his needs, I will give him more than I would give a person that calls upon me with his needs.”
· So realize that engrossing yourself with the Qur’an (which means to study and ponder over it) will fulfill your needs without your asking.
· The fasting of Ramadan is essentially training to make us into people of the Qur’an.
· There are 2 basic ways that fasting trains us:
· The rights of human beings are so great, that Allah will become their spokesman on the Day of Judgement. He will call upon a person and demand, “I was hungry and you didn’t feed me, thirsty and you didn’t provide me water, naked and you didn’t clothe me.” The person will ask, “O Allah how can that be so?” Allah will reply, “Didn’t such and such person come to you and you turned him away?”
· Abu Hurayra narrates from the Prophet that Allah informs us that every deed of a human being will be rewarded 10 to 700 times over, save fasting, for that is exclusively for me (Allah) and I will reward it as I please. [Bukhari, Muslim] According to some commentators, Allah means that the reward for fasting is Himself, meaning that those who fast will get their Lord, and can there be any honor greater than that?
Shaykh Yusuf Islahi,
Muslim Center of Middlesex County, NJ
Sep 9, 2008