يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint." [Al-Baqara, 2:183]
Soon inshAllah, the graceful month of Ramadhan will be upon us. It is the month chosen by Allah سبحانه وتعالى as a month of fasting. He سبحانه وتعالى favoured this month over all other months by making it the month of mercy and reverence for all the believers. Indeed, Ramadhan is the most superior of all months: the one in which Allah سبحانه وتعالى commenced His final revelation - the Qur'an.
In the month of Ramadhan we read the Qur'an everyday and recite it at length during the Taraweeh. But do we understand and practice this Qur'an? Aisha (ra) described the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم character as being the walking Qur'an. Do our characters reflect the message of the Qur'an? Do we implement it in our lives? Do we feel its weight on our shoulders?
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ "Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and split asunder (crumbling) by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables that We put forward to mankind that they may reflect." [Al-Hashr, 59:21]
Allah سبحانه وتعالى reveals to mankind that had He sent the Qur'an upon a mighty mountain many times the size of a man it would crumble in the fear of Allah سبحانه وتعالى! Do we, in our petty and insignificant stature, then feel humbled by the Qur'an, which was revealed to us and not the mountains? Do we live by the commands and prohibitions that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has laid down in the Qur'an, His final revelation?
If Allah سبحانه وتعالى Wills, we will fast this month, but will we be alive to see the next Ramadhan? Will this be our last chance to taste the Mercy of Allah سبحانه وتعالى within this blessed month? We should assess our behaviour and actions and reflect whether the Day we meet Allah سبحانه وتعالى will be our best Day or will it be a Day of disaster? Every one of us will meet Allah سبحانه وتعالىalone; with no parents to protect us and no wealth to save us. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has revealed:
يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ "That Day shall a man flee from his own brother, And from his mother and his father, And from his wife and his children, Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others." [‘Abasa, 80:34-37]
We will only have our actions in this life. So let us look back to the year that has passed and reflect. Let us look at what we did right according to Islam so we can continue doing them, and look at what we did wrong so that we can ask Allah سبحانه وتعالى for forgiveness and strive not to repeat them again. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"If comes Ramadan, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of hell are locked, and the devils are chained." [Bukhari & Muslim]
Based on this hadith, the scholars say that Heaven literally opens its doors and Hell closes its doors and the shayateen are chained! So the only enemy we have to overcome is our Nafs (inner desires).
Let us use this opportunity in which the shayateen are chained to overcome our Nafs and get accustomed to obeying Allah سبحانه وتعالى in all actions of life without exceptions, whether we are at the masjid or in the school, whether we are at home or at work, whether we are buying a house or selling a car. In short, we must follow Islam in all aspects of our lives.
Ramadhan is also a great opportunity to seek Islamic knowledge and increase our awareness of the Islamic culture. The more we are aware of Islam the better chance we have to run our lives according to it. Allah سبحانه وتعالى revealed:
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء "Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge." [Al-Faatir, 35:28]
In the month of Ramadhan, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used to study the Qur'an every night with the Angel Jibreal. Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, had said: "The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was the most generous of people. He used to be the most generous in Ramadhan when he would meet with angel Jibreal and study the Qur'an with him. Angel Jibreal would meet with the Prophet every night in Ramadhan to teach him the Qur'an. The Prophet was so generous when he met with Jibreal, more generous than the wind that brings rain." Imam Ah-mad added to this narration: "And nothing he was asked for but he would give it." Furthermore, Al-Bayhaqi reported that 'Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, had said, "When Ramadhan would start, the Prophet would release all prisoners of war and fulfil the need of every person who would ask him for something."
Let us seek knowledge in this blessed month by studying the meaning of the ayat of the Glorious Qur'an. Let us read about the life of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions (ra): how they lived their lives, how they sacrificed life and limb to make the Word of Allah سبحانه وتعالى supreme. Let us remember Musab ibn Umayr (ra): the sahabi who went from being the richest man to the poorest - so poor that when died he did not own enough clothes to cover his own body. Why did he face such a situation? Because he realized the promise of Allahسبحانه وتعالى is true. Let us read about the rules of interaction in Islam whether in trade, finance, agriculture or others. Let us see what Islam says about the relationships between men and women, family and children. Islam is a complete way of life and in this blessed month let's make the sincere intention to cover some parts of Islam that we lack knowledge of.
Let us use this opportunity to extend the bridges of brother-hood and earn rewards by inviting Muslims for Iftar as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلمhas said:
"He who feeds a fasting person will gain the same reward as he will, without decreasing from the fasting person's rewards." [Ahmad]
The month of Ramadhan in the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was a time of purification, enjoining the good, forbidding evil and striving hard with one's life and wealth to make the word of Allah the highest. After the death of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, Muslims carried this Sunnah on and Allah the Majestic used the believers to affect the course of history.
Ramadhan was a time of intense activity, spending the day on the saddle and the night in prayer, while calling upon Allah for His Mercy and Forgiveness. This was the spirit of Ramadhan that enabled our righteous forefathers to face seemingly impossible challenges.
So let us make this month of Ramadhan the month of prayer, the month of worship, the month of recitation of Qur'an, the month of giving Zakah, the month of strengthening the relations between our relatives, the month of generosity and goodness to the needy, the month of being aware of our speech and actions, the month of re-invigorating our relationship with Allah سبحانه وتعالى and purifying our hearts, the month of increasing our knowledge of Qur'an, Sunnah and Fiqh, and the month of engaging in the da'wa to implement the Qur'an and the Sunnah on earth.
May Allah the Most Glorious One make us that generation of Muslims who lay the proper foundations of the Islamic rule for the coming generations and make us of those who carry out our Islam during Ramadhan and beyond.
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي "To the righteous soul will be said: ‘O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord, - well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then, among My devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven.'" [Al-Fajr, 89:27-30]