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Obligation

Ramadan is the blessed month of the Islamic calendar that every Muslim awaits. When the crescent moon is sighted, Muslims all around the world prepare to fast the coming month and gear up to reap its blessings. Fasting in this month is obligatory for every mature, sane Muslim according to the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the Ijma’ (consensus) of scholars. This means that Muslims refrain from food and drink from dawn until dusk each day of the month. The ordainment to fast during the month of Ramadan came in stages.

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious).

[Al-Baqarah:183]

As mentioned by Al-Haafidh Ibn Kathir, in the Tafseer of verse 183 of Surah al-Baqarah, initially it was only the day of ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram) that was compulsory to fast. Later, fasting during the month of Ramadan was ordained but was not obligatory yet. Finally, in Sha’ban in 2 A.H., fasting the whole month of Ramadan became obligatory and fasting on ‘Ashura became voluntary.

Abstinence during Ramadan

The Arabic word for fasting is ‘siyaam’, which means to ‘abstain’ or ‘refrain’. Besides abstaining from food and drink, the fasting person must also control his tongue from gossip, quarrelling, swearing etc. He must stay away from all sins — major and minor. The fasting person is also required to abstain from lawful sexual relations during the day which are permissible at night until the time of fasting begins. In other words, the month of Ramadan is about abstaining from unlawful things and certain lawful things.

 Increase of Taqwa

Among the reasons why fasting has been legislated, is to instil taqwa (God-consciousness) in our hearts. Allah سبحانه و تعالی said in the Qur’an:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُون

O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious).

[Al-Baqarah:183]

One can only stay away from what is normally permissible (like food and drink during fasting) and what is haram if he becomes conscious of Allahسبحانه و تعالی . Fasting makes a person wary of his actions. He realizes that even in the most secluded place, he is never far from the sight of Allah سبحانه و تعالی . This is precisely what taqwa is – being conscious of Allah سبحانه و تعالی.

The Revelation of the Quran

Allah سبحانه و تعالی chose the month of Ramadan over all other months for the revelation of the Qur’an. The most commonly held scholarly opinion is that it was revealed from the preserved tablet (Lawhul Mahfoodh) to the lowest heaven (Baytul ‘izzah) on the night of decree in the month of Ramadan. From there it was revealed in parts and pieces over a period of 23 years.  Hence, Ramadan should be a month in which we build a strong connection with the Qur’an. There will never be a book with more wisdom and valuable knowledge than the Qur’an After all, it is the word of Allah سبحانه و تعالی   We must strive to recite, understand and reflect, and apply the teachings of the Qur’an in our daily lives. The Prophetﷺ would himself revise the Qur’an with angel Jibreel Alayhi Salaam every Ramadan.

Ibn Abbas Radhiyah Allah Anhu reported that:

“….and Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophetﷺ   used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 3554]

The Night of Decree (Laylatul Qadr)

Just as Allah سبحانه و تعالی chose Ramadan over other months, he chose the Night of Decree (Laylatul Qadr) over all other nights. The Hadith tells us that this night is hidden in the last ten nights of Ramadan which themselves hold great significance. He made this night better than a thousand months. Scholars explain that this means doing an act of righteousness on this night is tantamount to doing that act for over a thousand months. That is more than the average human lifespan!

Subhan Allah! How merciful is Allahسبحانه و تعالی

A Month of Forgiveness

Ramadan is a month of forgiveness. It is here to purify us and revive our dead hearts. It is a chance to reconnect with Allah سبحانه و تعالی   after straying far. To be forgiven and purified from our sins is the essence of Ramadan. So dear readers, remember to repent towards Allah سبحانه و تعالی abundantly. Only the most cursed person will be deprived of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness in this blessed month. May Allah سبحانه و تعالی  not make us amongst them.

In a Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira Radhiyah Allah Anhu, the Prophet ﷺ said “Ameen” three times when ascending the pulpit. When asked about this, the Prophet ﷺ replied,

Verily, Gabriel came to me and he said: Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and he is not forgiven, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah سبحانه و تعالی   will cast him far away, so say Ameen. I said Ameen…”.

[Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 907 (graded Sahih by Albani)]

Multiple Rewards and Sins

The virtues of fasting and other good deeds in Ramadan are truly limitless. The first and foremost thing one should focus on is to stay away from sins because evil deeds done during Ramadan are more sinful than evil deeds done at other times. This is just as good deeds done in Ramadan are more rewarding than those done at other times due to the blessings Allahسبحانه و تعالی  put in this month. When it comes to the reward of fasting, it is recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari 5927 and Muslim 1151 that the Prophet ﷺ said,

Allah said: ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it…”.

Ibn Hajar quoted scholars explaining this Hadith Qudsi. He says that while every good deed is rewarded between tenfold and seven hundredfold, Allah سبحانه و تعالی   will multiply the reward of fasting without measure and as much as He wishes.

Intention

Just like other deeds, the reward for deeds in Ramadan is based on intentions. It is easy to get caught up in preparing Iftar meals for others, cleaning after meals, rushing for Taraweeh prayer, etc. In the midst of it, we forget that these chores can also be rewarding in the sight of Allah سبحانه و تعالی  when we have the right intention.  So, instead of just doing chores mechanically, a good practice would be to ask ourselves why we are doing them. Remind ourselves how it pleases Allah    سبحانه و تعالی  .

For example, if you’ve been cooking for a while now and feel exhausted, remember that there is great reward in giving Iftar to a fasting person. None of your efforts go unnoticed by Allah سبحانه و تعالی  .

Therefore, renew your intentions and you will find that each action you perform will be a source of great reward.

With so many goals to achieve and many more to set, it’s possible to get overwhelmed. We often think of this month as a race we must win. Hence, we start with our motivation at its peak only to find ourselves exhausted by the middle of the month. But, how about the thought that maybe Ramadan is not the race? Instead, Ramadan is the ‘pit stop’ of the race. Just as race cars pause at ‘pit stops’ for refuelling and repairs, so do we in Ramadan. It refuels our spirituality, purifies our hearts and cleanses our souls from the impurity of our sins. This is so that when we come out of Ramadan, we are ready to take on the following months of the year with more spiritual zeal and motivation.

May Allah سبحانه و تعالی   accept our worship and forgive us for our sins this Ramadan. Ameen.

Hafsa Sheikh

References:

Sunnah.com

Islamqa.info

Quran.com

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