Ramadhan is now upon us. Known as the Month of Mercy, and the Month of the Qur’an, no Muslim wants to miss out on its virtues. The more we know why Ramadhan is SO SPECIAL, the more we will value it, and the more we will make the most of it! So let us go on a quick tour of why Ramadhan is so special, and why we should be so grateful if we live to see this wonderful month…
1. Ramadhan is special because there are countless rewards to be earned
Imagine it is the night before Ramadhan. Transport yourself to another land, to Madinah; in fact, transport yourself to a time long before, back to the time of our beloved Prophet (saw). Are you there? Can you see the palm trees, the sand, the houses, the mosque… Imagine you are hurrying in excitement to masjid an-nabawi, the Prophet’s mosque; you gather there with everyone else in Madinah; the Sahabah are all around you – in front, behind, on your left and right. There is a hushed silence: everyone is waiting for the Prophet (saw) to speak, to deliver some important news….The Prophet (saw) stands up and at last, with a big smile, he addresses you all with these words:
“O people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night.
Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the optional good deeds in this month shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in this month shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Jannah.
It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah).
How would you react to such news? Maybe the sounds of Allahu Akbar and Alhamdulillah would fill the air! Perhaps you would turn to congratulate your neighbour – Ramadhan Karim, Ramadhan Mubarak! And no wonder you would feel so happy 🙂 because how many blessings did you count in the above hadith? …
…see how easily Allah gives away rewards in Ramadhan – subhanAllah! Every single fard act multiples in reward; every act of charity will increase you in whatever you have – and it’s easy to give charity because even a smile is sadaqah! Every voluntary good deed (something simple like helping your parents, giving up your seat on the bus, every letter of Qur’an you recite) gains the same reward as a fard deed. And just look at the simple act of feeding a fasting person, it comes with HUGE bonuses! The hadith is also a reminder that Ramadhan is a time to enjoy with your loved ones, to give to others and to get to know your community – it is a time for sharing and helping others.
We all know the frenzy that comes with the Sales in the shops – people queue up from dawn and for hours just to get the best bargains, and this is for materialistic things. But Ramadhan is THE greatest Sale, and the best bargains don’t ever run out in this month! All we have to do is make sure we don’t waste a moment of it and we will all be the winners.
Here are some more incredibly motivating ahadith on the many blessings of Ramadhan:
‘Ramadhan has come to you. It is a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it Allah looks at your competition in good deeds, and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in this month of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.’ (narrated by Tabarani)
We live in a society in which people crave for attention, fame and approval from others…but imagine winning the approval of Allah! and having fame among His angels! – nothing can be more honourable than that. Doesn’t matter how small we feel in society, this month raises every believer to be the most honoured in the sight of Allah – Allahu Akbar! And at the same time, amidst the hope we also need to have that fear that we might not make the most of Ramadhan – we should fear the consequences of that, and that too should spur us into action. Use this to motivate one another to compete in a good way –to race towards good deeds just like the companions did. Race with your friends, for example, to read the most Qur’an, to pray Tarawih every evening (whether in the mosque or at home), to fulfil all your Ramadhan targets; use that good competition to encourage yourself to do more!
2. Ramadhan is special because it is easier to do good deeds and our enemy is locked up!
‘When the month of Ramadhan starts, the gates of jannah are opened and the gates of jahannam are closed and the devils are chained.’ (Bukhari)
Consider how hard it is to motivate ourselves throughout the rest of the year – how difficult it is to persevere with good, and to desist from that which is harmful for us. Why do we lack this willpower? A lot of it is down to the whispers of Shaytan – whom Allah describes often in the Qur’an as our avowed enemy.
Ramadhan is an opportunity to accumulate good deeds and to change our habits without the whispering that often prevents us from doing so. It is like playing football without any opponents, and in front of an open goal – and if we found out it was for a limited time only, we would be even more motivated to score as many goals as possible. What would we think of a team that did not make the most of such an opportunity? Knowing the Shayateen are chained up also helps us to be honest about ourselves – to find out which of our bad habits comes not from shaytan’s whispers but from ourselves, from our own nafs, and will allow us to work extra hard to change those bad habits.
The above hadith also makes us think of Jannah, its wonders, its peace and its blessings – the gates of Jannah are wide and great, we cannot imagine their vastness. In the days before Ramadhan begins, Jannah prepares itself and is decorated in anticipation of this blessed month. On the first night of Ramadhan, a cool wind blows from under the throne of Allah – the breeze produces a beautiful sound. At this point, the Gate-keeper of Jannah, the Angel Ridwan, is asked what this sound is and he replies that it heralds the start of Ramadhan. He is then asked to open wide all the doors of Paradise for the believers, while Malik, the gate-keeper of the doors of Jahannam, is asked to lock them all up for the entire month.
3. Ramadhan is special because people are saved from the Fire.
‘There are in the month of Ramadhan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and it will be granted.’ (Ahmad, Saheeh).
There should be no limit to the hope that is attached to Ramadhan. All of us should hope that we will be the ones that Allah will save in Ramadhan – Allah is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. If we look at the wording of the hadith, we see there are NO conditions placed on Allah’s forgiveness, which means that He can choose to take anyone out of the Fire, no matter who it is, even if they are oblivious of Allah’s Mercy and did nothing for it. Allah’s forgiveness and compassion is limitless.
Also, don’t stop making du’a – whatever it is you wish for, ask Allah! Whether you’re sitting on the bus, after salah, while you’re helping your parents with the shopping, when you’re walking to school or work – these are all opportunities for asking Allah for whatever you need. Here is another beautiful hadith that should encourage us all to utilise the time while we are fasting:
‘Three people’s du’as are never rejected: the one who is fasting until he breaks his fasts; the just ruler; and the one who has been wronged. Allah raises it above the clouds, and the doors of the skies are opened for it, and the Lord says, ‘By my Honour and Glory! I will help you, even if it be after some time!’ (Tirmidhi)
All the above means that every day of Ramadhan, and every night, and every opportunity to make du’a to Allah, carries huge importance for us – we cannot afford to waste even one day or night. Sadly in some Muslim countries Ramadhan becomes a time when people just get together to socialise and watch special ‘Ramadhan soaps’ on TV all night long – what an utter waste of such a blessed month. We should stay far away from that kind of example and instead be smart and use our time well.
4. Ramadhan is special because it is a way to enter one of the gates of Paradise.
‘There is a gate in paradise that is called Ar-Rayyan. On the day of resurrection it will say: Where are those who fasted?’ when the last one has passed through the gate, it will be locked.’ (Bukhari and Muslim).
There are 8 gates of Jannah – Imagine the great people who will go through those gates, people like Abu Bakr as-Siddique (ra) who will be called from every one of those gates because he was so pro-active in doing good deeds. How can we ever hope to be like those people? Well, isn’t it so Merciful of Allah to give us the chance to be like such great companions, by making one of those gates specially for those who fast…and then making it fard on all of us to fast in Ramadhan!! It means we all have a chance to be called from at least one gate of Jannah.
5. Ramadhan is special because the Qur’an was revealed in this month.
‘Ramadhan is the month in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guide to humankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that humankind will distinguish from right and wrong)’. (Qur’an, 2:183)
In order to be able to value Ramadhan, we need to first truly value the Qur’an as the direct word of God – Kalamullah
Allah tells us that if the Qur’an, and the mission of spreading Islam, had been sent to a mountain, it would have crumbled to ashes out of awe and fear of carrying such a burden (Qur’an, Al-Hashr: 21).
Consider how old and strong and solid the mountains are – they take millions of years to form. And yet, the Qu’ran and its message are so powerful that these huge mountains would crumble if Allah revealed His book to them. Remember the intensity of the experience when the Prophet (saw) received the first revelation from Angel Jibril in the cave of Hira, and how it changed him – and the history of humanity – forever. Such is the weight, and the power of the Revelation.
So that is why Ramadhan is given such great honour by Allah because it was the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to humanity.
Ramadhan is also special because it contains this incredible night, which is worth maybe more than an entire lifetime!
‘Surely we revealed the Qur’an on the Night of Al-Qadr; and how would you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is? The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months; the angels and the Spirit (Jibril) descend on the Night of Al-Qadr by their Lord’s permission, with every decree. The Night of Al-Qadr is peace, until the break of dawn.’ (Qur’an, Al-Qadr:1-5)
This special night, Lailatul Qadr, is better than a 1000 months!! That means it is more than 83 ¼ years – thus Muslims are being given a whole extra lifetime every year in which they live to see another Ramadhan. This is a great gift from Allah and opportunity for every single believer to collect a lifetime of rewards in just one night: allowing us to make up for lost time, lost years, lost opportunities – there is no need for regret, just make the most of Lailatul Qadr instead! It is also a night in which many decrees for our lives are sent forth by Allah, and countless du’as are answered. Millions of people are saved from the Hellfire in this one night.
6. Ramadhan is special because it increases our Taqwa.
‘O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa.’ (Qur’an, Al-Baqarah:183)
In the case of fasting, Allah explains to us that He has prescribed it to us in order to attain Taqwa. The English translation ‘prescribe’ reminds us of the way in which doctors prescribe medicine for patients who are ill in order to bring them back to health.
Taqwa is the state of spiritual (and indeed physical) good health; and fasting is the medicine we need to take in order to cure ourselves of our spiritual (and indeed physical!) diseases. And Allah is far far greater than any doctor, of course! He is the Creator, and He knows His creation better than any doctor can.
Taqwa is also about self-control, God-consciousness, being able to distinguish between right and wrong –Taqwa is what we need to please Allah (see Qur’an, Al-Hujarat:13), it is our route to Jannah, and the tool by which we can protect ourselves from the Hellfire.
Allah loves His servants and wants us to get to Jannah – therefore Allah doesn’t keep the solution hidden, He tells us clearly, and makes it compulsory because He does not want us to miss out – we are the ones that benefit.
Ramadhan, and the command to fast in this month, is directly connected with our ultimate goal in life. And it is in fact another example of Allah’s love and mercy, that He has made something compulsory for us because He wants us to succeed in that goal.
Knowing the honoured position of Ramadhan in Islam inshaAllah increases our appreciation for this month. At first, perhaps the required effort and sacrifices (going without food, cutting out TV, music etc., waking up early for suhur, feeling tired from the long days of fasting…) makes us feel a bit apprehensive about Ramadhan. But actually, when we read all the above ahadith and verses of the Qur’an it changes all that worry into excitement – a feeling that we have a great opportunity ahead of us. Seeing Ramadhan as a gift, a month of light, a time for repair, a time of hope, a time of renewal, new life – not a burden, but a joy – will help us to welcome it with eagerness and enthusiasm!
May Allah give us the honour of witnessing Ramadhan, and the ability to make the most of this blessed month – to utilise every moment and to secure our places in Jannah. May we be of those who enter through the Gate of Ar-Rayyan and be of those who are the winners in this life and the next, ameen!
Welcome O Ramadhan, best of friends! And Ramadhan Mubarak to all 🙂