Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Final Days of Ramadhan

The month of Ramadhan brings with it a spiritual intensity driven by the zeal of a believer. This zeal and spiritual presence is a blessing from Allah تعالى to aid every believer reach the zenith of worship through which one can taste the pleasure of Islam and the worship which one performs for the sake of Allah alone.

It is through His infinite mercy that He increases our physical strength in two folds; by relieving us from our physical strength, hence reducing our desires, and by also chaining the Shayateen (satans) during this sacred month.

The month of Ramadhan is a well known topic which is discussed by many individuals from many different angles to highlight its many attributes and significances.

At the same time, many people also highlight the importance of refraining from sin and ensuring the fast does not become void of blessings and rewards through the imperfection caused to it through sinning.

The last ten days of Ramadhan are also mentioned specifically as they carry great merit and rewards. It is during these nights that the Sunnah I’tikaah (seclusion) is performed in the Masaajids (Mosques) in order to further dedicate the short period left in the worship of Allah. It is also during this time that the majority of the scholars have stated, through references of the Ahadith, that Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power) is found.

These are great topics to discuss which I would have been honoured to write about had time allowed me to do so. However, the month of Ramadhan is now coming to an end and the weekend brings us closer to the final days of Ramadhan.

In this moment I would like to reiterate the purpose of Ramadhan and the main objective that is to be accomplished during this month:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O You who believe! Fasting has been obligatory upon you as it was made obligatory for those before you, so that you may become God-fearing

The purpose of this month is to ensure that a person who is fortunate to be present within this month progresses spiritually to a level which is superior to that than which he started. By doing so, he should have created a bond and link with Allah that would sustain until the following Ramadhan and years to come.

A person who neglects the above purpose, despite having fasted and committing to worship, may find that his Ramadhan will not only be deemed purposeless but will also descend upon him as a curse. This is clearly proven from a lengthy Hadeeth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم in which it is stated:
اِنَّ جِبْرَئِيْلَ عَرَضَ لِيْ فَقَالَ بَعُدَ مَنْ اَدْرَكَ رَمَضَانَ فَلَمْ يُغْفَرْ لَهُ قُلْتُ آمِيْنَ Jibraeel عليه السلام came to me and said, ‘Curse be upon him who acquired the month of Ramadhan and did not have his sins forgiven.’ To which I said ‘Aameen’

[Mustadrak al-Haakim]

It is clearly evident that a person who fails to acquire the forgiveness of Allah تعالى in this month will be deprived from the proximity of Allah and in turn Allah’s curse will be upon him and he will be distanced from Allah and His mercy.

Therefore, although the fasting has been made an obligation in this month and other prayers have been advised and encouraged; one should never fail to remember that the true purpose of Ramadhan is to better ourselves and gain Allah’s love and affection and through these gain His forgiveness.

It is never too late to acquire this affection of Allah and His forgiveness, even if the majority of this month has been wasted and spent in a manner not suitable for such a sublime month. The blessings of Ramadhan remain till the end of this month, in fact, it’s blessings increase in the last portion of this month within which the Night of Power is most likely to occur.

Therefore, whether we have spent these days of Ramadhan in concrete dedication to Allah or whether we have waivered in this month, it is essential to ensure and check and scrutinise our actions during this month and come to a conclusion as to whether Allah تعالى would be pleased with us and our actions. Whilst doing this we need to continuously seek His forgives and ask Him to pardon our shortcomings for indeed we can never do justice to His majesty.

As a final note, we should increase our recitation of the following Du’a (supplication) as it has been mentioned on the authority of Hadhrat Aisha رضي الله عنها that she asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم as to what she should recite if she was to acquire the Night of Power. Our Nabi صلى الله عليه و سلم answered with the following Du’a:

اللّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُوْ عَنَّا O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.

May Allah give us all the inclination and understanding to monitor our actions and assess as to whether we have achieved the purpose of Ramadhan. May He give us the strength to make amends to the extent of our ability and thereafter forgive our weaknesses and shortcomings through His blessings.

O Allah, save us from your curse which was conveyed through Jibraeel عليه السلام and sealed with acceptance by our Nabi صلى الله عليه و سلم. Give us the courage and strength to turn towards you in a manner which you have described as توبة نصوحا. Aameen.

Source: zain121 Forum - Ramadhan Section

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Greatest of Worships in the Month of Ramadhan - Post 6

Alhumdulillah, the month of Ramadhan has once again dawned upon us; a month which requires no introduction or whose benefits and virtues have been discussed in great detail in many places and are well known by the mass.

It is a month which required a great level of attention and dedication towards the worships which have been prescribed, advised and recommended by Allah and His Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم.

There are many acts of Ibaadah that can be performed and implemented in this month. It is a month where each act is generously rewarded; the obligatory acts are increased seventy times in reward and the optional acts receive the same reward the obligatory acts would in a month other than Ramadhan. Therefore, no deed is small or insignificant. In actual fact, effort should be made to remain in constant worship through this month even if it be through the verbal recitation of Istigfaar, Durood or any Tasbeeh.

Insha Allah, over the month I will aim to post articles relating to the month of Ramadhan so that each reader is able to take some benefit, Insha Allah, and reap rewards in this blessed month through various acts that pleases Allah سبحانه و تعالى.

Therefore, any Ibaadah which is performed in this month should not be undermined. But at the same time it should be noted that without abstaining from sins all of our rewards are washed away and cancelled out. The greatest of worships are those which are performed regularly and with the correct intention; acts whose rewards are retained are the ones which will truly benefit people. Thus the greatest act would be:

1. Refraining from Sins.

This act of worship is essential and by far the most important in the month of Ramadhan, the month of purification. The aim and goal of this month is to teach us self control and to strengthen our will power to refrain from the forbidden acts. Our will power and self control is fortified by refraining from those things which are normally permissible for us; such as food and drink. This is a simple message to show us that in reality we can refrain from pleasurable things such as food and drink when we set our minds to it then surely if we focus our will power and energy in refraining from ‘pleasurable’ sins we can surely accomplish it.

If we complete the month of Ramadhan and have not learnt self control and acquired the power to refrain from sin then we have completed the course without acquiring the certificate; we have not achieved the blessings and have not completed the goal of Ramadhan.

So much importance has been placed into acquiring this self restraint that our Nabi صلى الله عليه و سلم states:

مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ

“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink”

In the same manner, it is narrated in another Hadeeth:

كم من صائم ليس له من صيامه الا الظمأ و كم من قائم ليس له من قيامه الا السهر

“Many of those who fast receive nothing from their fast except thirst and there are many who stand (in prayer) who receive nothing from their standing (in prayer) except sleepless nights”

So this fast is deemed unworthy in the site of Allah if its purpose is overlooked and not acquired for Allah is in no need for a slave to leave his food and drink.

The person who acquires many rewards in this month but at the same time commits sins or does not refrain from the evil habits he has become inclined towards then it is like that person who carries water in his bucket but at the same time creates a hole in the bucket (for each sin he commits).

It is better for a person to learn self control and use this month to rid himself from his evil habit of sinning than to complete the month of Ramadhan with many blessings and revert back to sinning after its completion.

Thus, the greatest act of worship in this month is to refrain from sinning and implementing a lifestyle that does not have scope for displeasing Allah; if this requires a whole month, then so be it.

It is no myth that a person who does not refrain from sinning in this month is deprived from forgiveness. It is therefore mentioned that the first portion of this month is dedicated to the 'Mercy and Blessings of Allah سبحانه و تعالى'. Whilst the second portion is dedicated to 'Forgiveness and Reformation'. Finally, the last portion of this month is regarded as 'Freedom from the Fire of Hell'

It is stated by the scholars that those who became worthy of Allah's mercy through doing virtuous acts and refraining from sin in the first portion of this are the same people who become subject to His forgiveness in the second portion. This forgiveness is then a means of salvation for them and becomes freedom from the fire of Hell in the third portion of this month.

Therefore, it is no myth that a person who does not refrain from sinning is in actual fact deprived from the forgiveness of Allah تعالى and therefore subject to punishment. This is emphasised in a Hadith where Allah تعالى sends down Jibra'eel عليه السلام to our Nabi صلى الله عليه و سلم to seal the decision of Allah تعالى by saying Aameen to the following supplication:

ان جبرئيل عرض لي فقال بعد من ادرك رمضان فلم يغفر له قلت آمين

“Jibreel came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have his sins forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say ameen” So I said “Ameen”

[Mustadrak Haakim]

May Allah تعالى save us all from His punishment and wrath which takes form of deprivation in this month and being overlooked when His slaves are pardoned and given salvation from the fire of Hell. May Allah تعالى make the leaving of sin a greater pleasure then the 'pleasure' of sinning and may He make the bitterness of sinning known to us through experiencing the sweetness of Imaan. Aameen.

Possible Method 1:

This act of worship can be achieved through firm intention as well as physical effort. Daily we can sit and make a list of the sins that we commit on a regular basis and cross of these one by one or as many as we can at a time. We should then ensure that we seek the forgiveness of Allah and never revert to these sins again.

Possible Method 2:

Along with the above list, or as a separate method we should make a list of all the sins we committed during the day and ensure that an effort is made to eradicate ourselves of these sins. At times we commit sins through mere habit and boredom and don’t even realise that these sins are being committed. At many a times, these sins do not even benefit us and in fact cause us harm and inconvenience.

Different Sins:

Sins are addictive and come in different natures. Therefore, it may not be as simple as making a list and crossing out one after another; some sins require time whilst others require special aid and support.

For example, sins relating to monetary aspects such as interest based loans and having taken the div align=“right”s of others will require time to repay. However a firm intention should be made and every effort should be made to repay these loans and rights.

Similarly, some sins will require help from the ‘Ulamaa or Shuyookh (Spiritual Guides). These can be sins which we cannot overcome ourselves and require a method and monitoring to ensure its elimination. Sins such as forbidden glances at the opposite gender, the leaving of Salaah, lying, anger, pride and arrogance are just a few that may require assistance from another. Increase the reward in leaving the sin by ensuring help is sought; the greater the effort the greater the reward and pleasure or ridding from the sin.

There is never enough time in Ramadhan to worship and therefore people are reluctant to sit by the computer and read through articles and articles and would rather dedicate their time to reading Qur’an or Nawafil (optional prayers). Therefore, Insha Allah, I will aim to keep articles concise and mention one deed at a time so that implementing is easier and much time isn’t taken.

Finally, your Du’a is requested during this blessed month. May Allah accept our efforts in this month. Aameen.