Ramadhaan: A Call for Return and Reform
Of this month, Allaah Says (what means):
“The month of Ramadhaan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allaah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allaah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Quran 2: 185]
The Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would congratulate the Muslims at the approach of this month in order to make them aware of its magnificence and the great opportunities it contained. He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would address his Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, during this time thus: “The month of Ramadhaan has approached you- a blessed month in which Allaah has made fasting an obligation, opened wide the gates of Paradise, locked up the gates of Fire, and chained the demons, and in it there is a night better than one thousand months––so whosoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived.” [Ahmad]
How can the believers not rejoice and congratulate each other at the opening of the gates of Paradise and the locking up of the doors of Hell? How can any wise person waste away this time when the devils are chained?
To live through the month of Ramadhaan is a great blessing from Allaah which must not be taken for granted and for which one ought to pray and strive. This is made clear in a narration of the Messenger , sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in which he was told about two men who embraced Islam together, one of whom was more diligent in piety and died a martyr, while the other died a year later of natural causes––and then a friend of theirs saw in a dream that the one who died later naturally was called into Paradise before the other one––upon which the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ascribed this preference to the extra year of praying and Ramadhaan fasting that the latter had had. [Ahmad and Ibn Majah] In other words, since the latter one had had a bit longer life and had the opportunity to witness one more year of fasting and praying than the other, he acquired more righteous deeds than the one who tried harder and died a martyr earlier. This narration reminds us of what a great blessing every single day of life is for a believer––and of what a great reward obtained from the obligatory acts of praying and fasting.
That is why the early Muslims would pray to Allaah to extend their stay in this life such that they witness the following month of Ramadhaan. Mu’alla ibn Al-Fadhl, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said that our righteous predecessors, may Allaah be pleased with them, would supplicate to Allaah almost six months before Ramadhaan to make them reach it, and would supplicate six months after it asking Him to accept their hard work in it.
Yet, many a procrastinator wastes away this blessed month and hopes to repent, reform and fast in the future while wasting away the days and nights of this month in pursuit of the trivialities of this world.
Let us take a few moments in the following to reflect on a few aspects of the golden opportunity this blessed month offers.
A Month of training and discipline, not of eating and diversion!
Allaah Almighty Says (what means):
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran 2:183]
This verse teaches us that the purpose of fasting is the realization of the goal of attaining piety. It is only appropriate that anyone who witnesses this month should succeed––as one narration of the Prophet says, “Be his nose cut off in humiliation if a man [let him be humiliated who] sees the month of Ramadhaan but fails to have his sins forgiven.”
During this month, ourselves are trained to do good and abandon evil––and these selves that learn to avoid even permissible things during this month are therefore more likely to avoid evil things after this training is over.
Alas, many of us are unaware of these blessings and this wisdom, and fail to train our selves properly, sometimes getting worse in wanton luxury, laziness and wastefulness in a month which was given to teach them in self-control and discipline. We find that many Muslims increase their consumption of luxuriant foods and drinks in this month rather than train their souls and bodies to live on a little and focus on spiritual pursuits, as if Allaah made this month the month of eating and not fasting! The media in the Muslim world, alas, often aggravate the attitude of wastefulness and diversion––and are found polling people about their favorite foods during the month of Ramadhaan, as if Allaah has singled this month out not for abstinence but for eating in abundance! Who are these deprived people condemned by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, if not those who find new ways to divert themselves with special television shows and movies during this month, as unfortunately is the case in many Muslim communities today?!
The sanctity of this noble month
One of the unfortunate phenomena in our contemporary Muslim societies during this month is the open and brazen-faced violation of the sanctity of this month––as the sacredness of this month is made light of and new ways are found to spend time during it. One of the ways in which this sanctity is violated is how the producers of television shows in the Muslim world compete in producing special programs of diversion in this month rather than repent and save the world from their evil at least during this month! But no, they rather double and treble the production of their evil so that the heedless Muslims be even more heedless and have even less time for reflection, repentance, regret over their sins and reform of their character! Rather, these traders in lust and beautifiers of desire excel during this month. Alas, their devils have been chained during this month––but who will chain them?!
They and us—weeping over our condition
Whoever reflects for even a moment about the way the early Muslims lived and worshipped and how we live and worship will see an enormous chasm and weep over our condition. Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said that Al-Hasan ibn Saalih, may Allaah have mercy upon him, sold a bondswoman of his to someone, and in her new house she woke up in the middle of the night and called out to the people of the house asking them to perform prayer, so they said: “Is it time for the Fajr prayer?” Upon which she said: “Why? Do you not perform except the obligatory prayers?” Then she returned to her earlier master and complained that she cannot live with people who do not perform except the obligatory prayers.
How many of us perform prayer at night regularly during the month of Ramadhaan, let alone during the other months? Even the few hours during the last ten nights of Ramadhaan seem so heavy to us!
The month of generosity and giving
Another blessing of the month of Ramadhaan is the increase in brotherhood, mutual love, care, and generosity and charity towards the poor and the needy. The meetings of theSuhoor, the pre-dawn meal, and theIftaar, the post- dusk breakfast, are supposed to be the epitome of joy and manifestations of brotherly and familial love and rejoice. At these times, the Muslims who have these blessings are supposed to think and care about those less fortunate than them, those who do not have loving fathers and mothers to care for them and provide them with nutritious meals and soothing comfort, those women who no longer have caring husbands to provide for them and protect them, those families that do not have the wherewithal to afford such meals. These meals are supposed to be meals of gratitude and meals of sharing, not of decadent luxury and wastefulness. These meals are supposed to be simple and modest because they are accompanied by charity and giving and sharing anything that is not necessary ought to be given away to the poor and the needy.
Those who fast during the day and experience the pangs of pain are supposed to remember the hunger and deprivation of those who starve out of poverty and helplessness. Those who pray during the night next to each other are supposed to be one brotherhood— all members of which are like one body, and when any of its members gets hurt, all the rest of the body feels the pain. Hence, these nightly prayers in congregation remind the believers of each other and their rights upon each other. None of the Muslims, therefore, is forgotten, and no one overeats, overspends, or overindulges—because they give all they can in charity to those who need it.
Yet, is this what really happens?!
How far have we come from the teachings of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who said that you are not a believer if you sleep well-fed while your neighbor is hungry- how many believers are hungry, deprived and needy while many overspend and waste away their food and clothing in ostentation and wanton competition?! There are Muslim countries in which tons of food is wasted away annually, enough to feed a continent of hungry people, and then there are Muslim regions in which people routinely starve to death or kill and get killed for scrapes of food!! This is the state of the followers of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who was more generous than the wind which indiscriminately gives anyone and everyone. Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that “the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was the most generous of people, and he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was at his most generous during Ramadhaan… at that time the Messenger of Allaah would be more generous than the blowing wind.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Our example, the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would give the last morsel of food that he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had, and the last piece of clothing that he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had on. While we Muslims today have become some of the most divided nations in which the disparity of the wealth in the world is the greatest!
The month of reform
The month of Ramadhaan is the time of holding ourselves accountable, reforming ourselves and returning to our Lord before we are held accountable and have no chance of reform or return.
To those of us who are heedless of Allaah and are lost in the deceptions of this world, this is the chance to turn about and return to the Most Generous Lord.
To those who are given to usurp others’ rights by hurting or killing them or stealing from them, now is the chance to return and repent.
To those who are given to sexual promiscuity, seeking enjoyment in illicit sights and pleasures, and wanton display of their beauty that Allaah has prohibited, now is the chance to purify themselves and return to Allaah.
To those given to drinking and drugs and the wasting away of their wealth, minds and time, now is the time to give up their evil ways and return to their Most Merciful Lord.
To those who deal in interest and take it lightly, now is the chance to purify their wealth and cease their war against Allaah Almighty and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, before it is too late.
To those who are disobedient and uncaring towards their parents, now is the chance to repent and beg for the Mercy of Allaah and make up to their parents.
To those who are hateful of other Muslims and sow seeds of division between them for the mean gains of this world, now is the time to repent and review their deeds.
To us all, now is the time to repent and return.
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