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The significance of Ramadan
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ (١٨٣)
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ (١٨٣) أَيَّامً۬ا مَّعۡدُودَٲتٍ۬ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬ فَعِدَّةٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَۚ وَعَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ ۥ فِدۡيَةٌ۬ طَعَامُ مِسۡكِينٍ۬ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيۡرً۬ا فَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّهُ ۥۚ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡۖ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ (١٨٤)
شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدً۬ى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِۚ فَمَن شَہِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّہۡرَ فَلۡيَصُمۡهُۖ وَمَن ڪَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬ فَعِدَّةٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَۗ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡيُسۡرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡعُسۡرَ وَلِتُڪۡمِلُواْ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُڪَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَٮٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ (١٨٥)
Surah - Al-Baqara
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off (evil); (2:183)
(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need - but whoso doeth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know - (2:184)
With reference to various Hadith about the Month of Ramadan
The messenger of Allah (saws) reported in a hadith al-Qudsi that Allah (SWT) said:
"All acts done by the sons of Adam are meant for him, except fasting. It is exclusively meant for Me, and I (alone) will reward him for it" (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri (raa) the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:
"Sahuur is a blessed meal, do not neglect it even if it is a mouthful of drink. For Allah and the Angels bless those who observe it." (Ahmed)
It has been reported by the way of Abu Hurairah (raa) that the Prophet (saas) reported that Allah (SWT) said in a Hadith Al-Qudsi:
All services of the son of Adam are for him except fasting. It is for Me, and I will reward him for it. Fasting is a shield. On the day you fast, do not use obscenity, nor yell at others, nor act ignorantly towards them. However, if anyone abuses you verbally or attempts to draw you to fight with him, say 'I am fasting' two times. The Prophet (saas) then states: I swore by the One (Allah) in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the breath of the faster is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgment than the scent of musk. The faster experiences enjoyment twice: he is pleased when he breaks his fast, and he is pleased when he meets his Maker" (Muslim)
Abu Sa'id al Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:
"Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove, because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years' distance." (Sahih Muslim)
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
"Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When there comes the month of Ramadan, the gates of mercy are opened, and the gates of Hell are locked and the devils are chained." (Sahih Bukhari)
Anas (raa) related that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Take your early morning meal for in that is a blessing." (Bukhari, Muslim)
In a hadith related by Abu Hurairah (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:
"He who spends the night in prayer on the Night of Power, as a sign of His faith, and seeking rewards from Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari, Muslim)
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that his people would be granted forgiveness on the last night in Ramadan and was asked whether it was Laylat al Qadr, he replied, "No, but a workman is paid his full wages only when he has finished his work." (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith)
The fasting has great significance in Islam. Allah's messenger (pbuh) says, Allah, the Almighty has said: "Every act of man is for him except fasting, it is done for My (Allah's) sake and I will give reward for it. The breath of a faster is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk."
The most important thing which makes the month of Ramadan more significant is that it is the month of Qur'an. The Holy Qur'an has clearly pointed out this aspect: The month of Ramadan, in which was sent down the Qur'an. Thus we come to the conclusion that the fasting of Ramadan is made compulsory commemorating the revelation of the Holy Qur'an as a guidance to the whole mankind. That is why when the holy month of Ramadan comes Allah gives his servants all opportunities to increase good deeds by giving multiplied rewards for their deeds and accepting their repentance. It is reported from the Prophet (pbuh) that "When Ramadan starts, the gates of paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the Satans are chained. "That means in this month Allah will deny the normal access of Satans to the deeds of the believers so that they can come closer and closer to Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) has said in the meaning: woe to one, Ramadan reached to him but he could not use it for forgiveness of his sins.
Unlike other forms of worship, the fasting is a hidden 'ibadat'. All religious duties except fasting are performed by some outward movement or other. For instance, in salah a man stands, sits and does ruku and sajadah which is visible to every body. Zakat is given to the poor people and in the Haj also everybody know it. But fasting is a ibadat which is not manifest. Only Allah knows it that is why Allah said what I quoted in the beginning of this article. Fasting is linked with true faith in Allah. See what firm conviction he has in the fact that no action of his can be concealed from Allah though it may be concealed from the whole world. How his heart is full of fear of God, that he under goes a severe agony but simply out of fear of Him does not do anything which will result in breaking his fast. How profound is his belief in the reward and punishment of the Hereafter that for full one month he fasts. Had he the slightest doubt about the future life where reward and punishment will be meted out, he could have never completed his fast. When doubt arises it is not possible for a man to stick to his resolve of not eating and drinking anything in obedience to God's commandment.
Fasting is also a training for the servant to aspire to the hereafter since by fasting, he gives up some of the worldly matters looking for to Allah's reward; this is because he measures the profit in the terms of the condition in the Hereafter.
Fasting is also a practical embodiment of submission and servitude to Allah. Fasting is a protection for the servant from hell fire. The Prophet has said : "Whoever fasts one day for the sake of Allah, Allah will keep his face away from hell fire 70 years" .. If such is the reward for fasting one day, what about fasting the whole Ramadan?!
Fasting is a protection against passions. The Prophet said: He who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and save him from committing illegal sexual relations, and he who cannot afford to marry is advised to fast, as fasting is like a rein preventing him from illicit pleasure.
Fasting is a means to paradise. It is reported that once a companion of the Prophet came and asked: O Prophet of Allah, command me to a deed which will benefit me in front of Allah. The Prophet said: Observe the fast as it has no equal deed. The Prophet has also taught us that there is a special gate called 'Rayyan', through which only the fasters would enter. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it. Fasting intercedes for the faster in the day of judgment. The Prophet said: Fasting and Qur'an will intercede for the servant on the Day of Resurrection, fasting will say "My Lord, because of me he was prohibited food and satisfaction of desire at the day time, so accept my intercession for him". The Qur'an will say: "I prevented him from sleep at night, so accept my intercession for him, and their intercession will be accepted."
Fasting is an expiation of sins. The Prophet has said: The affliction of a person in his property, family and neighbors is expiated by his prayers fasting and giving in charity. Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven. "The five daily prayers, between a Friday prayer and another, between the month of Ramadan and another, are expiations of the sins committed in between if the great sins are abstained from."
Fasting is a cause of happiness both in this life and in the Hereafter. The Prophet says: the one who observes fast has two moments of (unparalleled) Joy, One when he breaks his fast and the other when he meets his Lord. As to his first moment of joy it is an example of happiness and delight which the Believer finds as a result of being obedient, and pious towards his Master, and that is genuine happiness.
Thus we can see that the prescribed institution of fasting is a very important and significant form of worship for a believer which will help him to enter the paradise free from allmistakes and sins.
Allah (SWT) has mandated to His servants acts of worship and made them of various kinds so as to provide them with means to pick and choose, and that others will not be bored with one act. Thus, we seek nearness to Him, through mandatory and non-mandatory deeds. Among the non-mandatory deeds, or Sunnah, is the establishment of nighttime prayers (salaatul lail), and Allah has praised those who observe them. "Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord, prostrate and standing." (Al-Qur'an 25:64) "Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord in fear and hope and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which we have bestowed on them." (Al-Qur'an 32:16).
These two verses indicate the
basis for nightly prayer in the Holy Qur'an and the good return awaiting those
who observe it. In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) says: "The best
prayer after the obligatory ones is the night prayer." (Muslim) Elsewhere he
says: "O people! disseminate the salutations of peace As-Salaam
'Alaykum; feed the needy food, and join the blood ties among the next of kin;
and observe night prayer while people are at sleep, you will enter paradise
One of the night prayers, is Witr, the odd numbered bedtime prayer. It should be
the last prayer said before retiring. The minimum Witr is one rak'ah and the
maximum is eleven raka'ats. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever wants to pray Witr
with one rak'ah should do it and whoever wants to pray Witr with three raka'ats
should do it." (Abu Dawud/Nasa'e). However, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was
always consistent with eleven raka'ats for night prayers, according to his wife,
'Aishah (RAA) who reported: "The Prophet never observed prayers after `Isha
(night obligatory prayer) and before Fajr (morning prayer), more than eleven
raka'ats. He saluted after every two raka'ats, and he prayed Witr with one
raka'at". (Jama'ah, except Tirmidhi).
In a different procedure, one may make four raka'ats, and salute, and continue
with another four and salute, then he caps them with three raka'ats of Witr. 'Aishah
(RAA) reported: "The Prophet used to pray four raka'ats and one cannot describe
their beauty, and their length, (he salutes) then makes another set of four
raka'ats, one cannot describe their beauty and length, he then caps it with
three raka'ats." (Agreed upon)
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