By Yusuf M. Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states “Ramadan is the month In which was sent down The Qur’an, as a guide To mankind, also clear Signs For guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong), So everyone of You Who is present (at his home) During that month should spend it in fasting …” Q2: 185
May the everlasting peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
Some significant events are remembered in this great month. They include the loss of prophet’s beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah and compassionate Uncle Abi Talib, father of Imam Ali, the commander of the faithful (‘A). Thus, the year was named year of sorrow in Islamic history. Sayyidah Khadijah was the first wife of the noble messenger. She was a prominent lady known for her piety, compassion and generosity before revelation for which she was referred as "the pure" among other names. The prophet has related the success of Islam to her wealth, sword of Ali – in defense of the religion – and protection of Abu Talib! In a hadeeth “the most superior women of paradise are Khadijah daughter of Khuwailid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiyah daughter of Muzahim and Maryam daughter of Imran”. She spent good fifteen years with noble messenger (S). And throughout the period, he didn’t marry any woman. In fact, the marriages of the prophet were basically on compassionate and political ground.
A’isha, mother of the faithful reported “one day the messenger of Allah remembered Khadija (his deceased wife). I disliked this and said she was old; she was such and such. Now Allah has provided you with a better wife. (She meant herself). He said; Allah has not provided me with a better wife. She believed in my prophethood when others refused to believe in me, and she verified and supported my words when others contradicted them, and she placed her wealth at my disposal when others disappointed me. Allah blessed me with children through her and not through any other wife” Istii’aab by Ibn AbdulBarr, with similar records by Bukhari and Muslim. The prophet (S) has given Sayyidah Khadija glad tidings of Allah’s forgiveness and mercy in the hereafter!
It was part of the boundless blessings that her daughter Fatima was highly elevated above all women “O my daughter! Are you not satisfied that you are the doyenne of the women of the world? She said: O father! What about Mary daughter of Imran (then)? He said: she was the doyenne of the women of her world and you are the doyenne of the women of your world; I swear by Allah that I have married you to a master in life and hereafter. Hilyat al-Auliya volume 2 page 42.
Abu Talib on the other hand was the father of Ali. He believed in the noble prophet and gave him utmost protection although the enemies of his son have rejected his faith. He also died in the same year as Sayyidah Khadija for which the noble messenger grieved a lot and named the year as mentioned above.
THE WAR OF BADR
The battle of Badr was fought in the holy month of Ramadhan on the 17th. Despite fasting, the believers were faced with the persecution of the Meccan pagans under Abu Sufyan. As such Allah permitted them to protect themselves from the persistent persecution and helped them with great victory. “Assuredly Allah did help you In many battle-fields, And on the day of Hunain; Behold! Your great numbers Elated you, but they Availed you naught; the land. For all that it is wide, Did constrain you, and ye Turned back in retreat” Q9:25
Over seventy enemies of Islam were killed with about the same number taken as hostages! No one could imagine success for the believers with their little number and few arms when the unbelievers have more than tripled them fully armed to teeth! “Remember ye implored The assistance of your Lord, And He answered you; I will assist you With a thousand of the angels, Ranks and ranks” Q8:9
Allah has promised believers similar success forever provided they are steadfast and sincere in their faith! “O Prophet! Sufficient unto thee is Allah, And unto those Who follow thee Among the Believers” Q7:64
BIRTH OF IMAM HASAN (AS)
Birth of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba was part of the historic events. The Imam was born on 15th Ramadhan, 3 years after hijra. His father was the commander of the faithful, Imam ‘Ali son of Abi Talib and mother Sayyidah Fatima daughter of the noble prophet (S). At his birth, the prophet went to the house and took him in his blessed arms and recited Adhan and Iqama naming him al-Hasan! He was brought up under the patronage of his grandfather the prophet (S). However, he was finally murdered on orders of Mu’awiya son of Abu Sufyan, 50 years AH.
MARTYRDOM OF IMAM ‘ALI (‘A)
The martyrdom of Imam Ali, commander of the faithful by Mu’awiya’s tool, Ibn Muljim happened on 21st Ramadan, 40 years AH, when the Imam was leading the morning prayer at Kufa. “And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay (they are) alive, but you do not perceive” Q2:154
Before his last breath, the Imam passed his lengthy will to his eldest son Imam Hasan, part of which; “… I advise you all my children, members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order and to maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard grandfather (the Holy Prophet) saying; improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting…”
ASSESSING OUR FASTING
Generally speaking, some forms of worship are specifically encouraged in this month. We may briefly highlight the following points:
1. Qur’anic recitation: Undoubtedly, recitation of the noble Qur’an is the most important functions of the month. So, every believer should do his or her utmost best in this direction. I use this medium to encourage brothers and sisters on the need to master the noble book as the level of ignorance in this regard is very disheartening. Our attention is more on the secular direction. How many of us acquired their first, second degree and PhD but are lagging behind regarding the noble Qur’an? We must wake up and do the right thing for our goodness. We should try to recite the whole Qur’an as many times as possible and sacrifice such rewards to parents and loved ones, dead or alive.
2. Salat: Another significant aspect we must draw attention to are superogatory prayers. Taraweeh is the most popular. But there are different series specifically in the month. There is a popular narration of a thousand raka’ats. Accordingly, 20 raka’ats are said in the first 20 nights with 8 raka’ats after Magrib and 12 after Isha. In the last 10 days, 30 raka’ats, 8 after Magrib and 22 after Isha, and 100 raka’ats each on Layalul qadr – nights of majesty – 19th, 21st and 23rd nights.
3. Supplications: More than any other time believers are encouraged to put in more efforts in this direction. Allah said “When My servants Ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed Close (to them); I respond To the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me; Let them also, with a will listen to My call, And believe in Me; That they may walk in the right way” Q2: 186. So, we must keep up the night prayers seeking Allah’s forgiveness and mercy for our humble selves, parents and beloved. In addition to that, other forms of Allah’s remembrance such as Salatun Nabiy, Istigfar among others must be maintained. We must befriend the books of supplication like Mafaateehul Jinaan, Dhiyaa’us Saaliheen. On the Zaria and other massacres, we should not relent in prayers for Allah’s retribution against the killers of innocent, armless and peace-loving citizens.
4. Generosity: We should not neglect this important aspect. The prophet (S) has emphatically encouraged all to do their best. The reward of kind gestures is totally incomparable with that of Ramadhan. This is why group and community Iftar were encouraged. So, also Zakatul fitrah at the eve of Sallah celebration.
5. Tafseer sessions: With regard to the traditional Tafseer and relevant other sessions, we must make sure that we put into practice the lessons therein as actions always speak louder.
As we begin the spiritual journey, we should strive in pursuance of Allah’s pleasure as the popular saying goes assess yourself before you are assessed. Everyone can appraise his or her activities toward the goal of fasting. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint (al-taqwa)” Q2:183. Because whoever does not achieve it in the end has really missed the goal and woefully failed! “O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance And prayer; for Allah is with those Who patiently persevere” Q2:153.
In our self and general assessment, we should never forget that fasting is a unique act of worship with a clearly stated objective to influence the socio-economic being of the society.