almighty allah says, (your lord does create and choose as he pleases …) (al-qasas 28: 68)
allah is the creator of everything visible and invisible. everything in the heaven and earth belongs to him and serves him. allah is also the creator of time and space. as allah chose some persons to be his prophets and messengers, and as he chose some places to become the sacred spots on this earth, similarly he also chose some time to become the sacred time. the sacred personalities teach us about allah, his will, his rules and commands. the sacred places and times remind us about allah’s special favors and blessings. in islam we worship only allah. we neither worship any person other than allah, not any space or time. but certain spaces and times inspire us and motivate us to do good things. one of those important and sacred moments for us is ramadan. it is a special month and a special time. allah says in the qur’an:
(the month of ramadan is that in which was sent down the qur’an, as a guide to mankind, with clear signs for guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). so every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. allah intends every facility for you; he does not want to put you to difficulties. (he wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify him in that he has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. when my servants ask you concerning me, i am indeed quite near: i listen and answer the call of every caller when he calls me. let them listen to my call, and believe in me; so that they may be guided aright.) (al-baqarah 2: 185-186)
the blessed month of ramadan is a great time and a beautiful time as well. we thank allah that he is giving us another occasion to witness this blessed time in our life. may he help us to benefit from this season of virtues and blessings and may he grant us his love, mercy and forgiveness now and forever, ameen.
ramadan is a great month. this is the month of the qur’an, and in this month is the night of qadr, which is better than one thousand months. allah chose this month and a particular night in this month to grace humanity with his final testament, his last message, the qur’an. the moment of this revelation became a sacred moment, and that time and month became an eternal time for us. allah chose this time, and he has filled it with his countless blessings. in this month we have a greater urge and desire to do good deeds. this month becomes the month of virtues and blessings for us. this is the month about which the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“when the first night of ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious jinns are put in chains and the doors of hell are closed, none of them remains open. the doors of heaven are open and none of them remains closed. and a caller calls, ‘o seeker of goodness, come forward, and o seeker of evil, desist. and allah has many (in this month) who will be freed from hell.’ this announcement is made every night." (reported by al-tirmidhi, hadith no. 618)
ramadan is meant for our moral and spiritual training and for the purification of our bodies, minds and souls. this is an annual training program for all believers. it is a special time to get closer to allah and to seek his blessings and bounties. it is a time to learn taqwa (god-fearing), piety, self-discipline and patience. it is a time to give more charity and become more generous. it is a time to seek allah’s forgiveness and to forgive each other. it is a time to be thankful to allah for his gifts and bounties and especially his gift of iman.
i urge you, my brothers and sisters, do not miss any day of fasting and do not miss any moment of the blessed month of ramadan. this is a very precious time and allah will give us many benefits if we use it in the proper way.
let us keep the following things in our mind when we observe this month:
1. intention: remind yourself again and again that you are fasting in obedience to allah. be sincere in your intention. you want allah to accept your fasting. the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “whosoever fasts in ramadan with faith and seeking allah’s reward, all his past sins are forgiven.” (al-bukhari, hadith no. 37)
2. sunnah: observe the sunnah in fasting. take the suhur meal a little before dawn and end your fast at sunset. as much as you can, try to fast as much like the prophet muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) fasted. there was no prayer better than his prayer and no fast better than his fast. try to follow his way of fasting. that is the most acceptable way of fasting to allah.
3. wara` (avoiding everything haram or makruh): keep your body and mind very clean. fasting is not just avoiding food and drink. fasting is to learn how to avoid bad words and bad deeds. the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “whosoever does not leave bad words and bad actions, allah does not care if he leaves his food and drink.” (al-tirmidhi 641)
4. qur’an: fasting and revelation are inter-connected. prophet musa fasted when he received the torah. prophet `isa fasted when he received the gospel. prophet muhammad fasted when he received the first message of the qur’an. let us do the same thing. you must fast and spend more time with the qur’an. read the qur’an every day. try to finish at least one time the whole qur’an during this month by your own personal reading.
5. prayer or salah, du`a' and dhikr: pray on time and observe all the prayers. do not ignore the tarawih or ramadan night prayers. make more extra and voluntary prayers. do as much worship as you can. do more dhikr (remembering allah) and du`a' (supplication) for yourself and for others. repent and seek forgiveness for yourself and for others as much as you can. this is the best time for devotion and seeking allah’s forgiveness. seek the night of qadr by special devotion during the last ten nights of this month.
6. zakah, sadaqah and generosity: ramadan generates the spirit of giving and sacrifice. when we deprive ourselves of food and drink we understand and realize well what it means to be hungry and thirsty. we realize the pain of those who cannot find the basic necessities of life. be very charitable and generous. give more to help the poor and needy. contribute generously to useful social and community projects.
7. family: goodness must begin at home. be very good to your family, immediate family and the extended family. spend more time and quality time with your family members. try to have suhur (pre-dawn meal) together. break your fast together and pray together as much as you can. do this more at this time. ramadan should bring you closer to each other. allah’s special mercy comes on the families that are united, harmonious and peaceful.
8. good conduct: fasting should transform you and should make you a different person. try to be extra kind and courteous during this month. forget your quarrels and disputes. reconcile and forgive. do not get involved in backbiting, lying, cheating and anything that is wrong. be very good to muslims and to all human beings. be good to your friends and neighbors. let your non-muslim neighbors and co-workers know that this is your blessed and sacred time.
9. tafakkur (reflection): think, reflect and plan to improve the moral and spiritual condition of your own self and your family. think about any wrong things and sins you might be doing and decide to correct yourself. think about any deficiencies you have in your islamic observances. plan to change yourself. think what you can do for the ummah and for humanity to make this world a better place for everyone. think about the life after death and the day of judgment.
10. be cheerful and happy: ramadan is not a time of mourning or sadness. it is a time of thankfulness to allah. in a hadith it is reported that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “when you fast, anoint yourself. let not the signs of fast be seen on you.” (al-bukahri, al-adab al-mufrad) do not feel tired and miserable. feel alert and relax. take things easy. this time is for your own good. give the greetings of ramadan to each other and enjoy this beautiful time.
it is reported in a hadith that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave a sermon about ramadan to a gathering that met towards the end of sha`ban. he said:
"o people, a great and a blessed month is approaching you. in this month, there is a night that is better than one thousand months. allah has made fasting obligatory and prayers at night commendable during this month. whosoever will do a voluntary good deed during this month, it is as if he performed an obligatory good deed at another time and whosoever will perform an obligatory good deed, it is as if he performed seventy obligatory good deeds at another time. this is the month of patience and the reward of patience is paradise. this is the month of kindness. in this month the believer’s provision is increased. whosoever will give food to a fasting person in this month, it will bring forgiveness for his sins, will save him from the hellfire and he shall have his reward while the fasting person will not lose any of his reward." (as-suyuti, ad-durr al-manthur)