Ten days into Ramadhan, the visible effects of fasting start kicking in and inevitably people start commenting on how tired I look or how thin I look or how pasty I look. Hearing these comments are always a very conscious reminder of the hadith below…
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (pbuh) said: Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness (Darimi).
With ten days having flown by, this worries me and I wonder to what extent am I actually taking advantage of this blessed month or am I just showing the visible signs and therefore only attaining hunger and thirst. So as we enter into the days of forgiveness [The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught us that Ramadan is a month whose “beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire.” (narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah)], I thought it would be useful to find ways of keeping our intentions pure and then hopefully our actions will follow suit.
According to notes from a talk with Shaykh Umar al Khatib (Tarim, Yemen):
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala made Ramadan obligatory on the believers out of mercy for them so that they could make up for what they had lost of opportunities in life. According to the Shaykh there has never been a better month for the believer than this and never been a worst month for the hypocrite than Ramadan.
In a Hadith from Abu Huraira through Imam al Bayhaqi, the Prophet (pbuh) mentions 5 specific gifts his Ummah was given in this month, not given to previous nations
1) In the first night of Ramadan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala gazes upon His servants, and on whom the Gaze falls upon will be forgiven forever and blessed with a life of extreme felicity. So what should be the state of a slave on that night in order to attain the Gaze of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala?
– Be kind to parents
– Maintain ties of kinship
– Have mercy towards fellow Muslims
– Remove all rancour and anger from heart
– Refrain from haram
– Be in worship the first night and beseech Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.
If Allah’s Gaze falls upon you that first night, you have nothing to worry about after that.
2) The odour that comes out of the mouth of a fasting person is more beloved to Allah than the smell of musk.
3) There are angels that seek forgiveness for a fasting person the entire day until he breaks his fast. It is amazing how there are angels allocated specifically for a fasting person to seek forgiveness for him.
4) In the first night of Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are flung open and Allah asks it to adorn itself for those who will one day come to it to rest.
5) The last night of Ramadan Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala forgives the people of faith. The Companions (RadiAllahu anhum) asked whether the night was Laylatul Qadr. The Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said no, then said – do you remember how a labourer gets his wages at the end of day? This night is when those fasting get their wages from Allah.
– According to a hadith, Allah made fasting obligatory during the day and the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam made standing in prayer a Sunnah during the night.
– Whoever fasts in faith and sincerity will come out like a newborn baby. Thus Ramadan purifies one totally so it is a chance one should not let pass by.
– We must also develop the habit of wanting good for our brothers in faith and humanity.
– Every night in Ramadan two angels come out. One says “O the one coming for khair (good) move forward!” and the other says “O who wishes shar (mischief) Beware!”
Acts which people find hard to do in normal times e.g. fasting, tilawa, controlling tongue and dhikr, we are able to do it in Ramadan. This proves that one can actually undertake these acts outside Ramadan as well if one has the conviction. Ramadan teaches us trust and confidence in ourselves.
I know it is all very well to know this stuff and it is good in inspiring us, however sometimes we have a huge knowledge-behaviour gap. In that we know it but it is hard to act on it or benefit from knowing what we do. I read something recently which completely inspired me to do more and bridge this gap…
…from Ghazali’s The Remembrance of Death and Afterlife, relaying the scene of ‘The Perspiration’ Ghazali says, ‘You should know that all the sweat which you did not shed through some effort in God’s way, such as… the Fast, standing [in night prayer]… will be driven forth by shame and fear on the plain of the Arising, thereby prolonging your suffering. Were the son of Adam only to be secure from ignorance and beguilement he would realise that to perspire through undertaking difficult works of obedience is easier to bear and less enduring than to perspire at the Arising in distress and misgiving.’
So let’s make the most of the days of Ramadan and perspire, err metaphorically even!