Ramadan, the month of Allah SWT is right around the corner. Allah SWT has given us eleven months and kept one month for Himself. The least we can do is to show Allah SWT our best during this month. The way I see it, Ramadan is an advertisement of Allah SWT.
A Muslim is either of the two categories:
An ignorant person is his own enemy. Two people whom knowledge and wisdom cannot benefit are the dead and the ignorant.
Scholars have characterized an ignorant person to have following traits:
A wise man divided the people into four categories and advised us on how to deal with them:
All of us can find ourselves among these four categories!
According to Luqman the Wise, an ignorant person believes himself to be on the right path and that is why he is not able to change.
An ignorant person has the disease of Iblees-arrogance. An arrogant person is ignorant and an ignorant person is usually arrogant.
This allows a believer to strengthen his niyyah and determine whether he should or should not carry out an action.
Good deeds have following elements:
If the knowledge is right and the will is strong, Allah will give a person taufeeq to carry out the action. If the knowledge is corrupted and the will is weak, then Allah SWT will withhold the ability from a person.
People complain that they are busy and are unable to spend enough time for Allah SWT. They are so occupied with job, school, children, business etc--so much so that they are unable to give Allah SWT the one month that He has set aside for Himself.
All of these excuses are not legitimate, because the things that they are busy with are part of life, not its purpose. If they become overwhelming to the point they become the very objective of life, then it means that the person has lost his goal since it is the goal that allows one to set priority, organize time, and focus on the prize. This is how we know the sidq or truthfulness of the intention!
Just like Qadr is of two kinds, one that is chosen for us and which we have no control over, and the one we choose; our social circles are the same. We have family that we have no option of choosing, but we can choose our friends according to our niyyah and our goal in life.
Imam Al-Qurtubi said that if we know what will happen to us at the moment of death, we will never have friendship with anyone except Allah SWT because He is the only one who can benefit us at the moment of death and after death when the real life begins.
Why is it that we neglect this friendship?
Why do we get busy with worldly matters and surrender to conditions and situations? Because we do not value our goal or we do not have it in the first place. Instead we make our daily routines to be our goals, which is the case with majority of the people.
Conditions and calamities are a procedure to bring the best out of a person. Take the example of an olive and how it is grounded between rocks in order to extract its best-oil. The same goes for fruits and flowers; they have to go through severe processes in order to produce their very best, their essence and juices. So what about you and me?
Calamities and trials are always going to be there and a believer will overcome them based on his belief and reliance on his Lord; but what happens if a person doesn't have iman? When Allah SWT trials such a person, what comes out is kufr (denial of Allah's gifts), rebellion, complaints, uptight and rigid behaviour, questioning of Allah's wisdom by complains like 'why don't you give me what I want?' Asthagfirullah! A mo'min (believer) always turns to Allah in all his difficulties and seeks His help to solve his problems.
The core of the journey of iman is Sabr (patience).
Why does a person lose his manners or falls into haram in the first place?
It happens because he is unable to remain patient and abstain himself from rebelling against the commands of Allah. So in reality patience is the opposite of rebellion against Allah SWT. Therefore, when a person is patient and in a state of thanks and contentment with Allah, Allah SWT blesses him with His closeness and grants him unlimited reward, wisdom, and guidance.
When a person is afflicted by a calamity or is in a difficult situation and calls on His Lord for assistance, he is openly placing his trust in His Lord and putting his belief in practice. When a person believes in Allah and relies wholly on Him SWT, Allah never lets him down and comes to his aid-even if it is after some time.
Allah's assistance or acceptance of du'a comes in many different forms. He SWT elevates, cleanses and supports a person who believes in Him; supports him in this life's trials, as well as in going to jannah. Today we see calamities as just problems whereas they are so much more. They are designed by Allah SWT to bring the best out of us and to make us closer to Him.
Our pious predecessors understood that hardships and calamities are only for the one who Allah SWT chooses. A pious believer once said that if you understand what Allah is doing to you while you are afflicted with a calamity, your heart will be submerged in the love of Allah. Why is that? Because you will realize that Allah SWT has chosen you over so many others and is grinding you in order to bring the best out of you.
The best of a person are two characteristics:
These two traits for the believer are like two wings of a bird. If one of the wings is broken, the bird cannot take flight. Just like this, if a believer is missing either of the traits, his spiritual journey will not be successful.
We as humans are willing to be patient according to the amount of benefit we receive. People often endure hard working conditions, separation from loved ones and intense pressure, all because of the financial benefits they might receive. Then what about the great reward of fasting and remaining patient for the sake and pleasure of Allah SWT? Abstaining from and adhering to what He SWT has commanded becomes easy if we understand the value of Ramadan and remember the great rewards Allah SWT has promised us.
One of the treasures of this month is a night called 'laylat-ul-qadr' wherein worship is equal to the worship of one thousand months-meaning a little over 83 years. How can we not value this blessing? It is a blessing and a gift that is given to believers who really fast as it ought to be done. Along with this blessed night believers receive insight, guidance, closeness to Allah, and a better personality than they had when they entered the month. On the other hand if a person is fasting from food and drink only, instead of receiving elevation he develops further rebelliousness and rather than gaining quality he ends up losing this precious month. If the heart is corrupted and attached to worldly matters, it doesn't matter how many prayers a person offers or how many supplications he makes since it is the quality that Allah SWT cares about, not the quantity.
Have we gained any qualities from last Ramadan? Is this year better than the last? Ramadan is like an ICU, a rehab centre, it is your spiritual bank account for the year and the mirror of your life. It allows you to see yourself as you really are--away from the influence and control of Shaytaan since they are chained.
One of the scholars said that if you carry out real fasting, you will gain four qualities:
Prophet Muhammad SAW said: "During Ramadan increase four practices:
Taraweeh is the supererogatory prayer after Isha salah where the entire Qur'an is recited at least once during the month. The prayer is in sets of two and consists of either eight or twenty units. It is a very valuable practice whose reward is great; but is rewarding the only purpose of taraweeh?
Taraweeh is like Allah SWT telling us: 'You are ready after disciplining your soul during the day, now listen to my words and may be you will wake up from your spiritual slumber.' Blessing is something which you will get by reciting the Qur'an anyway; the purpose of taraweeh is not just receiving blessings, it is to listen to Qur'an so that even if you were away from the message of Allah the entire year, this will serve as a reminder and a cause to reaffirm your faith and bring you closer to Him SWT.
Aisha (RA) asked RasulAllah SAW about laylat-ul-Qadr and what to say during that blessed time. He SAW said, say:
"Al-laa-hum-ma in-na-ka 'afoow-wan tu-hib-bul-'af wa fa-fu 'an-ni."
O Allah! You are Forgiving, You love forgiveness, so forgive me."
Forgiveness is the sign of love of Allah SWT for His slaves. 'Afw is the highest form of forgiveness where Allah SWT not only forgives but forgets also. Allah SWT commands the angels to erase the evil deeds of the believer from his book and the earth to forget any evil that he committed on it so that the slave starts anew and meets Allah SWT with a clear record.
Allah SWT wants us to utilize this gift and value it! This is why He is advertising the numerous bounties of this month in order to make us realize its greatness! Besides Laylat-ul-Qadr, Allah SWT has promised immense forgiveness and liberation from hellfire for his slaves.
Rasul Allah SAW has informed us about the generosity of Allah SWT in Ramadan in the following words:
"Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire." (Ibn Khuzaymah)
"Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari)
Imagine when Allah promises you complete forgiveness and even grants you a certificate that you are pure from Jahannam! Who is the lucky one ready to accept the open invitation from the Supreme Lord?
If I hear about a person who can assist me or benefit me, will I not go to him? Will I not love him? Will I not try to get closer to him? Will I not show him my gratitude? Who can do anything better for us than Allah SWT?
Once this is manifested in my heart, what will be higher for me-promises of Allah SWT or an assignment from my professor? Everyone needs to answer this question for himself. If your answer is Allah, then just saying it is not enough. You have to show it through your actions. You have to set aside some quality time for Allah, you have to elevate Him SWT and His message above all else; this is how you can show your best to Him in Ramadan. If you can't value Allah SWT, how can you value anyone else? If you fail to love Allah then how can you love anyone else?
RasulAllah SAW called Ramadan the month of barakah, blessing. It is the month in which provision increases for believers. During this month, good deeds are multiplied seventy times. Each sunnah and nafl act is rewarded like a fard. What more can a believer ask for?
RasulAllah SAW has informed us that the holy month of Ramadan is divided into three parts, each part consisting of ten days: Rahmah, Maghfirah and Najah respectively.
"Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire." (Ibn Khuzaymah)
Rahmah means mercy, Maghfirah refers to forgiveness and Najah means salvation or purification from fire. It is recommended to call on Allah asking for these particular blessings during that time.
RasulAllah SAW has said:
"Islam is clean so cleanse yourselves, for only the cleansed shall enter paradise"
Allah SWT from His grace has given us various opportunities to clean ourselves in order to live up to His teachings. Salah is cleansing, fasting is cleansing, haj
"But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart." (26:89)
Just imagine how much Allah SWT loves us? Do we love Allah above everyone and everything else in our lives?
As if the mercy, forgiveness, increase of rewards and Laylat-ul-Qadr were not enough gifts, the Most Generous Lord granted us more.
Prophet Muhammad SAW declared to His companions that:
Oh Allah, grant us the blessing of Sh'aban and allow us to reach Ramadan and benefit from its limitless treasures. Oh Allah, grant us your mercy, your forgiveness and free us from the fetters of hellfire. Make us among those who gain Laylat-ul-Qadr. Make us among your devoted slaves and the benefactors of humanity. Make us value and show respect to the treasure of wealth of Ramadan and in Ramadan. Ameen.
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