Virtues of Ramadhaan
Salmaan (RA) reports, “On the last day of Sha-baan Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) addressed us and said, ‘0 people there comes over you now a great month, a most blessed month in which lies a night more greater in virtue than a thousand months. It is a month in which Allah has made Fasting compulsory by day. And has made sunnah the Taraaweeh by night. Whosoever intends drawing near to Allah by performing any virtuous deed, for such person shall be the reward like the one who had performed a fardh in any other time. And whoever performs a fardh, shall be blessed with the reward of seventy faraa-idh in any other time.
This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is Jannah ( paradise. It is the month of sympathy with one’s fellowmen. It is the month wherein a true believer’s rizq is increased. Whosoever feeds another who fasted, in order to break the fast at sunset, for the feeder there shall be forgiveness of sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam (hell}, and for such feeder shall be the same reward as the one who Fasted (who he fed) without that persons reward being decreased in the least.”
Thereupon we said, “0 messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can give a fasting person to break his fast.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) replied, “Allah grants the same reward to the one who gives a fasting person to break the fast a mere date, or a drink of water, or a sip of milk.”
“This is a month, the first of which brings Allah’s mercy, the middle of which brings His forgiveness and the last of which brings emancipation from the fire of Jahan-nam.”
“Whosoever lessens the burden of his servants (bonds-men) in this month, Allah will forgive him and free him from the fire of Jahannam.”
“And in this month four things you should continue to perform in great number, two of which shall be to please your Lord, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot do. Those which shall be to please your Lord, are that you should in great quantity bear witness that there is no deity to worship except Allah (i.e. recite the Kalimah Tayyibah Laa llaaha illallaah) and make much Istighfaar beg Allah’s forgiveness with Astagirfirul-laah).” And as for those without which you cannot do, you should beg of Allah, entrance into paradise and ask refuge in Him from Jahannam.” “And whoever gave a person who fasted water to drink, Allah shall grant that giver to drink from My fountain, such a drink where after that person shall never again feel thirsty until he enters Jannah.”Reported by ibn Khuzaimah in his ‘Saheeh.
All the points which this Hadith draws attention have been further emphasized in numerous other Ahaadith on the great virtues of Ramadhaan. Quite a number of important points are brought to our notice.
Firstly, it should be noted that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) delivered this sermon at the end of the month of Sha-baan the bvious reason being that he intended to put into our minds the great importance of Ramadhaan so that we could remember and not allow one second of this month to go by without giving it the full importance it deserves.
Thereafter attention is drawn to Laylatul Qadr, about which more is said later. Then attention is drawn to the fact that fasting has been made compulsory by Allah who also made sunnah the Taraaweeh ‘salaah by night.
From this Hadith it is noted that the command for Taraaweeh prayers too comes from Allah Himself. Besides this in all the Ahadith wherein Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) says, I have made it sunnah”, is mainly to emphasize its importance. All the authorities of the Ahlus sunnah wal Jamaa’ah are agreed upon the fact that Taraaweeh is sunnah. (Bur-haan mentions that only the Rawaafidh deny this.)
Maulana Shaah Abdulhaq Dehlawi wrote in his book: “Maa Thabata Bis sunnah” that should the people of any town fail to perform Taraaweeh prayers, the Muslim ruler should make them do so by force.
HADITH No. 2
Abu Hurayrah relates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said, “My Ummah were given five things for Ramadhaan which were not given to anyone except them. For them, the smell from the mouth of a fasting person is more sweeter to Allah than the fragrant smell of musk. On their behalf the fish in the sea seek forgiveness for the fasting persons until they break their fast. Allah prepares and decorates a special garden in Jannah everyday and then says (to it), “The time is near when faithful servants shall cast aside the great trials of the world and come to you”. In this month (for them) evil-minded Shaytaan is chained so as not to reach unto those evils to which they normally reach during other months besides Ramadhaan. On the last night of Ramadhaan they are forgiven”.
The Sahaabah R.A. thereupon enquired, “0 Messenger of Allah, is that last night Laylatul Qadr? Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) replied, “No. But it is only right that a servant should be given his reward on having completed his service”. Reported by Ahmad, Bazzaar and Bayhaqi.
HADITH No. 3
Kaab bin Ujra relates, “Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said, “Come near to the mimbar”. And we came near to the mimbar. When he ascended the First step of the mimbar he said “Aameen”. When he ascended the second step of the mimbar he said, “Aameen”. When he ascended the third step he said, “Aameen”.
When he descended we said, “0 Rasul of Allah, we have heard from you today something which we never heard before”. He said, When I ascended the first step) Jibra-eel A.S. appeared before me and said, “Woe to him who found the blessed month of Ramadhaan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness”, Upon that I said, “Aameen”. When I ascended the second step, he said “Woe to him before whom thy name is mentioned and then does not read Durood (salaat alan Nabi) on you”. I replied “Aameen”. When I ascended the third step he said, “Woe unto the person in whose presence both parents or o ne of them attain old age, and (through failure to serve them) is not allowed to enter Jannah” I said “Aameen”. Reported by Haakim.
HADITH NO. 4
Ubaadah bin Saamit (Radhiallaahu anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said one day when Ramadhaan had drawn near; “The month of Ramadhan, the month of blessings has come to you, wherein Allah turns towards you and sends down to you His special Mercy, forgives your faults, accepts prayers, appreciates your competition for the greatest, good and boasts to the angels about you. So, show to Allah your righteousness; for verily, the most pitiable and unfortunate one is he who is deprived of Allah’s Mercy in this month.
In this Hadith, we read about the spirit of competition among the believers, each one trying to do more good deeds than the other. In our own home, I am greatly pleased on seeing how even the womenfolk vie with each other, the one trying to recite more of the Qur’aan than the others, so that, in spite of domestic responsibilities, fifteen to twenty ‘juz’ (Parts) of the Qur’aan are read by each one daily. I mention this only out of a sense of gratitude to Allah, mentioning His favour, and not to boast of it. May Allah accept their deeds and ours, and increase us all in good deeds.
Abu Saeed Khudri (Radhiallahu anh) relates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: “During each day and night of Ramadhan, Allah sets free a great number of souls from Hell. And for every Muslim, during each day and night, at least one prayer is certainly accepted.”
Apart from this Hadith, there are many others stating that the ‘Du’aa’ of a fasting person is accepted (Mustajaab). In one Hadith, we read that the ‘Du’aa’is accepted at the time of ‘Iftaar’, but we are generally so absorbed in eating that we neglect this opportunity. The well-known ‘Duaa’ at ‘Iftaar’ is: “O Allah for You have I fasted, in You do I believe, and on You do I rely, and now I break this fast with food coming from you.”
Abdullah bin Amr (Radhiallahu anhu) used to make the following ‘Duaa’ at ‘Iftaar’: O Allah I beg You, through Your infinite Mercy, which surrounds all things, to forgive me.’
In some books we read that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to say: “O You who are Great in Bounties, forgive me.”
Many other prayers have been indicated for ‘Iftaar’, but no special ‘Dua’ is fixed. This time (at iftaar) is one when ‘Duaa’ is accepted; submit before Allah all your needs.
HADITH NO. 6
Abu Hurairah (Radhiallaahu anhu) reports: Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “There are three people whose “Du’aa” is not rejected; the fasting person until he breaks the fast, the just ruler, and the oppressed person, whose ‘Dua’ Allah lifts above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of heaven, and Allah says: “I swear by My honour, verily I shall assist you, even though it may be after some time.”
In ‘Durr Manthur’ it is reported from Aa’isha (Radhiallahu anha) that, when Ramadhan appeared, the colour of Rasulullah’s face used to change. He then used to increase his “Salaat”, become even more humble in his “Duaas” and exhibit even more fear of Allah. According to another report, he hardly ever lay down in bed until Ramadhan came to an end. Further, it is stated that the angels carrying the Throne are commanded in Ramadhan to leave aside everything else and recite “Aameen” to the “Duaas” of those who fast. Numerous are the Ahaadith stating that the fasting person’s ‘Du’aas’ are answered. When Allah has so promised. and his truthful ‘Nabi’ (Sallallaaho alaihe wasallam) has informed us, there should be no doubt whatsoever about the truth of these reports. Yet it is strange that, in spite of this, we still find such people who apparently do not get what they pray for. They ask and do not receive; but this does not mean that their prayers have been rejected. One should at this point understand the significance of a ‘Dua’ being answered.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) has informed us that, when a Muslim prays for anything from Allah, on the condition that he does not pray for breaking off from his near of kin or for anything sinful, he definitely receives one out of the following three things: he gets the exact thing which he asked. If that is not received, then Allah either removes from his path some great calamity in exchange for what he desired, or the reward for that thing for which he prayed is stored for him in the Hereafter. Another Hadith states that on the day of “Qiyaamah”, Allah will call his servant, and say to him: “O my servant, I used to command you to ask of Me and promised to answer. Did you beg of Me? The servant will answer: “Yes I did.” Then Allah shall reply: “You did not put forth any prayer which has not been accepted. You prayed that a certain calamity should be removed, which I did for you in the wordly life. You prayed that a certain sorrow should be cast off you, but result of that prayer was not known to you. For that, I fixed for you such and such a reward in the Hereafter. Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihi wasallam) says that the man shall again be reminded of each and every prayer and he shall be shown how it had been fulfilled in the world or else what reward had been stored for him in the Hereafter. On seeing that reward, he shall wish that not a single prayer of his had heen answered on Earth, so that he could receive the full reward only in the Hereafter.
Yes, prayer is indeed very important, and to neglect it at any time is a matter of great loss. Even when the outward signs seem to indicate that our prayer is not answered, hope should not be lost. Even from the lengthy Hadith at the end of this booklet, it is clear that Allah in answering prayers considers first of all our own good and welfare. Should Allah find that granting us what we beseech from Him is in our welfare and interest, He grants it, otherwise not. Actually it is Allah’s favour on us that we do not always get what we ask for because very often, due to our lack of understanding, we beg for things that are not beneficial at a particular time.
Here I must draw your attention to the fact that men as well as women suffer from a bad habit of cursing their children in their anger and affliction. Beware of this. As preordained by Allah, there are certain occasions when whatever prayer be made is immediately answered. So sometimes, due to our own stupidity, the child is cursed and when the effect of that same curse comes upon the child and lands him into a calamity, the parents go about crying and wailing. Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) commanded us not to curse ourselves, our children, possessions, or servants. It is just possible that the curse is uttered at a time when all requests are granted, especially in Ramadhan, which is replete with such special “Mustajaab” (accepted) moments. Hence, in this month, great care should be taken.
Ibn Masood(Radhi Allaho anhu) reports that on every night of Ramadhan, a crier from the heavens calls out: “O you seeker of good, come near; O You seeker of evil, turn away (from evil) and open your eyes.” Thereafter that angel calls out: “Is there any seeker of forgiveness, that he may be forgiven? Is there any one with a prayer, that his praver may be heard? Is there anyone wanting anything, so that his wish may be fulfilled?”
Lastly, it should be borne in mind that there are certain conditions under which prayers are accepted; in the absence of these, prayers may be often rejected. Among these is the use of ‘Halaal’ food: When ‘Haraam’ is consumed, the prayers are not accepted. Rasulullah said: “Many a greatly distressed person lifts up his hands to the heavens. praying and crying: ‘O Allah, O Allah.’ But the food he eats is “Haraam”, what he drinks is “Haraam”, his clothes are of “Haraam”; then in such cases how can his prayer be accepted?’
A story is related about a group of people in Kufa, whose prayers used to be always accepted. Whenever a (bad) ruler was placed over them, they used to pray for a curse upon him, which quickly came to destroy him. When Hajjaaj became ruler there, he invited these people amongst others, to a feast. After they had all eaten, he said: “I am no longer afraid of the curse upon me from these people, because “Haraam” food has now entered their stomachs.” (At this stage, let us ponder over how much “Haraam” is being consumed in these times, when people are even trying to make permissible the taking of interest money. We find out people going so far as to think that bribery and what is obtained through it is permissible, while our merchants very often justify their deceiving people when trading with them.)
HADITH NO. 7
Ibn Umar (Radhi Allaho anho) relates: Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: ‘Verily Allah and His Malaa’ikah send Mercy upon those who eat ‘Sehri’ (sower-Suhoor).”
How great is Allah’s favour upon us that even the partaking of food before dawn for fasting is so greatly rewarded. There are many Ahaadith in which the virtues of “Sehri” are expounded and the rewards mentioned. Allaamah Ain – Commentator on Bukhari – has quoted the virtues of “Sehri” from seventeen different ‘Sahaabah’ and all the “Ulama” are agreed on its being “Mustahab” (desirable). Many people are deprived of this great reward because of their own laziness. Some even go so far as to finish ‘Taraweeh’, eat (what they suppose to be “Sehri’!) and go to bed. What great blessings do they lose! “Sehri” actually means partaking of food shortly before dawn. Some authorities say that the time for “Sehri” commences after half the night has passed (Mirquat). The author of Kash-shaff (Zamakhshari) divided the night into six portions, stating that the last one of these is the time of “Sehri”; so that, when the night (from sunset till dawn) extends over twelve hours, the last two hours would be the correct time for “Sehri”. Then it must also be remembered that to eat at the latest possible time is better and greater in reward than eating earlier, subject to the condition that no doubt remains as to whether “Sehri” had been eaten before the time of dawn. The Ahaadith are full of virtues of “Sehri”.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) said: ‘The difference between our fasting and that of the Ahlul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) lies in our partaking of food at “Sehri” which they do not.” The Prophet has said, “Eat Sehri, because in it lie great blessings; and again. “In three things, are the great blessings: in “Jama’ah” (company), in eating “Thareed” and in “Sehri”. In this Hadith, the use of the word “Jama’ah” is general, wherefrom we deduce that it includes “Salaat” with “Jamaa’ah” and all those righteous deeds done in company, as thus Allah’s help comes to them. “Thareed” is a tasty preparation, in which baked bread is cooked with meat. The third thing mentioned in this Hadith is “Sehri”. When Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) used to invite any of the companions to eat “Sehri” with him, he used to say: “Come and partake of blessed food with me.” One Hadith says: “Eat ‘Sehri’ and strengthen yourself for the fast. And sleep in the afternoon (Siesta), so as to gain assistance in waking up in the latter portion of the night (for “Ibaadah”).” Abdullah bin Haarith (Radhiallahu Anhu) reports that one of the Sahaaba said: “I once visited Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihi wasallam) at a time when he was busy in partaking of ‘Sehri’. Rasulullah then said: “This is a thing full of blessings, which Allah has granted you. Do not give it up.” Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in urging us repeatedly for ‘Sehri’ has said: “Even though there be no food, then one date should be eaten or a drink of water taken.” Thus, when there are definitely great advantages and reward in ‘Sehri’, Muslims should endeavour to observe this practice as much as possible. However, in all things moderation is important, and going beyond the bounds of moderation is harmful: neither should so little be eaten that one feels weak throughout the period of fasting, nor should so much be eaten that it causes discomfort. Repeatedly, we have been prohibited from filling the stomach excessively.
In his commentary on “Sahih Bukhari”, Ibne Hajar has mentioned various reasons for the blessedness of “Sehri”:
Because in it, the ‘Sunnah’ is followed. Through “Sehri”, we differentiate ourselves from the ways of Ahlul-Kitaab, which we are at all times called upon to do.
It provides strength for “Ibaadah”
It promotes greater sincerity in “Ibaadah”
It aids in elimination of bad temper, which normally comes about as result of hunger.
‘Sehri’ is the time when prayers are accepted.
At the time of ‘Sehri’, one gets the opportunity to remember Allah, makes Dhikr and lifts up the hand to Him in prayer.
These are a few of the major reasons; there are many others as well. Some ‘Sufis’ are in doubt as to whether the eating of ‘Sehri’ conflicts with the object of fasting or not. They maintain that the object of fasting is to stay away from food, drink and sexual desires, therefore ‘Sehri’ is against the object of fasting. In my opinion the amount to be eaten varies according to different persons and their activities. Foe example, for those students who are busy seeking knowledge of ‘Deen’, too little food at ‘Sehri’ as well as ‘Iftaar’ will be harmful; for them it is better not to have too little, because they seek ‘Deeni’ knowledge, which is very important (for the preservation and spread of Islam). similar is the case of those who are busy with ‘Dhikr’ and other ‘Deeni’ activities. Other people who have no such hard work to do should eat little at ‘Sehri’.
Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) announced to those proceeding for ‘Jihaad’: ‘There is no virtue in fasting while travelling.’ That was in the month of Ramadhaan, when some Sahaaba were fasting. Allamah Sha’raani mentions in Sharh Iqna: ‘A covenant was made with us that we shall not fill our stomachs (completely) when eating, especially in the nights of Ramadhaan.’ It is better that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadhaan than on other nights. After all, what is the utility of fasting after having filled oneself at ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’? the religious divines have said, ‘Whoever remains hungry in Ramadhaan shall remain safe from the evil of ‘Shaytaan’ throughout the year, until the next Ramadhaan.’
Sharah Ihya Ulumuddin mentions the experiences of some saints, such as Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari, who used to eat only once every fifteen days, while in Ramadhaan he ate only one morsel; but in order to follow the Sunnah, he used to have a drink of water daily for ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’. Shaykh Junayd always used to fast throughout the year. However, when his noble friends would visit him occasionally, he used to break his fast and eat with them, saying, ‘The virtue of breaking fast and eating with (such noble) friends is not less than that of ‘Nafl’ fasting.
Similarly, we can mention the experiences of numerous saints who through eating less used to discipline their inner-selves, but let us bear in mind that it should not be carried to such extremes that the’religious’ activities and responsibilities are neglected, as a result of weakness of the body.
HADITH NO. 8
Abu,Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhu) relates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: “Many of those who fast obtain nothing through such fasting except hunger, and many a one performs “Salaat” by’ night but obtains nothing by it, except the discomfort of staying awake.”
With regard to this Hadith, the “Ulama” have mentioned three different interpretations: First, this Hadith may refer to those who fast during the day and then for “Iftaar” eat food that is “Haraam”; all the reward for fasting is lost because of the greater sin of eating ‘Haraam’ and nothing is gained except remaining hungry. Secondly, it may mean those who fast duly but, during fasting, engage themselves in backbiting and slandering others (see later). Thirdly, the person referred to may be one who, while fasting, did not stay away from evil and sin. In this Hadith all such possibilities are included. Similar is the case of the person performing ‘Salaat’ all night voluntarily; because of backbiting or any other sinful act (e.g. missing, Fajr salaat or keeping Awake for show), his night of devotion goes unrewarded.
HADITH NO. 9
Abu Ubaidah (Radhiallaahu ?nhu) reports: “I have heard RasuluLlah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) saying: “Fasting is a protective Shield for Man, as long as he does not tear up that protection’
“Protective shield” here means just as a man protects himself with a shield, similarly fasting protects him from his well-known enemy – ‘Shataan’. In other Ahaadith, we are told that fasting saves one from Allah’s punishment and Hellfire in the Hereafter. Once somebody inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), “What causes the fast to be rent?” He replied: ‘Telling lies and backbiting.’
This Hadith, when read in conjunction with so many others, actually tells us to avoid such actions which cause fasting to be wasted. In our times, we are fond of whiling away the time with unnecessary conversations. Some “Ulema” are of the opinion that lies, backbiting, slander, etc., actually undo the fast just like eating and drinking, but the great majority of “Ulama” believes that the fast is not totally undone, but loses its blessings. The “Ulama” of Islam have mentioned six things, about which care should be taken in fasting:- First, one should keep the eyes away from any place where one should not look; some go so far as to prohibit looking at one’s own wife with desire, let alone another woman. Similarly, looking at any evil action or where evil is committed should be avoided.
Rasulullah(Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘The glance is like an arrow from ‘Shataan’ Whosoever, out of fear for Allah, prevents himself from lookig at evil, Allah shall grant him such light of faith, the taste and ecstacy of which he will feel in the heart.” The ‘Sufis’ interpret the above saying to mean that those sights which should be avoided include all such places and things that distract the mind from the remembrance of Allah.
Secondly, one should guard the tongue against lies, unnecessary conversation, backbiting, arguments, swearing, etc. In Bukhari, we read that fasting is a shield for the fasting person; for this reason, those who fast should avoid all useless talk, joking, argument, etc. Should anyone pick an argument, then say: “I am fasting.” In other words, one should not start an argument and if someone else starts it, then too, one should avoid taking it up. When the person who starts an argument is not an understanding person, then at least one should remind oneself that: “I am fasting.” During the time of our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), two women were fasting and suffered the pangs of hunger to such an extent that the fast became unbearable and both were on the point of death. The “Sahaaba” brought this to the notice of our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), who sent a bowl commanding them to vomit into it. When they both vomitted in the bowl, pieces of meat and fresh blood were found in it. The “Sahaaba” were greatly surprised, upon which our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: “They fasted with ‘Halaal’ food from Allah, but partook of ‘Haraam’ food by backbiting other people.” From the above, it also becomes clear that, by backbiting during fasting, the fast becomes so much more harder; for this reason, both women were near death. Similar is the case with other sinful acts, and experience shows that for the faithful, Godfearing persons, fasting is no hardship, whereas the sinful find it too hard to bear. One should therefore stay away from sins and especially from major sins, like backbiting and slander, which are often indulged in to while away the time. Allah says in the Qur’aan that backbiting is tantamount to the (actual) eating of the flesh of one’s dead brother. We find this also narrated in various Ahadith. Once the Prophet, (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), on seeing some people, asked them to pick their teeth. They said that they had not tasted any meat that day, on which the Prophet (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) said, “So and so’s flesh is sticking to your teeth.” It transpired that they had been backbiting. May Allah keep us safe from this evil, because we are very neglectful of this warning. All are guilty of this; not to speak of the common man, even the people of importance indulge in it, even the religious people in their gatherings do not avoid backbiting. Worst of all is the fact that we do not even realize what backbiting is; even when we suspect ourselves of this, we try to cover it up as narration of some event. One of the ‘Sahaaba’ inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) “What is backbiting?” Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) replied: “To mention something about your brother behind his back, which he would resent.” The ‘Sahaabi’ then said: “And is it still backbiting if the thing mentioned about him is really true?” Our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘In that case (if that which was mentioned is really true) it is precisely backbiting; but if what is mentioned is false, then you have in fact slandered him.” Once our Nabi (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) passed by two graves. He said: “On both the inmates of these graves, punishment is being inflicted in the grave. One is being punished because of backbiting, the other because of not having taken precautions (to stay clean) when passing urine. Rasulullah ((Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) also said: “There are more than seventy degrees of evil in (Usury) interest. The lowest form of it is comparable to committing incest with own mother; and taking one ‘Dirham’ of interest is a worse evil than having fornicated thirty five times. The worst and most evil degree of taking interest is the slandering of a Muslim.” In various Ahaadith we are strongly warned against backbiting and slandering a Muslim. I very much wanted to write down here a number of such Ahaadith, because all our gatherings and conversations are generally filled with these evils (backbiting and slander). However I finally decided not to do so, because the topic under discussion here is something else – not actually backbiting. So I once again pray that Allah may keep us safe from this evil. And I beg of my friends and brothers to pray for me too; we are full of inner faults.
‘What ailment is there O Allah that is not in me,
Heal me from every illness and grant me my needs
Verily I have a heart that is sick
Verily you are the Healer of the sick’
Thirdly, we should be careful that the ears are kept away from listening to anything undesirable (Makrooh). It is equally unlawful to listen to anything that should not be said. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) has said, ‘In backbiting, both the bickbiter and the one who listens to it are equal partners in sin.’
Fourthly, the rest of the body should be kept away from sin and unlawful things. Neither should the hands touch it, nor the feet walk towards it. With the stomach, special care should be taken, especially at the time of “Iftaar”, that no such thing enters it about which there is any doubt of it being “Halaal”. When a person fasts and, at.”Iftaar” time, breaks his fast with “Haraam” food, he is like a sick person who takes medicine as a cure, but also adds a little poison, which destroys him.
Fifthly, after having fasted, it is not advisable to fill the stomach completely even with “Halaal” food at “Iftaar”, because then the purpose of fasting is defeated. Fasting seeks to diminish one’s carnal desires and increase one’s faith and spiritual powers. For eleven months, we eat and drink freely enough, in Ramadhan this should be cut down to a minimum. We have a bad habit of filling our bellies at “Iftaar” to make up for what was lost, and again at “Sahi” in preparation for the day, thus actually increasing our average consumption. Ramadhan for such people gives an edge to their appetite. Many such items of food are eaten that we normally do not eat at other times. This type of eating habit is completely against the spirit of Ramadhan and the true spirit of fasting.
Imaam Ghazaali asks the same question: “When the object of fasting is to conquer our carnal passions in opposition to ‘Iblees’ (Satan), how can this possibly be done by eating excessively at “Iftaar”? Actually in that case we have only altered the times of eating, and not really fasted. In fact by having various types of delicacies, we consume even more than in normal times. The result is that, instead of lessening the carnal desires, these are considerably increased. The real benefit of fasting comes as a result of actual hunger in the ‘true sense. Our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘Shataan” flows through the body of man like blood; so, close up his path by remaining hunqry,” i.e. when the body is hungry, the spirit receives strength.
Apart from hunger, fasting gives us an opportunity to appreciate the condition of the poor and destitute, and thus engenders sympathetic feelings towards them. This too can be attained by remaining hungry and not by filling the stomach with delicious foods at ‘Sehri”, so that one does not feel hungry until “Iftaar”. Once a person went to Bishr Haafi, whom he found shivering in the cold, in spite of having warm clothes lying at his side. That person inquired: “Is this a time for taking off the clothes?” Bishr replied: “There are numerous poor and needy ones; I am unable to sympathise with them; the least I could do is to be in their condition.” The ‘Sufis’ plead for the same attitude in fasting and so do the “Fuqahaa” (Jurists).
In Maraqiul Falaah, it is written. “Do not eat excessively at “Sehri”, as this is a way to lose the object of fasting.” Allama Tahtaawi writes: “When hunger is really felt, the reward for fasting becomes definitely more. Similarly, a feeling is developed for the poor and hungry ones”. Our Nabi (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) himself said: ‘Allah does not dislike the filling of anything to the brim more than He dislikes the filling of the stomach. On another occasion, the Prophet ((Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) said, “A few morsels should suffice which can keep back straight.” The best way for man is that one third should be filled with food, one third with drink while the other third remains empty.” Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) himself used to fast for days on end, without eating in between.
I have seen my ustaaz (teacher) Maulana Khalil Ahmad eating only slightly more than one thin (hand-made) bread (roti) at ‘Iftaar’ and ‘Sehri’, during the whole month of Ramadhan. When any of his near ones used to urge him to eat more, he would reply: “I am not hungry.
I merely sat down to eat because of my friends.” About Maulana Shah Abdurraheem Rajpuri, I have heard that in Ramadhan, for days on end, he used to fast, drinking at ‘Iftaar’ and ‘Sehri’ only a few cups of tea without milk and nothing else. Once his most trusted follower (and Khalifa) Maulana Shah Abdulqaadir remarked with anxiety: “Hazrat, you will become very weak if you do not eat anything.” To this, Maulana Shah Rajpuri replied: “Praise be to Allah, I am experiencing something of the ecstasy of Jannah.’May Allah grant us all the ability to follow those Pious souls.Aameen’.
The sixth point is that, after fasting, one should always have some anxiety as to whether one’s fast had been accepted by Allah or not. This should be the case with all forms of ‘Ibaadah’ (worship). One never knows whether some important part may have been left out, of which no notice was taken. One should always fear that Allah may reject one’s deeds. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) said: ‘Many reciters of the Qur’an are being cursed by the Qur’an.’ He also said: ‘On the day of ‘Qiyaamah’, (judgement) one of those with whom Allah shall reckon first shall be a “Shaheed” (martyr in the path of Allah). Allah shall call him and remind him of all His favours to him, which he shall admit.
He shall then be asked: “What have you done by way of expressing gratitude for these favours?” The ‘Shaheed’ shall reply: ‘I fought in Your cause till I became a ‘Shaheed”. Allah shall reply:”It is not so; you fought so that you can be called a brave man; and so it has been said” Thereafter, it shall be commanded that he be dragged face on the ground and cast into “Jahannam.” Thereafter, an ‘Aalim’ (Scholar) shall be called. He too shall be reminded of Allah’s favours and asked the same question. He shall reply: “O Lord! I sought to acquire knowledge, taught others and for Your sake recited the Qur’aan.” Allah shall say: “This is not true.
You did all that, merely so that, it may be said that you are learned; and so, it has been said.’ Then it shall be commanded that he too be dragged, face on the ground, and cast into “Jahannam.” Thereafter a rirh man shall be called. After being reminded of Allah’s favours, and admitting them, in reply to Allah’s question as to what he did fo express His gratitude, he shall reply: “There was no worthycause wherein I did not spend in charity for Your sake.” Allah’s reply shall be: ‘Not true. You did all that, so that it may be said that you are very generous. And so it has been said.” Then it shall be commanded that he too be dragged, face on the ground, and cast into “Jahannam”. Many such incidents are related in Ahaadith. So, a fasting person should not only be sincere but also hope that Allah will accept it.
These above mentioned six things are compulsory for all truly righteous persons. As for the exceptionally pious ones, a seventh point is added. That is, during fasting, the heart should not be turned towards anyone except Allah, so much so that during the course of the fast there should be no worry as to whether there shall be something to eat for ‘Iftaar’.
Some Shaikhs even consider it a fault to think about food for ‘Iftaar’, or that one should endeavour to acquire something, because this shows lack of faith in Allah’s promise of being responsible for the granting of “Rizq”. In the commentary of ‘Ihya Ulumid Deen, the author goes so far as to relate that, should something for “Iftaar” arrive from somewhere before the time of ‘Iftaar’, the “Mashaikh” would give it to somebody else, for fear that for the rest of that day the heart may be distracted from Allah by keeping it. This can of course, only be carried out by the exceptionally pious ones. We cannot even imagine having such strong faith. Should we try to follow without it, we may destroy ourselves.
The Qur’aan commands: “Fasting has been prescribed for you.” The commentators of the Qur’aan say that from this verse it is deduced that fasting is made compulsory for every part of the body. Thus, fasting of the tongue means to avoid falsehood, etc. fasting of the ears means not listening to evil, fasting of the eyes means not to look at any form of evil and sirl. Similarly, fasting of the self means to be free from all carnal desires. Fasting of the heart means casting out from it the love of worldly things. Fasting of the mind means avoiding thoughts about anything other than Allah.