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1. Fasting – An Ancient Tradition

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become people of taqwa (the pious).”

(The Majestic Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:183)

Islam is not a new invention. God is reminding us here that the Islam revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an ancient way of life that was followed by a great many peoples before the Last Prophet, and that God has been prescribing fasting to mankind from ancient times.

One of the beauties of the way of the Prophets is that it is a natural way of life (deen al fitrah). What this means is that it is not unnatural – it is not designed to be awkward and cause harm but instead, it is perfectly suited to the needs of human beings; the teachings are supposed to improve our quality of life, not worsen it. So that even if a teaching seems difficult, there will be some special benefit in it. Even in the rituals of Islam there is a purpose and a benefit, so much so that often the Qur’an actually spells out the purpose of a rule or ritual.

For prayer (i.e. salah) the Qur’an explains that regular prayer protects against immorality and wrongdoing (29:45).

With fasting, the above verse clarifies that its purpose is to gain taqwa.

So what is taqwa? Sometimes taqwa is translated as fear of God, but this is incomplete. Taqwa is actually to develop a constant awareness of the Creator, to the point that every effort you make – whether to do a good deed or avoid an evil one – is shaped by your awareness of Allah. Perhaps ‘mindfulness of God’ or ‘God-consciousness’ are more complete translations and we will look later at how this happens, with Ramadan.

Do you feel like your connection with God has started to fray? Ramadan is coming and insha’Allah, here’s a month that will transform our relationship with God!

2. Ramadan Wipes Away Sins

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from God will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.

And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.”

(Bukhari, Muslim)

It is easy to forget just how utterly special the month of Ramadan is. Ramadan is a very unique gift and opportunity. If we put all our effort into devoting ourselves to God in this month, fasting sincerely in the day and praying in the night, worshipping on Laylat al Qadr, we could have all our sins forgiven, emerging from the month as pure and sin free as a newborn baby! Few things could be more precious than that.

3. Month of Anticipation

The Prophet’s companions would eagerly look forward to the coming of Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah (saw)is reported to have addressed his companions on the last day of Sha’ban, saying,

“Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month;
A month in which is a night better than a thousand months;
A month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night.
Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time,
and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time.
It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven.
It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased.
Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.”

(Ibn Khuzaymah)

4. Month of Taqwa

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become people of taqwa (the pious).”

(Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:183)

In this verse Allah clarifies the purpose of fasting – to gain taqwa.

How does Ramadan train us to become God-conscious?

Perhaps because, for a whole month, day after day, we hold back from bodily desires so that every time we think, “Oh, I could really fancy a drink or a chocolate”, we suddenly remember that even though we could sneak into a cupboard and have a quick nibble of something, we are fasting for God and He is watching us, and even if nobody else knows we are eating, He is well-aware of our every action.

In addition, we are constantly on the lookout to do good and help people because it will be rewarded many times over. Anger is another ‘desire’ – it is an impulse that suddenly comes to us, and again we remember Allah, and remember that He will delete all our reward for the fast if we abuse someone or get angry or hurt someone with our words or actions. This constant remembering that Allah watches and being careful to not displease Him, gradually, gradually, over the space of a month, strengthens us in taqwa.

5. Month of the Qur'an

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).”

(Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:185)

Ramadan is called the month of Qur’an because the Qur’an was first revealed in Ramadan, on the Night of Power (Laylat al Qadr). The Prophet (PBUH) would devote himself to the Qur’an and would even review the whole Qur’an with angel Gabriel during this month. In his last Ramadan, the Prophet (PBUH) read the Qur’an to Jibreel twice.

Imam Malik was the greatest scholar of hadith at the time and thousands of students would flock to the Masjid of the Prophet (PBUH) in Medina to learn from Imam Malik. However, when Ramadan would begin, he would stop all his hadith studies and devote himself to the Qur’an.

Did you set yourself a Qur’an target for Ramadan? Are you spending any time in idle relaxation in Ramadan – reading novels or watching TV or TikTok videos or chit-chatting on social media? This is all time that you could have spent in devotion to the Qur’an. This is precious time, which one day, you will deeply regret not spending with the Qur’an.

6. Tarawih Prayers

Narrated `Aisha, the mother of the faithful believers:

“One night Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) offered the prayer in the Mosque and the people followed him. The next night he also offered the prayer and a great many people gathered. On the third and the fourth nights more people gathered, but then Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did not come out to them.
In the morning he explained, ‘I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. the prayer) might be enjoined on you, stopped me from coming to you.’ And that happened in the month of Ramadan.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

How blessed was the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and how devoted were his companions that even when they were not asked to do so, they would eagerly follow him in everything!

So in Ramadan the Messenger (SAAWS) was in the habit of praying extra night prayers in the mosque, which we call tarawih. Some companions saw him reading twenty, some saw him reading eight rakats.

At no point did he ask his followers to join him, but out of sheer love, they did it anyway. As word got around that there was an opportunity each night of the Holy Month to offer additional prayers under the leadership of the Prophet, larger and larger crowds came to join in the blessed prayer.

The Prophet then abruptly disappeared from the mosque and continued tarawih on his own in the privacy of his home.

At the time of Umar’s rule, may God be pleased with him, he saw that people were reading tarawih in small groups, sometimes on their own, and he asked companions if he should get them an imam so they could all benefit from an inspiring and touching recitation of the Qur’an, and this is how the tarawih prayer took the form we see today.

The sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) is to read tarawih. And his preference was to read it himself because he did not want people to start thinking that it is an obligation or that there is an exceptional reward in reading tarawih behind an imam.

For many people today, they go to tarawih in mosques, because it is easier to complete the prayer there and they also get an opportunity to hear the entire Qur’an with beautiful recitation. Some people however, think that going to the mosque for tarawih is an essential part of Ramadan and will even put more emphasis on reading tarawih than their obligatory prayers! Others still, will look down on those that do not go to the mosque for tarawih, and clearly that is wrong too!

May God give us the love to follow the Prophet (SAAWS) in praying tarawih in whichever form is convenient for us, and gain the magnificent rewards of the extra night prayers in this wondrous month. Ameen.

7. How Much Reward for Each Fast?

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said:

“God the Majestic and Exalted said: ‘Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord.’” 


If you give charity, everyone can see that, and Allah rewards it accordingly, doubling or multiplying your reward. But who actually knows that you have really fasted? Who can be sure that you haven’t sneaked off and broken your fast? Only God. That is why Allah will decide the reward of each and every fast, Himself.

Two people can look equally hungry and thirsty but depending on how sincerely they fasted, how much good they did during their fast, how much they struggled to avoid hurting or offending others or doing evil deeds, they could be rewarded more than 700 times or gain no reward at all! And only Allah knows.

After a day of turning down food and drink, there are few pleasures greater than the joy of iftar. But God reminds us that there could be a far greater joy than even this, on the Day we meet our Lord…

So whilst we are fasting we should be inspired by the hope that we will gain the greatest joy of all – Allah’s good-pleasure (Rida) but also keep constantly in mind the fear that even the slightest sin could rub out all the reward and blessings of that fast.

8. Suhoor is Sunnah Too

Anas related that Rasulullah said:

“Take the Suhoor meal, for there is blessing in it.”

(Bukhari, Muslim)

‘Amr b. al-‘As reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:

“The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn.” 

(Sahih Muslim)

Sahl b. Sa’d (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:

“The people will continue to prosper as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.”  

(Sahih Muslim)

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) would sometimes fast for days continuously without eating, but forbade his companions from doing the same:

“Who among you is like me? I spend the night (in a state) in which my Lord feeds me and provides me drink.”

(Sahih Muslim)

Similarly, he emphasised the importance of being prompt in eating and drinking just before and after the fast, because extending the fast beyond the prescribed limits may cause harm to the body, and this is not the purpose of fasting.

What distinguishes the followers of Muhammad (PBUH) is that they see piety as being strict in adhering to the teachings, not in going beyond them.

9. A Flexible and Practical Religion

“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.”

 (Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:184)

These are special days dedicated to fasting and we should do our utmost to fast in them. When we are well enough to fast, then even if it seems a little challenging, God reminds us that it is still better for us.

Sometimes we make the foolish mistake of thinking that anything easy is good for us and anything difficult is bad for us. Yet that is clearly not true: you cannot learn a new skill or language or subject without some difficulty and determination, and if you always look for an easy life, you will achieve nothing. Homework is not always fun; preparing for exams is not all fun! Too often we look at the here and now whilst Allah is looking at what is good for our future – what will make us better and stronger people.

Islam is a natural religion so it is designed to suit mankind and to make them better people. However, people are all different and their circumstances change. Being a practical religion, Islam allows for that and so fasting can be delayed when it may cause actual harm to a person, e.g. when they are pregnant, ill, weak or on a journey. This is such an important teaching that Allah the most High, points it out immediately after the verse that prescribes fasting as a duty on us. After mentioning it in verse 184, He mentions it again in the next verse, 185:

“And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you convenience, and He does not want to make things (dangerously) difficult for you.”

10. Every Fast Counts

It is easy to see Ramadan as just hunger and thirst. The true blessings of what the month brings to humanity and especially the ones who fasts, are immeasurable It is therefore no surprise that the Prophet (PBUH) warned that,

“If anyone omits his fast even for one day in Ramadan without a concession or without being ill, then if he were to fast for the rest of his life he could not make up for it.”


May Allah grant us the blessings of a complete and accepted Ramadan.

11. What Counts is Quality

Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah 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.”


This is a stark reminder that there are no fixed guarantees of reward for fasting: our fast could bring us the greatest reward of all – God’s pleasure on the day we meet Him, yet it could easily be thrown back in our face, bring us no rewards, only the physical suffering of deprivation. It is all down to the quality of our fast and how much we remember our Loving Creator and how conscious we are of our conduct during the fast.

12. Inviting for Iftar

Zayd ibn Khalid Juhni related that the Prophet said:

“He who provides for the breaking of the Siyam of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing Siyam without diminishing in any way the reward of the latter.”


Ramadan is a social month. There is a sense of community like no other. In this hadith we are reminded that Allah offers us a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our ties of brotherhood and sisterhood. If we invite ten people to break fast with us, we gain the rewards of each of those people’s fasting. One of them might have had a fast in which Allah forgave them all their sins and entered them into Jannah!!

We are extremely blessed that we can all afford any treat that pops up in our minds for iftar. Remember therefore all the unfortunate poor people in other parts of the world who might not afford anymore than a piece of bread or one date, after which they are forced to continue fasting.

We should also make an effort to invite our non-Muslim friends and neighbours to share in iftar. In traditional societies, the whole community – Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, would all look forward to Ramadan, because Muslims used to share iftar with their neighbourhood. Non-Muslim children would grow up with fond memories of the joys of Ramadan.

13. The Month of Training

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said,

“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

This is a month flowing with blessings!

Have you wondered why it is so easy to fast in Ramadan, why it is so easy to do good deeds and why committing sins is harder? We all have little shaytans that whisper inclinations to us, but Allah wishes to make our training that bit easier by chaining them up for us. In fact, it is harder to commit sins when you are fasting. The Prophet explained: “Fasting is a shield.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The gates of heaven are open and so many people will be rewarded with paradise this month. The gates of hell are closed and so many people will have been saved from it this month. Are you going to be one of them? Will you make the most of this month or will you waste the chance and join the company of the regretful ones?

Ramadan is a month of training because in it, Allah has made it so easy for us to drop bad habits and embrace good habits: the shaytans are chained; the immense rewards spur us onto doing extra good deeds and acts of worship; our old routines are broken with the rhythm of fasting and because everyone is embracing good deeds collectively.

On average, it takes about 60 days to inculcate a new habit. Therefore, Ramadan just provides us with the impetus and momentum, the radical break from our normal routines, but our new changes will only become a habit if we commit to maintaining them after the month has passed.

14. Our Behaviour Must Fast Too

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said:

“If a person does not avoid false talk (i.e. lying) and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink.”

(Bukhari, Muslim)

We must always keep in mind that our fast is about creating change; about becoming a better person. If we were bad and offensive before fasting, and during fasting, we remain just as nasty and continue with our evils, then God will not hold any regard for such a fast – we will gain nothing from it except hunger and thirst and tiredness.

15. Taking Extra Care When Fasting

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

(The Majestic Qur’an, Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)

This striking verse reminds mankind of the beauty of diversity. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all of the same language, colour, religion, appearance, wore the same clothes and had the same customs, likes and dislikes. The reality is that all the diversity in the world makes it such a lively and interesting place and all people are special. And we are being reminded that we are all one family: if you go back far enough, we all share the same ancestors.

In the presence of God, what really stands people out in nobility is their character, their piety, their carefulness in conduct, based on a mindfulness  of God – i.e. their taqwa.

The consciousness of God should result in a carefulness of mind and conduct – a wariness of doing anything to displease our Loving Creator.

‘Umar ibn Al Khattab (R.A) once asked Ubayy bin Ka’ab (R.A) the definition of taqwa. In reply Ubayy asked, “Have you ever had to cross a thorny path?” ‘Umar replied in the affirmative to which Ubayy responded, “So how do you do it?”

‘Umar said that he would carefully walk through after first having collected all loose and flowing clothing in his hands so nothing gets caught in the thorns to injure him. Ubayy explained,

“This is the definition of taqwa – to protect oneself from sin through life’s dangerous journey so that one can successfully complete the journey unscathed by sin.”

Although you cannot forbid things for others if they are halal, true piety is about being extra careful with yourself, to the point of even restricting yourself from things which may be lawful, because they might lead to sin. It is like being so determined to lose weight that you cut out all sweets, knowing that one sweet might lead to another, then another…

Atiyah As-Sa’di said the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,

“The servant (of God) will not acquire the status of those with taqwa until he abandons what is harmless out of fear of falling into that which is harmful.”

(Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi)

16. The Intercession of the Qur'an

“Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God. Such are the parables which We propound to men, that they may reflect.”   

(Qur’an, Surah Al-Hashr 59:21)

It is too easy to ignore the gravity of the Book which we allow to gather dust on our shelves. When it sits on the shelf, it looks pretty much like any other book. Open it up, however, and your eyes and your mind are emblazoned with the very words of the Creator of the heavens and earth, the Eternal Sustainer of the Universe!

These are no ordinary words. These words can crumble a mountain. These words shook the earth and created a new world order. These words changed the lives of a swathe of humanity. They bring a fiery justice, a stark warning and on the same page a promise of peace, a tranquillity of heart.

How do we treat this Book? In the month of Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an, are our lips moist with its recital?

The Prophet  said:

“The Quran is an intercessor – something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.”

(Al Tabarani)

The Messenger said:

“And the Quran is a proof for you or against you.”

(Sahih Muslim)

The Qur’an can be a proof for us on the Day of Judgement or it could condemn us. Do we love it, revere it, ponder over its words and abide by it, or do we ignore it?

Abu Umaamah, may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet  said:

“Read the Quran, for indeed it will come on the Day of Standing (Judgement) as an intercessor for its companions.”

(Sahih Muslim)

Are you a companion of the Qur’an – do you adore it, memorise it and reflect over it? Do you find pleasure and comfort in its beauty; do you find happiness in sharing its company?

17. The Night of Destiny

“Verily! We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr.

And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is?

The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months.

Therein descend the angels and the Spirit (i.e. Gabriel) by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees,

Peace! until the appearance of dawn.”

(Qur’an, Surah Al-Qadr 97:1-5)

Laylat al Qadr can be translated as the Night of Destiny, in that the Prophet taught that the destiny of everything on earth is revealed to the angels that night, to enact over the coming year, or the Night of Sanctity because Qadr also means something revered, magnificent, sanctified, or the Night of Increase because it is the night when the rewards for good deeds are multiplied beyond imagination.

That one night is better than a thousand months because the Qur’an was revealed on that night and all the angels, including Angel Gabriel, descend on that night.

1000 months is 83 years – which is basically one lifetime, although even a saint could not worship continuously for 83 years! Imagine catching worship during a night in which that worship will be equivalent to having worshipped continuously for an entire lifetime!

Nobody knows which night of Ramadan Laylat Al Qadr is. However, we know it is in the last ten days and probably one of the odd ones.

May Allah give us the opportunity to worship Him in the Night of Power, and be granted the equivalent of a lifetime of worship, and the forgiveness of God. Ameen.

18. The Night Prayer

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying regarding Ramadan,

“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

                                                          (Sahih Bukhari)

We often lose sight of how immeasurable the rewards for good deeds are in this wonderful month. To have your slate of ill-deeds wiped clean for just one night’s prayer is difficult to comprehend, yet this is what the Prophet (PBUH) confirmed.

The condition for a night prayer being accepted in this way is that it must be offered with sincere faith and expectant of reward from God – so it must be a genuine communication with God.

That will be difficult if you do not know the meaning of your prayer, so it would be wise to learn the meaning of the at least the key parts of the prayer and then engage your mind on what you are reading as you pray.

A night prayer is classified as any extra prayer, called a nafl prayer, performed after the obligatory Isha prayer, but the closer to the Fajr that the prayer is, the better.

Let us remember how precious additional prayers are in the sight of God: Rabi’ah bin Ka’b Al-Aslami (RA) who was a servant of the Messenger of Allah (S) and also one of the people of As-Suffah – said,

“I used to spend my night in the company of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and used to put up water for his ablutions. One day he said to me, ‘Ask something of me’
I said: ‘I request for your companionship in Jannah.’
He inquired, ‘Is there anything else?’
I said, ‘That is all.’
He said, ‘Then help me in your request by multiplying your prostrations.'”

(Sahih Muslim)

May Allah accept our efforts in this holy month and gift us with His good pleasure and complete forgiveness. Ameen.

19. Recitation by Night

1. O thou folded in garments!      2. Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night,

3. Half of it,- or a little less,     4. Or a little more; and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones.

5. Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty Message.        6. Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise).

Surah Muzammil (Chapter 73) is one of the earliest surahs to be revealed. The garments mentioned in the first verse refer to night clothes, and so the first two verses were saying to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the time of whole nights of sleep was over. He is the Prophet of God and must devote himself to His worship in the night. He was then told to spend about half of the night stood in prayer, reading the Qur’an.

How was he to read it? With tarteel – which means in slow, rhythmic tones. This unlocks the beauty of the Qur’an and stirs the heart. Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet (PBUH), explained that when he recited, he would pause after each verse (Ahmed, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi). This way he could reflect over the verse, be struck with awe of God, be filled with fear of His wrath, but also with excitement and wonder, and longing for His company and paradise. The distractions of this trivial life would fade from the mind and the reality of the unseen would come to the fore.

Half the night in prayer seems like an unreasonably long time. However, in verses five and six, Allah explained to the Prophet (PBUH) that he was no ordinary man and this passionate devotion to the Qur’an would help shape his priorities and nurture a very special relationship with his Creator.

There is something special about spending the night on something. Nowadays, junior doctors have to spend their nights caring for the sick, and this shapes their personality so that they start to appreciate and instinctively feel that the healing of the sick is the main purpose in their life.

Although the night prayer, known as tahajjud, is no longer obligatory on everyone, it is clearly a very special act of worship. ‘Abdullah ibn as-Salam was a Jewish Rabbi who later became Muslim. He reports:

“When the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam came to Madinah, the people gathered around him and I was one of them. I looked at his face and understood that it was not the face of a liar. The first words I heard him say were: ‘O people, spread the salutations of peace, feed the people, keep the ties of family, and pray during the night while the others sleep and you will enter paradise in peace.’”

(Al-Hakim, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmizhi who calls it Hasan Sahih)

20. The Last Ten Days

Narrated Abu Salama:

I asked Abu Sa’id, a friend of mine, (about the Night of Qadr) and he said,

“We practiced I’tikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet. On the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet came and addressed us and said,
‘I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water (as a sign). So, whoever was in l’tikaf with me should return to it with me (for another 10-day period)’, and we returned.

At that time there was no sign of clouds in the sky but suddenly a cloud came and it rained till rain-water started leaking through the roof of the mosque which was made of date-palm leaf stalks. Then the prayer was established and I saw God’s Apostle prostrating in mud and water and I saw the traces of mud on his forehead.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

The beginning of the last ten days heralds a new and intensified phase of the Month of Mercy. This is a time of growing excitement as the nation of Muhammad (PBUH) look forward to a flowering of their faith, their companionship with the Qur’an, their relationship with their Lord and their admission into paradise.

It is the time for excessive requests from Allah, for overflowing generosity, for long readings of the Qur’an, for sleepless nights spent in tahajjud. After the Prophet was informed of the Night of Destiny being in the last ten days, he started performing seclusion (I’tikaf) in the mosque during this period in the hope of worshipping during that night and many of his companions followed him.

Narrated ‘Aisha:

“With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt and used to pray all night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

Worshipping for the few hours of Laylat Al-Qadr will be counted as a whole lifetime of worship. So let us make sure that on each night we spend some of our money in charity, read some Qur’an, perform some extra salah and make special du’as to God. On this night our sins can be wiped clean away.

21. O Eraser of Sins

‘Aishah said:

“I asked the Messenger of God: ‘O Messenger of God, if I were to know which was the Night of Destiny, what should I say during it?’

He said: ‘Say: O Allah, surely You are the Eraser of Sins and You love to erase sins, so erase my sins for me.’”

(Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih)

When we are staying up for Laylat Al Qadr, we should recite this du’a as much as possible, with eagerness and longing, in the hope that all our sins are erased. As the exact date of this special night is only speculated, but it certainly is in the last ten nights, then why not recite it in each of the last ten nights?

Imam Ghazzali elaborates on the meaning of the name Al ‘Afuw which we invoke in this du’a:

“The Effacer of Sins (Pardoner) – is the one who erases sins and overlooks acts of disobedience… ‘All-Forgiving’ (Al Ghafur) connotes concealment while ‘Effacer’ suggests erasing, and erasing is more effectual than concealment.”

So let us pray ardently that our sins are erased, without trace, without accounting. Ameen.

22. The Month of Pity, Love and Generosity

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

“The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).”

(Sahih Bukhari)

Let us celebrate the joy of the Qur’an’s revelation in Ramadan with generosity greater than the wind which brings heavy rain to a scorched desert.

Let us shower compassion and generous spending on the poor and needy, the desperate, the displaced, the children who have lost their parents through war, disease and famine, those who cry themselves to sleep at night, the pitiable folk with only rags to preserve their modesty, those who are so poor they are forced into slavery and oppression.

Let us moisten our tongues with the remembrance of Him who has the true power to alleviate their suffering and pray from them with tears of longing from the depths of our hearts.

Oh Allah, flood them with Your mercy, your compassion, bring them ease out of their hardship, happiness out of their sorrow. O Allah, answer the prayers of the oppressed and liberate them from cruelty. Ameen.

So spend, spend, spend!

“Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”

(Qur’an, Surah Baqarah 2:274)

23. The Last Third of the Night

Narrated Abu Huraira, the Prophet of Allah (Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Every night when it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Superior, the Blessed, descends to the nearest heaven and says: ‘Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?’”

(Sahih Bukhari)

The last third of the night falls in the minutes and hours before Fajr. This is also the time of suhoor. Few opportunities are more powerful for closeness to Allah than the last third of the night, when He is particularly attentive to our du’as. So why not wake a little earlier for suhoor, and get in some nafl prayers and make lots of du’a?

24. Allah is Listening

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen 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.”

(Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah 2:186)

As we learn more and more about how unimaginably vast the universe is, it becomes easier to imagine the Lord of all things, of all the planets, solar systems, galaxies, maybe even universes, (who knows?). So we start to imagine that He would not have time or interest in caring about or listening to each and every one of billions of humans that might turn to Him.

The truth however is that your Creator is the All-Knowing, the Wise, the Knower of the Finest Subtleties. And He loves us, He is the Most-Compassionate, He does care and He is anxious over us. So the Prophet (PBUH) was told to remind us that despite His vastness, greatness and loftiness, yet at the same time, He is in fact near to us and listens to our every word, our every prayer and request and mention of Him. He is Al Samee’ – the Ever-Hearing, Al Mujib – The Responder to Prayers.

So let us make mention of Him and ask and ask and ask of Him, knowing that He is listening to us lovingly, and will respond to our heart-felt appeals.

25. The Gate of Al-Rayyan

Narrated Sahl: The Prophet said,

“There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Rayyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it.

It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasts?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their admission, the gate will be shut and nobody else will enter thereafter.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

Oh Allah accept our fasting and admit us through the glorious, dazzling gate of Al-Rayyan. Our Lord, let our fasting bear witness on behalf of us on the Day of Judgment, just as your beloved Messenger (PBUH) informed us that it would:

On the Day of Judgment,

“Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.”

(Ahmad, al-Hakim and Abu Nu’aym, Hasan)

26. O Allah! - Praying for Others

“There are in the month of Ramadan in every day and night those to whom God grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted.”

(al-Bazzaz, Ahmed, Sahih)

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) reassures us with such hope here. There are many people who are given what they want in every day and every night of this especially blessed and holy month. May God keep our tongues moist with His remembrance and with humble supplications, asking from Him, so that He may grant our requests. Ameen. It is easy to remember to pray for ourselves.

The following is a suggestion of all the other people we can pray for:

O Allah, we pray that you forgive and bless all the people that are worshipping You in these special days, and also our parents and family, who are with us, and who have passed away before us; all those who have helped us and benefited us, all those who have asked anything of us, who have asked us to pray for them.
Guide humanity, bring light and peace to the hearts of all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We pray for all of your creation, especially for the weak, the oppressed, the poor and indigent; for the orphans and the distressed, for the hungry and homeless, for the sad, the lonely and the ill.
O Allah, help all these people to be raised out of their suffering: shower them with Your mercy for you are Arham-ur-rahimeen – the Most Compassionate of those who show Compassion. Ameen.

27. Completing the Qur'an

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

“The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month.

The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).”

(Sahih Bukhari)

There is no obligation to complete the Qur’an. The most important thing is to rekindle our relationship with this guide, this message, this light, the Word of God.

However, we can see with this hadith, that the Prophet (S) would complete the entire Qur’an in the month, overseen by Gabriel, and in his last month with us, he completed it twice. So, why not make the intention and aspire to find the time to complete the Qur’an in Ramadan?

Even if you are unable to complete the Qur’an, make sure you gain full benefit from those sessions in its presence:

The recitation has to be understood, so you must aim to read with translation.

Choose a translation that suits you and you can understand and be inspired by it.

Some like the traditional, ornate cadence of Yusuf Ali, particularly as it comes with brief, well researched notes. Others may find more contemporary translations easier on the ear, such as The Clear Qur’an or Abdul Haleem.

Never forget that you speak to Allah in your du’as but Allah speaks back to you through the Qur’an. When reading the Qur’an, always keep in your mind that Allah is speaking directly to you. Reflect over what He might be saying to you (called tafakkur).

“Had We sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain you would have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder in awe of Allah.

We propound such parables to people that they may reflect (do tafakkur).”

(Qur’an, Surah Al-Hashr 59:21)

28. Habits for Shawwal and Beyond

Ramadan is nearly over. As the month comes to a close there are conflicting emotions for many of us. We know that Ramadan can’t continue forever and life has to return to normal. At the same time, we don’t want to lose that special feeling and the love and connection to Allah and the Qur’an, that we have developed through the month.

As life returns to its normal rhythm and the shayateen are let loose, our habits begin to slip, our old habits creep in, even though we are eager to cling onto our achievements, to some of our newly acquired Ramadan habits.

So why does it seem that within a month all the new habits are lost and we are back to how we were? Well, studies have shown that on average, it takes about 60 days to inculcate changes in habits, to the extent that the behaviour becomes normal and the body resists disruption to the new behaviour.

In fact, Allah wants us to continue many fo the habits we developed, the victories we achieved, going into Shawwal and beyond. This is why the Prophet (S) taught about the immense rewards for maintaining some fasting in Shawwal as well:

“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal, it will be as if he has fasted for the entire year.” 

(Sahih Muslim)

Let us each consider which habits we are determined to strive with for one more month. Will it be fasting, or maintaining all the extra prayers, the sunnah prayers or tahajjud or reading or memorisation of the Qur’an or the extra, ardent du’as.

Success is not achieved by storming into changes, but by making small, manageable changes. So let’s think about things that can realistically be fitted into our daily routine and keep us close to Allah. May Allah bless us with the reward of the month, forgiveness of our sins and habits that we persevere with throughout the year. Ameen

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

(Ibn Majah, sahih according to Al Albani)