Ramdhan - A Good Opportunity For Rectification of Self (Naf’s)
Make use of the time
Allhamad O Lillah. We are all fasting in this holy month of Ramdhan. At times one arrives at a place of extreme bliss or passes through it without realizing its solace and tranquality e.g. one may be closely associated with a pious person of reverence and stature and may yet be ignorant about his virtues. The realization only comes once that person is no more there and one learns about it from the writings of others. In the recent past, people living close to Maulana Yousaf Banori (RA) had experienced this phenomenon.
Now just imagine the advantages when blessings of such a thing are fully known.
Our Holy Prophet SAW Would Await Ramdhan
We must be grateful to Allah Almighty for bestowing us with this month of self purification and Divine bliss. Our Holy Prophet would start waiting for it two months in advance. In the month of Raj’b he would say:-
الھم بارک لنا فی الرجب والشعبان و بلغنا رمضان
This is a blessing of unending bounties. In this world, rewards remain undisclosed; one is expected to act only. Some people shy away from fasting because of their petty commitments or other lame excuses; which is a sheer disrespect shown to the Divine blessings. One only realizes the importance of this ritual once its rewards are disclosed but then it is too late. Time to act has passed.
It has been narrated that those in the Heavens shall even regret not to have done more to gain more advantages like zik’r. The will be shown the rewards of zik’r and bearing grief with patience. Those who spent their lives without hardship will desire that their skin was cut to pieces to have earned more rewards. Then it is too late for the time to act has passed. Imagine a well wisher whispers into your ear to seize a certain moment of advantage. How happy one would feel to have acted upon the advice and be grateful to him, once the truth is revealed.
So here is a well wisher who has already arrived in the form of Ramdhan. Our Prophet SAW, at the end of Shaban delivered a short sermon to eulogize the blessings of the sacred month of Ramdhan. In short he SAW said, “that a sacred month of blessings was about to arrive, with a night of worship which shall equal the worship of a thousand months. Fasting will be obligatory and its night prayer (traveeh) a sunnah. A voluntary act of worship (nafa’l) shall equal the reward of an obligatory act (far’z) and obligatory rituals shall be rewarded seventy times. This being a month of patience shall be rewarded by a place in the paradise. Subsistence of a true Muslim (momin) is enhanced in the month. One who breaks the fast of another muslim and feeds him to full, will be rid of his sins and saved from the fire of the Hell. He shall also get a reward equal to the one fasting; without any deductions to the other”.
The holy Prophet SAW was asked about those who could not afford to break someone’s fast being poor? He replied that even offering a sip of milk or one single date for breaking of fast will earn the same rewards. One who makes someone eat to his fill, shall drink from the ‘Pond of Kausar’ on the Day of Judgment and will not be thirsty till entering the Paradise. First week of this month is of Divine favours (rehmat), the second is for pardon and the last week is for escape from the Hell.
One Who Fasts Is Loved By Allah Almighty
It has been narrated in a Hadith, that Allah Almighty prefers the foul breath of a fasting person to the fragrance of musk. It is the preference/ choice of a lover exercised for the beloved. Any person will prefer his own children over others how so ever tidy or beautiful they may be. It is but natural. Similarly Allah Almighty’s preference is out of His love for a person who is fasting. Allah Almighty has declared that fasting is for Him and He shall Himself award it. Another narration mentions, Allah Almighty declaring Himself to be the reward.
The worldly deeds perish with death but a thing done for Allah Almighty becomes eternal and beneficial for ever. One thing which is certain about fasting is that it is only for Allah Almighty. Despite privacy and availability cool beverages and sumptuous meals, one refrains from eating and drinking because he/she is fasting, which means that he/she is being watched by Allah Almighty. No one else but the One for Whom he/she is fasting is watching. Even a sinner if fasting has the same feeling. This unique form of sincerity has been in built into the ritual of fasting. Allah Almighty has declared that He shall bestow the rewards for this worship Himself. There is a gate in the Paradise,’ Bab yr Reyan’ only reserved for the entry of those who fast.
Fasting Is The Key To Divine Forgiveness And Rectification of Self (Naf’s).
In eleven months of the year our misdeeds are sufficient to displease Allah Almighty. With our muddled priorities, we often inflict personal loss by annoying our Lord Allah Almighty. Being cognizant of our weaknesses and being kind to us, He has blessed us with a holy month wherein sins are washed even if one may be a great sinner. Allah Almighty says in the Quran:-
﴾اَلَآ اِنَّ اَوْلِیَآء اللّٰہِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَیْھِمْ وَلَاھُمْ یَحْزَنُوْنَ﴿۲۶﴾ اَلَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا وَکَانُوْا یَتَّقُوْنَ﴿۳۶
(So, those who believe and correct themselves, there will be no fear for them, nor shall they grieve) Al Anaam - 48
How explicitly has Allah Almighty assured those who befriend Him; not to worry and be scared? Who are they? They are the pious lot who have a firm belief in Him.
Befriend Allah Almighty In Ramdhan
The two cardinal essentials to attain sainthood (walyiat) are faith (ema’an) and piety (taqva). Anyone who can attain these two traits can become a friend of Allah Almighty (Wali Allah). A saint at the highest pedestal of piety has a higher status than the one at a lower level. A person careful enough to ensure that his fasting lasts attains that degree of friendship. With more care and caution one keeps rising in stature provided anything that may annoy Allah Almighty is avoided. No supernatural powers or spiritual revelations are needed to attain sainthood (Walayat) but faith and piety. The avenue is open to anyone as nothing is hidden and guarded. Allah Almighty calls the desirous to come forth and be blessed. Allah Almighty has declared that a person taking one stride towards Him is rewarded with twice the span with of His mercy and favours. An arm’s length ahead is doubled in return. His blessings rush to the one who merely walks towards Him. Allah Almighty is kind and benevolent. He desires to reward us for good deeds. How is it possible that a person seeking faith and piety not be rewarded?
Let’s be certain that faith and piety are the keys to sainthood (walayat). Without faith nothing can be attained and piety serves as it base.
Now let’s move ahead and recite the second verse:-
یٰٓاَ یُّھَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا کُتِبَ عَلَیْکُمُ الصِّیَامُ کَمَا کُتِبَ عَلَی الَّذِیْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِکُمْ لَعَلَّکُمْ تَتَّقُوْنَ
(O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.) Al Baqra 183
Herein Allah Almighty has addressed the believers directly. Allah Almighty be praised for including us amongst the believers. We are lucky enough to be faithful; so probable contenders for the Paradise. Allhamad O Lillah. In the absence of faith there is no chance of anyone entering the Havens.
Faith (Ema’an) Being A Precious Pearl, Must Be Preserved.
May Allah Almighty preserve our beliefs till the end and may we die as faithful. Ameen. It is easy said but difficult to preserve the faith especially in our times. The Devil and his cohorts are all out to usurp it. Many tricks and ploys have been introduced to lure us in like television, cable, internet and green card etc. They all have one singular aim i.e. to damage and usurp the faith of true Muslims. Therefore it has become all the more important to guard our beliefs, which is undoubtedly an uphill task these days. The core values are being targeted. Faithful are portrayed as weak, degraded and corrupt. Faith can be only preserved when a firm bondage with those with strong beliefs is established. Learn to ignore the critics and be confident of our virtues and faith rather than being apologetic. How can a non believer be better than the one with faith in Allah Almighty? Hazrat Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA) had said,” I give it as a verdict, that company of the pious (sal’heen) is obligatory (far’z e ain) these days.”
Company of the pious is obligatory.
Hazrat Thanvi RA, having declared the company of the pious as obligatory (far’z e ain) further added a Quranic verse to stress the point:-
ولا تموتن الا وانتم مسلمون
(So, let not death overtake you but as Muslims.) Al Baqra -132
One should die as an honest Muslim. This day to become virtuous is not possible without the company and guidance of the pious.
The verse that I had recited, exhorts the faithful to acquire piety to befriend Allah Almighty. The method suggested to do so is by fasting in the holy month of Ramdhan. A person who adheres to the Divine commands by fasting in Ramdhan can become a saint (wali). After the finality of prophet hood it is only possible to become a wali which can be acquired in Ramdhan, if Allah Almighty so desires/wills. There are two basic steps to purify self (naf’s) i.e. strenuous effort (mujahida) and meditation (zik’r aur muraqbat). Both the acts are performed to force self towards goodness. Allah Almighty has bestowed our self with enormous strength. It can go to any limits to be good or become bad. Like a wild horse which has been provided to someone for a journey and he has no other option but to ride it. The horse cannot be let loose to create havoc; if ridden it will buck and throw away the rider. So what do we do? The horse has to be harnessed, trained and saddled. Side covers will have to be used to ensure that it remains focused. Basically a horse provides you an advantage provided it is effectively controlled. Similarly self needs to be harnessed and controlled or else it will throw you off. It has been said that controlling one’s self is a rigorous exercise (mujahida). Every desire that it exhibits has to be denied to it. Reject its demands. When it tells you to eat, don’t eat; when it asks you to drink, don’t drink. This is done to discipline it and bring it under control. Allah Almighty has made it very flexible, it can bear all hardships on one hand and when let loose it shall demand more leisure. Being insatiable, it will go on asking for more and more. A person not offering prayers when made to offer it will find the next one easier and so on. This proves that his self can be tamed to obey.
Tame The Self (Naf’s) To Obey
In this month of Ramdhan self can be easily tamed to obey. The desire to eat is restricted and regulated to fixed periods of sehar and iftar. These restrictions have been laid down to train our self to obey. Allah Almighty gains nothing from our thirst and hunger; these have been ordained to our advantage. Along with this effort we have to also ensure that we are sufficiently enlightened to differentiate between right and wrong. In other words, the pasture of our heart has to be ploughed and prepared for sowing. If the land is not properly ploughed and prepared, the seeds will not grow and therefore go waste. How is the analogy applied to the heart? A heart can be enlightened with remembrance of Allah Almighty and zik’r. Arrangements are there in the form of the travee prayer (night prayer). Recitation of the holy Quran is that beam of light which ignites our hearts and enlightens them. There are quite a few people who are only introduced to the holy book in Ramdhan. A linkage of Ramdhan with Quran certainly exists. Hazrat Jibraeel AS would take a session with the Prophet SAW. In the last year of his SAW life two sessions were conducted. So in the twenty Rakka of Travee prayers, enough Quranic splendor will Insha Allah be beamed onto our hearts to suffice for the whole year.
Special Acts of Ramdhan
Abundance of four acts has been specified for the month of Ramdhan. These are recitation of Kalma tayyba, seeking forgiveness (istighfar), requesting entry into the Paradise and shelter/refuge from the Hell. Kalma being the base of the universe is essential to recite. There are many moments of acceptance in Ramdhan, so one must pray for the most important thing. Seeking forgiveness from Allah Almighty and His consent are the wisest to beg. Reward of Allah’s consent is a place in the Paradise (Janat ul Firdoos). Then also seek refuge from worst of the things i.e. the Hell. Two things i.e. Kalma and request for the Paradise are the Divine blessings and the other two are our compulsions. Praying for forgiveness is to compensate for our shortfalls.
Then comes recitation of the Quran:-
شَھْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِیْٓ اُنْزِلَ فِیْہِ الْقُرْاٰنُ ھُدًی لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَیِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الْھُدٰی وَالْفُرْقَانِ
(Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). ) Al Baqra - 185
Since the Holy Quran was revealed in the month of Ramdhan, so it has a special association. One must resort to frequent recitation of the holy Book. There were some fortunate elders who recited the complete book once a day; while others could finish it twice a day. A strange thing is that those considered to very busy like Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) and Hazrat Imam Shafi (RA) recited it sixty times in the month of Ramdhan i.e. twice every day. Certainly they were the blessed ones who could do much of work and yet find time for so much of consummate worship.
Point to Ponder for Scholars
Complete recitation of the Quran twice a day by the Imams (RAs) is no ordinary feat. These days a scholar of a little importance considers himself to be above everything. They prefer to delegate the rituals to their minions to perform themselves taking a commanding back seat. What should actually happen is that the more is gained in stature the more should be the urge to act? The only part of the Hadith remembered is,” slumber of a scholar is better than the worship of a devotee”. They have conveniently forgotten the other part of the Hadith. Was the Hadith not known to our spirituals elders? The more we gain of this world, the greedier we become and become oblivious to the life hereafter. This is a matter of great concern. Companions (RHs) of the Prophet SAW were always cautious and fearful. How can we then afford to be ignorant and careless?
A little girl living in the neighborhood of Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) after his demise asked her father that there used to a pillar in neighbour’s house which is no longer visible? Has it been removed? Her father replied that it was no pillar but Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) who prayed so frequently that others mistook him to be a pillar. You may also know that he would mostly perform the Morning Prayer with ablution done for the night prayers. He had been to the Holy places fifty two times for performance of the pilgrimage. They were the ones who realized the importance of the month of Ramdhan.
Hazrat Omar bin Abdul Aziz (RA) had summoned the governor of a certain province. When he arrived the Ramdhan had set in. He was admonished to have travelled in the month of Ramdhan unnecessarily.
Unnecessary travelling should be avoided in this month as it hampers the routine of worship. One cannot pursue the same routine in other months. Despite the concession allowed to relegate a fast (for bonafide reasons only) to another month, the blessings and bounties of Ramdhan may not be gained then. Do make use of the permissible concessions provided it is unavoidable. It is better to remain focused and worship in Ramdhan.
Be Focused In Ramdhan
A lot of useful time is wasted in worthless activities like shopping particularly during the last ten days. Sale of greeting cards is accompanied by loud music being played in the shops. This is an utter waste of the precious nights of the month. Even if all the cards are sold, one has committed a sin by playing music. Such gain when compared with loss, the loss incurred is pronounced. It is just like cooking tea with a stack of thousand rupee notes. You will get your cup of tea but at what cost? It’s not worth it. In the shower of blessings and mercy no moment in Ramdhan should be wasted. Every day at the time of breaking fast seventy thousand sinners are librated from fire of the Hell. Should we not strive to be amongst those lucky ones? On the last night of the holy month as many more are forgiven as those during the whole month. Prizes and blessings are showered on the night of ‘lial tul jazia’. We must also queue in for those premium rewards and prizes. Mostly the last night is wasted in gossip and shopping, whereas this is the night to earn and receive from Allah Almighty. Exercise patience and restraint during the last three nights. Avoid non sharia compliant rituals and pleasures. The blessings of these days shall serve as a shield for the whole year. The piety earned in the Ramdhan is enough for the remaining year. The devil after his release on the last night, will come with full forceto avenge his absence and do his best to erase all your good deeds. During the annual pilgrimage the devil appears at all places to lead one astray. He is found during the tawaf of holy Kaa’ba, he is there in Arafat, and you come across him at Mina. He is ensuring that your worship of Hajj is wasted in one way or another. In the similar way he ensures that one does not benefit from the holy month of Ramdhan.
Another Blessing of Ramdhan is Aitaka’f.
In the holy Quran one among the odd nights has been explained by Allah Almighty:-
﴾اِنَّآ اَنْزَلْنٰہُ فِیْ لَیْلَۃِ الْقَدْرِ﴿۱﴾ وَمَآ اَدْرٰکَ مَا لَیْلَۃُ الْقَدْرِ﴿۲﴾ لَیْلَۃُ الْقَدْرِ خَیْرٌ مِّنْ اَلْفِ شَھْرٍ﴿۳
(We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the night of Power: And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months.) Al Qadr, 1-3
A single night’s worship is better than the worship of a thousand months. This indeed is a great blessing from Allah Almighty. Some misunderstand it as a moment during night ,which is not true. This is the complete night from dusk to dawn. One must strive to earn during this night. The best way is Aitaka’f, when even sleeping becomes a part of the worship.
Aitaka’f for women is far easier. The men must, however, confine themselves to the mosque. With the initiative of Sheikh ul Hadith Hazrat Maulana Zakria (RA), collective aitaka’f are being organized to regulate the rituals along with learning sessions.
By the grace of Allah Almighty we also organize a collective Aitaka’f at Marhaba Mosque, Kuri Road (contact: 03215289274). Recitation of the Quran is completed in the first five nights and then it is finished every two nights. Along with the recitation reformatory lectures, educational and meditational sessions are organized. May Allah Almighty bestow on us knowledge and sincerity. Ameen.