Now that the month of Ramadan is finally here, I wish to relay three key messages:
The first: Reviving the Sunnah of offering congratulations for Ramadan’s arrival
This is exactly what the Prophet PBUH would do following the arrival of Ramadan, announcing to the Muslims:
قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ افْتَرَضَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ صِيَامَهُ يُفْتَحُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ وَيُغْلَقُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَحِيمِ وَتُغَلُّ فِيهِ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِيهِ لَيْلَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَ خَيْرَهَا فَقَدْ حُرِمَ
“The month of Ramadan is here! A blessed month! Allah has made fasting its days an obligation upon you. During this month, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of the hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained …”
Ibnu Rajab said:
قال بعض العلماء : هذا الحديث أصل في تهنئة الناس بعضهم بعضاً بشهر رمضان كيف لا يبشر المؤمن بفتح أبواب الجنان ، كيف لا يبشر المذنب بغلق أبواب النيران ، كيف لا يبشر العاقل بوقت يغل فيه الشياطين ، من أين يشبه هذا الزمان زمانا.
“Some of the scholars said: ‘This Hadith is a key evidence for the practice of congratulating one another for the arrival of Ramadan. Why shouldn’t the believer be congratulated when the gates of Paradise have opened? Why shouldn’t the sinner be congratulated when the gates of the hellfire have closed? Why shouldn’t the intelligent be congratulated for a time when the devils are chained? How can this month be compared to any other time?”
Try to recall the sheer number of prayers that you’ve missed or delayed, the number of prohibitions that your eyes have perpetrated, the daily backstabbing, the private conversations that should never have been furthered, the Riyaa/showing off that poisoned us countless times, and so on.
Yes, it’s daunting, but this is precisely why we are so excited for Ramadan’s arrival; because our hearts are desperately ill and our lives are in desperate need of reformation.
The second message: Full-timers is what Allah wants
Cast a quick glance around you during this evening’s night prayer at the Masjid and you’ll quickly come to realise just how packed the building is. It therefore comes as no surprise why Laylatul Qadr/the night of decree hasn’t been placed in the beginning of Ramadan, but during the last nights; because the Masjid scene will be a very different one in a few days’ time, as people slowly fizzle out.
This, on its own, is a treasure of a lesson that Ramadan teaches year in year out:
= Being a consistently practicing Muslim, both in the beginning of Ramadan and during its end, and within Ramadan and after Ramadan, is what Allah wants from us.
As Ibnu Taymiyyah said,
أعظم الكرامة لزوم الاستقامة
“The pinnacle of honour is found in Istiqaama/ remaining steadfast.”
The third message: Say “Allah, forgive me” in a brand new way.
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself in the past, “I love Allah! But how can I ensure Allah’s love of me?” You then flicked through the pages of the Qur’an, searching for an answer, and found the Ayah:
“Allah loves the people of Taqwa/God consciousness.” (Al-Qur’an, 3:76)
But then you thought to yourself: “I am so far away from Taqwa.” So you kept searching.
Then, you came across: “Allah loves Al-Muhsinoon/those who do good.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:195)
But then you thought to yourself: “My good deeds are so few. It’s not me.” You kept searching.
Then you came across: “Allah loves Al-Mutawakkileen/those who rely upon Him.” (Al-Qur’an, 3:159)
But again, you sighed and said: “My reliance upon Allah is no way near good enough.”
Just when you had almost despaired and given up, you came across:
“Allah loves those who frequently turn to Him in repentance.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:222)
“Yes!” you said, “This is something that I can do! Especially now that Ramadan is here”
So, make your slogan this month “Astaghfirullah” / “I repent to Allah”. Not a temporary Ramadani pause till ‘Eid, but a permanent stop till the day of death.