Commentary of the Prophetic Sermon about Ramadan

[By Shaykh Zakariyyah Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) from Fadha’il Ramadan]

Salmaan Faarsi (radhiyallahu anhu) reports, “On the last day of Sha’baan Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) addressed us and said, ‘O 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, “O messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can give a fasting person. to break his fast.” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) 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 Jahannam.”

“Whosoever lessens the burden of his servants (bondsmen) 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 Ilaaha illallaah) and make much lstighfaar (beg Allah’s forgiveness with Astaghfirullaah}.” 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.

COMMENTARY

All the points which this Hadith draws attention have been-further emphasised in numerous other Ahadith on the great virtues of Ramadan. Quite a number of important points are brought to our notice.

Firstly, it should be noted that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) delivered this sermon at the end of the month of Sha’baan the obvious reason being that he intended to put into our minds the great importance of Ramadan 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 (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)” says, “I have made it sunnah.“, is mainly to emphasize its importance. All the authorities of the Ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah are agreed upon the fact that Taraaweeh is sunnah. (Burhaan mentions that only the Rawaafidh deny this.)

Maulana Shah Abdul Haqq Dehlawi (rahimahullah) 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.

Here one point should be noted. Many are of the opinion that one may listen to the full Qur’aan being recited in a certain Musjid in eight or ten nights and then stop performing Taraaweeh with Jamaah. Thereafter the vIrtue of the sunnah will have been. attained. This is wrong. By doing this the one sunnah will be fulfilled and the other omitted. There are two things. Firstly, it is sunnah to hear the full Qur’aan being recited in the Taraaweeh in Ramadhaan. Secondly, it is sunnah to perform Taraaweeh with jama’ah throughout Ramadhaan. Both should be performed with care. 

As for those who are travelling and are Unable to perform both sunnah, because of Uncertainty as to where they will be (at different places), then for them it is advisable that in the first few days of Ramadan they should have the full Qur’aan read in Taraaweeh so that the recitation is complete. Then they should attend Taraaweeh wherever they find the opportunity. In this way the Qur’aan will also be completed and their work will not be hampered.

Another point that is brought to our notice in the Hadith is that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) informed us that any nafl deed in Ramadan is rewarded as much as a fardh in normal times, and a fardh in Ramadan carries the reward of seventy faraa’idh at other times.

Our Faults

At this point we should ponder over our lbaadah. How much importance do we attach to it in Ramadan? How many nafl do we perform? As for fardh deed, we observe how numerous people who after having eaten sah’ri get back into bed with the result that the Fajr ‘salaah is neglected. Many perform it, but not with Jamaa’h. It gives the impression that we give thanks to Allah for the food we had eaten for sah’ri by not performing the most important fardh or by not performing it with Jamaa’h. Such a salaah has been termed defective. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that, “There is no salaah for those near the musjid except in the musjid“.

In the kitaab ‘Mazhaahire Haq‘ we find that there is no reward for the salaah for persons who do not perform salaah with Jamaa’h without any valid reason or excuse.

Similarly, in numerous cases at the time of if’taar, Maghrib salaah is missed, and many who do not come to the masjid miss the Takbeer at the beginning or miss the first raka’ah. Many people hasten to get over the Taraaweeh salaah early and even perform the ‘Ishaasalaah before the time of ‘lshaa‘ commences. (Some do not pay any attention to salaah even in Ramadan.) ,

That is the way we look after our very important fardh salaah in Ramadhaan. Sometimes in the process of performing one fardh; three others are destroyed. How often do we see even the time of Zuhr salaah going by because we are asleep, while time of A’sr goes by because we are too busy buying. selling or cooking to prepare for if’tar.

If such is the case with the faraa’idh, then we can imagine how much less importance is given to the nafl actions. One finds that because of sleep, the time of ‘salaatul Ishraaq (after sunrise) and ‘salaatud Dhuhaa (before noon) go by. Then what about salaat Awwaabeen (just after Maghrib). Here we find ourselves busy with If’taar and when thinking about Taraaweeh after about an hour this salaah too is wasted. Further we find that for salaatut Tahajjud the time is the same as that for sah’ri with the result that this too goes by. One may make a thousand excuses for not finding time for these nawaafil. These are all excuses for not performing these saIaah.

We see that there are many who do find the time to do all these ‘ibaadahs during these precious moments. I personally had observed my ustaaz Maulana Khalil Ahmad (rahimahullah) during many a Ramadan. He was a weak sickly person and of advanced age but inspite of these drawbacks he used to read one and a quarter juz of the Qur’an in nafl namaaz, after Maghrib. Thereafter he used to have meals for about half an hour. After performing all other necessities in preparation for Taraaweeh salaah he used to stand in Taraaweeh! for about two and a half hours when he was in India, and when he was in Madinah Munawwarah the duration was three hours. Thereafter he use to sleep about two or three hours (according to the Season). Then he used to again recite the Qur’aan in Tahajjud ‘saalah until about half . an hour before Fajr. Then he ate sah’ri. From that time until Fajr he remained busy with reading the Qur’aan or reciting of wazifas. With the greyness of dawn he performed Fajr ‘salaah. thereafter he remained in meditation (muraaqabah.) until Ishraaq; Having.performed Ishraaq he used to write his famous kitaab, ‘Bazlul Majhood‘, commentary on 
Abu·Dawud. Then he normally attend to letters and dictating replies up to mid-day. Theil he used to rest upto Zuhr ‘salaah. Between Zuhr and A’sr he used to . recite the Qur’aan.-.

From A’sr Namaaz until Maghrib he used to be busy with tasbeeh and answering the queries of·those who visited him. When he completed ‘Bazlul Majood‘ then part of the morning used to be spent in tilaawah and studying some monumental religious works, especially Bazlul Majhood and Wafa al Wafa. This was his daily programme for· nafl ‘Ibaadah throughout the year. In Ramadhaan however; he used to spend a bit more time in his ‘ibaadah, making the rak’aats longer. For the ordinary person to observe the special programmes the other pious alders had for Ramadan would be difficult.

Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan (Rahmatullah alaihi) used to remain in nafl ‘salaah from after Taraaweeh until Fajr, while also listening to the Qur’aan read by various huffaaz one after the other. .

Maulana Shah Abdurraheem Raipuri (d 1963) remained busy with tilaawah (recitation) of the Qur’aan day and night through Ramadhaan. There used to be no time for attending to .correspondence or meeting visitors. Only his special ones were allowed to wait on him after Taraaweeh for a short period while he drank a cup of tea.

Advice

The reason for mentioning the manner in which these saintly ones spent their Ramadhaan is not that we may just read without deriving any benefit or pass a casual remark. It is written with the object that We in our.way may build up courage and to the best of our ability endeavour to copy and follow their noble examples. Every pious elders programme had its particular speciality. How wonderful would it be if those who are not forced by wordly necessities, try their utmost to mend their religious life in this one month after having allowed eleven months of the year go  by to destroy themselves.

As for those who have to be in their offices and be present at eight, nine or ten in the morning, what difficulty will it be for them if they ateast in Ramadan, spend the time from Fajr until their hours of employment in reciting
the Qur’aan. After all our wordly needs we do find time in spite of office hours.

For those engaged in farming, who normally are not bound to others nothing prevents them from reciting the Qur’an on their farm or adjusting their daily routine. Then come the businessmen shopkeepers and merchants. Nothing prevents them in. Ramadan from reciting their Qur’aan during their shop hours or cutting short trading time in order to make time for recitation thereof. After all there is very strong link between Ramadan, and the Tilaawah of the Qur’aan. Almost all Allah’s great scriptures were revealed in this month. Similarly. in this month the Qur’aan. was brought down from the Lowhul Mahfooz to the Samaa’ud Dunyaa, from where it was revealed bit by bit to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in a span of twenty-three years.

Nabi Ibrahim (alayhissalaam) received his scriptures on the first  and third of this sacred month. Nabi Dawood (alayhissalaam) received the Zaboor on the twelfth or eighteenth. Nabi Moosa (alayhissalaam) received his Towrah on the sixth. Nabi Essa (alayhissalaam) received the Injeel on the twelfth or thirteenth. From this we note the great connection between the divine scriptures .and the month of Ramadan. For this reason, as much tilaawah of the Qur’aan as possible should be made during this month. Such was the habit of our saints. jibraeel (alayhissalaam) used to recite the whole Qur’aan to our Nabi Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the month of Ramadhaan. In some reports it is stated that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) used to recite and he (Jibraeel) used to listen. From joining these reports the ‘ulama have said that it is mustahab to read the Qur’aan in such a manner that while one recites the other listens. Thereafter another recites while others listen. So recite the Qur’aan as much as possible. Whatever time remains thereafter should not be wasted.

Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) drew our attention to four more things and advised that we should practice them as much as possible. They are the recitation of Kalimah ‘Tayyibah, Istighfaar, begging for jannah and seeking refuge from jahannam. Therefore it must.be regarded an honour to spend as much as available in these recitations; This will be the true appreciation of the teachings of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). What is so difficult about keeping the tongue busy with the recitation of Durood (‘salawaat) or Laa ilaaha illallaah while being engaged in our daily tasks?

In the same Hadith Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said a few more things, Ramadan is the month of patience. Hence even if great difficulty is experienced in fasting one should bear it with patience. One should not complain as people are fond of doing during hot days. If by chance sah-ri is missed then lamentations begin early in the day. Similarly, should difficulty be experienced at the same time of Taraweeh, it too should be borne with patience. Do not consider it a great calamity or trial, otherwise these deeds may be void of blessings. When we turn our backs on worldly things, forsake our very eating and drinking, then in the face of Allah’s pleasure what are these difficulties?

Sympathy for the unfortunate

Further, the Hadith states that it is the month of sympathy, especially for the poor and destitute. Sympathy should be of a practical nature. When ten things are placed before us for if’taar, at least two or four of them should be set aside for the poor and needy. In fact they should be treated preferentiaIly, if not then at least equally. They should certainly be remembered. In showing sympathy for the poor. as in all other matters, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) were living examples, and in this, it is our duty to follow or at least try to follow them. In the matter of sacrifice and sympathy only the courageous can emulate the Sahaabah. There are numerous instances, if they are cited, will only leave one in astonishment.

Let us see the following example, Abu Jahm (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that: “During the battle of Yarmouk he went in search of his cousins, taking with him a water bag to give him to drink and also wash his wounds if he was found alive or wounded. He found him lying among the wounded. When I asked him whether he wanted some water, he indicated ·yes. At that moment someone near him moaned. My cousin pointed to that person indicating that I should first quench the thirst of the neighbour. I went to him and found that he too needed water, out just as I was about to give him water, a third person groaned near him. The second one pointed to this third person meaning that I should give the third one to drink first. I went to the third person but before he could drink, I found out that he had passed away, whereupon I returned to the second one only to find that he too had passed away. When I came to my counsin, he too had become a martyr“.

This is the type of sympathetic character our forefathers had. They preferred to die while thirsty rather than to drink before a strange Muslim brother. May Allah be pleased with them all and grant us ability to follow in their footsteps. .

Roohul Bayaan quotes from Imaam Suyuti’s Jaami’ al ‘Sagheer and Imam Sakhaawi’s Maqaasid the narration of Hadhrat Umar that Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “At all times my ummah there will be five hundred chosen servants and forty abdaal (pious ones, totally devoted to Allah). When anyone of these p,sses away then immediately he is succeeded by another. The Sahaabah inquired, “What are exclusive deeds?” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘They overlook the injustices of the transgressors, and they show kindness to those who illtreat them, and from the sustenance provided for them by Allah, they engender sympathy and graciousness.

In another Hadith it is stated that whosoever feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and grants shelter to the traveller, Allah shall save himfrom the terrors of Qiyaamah

Yahya Barmaki used to grant Imaam Sufyaan Thawri (rahimahullah) one thousand Dirhams every month, whereupon Imaam Sufyaan used to prostrate himself before Allah praying “O Allah Yahya has seen sufficiently to my wordly needs. See him. through Your Great Mercy, to his necessities in the Hereafter.” After the death of Yahya some people saw him in their dreams and on inquiring what had happened to him in the hereafter, he replied: “Through the prayers, of Sufyaan I have been forgiven by Allah“.

Further, Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned the virtue of feeding a fasting person at the time of breaking the fast. In one Hadith it is reported that upon him who feeds a person to break the fast out of his halaal earnings, the angels confer mercy upon him during the nights of Ramadan, and on the night of Laylatul Qadr Jibraeel (alayhissalaam) shakes hands with him. The signs of this is that his heart becomes soft while tears flow from his eyes.

Hammaad bin Salamah, a very famous Muhaddith used to feed fifty people every day during Ramadhaan at if’taar. (Roohul Bayaan).

Thereafter the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) caIled the first section of Ramadan the coming of mercy. whereby it is meant that Allah’s favour is with the believers, Those who are thankful to Allah for His bounties. receive even more. The Qu’raan says, “you are thankfuI. I will surely grant you more.” (Surah.14:7) .

During the second section of Ramadan forgiveness begins to descend as a reward ,for the fasting during the first section. The last section of the Ramadan brings immunity from entrance in Jahannam. This is corroborated by many similar Ahaadith. In my personal opinion. Ramadan, has been divided into three sections because people· are normally of three different kinds. Firstly, there are those who have no burden of sins. For them Allah’s Mercy and Bounties descend from the very beginning of Ramadan. Secondly, there are those whose burden of sins are not too heavy. For them forgiveness descends after one third of Ramadan has passed. Thirdly, there are the real· sinners’. For them forgiveness comes after having fasted the major section of Ramadan. As those who attained Allah’s Mercy right at the beginning, they are the very fortunate ones because of the great amount of mercy they have received. (And Allah knows best).

Another point mentioned in the Ahaadith is that masters should be lenient to their servants in Ramadan because, after all, they too are fasting. Unnecessary hard work or too much of it will be a burden for them. So why should an extra worker not be hired when the work is too much? That of course only applies when the servant himself fasts, otherwise there is no difference for them between Ramadan and any other month.

Words cannot describe the position of the shameless oppressor who does not himself fast and drives his employees unnecessarily, and if there is any delay due to salaah or fasting he is outraged. Regarding such persons the Qur’aan states, “And soon the oppressor will come to know where his abode is. (In Jahannam)”.

Lastly, in the Hadith Rasulullah (sallallaahi alayhi wasallam) exhorted that four things should be repeated constantly. Firstly the recitation of Kalimah Tayyibah, which in the Ahaadith is called the highest form of thikr. In “Mishkaat” Abu Sa’id Khudri (radhiyallahu anhi) reports, “Once Nabi Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) begged of Allah to grant him a special prayer by which he can remember Allah and also (by which, he could) ask Him“. Then Allah informed him to recite this kalimah. Sayyidina Moosa said, “O Allah, this is a verse recited by all your servants, I desire a special prayer“. Allah replied, “O Moosa. if the seven heavens, the earth and all its occupants including the angels, except Myself are placed. on one side of a scale and this kalimah on the other, then this kalimah will outweigh everything“.

In another Hadith it is stated. “Should anyone sincerely recite this kalimah. the doors of Jannah open up for him immediately and nothing can stop him from reaching Allah’s Throne“. The only condition is that the reciter should refrain from major sins.

Allah’s pattern is that He grants basic needs in abundance. We see all over the world that whatever is generally required is found in abundance. For example, water which is a basic necessity. How common has Allah, in His infinite mercy, made this basic necessity. And how rare has he made the unmeaningful use of alchemy. Similarly the Kalimah Tayyibah is the most excellent form of thikr Allah has made it common to humanity, so’that none is deprived of it. Hence if any person is deprived of it. it is only due to his misfortune. There are numerous Ahaadith regarding its virtues and for the sake of brevity they are not·mentioned here. 

The second of which a lot should be recited is Istighfaar. The Ahaadith report the virtue of Istighfaar and in one Hadith we read, “Whoever says much Istighfaar. Allah opens an exit for him from all difficulties and releases him from all sorrows. In a similar manner he receives rizq from unexpected sources”. In another hadith Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that. “Every man is a sinner, but the best among the sinners are those who repent and seek forgiveness“.

Another Hadith where in it is mentioned that, “When a man commits a sin, a black spot forms on his heart. but when he repents, it is washed away if not, the black spot remains“. Thereafter Rasulullah commanded us to beseech two things without which we cannot do to beg Allah for entrance into Jannah and to seek refuge in Him from Jahannam. .

May Allah grant you and me this good fortune. Aameen!

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