By Jamiatul Ulama Gauteng
Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:
“An Angel calls out: ‘O One who desires good, come forth; O One who desires evil, hold back. And there are slaves of Allah freed from Hellfire.”
This Hadeeth is from Tirmizi Shareef. In this Hadeeth Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has spoken of the virtue of Ramadhaan Shareef. A Farishta (Angel) calls out: “Yaa Baaghiyal Khair…” O One who desires good, come here; O One who desires evil, stop now.
The third statement, “And there are slaves of Allah freed from Hellfire,” holds two possibilities. One possibility is that it is the call of the Farishta. In other words, the Farishta is saying, “There is general amnesty and freedom ordered by Allah Ta’ala on this night. O You! Make yourself eligible for this freedom.”
Look! When there is some royal celebration then prisoners attempt to gain freedom. So, now is the month of Ramadhaan. There is universal grace from Allah Ta’ala. Prisoners are being released. You, too, have many charges against you for committing crimes related to the Aakhirah. Therefore, join those prisoners who are petitioning for their release. Make an effort to gain your freedom.
Whatever I wish to say in this regard will follow, Insha-Allah. Firstly, however, understand why this Hadeeth has been selected for this bayaan.
The reason for selecting this Hadeeth is that in the previous Jumu’ah the Hadeeth: “Fasting is a shield,” was spoken about. The summary of that bayaan is that fasting is a shield for protecting oneself from sins.
Now the need is to know what should be done after leaving sins. In this regard the following is submitted.
Phases of Perfection
There are two phases to perfection. One is cleaning and the other is shining. For example, when pots are made then they are firstly cleaned out thoroughly, and then they are polished, etc.
Or consider the example of a sick person. When a physician treats a person he (the physician) removes all the putrid matter. Thereafter he prescribes such medication which strengthens the patient and brings vitality to his body.
Or consider the example of a home being furnished. Firstly the home is dusted and cleaned.
A person wears beautiful garments only after having a wash and bath to remove dirt from the body.
In short everything’s perfection is accomplished in two phases; cleaning and then shining. Generally the cleaning phase precedes the stage of shining as the shine will be poor without the cleaning process, like polishing a pot without firstly scrubbing and removing the dirt. It is obvious the shine will be imperfect.
Sometimes due to circumstances shining is done before the cleaning. For example, a house has to be furnished and there isn’t that amount of time to clean it inside out then the procedure adopted is to adorn it and as the time becomes available it is gradually cleaned out. This is due to exigency, otherwise the general rule is to clean out something first and then to adorn it.
The illustrious Soofiyah operate in the same manner; they firstly clean out the base character of the mureedeen (disciples) and then adorn their (the mureedeens’) character with praiseworthy qualities. This is exactly like the physicians who administer laxatives to purge the system of toxins and then they administer tonics. This was the methodology of the earlier Shuyookh (Masters of Tasawwuf).
The objective of this spiritual exercise of cleaning is to expunge base character. Spiritual exercise is this inculcation of humility, not merely eating less and sleeping less. In fact, this inculcation of humility is the minimum requirement and it is the pre-condition for being loved by Allah Ta’ala. When a person thinks highly of himself and he has no humility then he is disliked by Allah Ta’ala. Remember that only as long as you consider yourself to be ignoble you will be close to Allah.
This vanity is a vile curse. The Soofiyah Kiraam easily treat this sickness. For instance, they observe a mureed to be given to dressing up extravagantly. This mureed is instructed to sweep and clean the Masjid. Doing this despoils one’s looks and appearance. In this way after some time his vanity is broken.
Another example is that of a mureed who is arrogant. His moral training is to serve and attend to the Musallis. Place their shoes straight; make sure there is water available for them. His arrogance goes away.
This was the protocol of the Khaanqah of former days. Now this has been discontinued. Like this people will run away. Hardly anyone will then gain benefit. People of former times had more time available and they were strong-willed.
Even women would look for Allah Walas to get married to. There are episodes of ladies giving their daughters to Buzrugs in spite of the kings expressing their desire to get married to their daughters. One such episode is that of Shah Abdul Quddoos Saheb. His wife was the daughter of his Shaikh. People told his mother-in-law so much that, “You are getting your daughter married to a madman.” But she replied: “I prefer a madman.” Princes and noblemen sent proposals but she never marry her daughter to them.
Now people lack such determination, and lifespans are even short. In view of these exigencies the later Shuyookh operate by jointly imparting the cleansing and adorning processes. The end is realized in this way as well.
To summarize, everything requires cleaning and shining for perfection. The previous bayaan was centred on cleaning. This bayaan centres on adorning.
The perfection of Roza (fasting) is not merely by leaving sins. Positive actions are also desired when fasting. In the Hadeeth: “O One who seeks good, come forth; and O One who seeks evil, desist,” both do’s and don’ts are combined. We learn from this Hadeeth that cleaning and adorning the fast are desired as the first statement draws our attention to noble actions and the second statement tells us to stop sinning which is the cleaning process.
In the previous Jumu’ah this cleaning process was addressed to the degree of necessity. Now I will explain the process of adorning the fast.
The Question of No One Hearing the Call
Firstly, however, I wish to respond to a question from students pertaining to the Hadeeth: “O One who seeks good…” The question is: In this Hadeeth the call of the Angel is mentioned. It is furthermore mentioned that this call is sounded daily in Ramadhaan. But no one hears it. So how do we respond to it?
The answer to this question is that just as listening demands a response; similarly, by being notified a response is also required. Thus, we are obligated to practically respond to the call in view of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) having informed us of the call. If our sense of hearing is not on that level where we can hear the call it is our own shortcoming. The call and the caller are not to be blamed.
In this regard I will relate an incident that took place in Shimlah. On one journey Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri travelled along with us. In a jalsah Moulana Anwar Shah delivered a lecture on the miraculous nature of the Qur’aan. The lecture was very intricate. Due to lack of comprehension the audience became disconsolate. People questioned the benefit of the bayaan.
After that when I gave a bayaan I said, “From Molvi Anwar Shah Saheb’s bayaan you can realise that the Ulama understand certain things which you cannot comprehend. This does not mean that the lecture was defective. It means and shows that you do not have the qualifications to understand certain things. The fault therefore lies with you; not with the bayaan.”
In the same way consider the call of the Angel. Not hearing it is our shortcoming; not the call’s or the caller’s shortcoming.
Secondly there is reason for the call not being heard; so that we can understand that besides this world there is another world where the inhabitants occupy another position and status.
Nevertheless, the heart perceives this call. It is for this reason that with the onset of Ramadhaanul Mubaarak almost everyone desires to engage in some noble deed. This is the effect of that call; the heart has heard it.
Adorning This Month in a Special Way
After the response to the question I now go on to explain the stage of adorning. In Ramadhaan this stage of adorning comes in two forms. The one way is a special way whilst the other is general.The Special Way means to adorn oneself with special actions, and the general way means to adorn oneself with any good deed. Two Hadeeths are hereby cited which cover the two.
One Hadeeth is in Baihaqi. It states that the Qur’aan and Saum will intercede on behalf of a person. The Qur’aan will say: “I never allowed him to sleep. Therefore, accept my intercession and forgive him.”
This does not mean that we should stay awake the whole night. It means that in contrast to other nights the Qur’aan kept a person awake longer [as it was recited in Taraaweeh Salaat, in Tahajjud Salaat and out of Salaat].
It even appears in the Qur’aan:
“They used to sleep little at night.” (Surah Wath-thaariyaat, 17)
This explanation was related to the intercession of the Qur’aan.
Roza (fasting) will say: “I kept him away from eating and drinking during the day.”
In this manner the intercession of the Qur’aan and Roza will materialize. We learn from this that only fasting is not sufficient in Ramadhaan; read and listen to the Qur’aan as well. And the simple way to achieve this in this month is the Taraaweeh Salaat.
Despoiling the Taraaweeh
The problem is that very few people perform their Taraaweeh Salaat correctly. It is boasted that so-and-so Hafiz read so much paras (juz) in just one hour, whereas the words of the Qur’aan were not even recited properly. The Rukoo’ and Sujood were also despoiled.
If you recite the Qur’aan in this fashion
The image of Islam you ruin
Then we find the muqtadis irritated when some Hafiz wishes to recite the Qur’aan properly.
In short, when they return then instead of going home with reward they take along liability.
Some people who desire to recite the Qur’aan are troubled with the thought that they cannot master the art of reciting the Qur’aan. They falter in their recitation. Some even curtail their recitation due to this thought; thinking that such a Tilaawat is of no use. They should understand that in spite of reading with difficulty the reward is twofold.
They should not, however, think that they have superseded those who recite the Qur’aan with clarity. The one thawaab of the latter could be greater than the twofold reward of the former. Two silver coins are greater in number than one gold coin, but in value the one gold coin is greater.
Those who cannot recite the Qur’aan at all can derive thawaab by merely listening to the recitation of the Qur’aan. They are not deprived of thawaab, although they may not gain the amount of reward the reciter gets. Thus, the Qur’aan Majeed states:
“When the Qur’aan is recited then listen attentively and be quiet so that mercy descends upon you.” (Surah A’raaf, 204)
Just as the revelation of the Qur’aan is tied to this month, similarly, provision has been made for the recitation and listening of the Qur’aan by instructing Taraaweeh. In this way no one is deprived of thawaab.
This was the special way of adorning Ramadhaan.
The General Way of Adorning This Month
Regarding the general way of beautifying this month, among the virtues of this month is that discharging a nafl act is equal to a fardh and discharging a fardh act is equal to seventy fardh acts. The Hadeeth states:
“Whoever comes close (to Allah) with a nafl act in this month (of Ramadhaan) he is like one who performed a fardh act in other months.”
This covers all noble actions. This is therefore the general way to adorn this month. And these were the statements of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) pertaining to adorning this month.
The Practice of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) for This Month
Now look at the practice of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) for this month. Hazrat Aishah (Radhiyallahu anha) says:
“When Ramadhaan would come then he would ready himself with determination and he would be more generous than a gusty wind.”
Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would be very bighearted and eager to carry out Ibaadat during this month. With his words and his actions Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) showed both ways – the special and the general way of adorning the month of Ramadhaan. He practised himself and instructed others to do the same.
Now there are four classes of people in this regard. Some do not do good deeds and they do not leave their evil. Some leave their evil but do not carry out good deeds. Some do good deeds but also spend their time in futile and nonsensical things. Then there are those who combine abstention from evil and practice of good deeds.
If someone does not have full blown determination then at least he should leave out wrongdoings and carry out the waajib and emphasised good deeds. This is the cleaning and beautifying process of the month of Ramadhaan.
O Allah! Grant us all the taufeeq, Aameen.
[Modified from Nida-e-Ramzaan of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahmatullahi Alaih]