All praise and adoration to Allah, the Lord of all universe ,who Has made Islam a religion more advanced and advantageous than others. It is this God who Has also set upon Islam, five pillars as bulwarks which stabilize its foundation and structure. Among these its pillars is the blessed month of Ramadan that which comes with mass benefits and graces from the Creator to the creatures.
May the good Lord continue to bless the personality whom Allah Has used as a model in the spread of Islam and the dissemination of its messages, prophet Muhammad ( salla-llahu alehi wasalam) who has told the world that Allah had told him that: ” every deed of the son of Adam is for him but fasting is for me ( Allah) and I will be the one who will personally reward those who fast it”.
If ‘reviving humanity ‘ is the motto of the Precious Mothers Guild ( PMG), the assembly of pious mothers, who has invited us to this august gathering today, so as to discuss ‘Ramadan and ways to avoid losing its benefits while observing it’, then the organizers of this godly sitting, are godly in truth! For anybody, institution and society, whose focus is ‘improving lives of women and youth particularly through improved education opportunities, general life skill support and sexuality education’, is a godly entity no doubt, while godliness should be learnt from his domain. Thank you precious mothers for being precious in moulding the lives of our girls and youths . May the good Lord reward you abundantly with all what are beneficial, in this life and in the hereafter.
There is no doubt that the Lord Has blessed the month of Ramadan above other Islamic months _ He Has made it the very month the glorious Qur’an was revealed ; the month of repentance and remission. It also abounds in this month, freedom from the Hellfire; opening of the gate of the paradise; closing of the entrance of Hellfire and shackling of demons.
Not only that, the month is jam-packed with panorama of boons such as the night of Majesty which equals the worship of one thousand months ( 84 years and some months); it is a month of alms-giving, kindness to others and answered prayers. This is the reason a discerning Muslim will devise ways to maximize its values and block the loss which may be accrued as a result of laxity and negligence on his part.
It is therefore germane for the Muslims to strive to use the month of Ramadan judiciously, so as to harvest its riped products like a traveller will do when he is itching to sojourn into the world_ he would prepare fully for the journey by taking all the necessary precautions so as to make his journey smooth and joyous _ for as the Muslims are trying to avoid the loss, Satan and his demonic allies; like he had vowed after he was forced out of the paradise , in the pre-adamic earth, that ‘ as you has caused me to remain dissappointed , I will certainly lie in wait for them in your straight path ,then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their left-hand side; and you shall not find most of them thankful’ _ are also preparing to make sure that they do not follow Allah and His prophet’s directions on Ramadan fasting. The Satan and his cronies will do these , by inspiring man, through different films ,games and musicals , to disrespect God’s commandments as pertaining to Ramadan.
Like a traveller will do while preparing for his journey into hinterlands, the one who wants to fast Ramadan and avoid the loss in it, in anticipating for it, must in the first place ,prepare for it by praying to God to spare his life till Ramadan and through it, as the past righteous men of our faith used to do. These men of faith and righteousness, had it as their habit according to their records, praying for whole six months before Ramadan that God should spare their lives while they used the remaining six months after it, to pray that their deeds being accepted.
Besides, to avoid the loss of benefits and rewards in the month of Ramadan, we will still pray to God to aid us beautifying our deeds in it and to still accept our deeds in the honourable month of Ramadan. This is necessary because as nearer as the month is to us, it is only God who knows who will attain it and those who will be of good deeds in it. In addition, it takes Allah’s grace to accept our deeds in the month too. For He is the most kind-hearted and dignified of the givers.
In the same vein, it is instructive that the one who wants to avoid the loss in Ramadan and maximize the blessing in it, should purge his mind from enmity and hatred of others. This purgation of mind presupposes that if there is a rancor between them and other Muslims, they must endeavor to settle it and allow peace to rain before the fast of Ramadan. Ramadan, being a month of body and mind purifications, therefore its observer should endeavor to prepare his soul for God. Envying, backbiting, thievery and other antisocial behaviours which can destroy the peace and security of a society , must also be shunned altogether before we begin the righteous journey of Ramadan fasting.
Avoiding them is thereby , avoiding the loss in the month of Ramadan for they formed the largest bulk of sins which can render one’s fasting nugatory and invalid. It is on this note that the prophet has said:
” Allah , exalted is His name, will check the souls of all His creatures when it is the night of the half of the month of Shab’an ( the month preceding Ramadan); He will forgive all the shortcomings of His creatures except that of the one who associates partner with Him and the one whose mind is full of bile and hatred ( to others).
Before entering into the month of Ramadan proper, it is advisable that the one who is desirous to observe it must get himself prepared for it by making himself accustomed to it through occasional fasting in the months preceding it especially, in the month of Shab’an as it is the tradition of prophet Muhammad ( Salla-llahu alehi wasalam) to do so. This is what is reported from Hussamah Bn Zaid ( may the good Lord be pleased with him), who said he had told the prophet ( salla-llahu alehi wasalam) : ” O the apostle of God, I had not been seen you fasting in any month among the Islamic months as you do in Shab’an? .He said :” That is a month people do laze about in it ; it is a month between Rajab and Ramadan, and a month in which the people’s deeds are raised up to the Lord of the universe; and I want my deeds to be elevated up to God while I’m fasting”.
As it is the tradition of the prophet (salla-llahu alehi wasalam) to fast much in the month of Shab’an as a preparatory exercise for Ramadan, so it is advisable in the Sunnah to get ready for Ramadan by making yourself accustomed to the obligatory aspects of worship such as praying fajr Salat constantly as at when due so that its praying will not be hard at the time of the blessed month of Ramadan when morning prayer comes some minutes after the sahur ( morning food) and which many people avoid due to the heaviness of their bodies at such hour of the day and sleep which is at their beck and call at that month. It then takes those who have accustomed their bodies to praying at that hour hitherto, to surmount these obstacles and observe their prayer.
Another deed in that regards which accounts for many loss in the Ramadan is the custom in most Muslim areas of the world to want to learn about the rulings concerning fasting in the very month they are being commanded to fast in. Whereas, what is the tradition of the pious righteous men and women immediately after the prophet is learning the rulings, precepts and rules regarding Ramadan prior before the real month of fasting. In this enterprise of wanting to know more about the fasting during its period, many loss are accrued. The precious but limited period of Ramadan is not buoyant for such questioning rather it supposes to be a period of worship without let or hindrance.
Having said all these as a preparatory exercise which is out to cut the loss in the Ramadan and maximize the benefits in it, we will now examine how the past righteous generations of Muslims cut the loss in their observance of Ramadan.
The Past Righteous Men And The Glorious Qur’an
The affairs of the past righteous men of Islamic faith are wondrous. Before the coming of Ramadan, they did read the glorious Qur’an day and night ,no doubt, but when it was Ramadan, they increased the tempo in geometric ascending order. Some of them read a whole Qur’an every day and summarily read thirty whole Qur’an at the end of the month.
Some like Imam Shafihi read sixty pieces of the whole Qur’an in every Ramadan without reckoning about those he read in his Salat during this period. Rabi’u said that Imam Shafihi recited thirty pieces of the glorious Qur’an at the end of every month when there was no Ramadan, but during Ramadan, he doubled it and recorded sixty at the end of the Ramadan month!
Alas! Where are we in the reading of the glorious Qur’an which revelation happened in the blessed month of Ramadan? Perhaps if we are not capable of reading a whole lots of the Qur’an as our pious predecessors had done, why can’t we do little by devoting parts of our days and nights everyday and up our reading in the blessed month of Ramadan a bit? We can achieve this by following these steps:
– If you are a busy type, you may choose to read your Qur’an before the Sahur after your Qiyamu-llaeli. For example, if the bar for eating Sahur is 5:10 am, for instance, you may make sure you rise at 3-30 am every day, do your night naflah for 10-30 minutes, and read the glorious Qur’an for another 1hour ,thirty minutes and then eat your Sahur.
– You may still chunk the number of pages you will recite each day into five parts,then recite each part after Salat. For example, if your specified number of pages is 20( 1 juzh), then after each prayer you need only to recite 4 pages.
– Some may also choose the evening for his recitation if they are not chance to recite it in any other times. One may read his own from immediately the ‘Asr prayer to the time of iftar ( fast-breaking) time after the sunset.
– In any type of readings above you may have chosen , the redeeming feature of it is that you have to set your target. Set out the number of pages or surah or the whole Qur’an you want to read for the whole month earlier before the first day of Ramadan.
– Read at the same time every day for consistency and result.
The Righteous Predecessors And Qiyamu-llaeli During Ramadan
Standing for prayer in the middle or the third quarter of the night is a long time system of our righteous predecessors and the deeds of the successful! In the night ,the faithful will singlehandedly faced their Lord, lonely with Him while worshipping Him and conversing with Him with pious tongues when other are deeply sleeping on their beds and mats! They will ask Him out of His bounties while He will grant them their heart’s desires apace.
Al-Hafiz Sha’biy reported from Abiy Muhammad Al-Labibu that Al-Labibu met the Ramadan of the year 427 H in Bagdad and he prayed the Tarawih ( the night prayer) with his companions in the whole Ramadan. It is said that, he would still used all his night after the Tarawih prayer to pray till the time of the morning prayer ( Subhi). And after the Subhi prayer ,he would still go ahead to lecture in the mosque in the afternoon and he used to say that :” I had not placed my side on the bed in this month in the night or afternoon for a day”.
We can take the example of Al-Labibu above as a cue on how best to use our night and afternoon during the month of Ramadan. Though, ‘ the Almighty Has not placed a burden a soul cannot bear on Him’, it is advisable that we design the number of rakah that will not be burdensome on us in the night ,so that it will be a regular exercise for our soul but not a flash in the pan one.
This is the reason the statement of our noble prophet (salla-llahu alehi wasalam): ” the best of deeds is a continuous one even if it is small’ is golden here! Whatever an act of worship we want to embark on, it is expedient that we start from the little and the easiest part and not the other way round! Some of us might have started an act of worship in the past and for picking the hardest and biggest part of it, we had abandoned the act after a few shows? Yes! That is the nature of true worship and it is the reason why it is judicious to start from the easiest one to the seemingly hard, and so on.
By picking four or six rakah of prayer in the beginning of your Qiyamu-llaeli and increase it as you become stronger in the act, you will not only do it for a long time but also enjoy the act. By doing so, you will turn the act to a passion and you know what a passion does or bring into a act? It brings fervor and determination into the doer and makes the act a romantic one that the doer cannot do without it in the long run. This is what the prophet is saying in one of his long ahadith that ‘ whatever an act a worshipper wants to be doing, he should be gentle with himself for the act will not tire God but it is the doer of the act that will be tired in the long run!’
Our Righteous Predecessors And Alms-Giving In Ramadan
Ibn Abass ( may the Lord continue to bless him and his father), said that :” the prophet used to be the highest giver of alms and goodness, he was the biggest spender of wealth in the month of Ramadan. Indeed, Angel Jubril used to come to him regularly every year in the month of Ramadan as it lasted and Jubril would revise the Glorious Qur’an with him. Whenever Jubril visited him ,the prophet( salla-llahu alehi wasalam) would increase his good spending like the Air sent!”
Ibn Rajab said that Imam Shafihi ( may the Lord bless him the more) told a man to increase his good spending on others during the month of Ramadan as a way of following the Prophet’s example. The reason being that , most people, especially the scholars and devotees of Allah in this blessed month, will always be busied with worships and good deeds that most of them will abandon their jobs and where they see one or two kobo they use to eke out a living.
While I do not say to those of us whose daily jobs are tedious and time-consuming, that you abandon the little you are capable of doing among the patheon of good deeds, but I can say categorically that spending on the worshippers of Allah and His devotees will make you to be counted among the successful in the Ramadan, even if you are not among His inner devotees! ” Spend oh you Son of Adam and I will spend for you” is the calling of Allah to every one of us in an Hadith of the prophet! And while spending generously for the commoners is a good act in Islam, it is also a bulwark against every disease that can afflict human being in the Hadith of the prophet as thus : ” Heal your indispositions ( ailments) with alms-giving”!
Our Righteous Predecessors And General Good Deeds During Ramadan
Our righteous predecessors are known to be at every door of good deeds in the month of Ramadan. Infact ,they have achieved success on their strives in every endeavor of good deed! They had achieved this success on nothing but as a result of their efforts at safeguarding their deeds from the loss that accompany them such as backbiting, envy, showing-off, haughtiness, arrogance and too much questioning during the month. This is the reason you will see them extricating their own souls from the public and unnecessary hobnobbing with friends and families during the month.
It is as a result of them wanting to avoid the loss in the month that you will see them being preoccupied and wrapped up themselves in the mosque during the month so as to safeguard their fasting and good deeds from sins which can only be brought up by mingling with the public as mentioned above. They do that so as to be able to move away from people as well as to be able to devote themselves to worshipping Allah without let or hindrance. Ibn Mashood ( may the good Lord continue to bless him) said that :” I have not regretted on anything as much as I regret a day where the sun shines and my days are decreasing but I do not increase in good deed in it!”
Ibn Qayum ( may the good Lord continue to bless him) said that :” wasting one’s time is much more disastrous than death itself. For indeed, wasting your own time cuts you away from God and the day of resurrection while death only cuts you out of life and its dwellers”.
My dear precious mothers and fathers present, know that loss accompanies every good and bad situation of life. This is why every prudent Muslim will approach this coming blessed month of Ramadan with everything that can aid its good and dissuade him from loss in it. Ramadan’s time is indeed as the glorious Qur’an has painted it: “It (Ramadan) is for a certain number of days” ; that if care is not taken on how we spend it, it will be fritter way like a dry flour in a wind! It is therefore wise and desirable that we tap wisdom from the observation of one of our righteous predecessors with the name ‘Abdulazeez Bn Abiy Daud as follows:
” I met the people of good and righteous deeds in my town , and whenever they complete an act , yet they worried themselves on whether their deeds will be accepted by God or rejected!”
May the good Lord aid us in the attainment of the coming Ramadan, may He help us accomplish many righteous deeds therein and may He bless us with many Ramadan in our life. Wasalam Alekum!
This article was presented at The Precious Mother’s Guild, Oyo.
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