Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messengers, our master Mohammed may Allah bless him and his family and companions and those who followed them in truth until the Day of Judgment.
There has come to us a great and blessed month of Ramadan, the month whose greatness has been declared by Allah Almighty and honored by the revelation of the Qur'an. Allah ta ‘alaa says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbeer (Allahu Akbar: Allah is the Most Great)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [al-Baqarah 2:185].
This blessed month is a great opportunity for goodness, barakah (blessing), worship and obedience towards Allah. It is a great month, a noble season, a month in which hasanat (rewards for good deeds) are multiplied and in which committing sayi’aat (bad deeds) is more serious than at other times. The gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the sinners’ repentance to Allah is accepted. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness and its end is redemption from the Fire.
For the sincere believer, every month is an occasion for worship and his whole life is spent in obeying Allah, but in the month of Ramadan he has even more motivation to do good and his heart is even more focused on worship, and he turns even more to his Lord. By His grace, our generous Lord bestows His bounty upon the fasting believers and multiplies the reward for them on this blessed occasion, so He gives abundantly and rewards generously for righteous deeds.
How can we prepare for Ramadan?
- We should set ourselves straight so that in Ramadan we will have a higher degree of faith. For faith increases and decreases.
- After that we should take stock of ourselves and recognize our shortcomings in doing acts of worship such as praying in congregation, remembering Allah (dhikr), paying attention to the rights of neighbours.
- Then we should take account of deeds to be aware of our sins and of following our whims and desires. We should stop ourselves from persisting in sin, whether the sin is great or small, whether it is by looking at that which Allah has forbidden; or by listening to what Allah has forbidden; or by walking towards things of which Allah does not approve; or by using one's hands to strike in a manner with which Allah is not pleased; or by consuming things that Allah has forbidden.
- We should never forget that Allah stretches forth His hand during the day to accept the repentance of those who sinned at night, and He stretches forth His hand at night to accept the repentance of those who sinned during the day.
By taking ourselves to account, repenting and seeking forgiveness, this is how we should welcome Ramadan. “The smart man is the one who takes stock of himself and strives to do that which will benefit him after death, and the helpless one is the one who follows his own whims and desires and engages in wishful thinking, (assuming that Allah will forgive him regardless of what he does and that he does not need to strive to good deeds).”
In the month of Ramadan the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut. The devils are put in chains and a caller cries out each night, O seeker of good, proceed, O seeker of evil, desist.
This month is superior to others in four things:
- In it, there is the best night of the year, which is Laylat al-Qadr. Allah says: “Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the Night of Al Qadr (Decree) is? The Night of Al Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees, (All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn” [al-Qadar 97:1-5]. So worship on this night is better than worshipping for a thousand months.
- In this month, the best of Books was revealed to the best of the Prophets (peace be upon them). Allah says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)”[al-Baqarah 2:185].
- In this month, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are chained up. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” (Agreed upon).
- There are many kinds of worship in Ramadan, some of which are not done at other times, such as fasting, praying qiyaam, feeding the poor, i’tikaaf, sadaqah, and reading Qur’an.
I ask Allah, the Exalted, the Almighty, to help us all to do that and to help us to fast and pray qiyaam, and to do acts of worship and to avoid doing evil. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Mohsen Shaker Bayoumy
Imam of Osaka Mosque
Accepted to be published by author