بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين حمداً يوافي نعمه ويكافيء مزيده
اللهم صل على سيدنا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم
All praise is due to Allāh, and may endless blessings be upon His Beloved Messenger Muḥammad, his Kin, and his Companions.
The Prophet Muḥammad s made the du‘ā’, “O Allāh bless us in Rajab and Sha‘bān, and let us reach Ramaḍān.” We thank Allāh the Mighty, Majestic, and Exalted for blessing and honoring us to reach this blessed and noble month.
The Companions and the pious predecessors throughout this Ummah’s long and luminous history have always given this month their all. These are some excerpts taken from the book “Kanz Al-Najāḥ wa Al-Surūr” (“The Treasures of Success and Felicity”) as well as from the book by Al-Ḥabīb Muḥammad Al-Haddār, may Allah have mercy on him, titled “Al-Nafaḥāt Al-Ramaḍāniyyah” (“The Spiritual Breezes of Ramaḍān”) that encourages certain beneficial acts to maximize one’s benefit in Ramaḍān.
Below is a long ḥadīth in which the Prophet s said at the end of Sha‘bān, right before the start of Ramaḍān. It is on the authority of Sayyidunā Salmān Al-Farisī g:
“O people, a great and blessed month has cast its shade over you! A month in which there is a night that is better than one-thousand months! Allāh has made fasting in it obligatory, and rising in prayer [at night] a great act of obedience. Whosoever performs a small act of good in it, it is as if he has performed an obligatory act, and whosoever performs an obligatory act, it like he has performed 70 obligatory acts in any other month. It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is the month of consolation. It is a month in which a believer’s provision increases for him. Whosoever feeds someone fasting, that [act] will cause forgiveness from his sins, he will be freed from the Fire, and he will have the same reward as the one who fasted without taking any reward away [from the one who fasted].”
The Companions said, “O Messenger of Allāh, not all of us have enough to feed someone fasting.”
He, peace and mercy of Allāh be upon him, replied, “Allāh gives this reward to someone who gives a fasting person a date, or a drink of water, or even a sip of milk. It is a month which its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its end is salvation from the Fire. And whosoever lightens the load upon his slaves, Allāh will forgive him and save him from the Fire.
“In this month, make excess of 4 things: two of which you please your Lord with; two of which you will always need. The two things with which you will please your Lord are pronouncing the testimony of Lā ilāha illā Allāh and asking Allāh for forgiveness (istighfār). As for the two things of which you will always need to do - they are asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from the Fire. And whosoever quenches the thirst of a fasting person, Allāh with quench him [with water] from my basin [on the Day of Judgment] - a drink after which he will never be thirsty.”
Many people incorporate the four recommended acts mentioned by the Beloved, peace and mercy be upon him, into one long dhikr/du‘ā’:
أَشْهَدُ أنْ لا إله إلّا الله، أسْتَغْفِرُ الله، أَسْألُكَ الجنةَ وأعوذُ بِكَ مِنْ النار.
“I testify there is no god but Allāh, I seek Allāh’s forgiveness. I ask You for Paradise, and I seek refuge in You from the Fire.”
There are 3 things which the scholars urge during this month:
As all Muslims know, it is obligatory to fast in the month of Ramaḍān. This means to refrain from the outward, bodily limitations related to fasting such as eating, drinking, etc. In addition, this also means to avoid sins related to the inward. The Prophet Muḥammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Five things break one’s fast (i.e. make it void of the promised reward): lying, backbiting, calumny, falsely swearing (i.e., saying,“wallāhi” and lying), and to look at someone (who is not one’s husband/wife) with passionate desire.”
2. Qiyām Al-Layl (Night Prayer)
Broadly, this means to give life to the night through different types of good works. One can rise in the night and pray extra prayers, read Qur’ān, attend gatherings in which Allāh is remembered, or attend gatherings in which sacred knowledge is being taught. Whoever prays ‘Ishā’ in congregation and then Fajr in congregation, that person has received a large portion of Qiyām during Ramaḍān, and this is especially important during the last ten nights in order to reap the benefits of Laylat Al-Qadr. The Prophet Muḥammad s said, “Who prays ‘Ishā’ in congregation it is as if he prayed half the night; who [then] prays Fajr in congregation it is as if he prayed the entire night.”
3. Preparing Yourself to be Freed from Hellfire
Whosoever fulfills the preceding two acts of worship and avoids being disobedient to their parents, cutting of ties with their relatives, arguing, and drinking alcohol will be freed from Hellfire. In a ḥadīth, the Angel Gabriel e made a du‘ā’, telling the Prophet to say “Āmīn.” The du‘ā’ was, “Whosoever reaches Ramaḍān and does not [succeed in] having his sins forgiven, may Allāh distance him! Say ‘Āmīn!’” The Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, then said, “Āmīn.”
Finally: As many of us know, this is the Month of the Qur’ān, so we should all attempt to become intimate with the Book of Allāh - read it, reflect on it, allow the glory and beauty of Allāh’s words to reach your heart. If there is any time to try and connect with the Qur’ān, this is the month.
Insha’Allāh, another email will be sent out in the following days focusing particularly on the recommended acts and du‘ā’s to perform. May Allāh put tremendous blessing in these days for you all, your families, and the rest of the Muslims. Please remember the whole Ummah in your prayers. Jazākum Allāh khayr.
والحمد لله رب العالمين
NOTE: In order to be concise, the exact strength of certain ḥadīths have not been mentioned. It is agreed upon by the vast majority of scholars to use weaker ḥadīths to encourage people to do extra acts of worship and goodness.