Author: Tabish Reyaz Shah
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful”. [2:185]
Whenever the orbit turns and another month of Ramadan approaches, happiness and joy return to the Ummah, for with it comes two of the greatest gifts of Allah(swt) namely the fasting month of Ramadan and the celebration of the revelation of Al Qur’an (in the blessed night: Al-Qadr). It is appropriate that every Muslim should receive the blessed month of Ramadan with repentance, sincerity, resoluteness and earnestness. He/she should make the intention to perform extra acts of devotion and worship therein, including the Night Prayer (qiyam), recitation of Qur’an, and abundant charity to the poor and needy.
Imagine for a moment that it’s raining. It is pouring, in fact. And imagine that you are inside your house, watching as it falls. But imagine that there is something very different about this rain. It is unlike any other you’ve ever seen. On this day, it is not raining water. It is raining something much more precious to you. Imagine that on this day it is raining hundred dollar bills.
What would you do? What would happen in your neighbourhood on that day? What would happen in the world? Would we not run outside, falling all over ourselves, competing to gain as much of the raining money as we can? Would we not stand outside all night to gather as much as possible?
We would do this for money because money is precious. But imagine for a moment that it was raining something priceless. Not thousand dollar bills, not trillions, but the mercy of Allah subhana wa ta`ala (exalted is He), a currency that no human currency could even measure.
The Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Narrated by Tabarani]
The month of Ramadan has excellences over the other months, as is testified to by the Qur’an and Sunnah, and out of these I will bring to attention the following virtues:
1. It is the month of the Qur’an, with regards to revelation and study.
“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Qur’an.” [Qur’an, 2:185]
On the authority of Ibn `Abbas: Angel Gabriel used to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him) every night in Ramadan and used to study Qur’an with him.
[Bukhari:Book 4:Volume 54: Hadith 443]
2. It is the month of seclusion.
Abdullah Ibn `Umar said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to seclude himself for the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.”
[Bukhari:Book 3:Volume 33: Hadith 242]
3. It is the month of generosity.
Ibn `Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to be at his most generous in Ramadan.”
[Bukhari:Book of revelation]
4. It is the month of standing (in voluntary night prayer).
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever stands (in voluntary night prayer) during Ramadan, with faith and in expectancy of reward, his previous sins are forgiven him.”
[Bukhari: Book of taraweeh]
5. It is the month of the compulsory fast, because of Allah’s saying, (meaning):
“So, whoever among you witnesses the month should fast.” [Qur’an, 2:185]
A terrible error prevalent among people is to talk about Ramadan just as they talk about the obligation of fasting, as if Ramadan and fasting are synonymous, each carrying the meaning of the other and not anything more nor less. Yet, fasting is one of many acts of worship in Ramadan.
Many reports have been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) explaining the distinction of Ramadan, of which I have selected the following:
“The month of Ramadan has come to you; a month of goodness and blessing.”
“The Master of the Months is Ramadan, and the Master of the days is Friday.”
“Whoever fasted Ramadan with faith and in expectancy of reward, his previous sins are forgiven him.”
[Bukhari and Muslim]
“When Ramadan comes, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained.”
And in a narration from Nasa’i, the following words are added:
“and a caller calls out every night: ‘Oh seeker of Good, draw near! Oh seeker of Evil, desist!'”
If a person loves someone, say a father loves his child. How does a child realise that his father loves him/her? The answer is simple. It’s not only the words but actions of the father that make the child realise that his/her father loves him/her. Likewise, a Muslim has to love Allah not merely by words but by actions also. He has to get himself more closer and closer to Allah(swt). When a believer truely loves his creator, his creator also loves him. The best of actions by which Allah (swt) loves his slave is “Repentance”.
Repentance is an act of worship and closeness to Allah before being a means of recanting mistakes, rather it is one of the greatest and dignified acts of worship, it leads to the love of Allah Almighty as He has said:
…Truly, Allâh loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves… [Surat Al-Baqarah V:222]
Receiving Ramadan with Repentance
One of the graces of Allah towards His slaves is that He has made frequent for them seasons of good, where He has varied the types of the acts of worship. Season that come to them each year, when a person indulges in amusement with children and money, and forgets his Lord, and disrupts the rituals of his religion, is being drawn to the devil,so he practices all kind of sins during his heedlessness and slumber. So, Ramadan comes to awaken him from his slumber, to lead him to his creator and to invite him to renew his repentance. Ramadan deserves repentance to be renewed in it, as in it good deeds are multiplied and sins are erased, and slips are reduced and ranks are raised, for whomever who is worthy of this, for he who knows Ramadan well, and who performs the due acts of worship to Allah faithfully and diligently.
Though, repentance in islam is not time-fixed. A person can repent at any time,place. It is from the mercy of Allah that He accepts the repentance of His slave at any time of day or night and He overwhelmingly rejoices over it though it does not benefit Him, the Almighty. But looking at the countless blessings, mercy of Allah (swt) in the holy month of Ramadan, one’s hope of being forgiven in this blessed month is at its peak. When Ramadan comes, doors of mercy are kept open by Allah(swt). But it needs from people to commit to the demands of Allah. Isn’t this blessed month special. Allah gives you countless bounties. Going through various hadiths, one gets to know how much Allah swt offers his slaves…
Let me present some of them. One’s sins are forgiven, one will be saved from hell fire, angles say peace. Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire, fasting will intercede on ones behalf on the day of judgement. On the Day of Judgement, “Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him.” [Ahmad, al-Haakim and Abu Nu’aim, Hasan]. There is a gate to Paradise that is called ar-Rayyan. Only people who had fasted will enter through it.
When one repents, he makes sure that he keeps himself away from sins (in whatever form it may be) as far as possible. Fasting eases that task. During Ramadan, every part of the fasting soul must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast. Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God.
The door to repentance is open: Where are the repentant?
In Islam there is no mediator between the slave and his Lord, as is the case in many other religions where the priest or the rabbi decides that the repentance of a slave is not accepted unless he pays him some money!!
Repentance in Islam is free of charge. Neither a priest nor a rabbi will count favors against people that they have guided them, Allah, Glorified and Exalted is the Guide. In Islam everyone is rewarded for his deeds, no one bears the burden of sins but the doer of them, slaves will not bear the burden of the sin of Adam, their father, or the sin of anyone else as in other religions. Some non-Muslims converted to Islam because of this verse:
“And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden” [Surat Fâtir 35:18]
Where are those who have transgressed against themselves by committing evil deeds and sins? Those who spent days and nights in disobedience? Those who met the blessings of Allah with ingratitude? And who opposed Him in His realm? Where are they? Let them repent.
Is there any one of us who is innocent of sin? The answer is a BIG NO.
We are the sinners, but we hope to be of those who repent, because the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said “Every Son of Adam is a Sinner, and the Best of Sinners are those who Repent” [Tirmidhi]
Dear Muslims! Door of repentance is open to all until the sun rises from the west. It is then that the door of repentance will be closed and faith will be of no avail to a soul which has not believed before. Safwaan ‘Assaal narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (saw) saying:
“Allah opened a door west side for seventy years for the purpose of repentance, it will not be closed until the sun will rises from the west.” (At-Tirmidhee)
How do we repent?
The repentance of the slave is not sincere until he gives up the sin, and sternly determines never to commit it again. But if he asks forgiveness by his tongue and his heart is embarking upon committing the sin and his soul is enticing him towards it, then this is the repentance of a wicked heart. The tongue repentance is of no benefit for him.
Conditions of Repentance
Repentance is accepted as long as it is done with:
• Trusting in ALLAH that He forgives sins
• Firm resolve never to go back
• Followed by persistence in righteous deeds. As ALLAH says :
“And verily, I am indeed Forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them, (till his death).” [20:82]
Shaqîq Al-Balkhi said:
“the signs of repentance: crying over past sins, fear of falling into committing sins, abandoning bad companions and adhering by the good righteous people.”
[Nuzhat Al-Fudalâ’ (The Trip of the Virtuous) / 711]
Are there any of these signs in our repentance? Or are we still not afraid of sins, nor do we forsake bad companions, but we abandon the good righteous people, and then afterwards we say: “We repent!! What lie is this? Do we lie to Allah Almighty and He sees us? O Allah Glorified and Exalted, how great our sin is! And how little our praise is! So we ask You Allah to pardon us, and that You accept us with beautiful acceptance, and that You amend what has become wicked of our hearts, You are the All Hearer, the One who answers our prayers.
Many people think that repentance is not but for those who indulge themselves in disobedience, and that those who keep performing the obligatory orders and who avoid the prohibitions do not need to repent. This is conceit and bad thinking, as repentance is required from the slave even if he were the most devoted worshipper, the most ascetic, the most pious and informed of people. The more a person knows his creator, the more he is repentant and asking for forgiveness. The Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, the most well-informed of his Lord and the most pious and fearful of Him, who is forgiven what has passed and what will be of his sins, nevertheless, he is the most repentant of all people. He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said: “by Allah, I ask Allah for forgiveness and repent to Him in the day more than seventy times.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, has said: We counted that the Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, would say a hundred times during a meeting:
“My Lord, forgive me and pardon me; You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” [Reported by Abu Dawood and authenticated by Al-Albani]
“The servant who seeks the pleasure of allah never abandons repentance. He remains in the state of repentance until the end of his life”… [Ibn Qayyim]
Why do people delay repentance?
Nothing constrains people from repentance or delaying it more than the long expectations they have in this world, and what bliss they are living in. The irrational materialism has damaged our moral, religious and spiritual values to a great extent. The love for minting money wrongly has made us avaricious. We hardly realise the fact that we are answerable to Allah(swt). Otherwise, if calamities descend upon the slave he hastens to repent, and if a general calamity befalls the people you see a large number of repentant. So beware -Dear readers- that long expectations make us forget to hasten to repentance and eventually drift us away from our religion.
Lastly I humbly but strictly apprise all that it is the best time, in fact best month throughout the year, to renew our faith,repent and turn to ALLAH.
Na Kaheen Jahan Mein Aman Mili, Jo Aman Mili To Kahan Mili
Mere Jurm-e-Khana Kharab Ko Tere Ufuw-e-Banda Nawaz Mein
(My dark misdeeds found no refuge in the wide world
The only refuge they found was in Your Gracious Forgiveness)