Ramadan from the Tongue of the Prophet

Fasting is the fourth command of Islam.

- It enables man to develop spiritually.
- Fasting prevents man from bad deeds and unchastity.
- It prevents man from entering Hell.1

Allah rendered fasting fard for both the ummah of Muhammad and the previous ummahs.2

He ordered us to perform fasting “on certain days”, that is, in the month of Ramadan every year.3

The thawab of fasting

Everybody sees those who perform prayers, gives zakah and goes to hajj. However, only Allah knows if a person has fasted or not. Since fasting is not harmed by hypocrisy and show off, a person who fasts has a different place in the eye of Allah.

According to what the Prophet states, Allah explains this special case as follows:
A fasting person gives up eating, drinking and all kinds of bodily pleasures just for My sake; for this reason, I will give his reward personally.

There are two times when a fasting person becomes very happy: One when he breaks fasting in the evening and the other when he meets his Lord.4

The smell of a fasting mouth is more valuable than the best fragrance in the eye of Allah.

Let us listen to the value of fasting and a person who fasts from the Messenger of Allah:

The previous sins of a person who performs fasting in Ramadan by believing that it is thawab and by expecting its reward from Allah are forgiven.5

Allah keeps a person who fasts for His sake away from the fire of Hell for seventy years. 6

Paradise has eight gates. Those who perform prayers will enter Paradise from the gate of prayer, those who make jihad from the gate of jihad and those who give sadaqah from the gate of sadaqah.

One of those eight gates is called Rayyan. Only those who fast will enter from that gate.

In the Gathering Place in the hereafter, somebody will call out: "Where are those who fasted?" Those who fasted will stand up. When they enter Paradise, that gate will be closed; nobody else will be able to enter from that door after that. Those who enter from the gate of Rayyan will never feel thirsty again.7

One of the Companions asked the Prophet to advise him a deed of worship that will benefit him. The Messenger of Allah said to him, "I advise you to fast. There is nothing like fasting."8 Thus, he indicated that fasting is an exceptional deed of worship that is away from show off and that is performed sincerely.

The value of the month of Ramadan

The Prophet states the following:

On the first night of the month of Ramadan, all of the gates of Paradise are opened wide; the gates of Hell are closed one by one; ferocious devils are chained." 9

If a person who fasts avoids major sins, his sins committed between two Ramadans are forgiven.10

“The Night of Power (Laylatul-Qadr)”, which is better than a thousand months, is in this month." 11

A person who fasts during the whole Ramadan and who fasts three days in all of the other months will be rewarded as if he has fasted during the whole year.12 For, ten thawabs are given for every good deed.

Allah states that He will give ten times thawabs for one deed of worship and good deed.13

The month of Ramadan is the month of the Quran. The Prophet and Jibril came together every night in Ramadan and recited the verses of the Quran that had been sent down up to that time to each other.14

The Messenger of Allah was always generous but in Ramadan, when he met Jibril, he would be more generous that the blowing wind.15

How should a person who fasts act?

A person who fasts should fast not only with his stomach but also with his tongue. The Prophet explains it as follows:  

- A person who fasts must not utter any bad words.  
- He must not fight anyone.
- He must avoid telling lies and talking unnecessarily.
- If someone tries to insult him, "He must say “I am fasting” and leave.16

Allah will not value the fasting of a person who tells lies and deceives people though he fasts.17
Those who do not fast properly will gain nothing except remaining hungry and thirsty.18

Suhoor and iftar times

Every moment of the month of Ramadan is valuable but there are some special times. One of them is the time of suhoor and the other is the time of iftar.

The Prophet states the following about the time of suhoor:
"Eat suhoor because there is abundance and blessing in suhoor."19

The most important difference between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is suhoor meal.20

The Prophet wanted us to give importance to the time of iftar and wanted us to break fasting as soon as the time for iftar comes:

"Muslims live in goodness as long as they hurry to break fasting."21

The Night of Power (Laylatul-Qadr)

The most valuable time period in the month of Ramadan is the Night of Power. Allah informs us that the Night of Power is ”a blessed night”22 and expresses its importance in a special chapter called the chapter of al-Qadr. He states the following in this chapter:

- Allah has sent down the Quran in the Night of Power.
- The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
- The angels and Jibril come down to the earth by Allah´s permission until morning on that night.
- Peace is dominant on earth on that night.23

The Messenger of Allah informs us about the following facts related to it: The previous sins of a person who worships on that night by believing in its virtue and expecting his reward from Allah are forgiven.24

The Night of Power should be sought on odd nights of the last ten nights of the Night of Power25 and especially on the twenty-seventh night.26 In the morning following the Night of Power, the light of the sun is dim like the light of the moon until it ascends.27

A man came to the Prophet and told him that he was old and weak; he said he could not perform prayers at night but that he wanted to worship on the Night of Power and asked him to inform him about that night. The Prophet advised him to worship on the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan.28

However, the Prophet told his Companions to seek the Night of Power on the twenty-ninth, twenty-seventh and twenty-fifth nights of Ramadan.29

How should we pray on the Night of Power?

Once Hz. Aisha asked the Messenger of Allah how she should pray if she reached the Night of Power. The Prophet told her to pray as follows:
O Allah! You are most forgiving and You love forgiveness; so, forgive me.30

Retiring for Itikaf (staying in the mosque with the purpose of worshipping Allah)

On the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, the Prophet would abandon worldly affairs and retire to Masjid an-Nabawi, being busy with worshipping only.  

She would awaken her family so that they would worship on those nights.

During this worship called itikaf, the Prophet would perform prayers, read the Quran and meditate.  

After his death, his wives continued the practice of itikaf.31

Tarawih prayer

The most distinctive deed of worship after fasting in Ramadan is tarawih prayer. When the Companions found out that the Prophet performed the tarawih prayer alone, they asked him to lead the prayer to them. The Prophet led the tarawih prayer to them only three times.   

That incident took place as follows:

There were seven days left of the month of Ramadan that year.
The Prophet, who went home after leading the night prayer every night, remained in the mosque an led the tarawih prayer to his Companions for the first time. Tarawih continued up to the one-third of the night.  

The next day, the news that the Prophet led the tarawih prayer spread. The Companions gathered in the mosque but the Prophet did not lead tarawih prayer that night.

He led the tarawih prayer the following night and the prayer lasted until midnight. He did not lead it the next night.   

Three days before the end of Ramadan, the Prophet also called his wives and daughters and led the tarawih prayer. It continued all night. The Muslims hardly had time for suhoor that day. The Prophet did not lead tarawih prayer again, thinking that it could be rendered fard and that it would be difficult for Muslims.32

He advised everybody to perform the tarawih prayer in their homes.

After that, the Companions performed the tarawih prayer in their homes during the era of the Prophet, the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr and the first years of the caliphate of Hz. Umar.  

The practice of performing the tarawih prayer in congregation in the mosque started during the caliphate of Hz. Umar.

Fasting in Shawwal

The Messenger of Allah advised those who performed fasting in Ramadan to perform six more days in the month of Shawwal, which came immediately after Ramadan. Thus, he stated that they would perform fasting thirty-five or thirty-six days and since ten rewards are given for every good deed, they would gain rewards as if they performed fasting the whole year.33

A Reminiscence from the Era of Bliss

Harith al-Ash'ari narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) narrated the following: Allah commanded Yahya bin Zakariyya with five commandments to abide by, and to command Sons of Israil to abide by them.

When Hz. Yahya (John) was slow a bit in informing people about those commands, Hz. Isa (Jesus) came to him and said,

"O Yahya! Allah commanded you with five commandments to abide by and to command Sons of Israil to abide by. Either you command them, or I shall command them." The Prophet Yahya said,

"O my brother! I fear that if you inform people about the commands Allah has given me, He will punish me or the earth will swallow me."

Then, Yahya gathered the people in Bayt al-Maqdis; they filled the mosque and even sat on its balconies

After praising and thanking Allah, the Prophet Yahya started to preach:

"Allah commanded me with five commandments to abide by and to command you to abide by. And I command you to abide by them.   

The first of them is that you worship Allah and not associate anything with Him. The parable of the one who associates partners with Allah is as follows:

A man who buys a servant with his own gold or silver and says to him: "This is my home and this is my business. So, take care of it and give me the profits." However, the slave takes care of it and gives the profits to someone other than his master. Tell me. Which of you would like to have a servant like that?

Allah created you and gave you your sustenance. Therefore, do not associate partners with Allah.

Allah commands you to perform prayers. Do not look at the right or the left in prayer. Allah turns His face toward the face of His slave as long as he does not turn his face away.

I command you to perform fasting. The parable of fasting is as follows: A man in a group has a sachet containing musk. The fragrance coming from the sachet attracts everyone and they all want to smell it. Fasting is like that.   

The breath of the fasting person is more pleasant to Allah than the scent of musk.

I also command you to give charity. The parable of charity is as follows:

A man is captured by his enemies; his hands are tied to his neck; he is taken to a square to be beheaded. He says to those who have captured him, "Set me free in return for ransom; I will work, earn money and bring it to you." Thus, he saves himself from death. Charity is like that.

I also command you to remember Allah (dhikr). The parable of dhikr is as follows:  

A man escapes from his enemy, who quickly tracks him. He reaches an impermeable fortress; he saves his life by taking refuge in that fortress. A slave can save himself from Satan only through dhikr.  

After narrating the parables above, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"And I command you with five that Allah commanded me:
- Obey the commands of your administrator.
- Make jihad.
- Migrate.
- Be together with the Islamic congregation. He who parts from the congregation the measure of a hand-span has cast off the yoke of Islam from his neck unless he returns.
- He who calls with the call of Jahiliyyah becomes a person of Hell.

Meanwhile, one of the Companions said,

"O Messenger of Allah! Does he become a person of Hell even if he performs prayer and fasts?"

The Messenger of Allah said,
"Yes, he becomes a person of Hell even if he performs prayer and fasts and even if he thinks he is a Muslim.  

"So call with the call of Allah, who named you ‘Muslims’, ‘believers’, ‘slaves of Allah’." 34

References
1 Bukhari, Sawm, 2, 10, Nikah 2, Tawhid 35; Muslim, Siyam 162; Tirmidhi, Sawm 55, Iman 8; Nasai, Siyam 43; Ibni Majah, Fitan 12; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, II, 257. 313, 402, 465.
2 al-Baqara 2/183.
3 al-Baqara 2/184, 185.
4 Bukhari, Sawm 2, 9, Libas 78, Tawhid 35, 50; Muslim, Siyam 161, 163-165; Tirmidhi, Sawm 55; Nasai, Siyam 41, 42; Ibni Majah, Siyam 1.
5 Bukhari, Iman 28, Sawm 6; Muslim, Musafirin 175, Siyam 204.
6 Bukhari, Jihad 36; Muslim, Siyam 167, 168; Tirmidhi, Fadailul-Jihad 3; Nasai, Siyam 44, 45; Muslim, Siyam 34.
7 Bukhari, Sawm 4, Bad'ul-Khalq 9, Fadailu Ashabin-Nabi 5; Muslim, Zakah 85, 86, Siyam 166
8 Nasai, Siyam 43; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, V, 248, 249, 255, 257, 264; Albani, Sahihut-Targhib wat-Tarhib, I, 580.
9 Bukhari, Sawm 5, Bad'ul-Khalq 11; Muslim, Siyam 1, 2; Tirmidhi, Sawm 1; Nasai, Siyam 3, 4.
10 Muslim, Taharah 16; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, II, 229.
11 al-Qadr 97/3.
12 Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, II, 263, 384, 513, V, 154, 363; Ibn Hibban, as-Sahih (Arnaut), XIV, 498; Albani, Sahihut-Targhib wat-Tarhib. I, 599.
13 al-An'am 6/160.
14 Bukhari, Sawm 7, Manaqib 23.
15 Bukhari, Bad'ul-Wahy 6, Sawm 7, Manaqib 23, Fadailul-Quran 6; Muslim, Fadail 50.
16 Bukhari, Sawm 2, 9; Muslim, Siyam 163-165; Abu Dawud, Siyam 25; Tirmidhi, Sawm 55; Nasai, Siyam 41, 42; Ibni Majah, Siyam 1.
17 Bukhari, Sawm 8, Adab 51; Abu Dawud, Siyam 25; Tirmidhi, Sawm 16; Ibn Majah, Siyam 21.
18 Ibn Majah, Siyam 21; Darimi, Riqaq 12; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, II, 373; Albani, Sahihut-Targhib wat-Tarhib, I, 625-626.
19 Bukhari, Sawm 20; Muslim, Siyam 45; Tirmidhi, Sawm 17; Nasai, Siyam 18, 19; Ibn Majah, Siyam 22
20 Muslim, Siyam 46; Abu Dawud, Siyam 15; Tirmidhi, Sawm 17; Nasai, Siyam 27; Darimi, Sawm 9; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 197, 202.
21 Bukhari, Sawm 45; Muslim, Siyam 48; Abu Dawud, Sawm 19; Tirmidhi, Sawm 13; Darimi, Sawm 11.
22 ad-Dukhan 44/3.
23 al-Qadr 97/1-5.
24 Bukhari, Iman 25, 27, Sawm 6, Fadlu Laylatil-Qadr 1.
25 Bukhari, Fadlu Laylatil-Qadr 3.
26 Malik, Muwatta', I'tikaf 11; Bukhari, Fadlu Laylatil-Qadr 2, Ta'bir 8; Muslim, Siyam 205, 206.
27 Muslim, Musafirin 179; Abu Dawud, Shahru Ramadan 2; Tirmidhi, Sawm 72; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 406, 457, V, 130, 131, 324.
28 Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, I, 240; Haythami, Majma'uz-Zawaid, III, 176.
29 Bukhari, Fadlu Laylatil-Qadr 3; Abu Dawud, Ramadan 2.
30 Tirmidhi, Daawat 84; Ibn Majah, Dua 5; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, VI, 171, 182, 183; Hakim, al-Mustadrak (Ata), I, 712.
31 Bukhari, Fadlu Laylatil-Qadr 5; Muslim, I'tikaf 1-5
32 Abu Dawud, Ramadan 1; Tirmidhi, Sawm 81; Nasai, Sahw 103.
33 Muslim, Siyam 204; Tirmidhi, Sawm 53.
34 Tirmidhi, Amthal 3; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 130, 202; Abu Ya'la, Musnad (Asad), III, 140-142; Ibn Huzayma, Sahih (A'zami), III, 195-196; Ibn Hibban, as-Sahih (Arnaut), XIV, 124-127; Albani, Sahihut-Targhib wat-Tarhib, I, 358-359, II. 205-206; Albani, Sahihu Mawaridiz-Zam'an, I, 494-496.

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