Ramadan: The Month of Fasting (Beginning of Ramadan is Mercy, its Middle is Forgiveness and its End is Freedom from the Fire)

Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR

April, 23/2020

Introduction

The only month specified in the Qur’an with attribution of importance and emphasis is the month of Ramadan. It is a month that the beginning of it is mercy, its middle is forgiveness and its end is freedom from the Fire. This month is a spiritual pinnacle in which Allah’s mercy, grace, and blessings, with patience and worship, are pouring down. Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The Qur’an was revealed in this month and Qadr Night, which is more auspicious than a thousand months, is also in this month. The tarawih prayers, which will be performed by believing and hoping the rewards of Allah Almighty, are also reserved for this month. This month is the month when the Sadaqat al-Fitr emerges as a crucial duty for every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult when the contemplation of the Qur’an becomes more important, and when the iftar and suhur tables are prepared with a holy and spiritual taste.

The Qur’an announces the following blessed declaration about the obligation of the fast of Ramadan with a sweet breeze to our soul’s ear:

يَا اَيُّهَا الَّذٖينَ اٰمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذٖينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ اَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرٖيضًا اَوْ عَلٰى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ اَيَّامٍ اُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذٖينَ يُطٖيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكٖينٍ فَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَهُ وَاَنْ تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ اِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذٖى اُنْزِلَ فٖيهِ الْقُرْاٰنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدٰى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَرٖيضًا اَوْ عَلٰى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ اَيَّامٍ اُخَرَ يُرٖيدُ اللّٰهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرٖيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللّٰهَ عَلٰى مَا هَدٰيكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (The Cow, 2/183-185)

The word “Ramadan” comes from the word “ramad” which means “warming stones from the sun rays” or “rain that comes before spring and reduces the heat of the earth and cleans it from dust”.[1]

Therefore, just as how the rain washes and cleans the earth and reduces the destructive effects of the heat, the month of Ramadan washes and cleans the sins of this ummah’s bodies, and reduces and eliminates the heat produced by the anger, hatred, envy, and jealousy in their hearts. Fasting in this month with Allah’s mercy and grace cleans and shines the spiritual world of people which is stained and darkened by the everlasting earthly desires of the nafs.

“It was narrated from Az-Zuhri, from Abu Salamah, from Abu Hurairah that, the Prophet used to encourage night prayings in Ramadan, but not forcibly. And Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are close, and the devils are chained up.”[2]

The fact that this is the sultan of the eleven months is not surprising in the sense that it enlightened and guided humankind with the revelation of the Quran. Allah’s grace and grandeur light are always shining. Nothing can cover this eternal and immemorial divine light. However, worldly occupations and concerns are the obstacles for the eternal and immemorial light to shine in people’s souls. Fasting is one of the strongest reasons that eliminate this obstacle. In the daytime of this month, the hand, foot, tongue, and mind begin to seek the sake of Allah by fasting, and in the night time, people’s souls are able to reach the divine light of Allah with salawat, prayers, and tarawih.

Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

Take meal a little before dawn, for there is a blessing in taking meal at that time.[3]

Especially in the last ten days of Ramadan, people relinquish from the world’s affairs, and with generosity and worship, people make not only themselves but also household members to participate in this divine symphony.

Every day and night of this month, angels pray for the forgiveness of the people. Heaven takes an order from Allah “Prepare and decorate for my servants who come to you”, and at the end of every night, there is the good news of forgiveness from Allah.

Abu Hurairah, with whom Allah is pleased, reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“My Ummah is given five privileges in the month of Ramadan that no Ummah was given before:

The khuloof of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter in the estimation of Allah than the fragrance of musk.

The angels keep praying to Allah to forgive them (i.e. those who are fasting), until they break their fast.

Allah decorates Jannah every day saying to it, ‘My pious slaves are about to be relieved of their burdens and sufferings and enter you’.

Satans are chained in this month, so that they are not able to accomplish their evil

The believers’ sins are forgiven by the last night of Ramadan.

Someone asked the Messenger of Allah(): Is it the night of Lailatul-Qadr’? He said: ‘No. But the laborer is usually paid upon finishing his task.”[4]

“Salman who said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) addressed us on the last day of Sha’ban and said:

O people, there has come to you a great month, a blessed month, a month in which there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting it obligatory and spending its nights in prayer a voluntary act.

Whoever draws close (to Allah) during it by doing a good deed will be like one who did an obligatory deed in any other month, and the one who does an obligatory deed in it will be like one who did seventy obligatory deeds in any other month.

It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Paradise. It is the month of helping others. It is a month in which the believer’s provision is increased.

Whoever gives a fasting person food with which to break his fast will have his sins forgiven and he will be ransomed from the Fire, and he will have a reward like his without it detracting from his reward in the slightest.”

They (the companions then) said: “Not all of us can find something to give to the fasting person with which to break his fast.” The Messenger of Allah () then said:

“Allah will give this reward to the one who gives a fasting person a date or a drink of water or a sip of milk.

It is a month the beginning of which is mercy, the middle of which is forgiveness and the end of which is ransom from the Fire.

The one who reduces the burden for his slave will be forgiven by Allah, and He will ransom him from the Fire.

So do a lot of four good deeds during it, two with which you will please your Lord and two which you cannot do without.

As for the two good deeds with which you will please your Lord, they are bearing witness that there is no god except Allah and seeking His forgiveness.

As for those which you cannot do without, they are asking Allah for Paradise and seeking refuge with Him from Hell.

Whoever feeds a fasting person until he is full, Allah will give him to drink from my Cistern, a drink after which he will not thirst again until he enters Paradise.[5]

The Reward of Ramadan

One of the main reasons for conflicts and quarrels among people is that people try to satisfy their demands immeasurably. Fasting plays an important role in restraining and balancing these ambitions.

Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger () said, Allah said,

“All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.”

Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hands my soul is’ the unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.”[6]

In this respect, the purpose of fasting is not only to restrain appetite and lust. It is also necessary to protect the tongue of man from bad and ugly words. It is only possible by fasting that people can turn their backs on lies and evil tongue, to not allow slander and gossip, to turn away from harams, to avoid lust-provoking elements, and to acquire a mature morality.

Narrated Abu Huraira, The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)[7]

A man from Banu Sulaim narrated:

The Messenger of Allah () counted them out in my hand” – or – “in his hand: ‘At-Tasbīḥ is half of the Scale, and “All praise is due to Allah (Al-Ḥamdulillāh)” fills it, and At-Takbīr (Allāhu Akbar) fills what is between the sky and the earth, and fasting is half of patience, and purification is half of faith.[8]

It can be said from this hadith that the people should seek to use the equipment of patience favoured by Allah Almighty and should never abandon this crucial ibadah by disabling the equipment of patience.

Contribution of Fasting

Fasting makes one’s feelings more sensitive. It makes people more compassionate and affectionate to other beings. The person who is fasting, better understands what hunger means and feels the suffering of people in hunger and misery. Fasting is a worship made only for Allah, without a sense of vanity and interest. Due to this feature, fasting is a worship that opens the lightened way to the soul, it is a worship that only exalts goodness for God and with the intention of gaining His contentedness.

Narrated Abu Huraira, The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadir out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.[9]

Fasting is one of the main means of increasing the strength of the mind and spirit. Nothing in this regard is as influential as fasting by giving up on thirst and bodily desires. Human nature is sometimes subject to the matured spirit ore and authentic mind and obeys Allah, and sometimes he/she is in rebellion, following the inciting nafs and the devil. In this respect, in order to prevent a person’s physical desires and the authority of nafs, he/she needs to fulfil this substantial ibadah by meeting the conditions solidly. Since not eating and drinking is an essential characteristic of angels, by fulfilling the fast, people become more and more angelic. Moreover, since fasting is done with the intention of obeying Allah, the person approaches Him and reaches His contentedness.

Is the man who follows the good pleasure of Allah like the man who draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and whose abode is in Hell? a woeful refuge” (Ali İmran, 3/162).

وَعَدَ اللّٰهُ الْمُؤْمِنٖينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرٖى مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْاَنْهَارُ خَالِدٖينَ فٖيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فٖى جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللّٰهِ اَكْبَرُ ذٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظٖيمُ

Allah hath promised to Believers- men and women, Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme felicity.” (Repentance, 9/72).

It is clearly stated in the verse that it is greater and more sublime to obtain the contentedness of Allah. It is certain evidence that this spiritual happiness is more perfect and more valuable than material happiness.

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

“Allah will say to the people of Paradise,

O the people of Paradise!

They will say, “Labbaik, O our Lord, and Sa`daik!” Allah will say,

Are you pleased?

They will say, “Why should we not be pleased since You have given us what You have not given to anyone of Your creation?” Allah will say,

I will give you something better than that.

They will reply, “O our Lord! And what is better than that?” Allah will say,

I will bestow My pleasure and contentment upon you so that I will never be angry with you after for-ever.[10]

On the other hand, it is also seen that there is some wisdom in keeping the fasting with the lunar calendar. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is eleven days shorter than the solar year, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons. Therefore, fasting occurs every day of the solar year in the timespan of thirty-three years. Likewise, there are long and short, hot and cold days in the solar year. With the start of the month of Ramadan eleven days earlier each year, Muslims in all regions living in cold and hot areas, having longer or shorter daylight, become equal in terms of quantity and severity of fasting. In case if only one of the solar months were attributed, the situation of those living in hotter regions would be more severe than those living in relatively colder regions. Again, if that would be the case, some would fast in more severe conditions for their entire life while the others would be in an easier condition. But since the lunar month is chosen, everyone’s patience is tested equally within a thirty-three-year period.

Fasting, Qur’an and Generosity

In addition to reading the Quran in the month of Ramadan, it is also important to do good deeds and show benevolence.

Narrated Abdullah b. Amr, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

“Fasting and the Quran will intercede for the servant on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say:

O Lord, I prevented him from food and drink during the day, so let me intercede for him. The Quran will say:

O Lord, I prevented him from sleeping during the night, so let me intercede for him. Thus, they will both intercede for him.”[11]

There is the following narration regarding the generosity of the Prophet (ﷺ) in Ramadan:

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

The Prophet () was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet () used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).[12]

It is understood from this hadith sheriff that it is a sunnah to read the Quran in Ramadan from the beginning to the end. It is also understood that it is a great reward for those who can afford to give a lot of charity.

Anas narrated that, the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said:

Sha’ban in honour of Ramadan”

He said: “Which charity is best?” He () said:

“Charity in Ramadan.[13]

Laylat al-Qadr

One of the most fundamental features of Ramadan is that it contains the Night of Qadr.

اِنَّا اَنْزَلْنَاهُ فٖى لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ وَمَا اَدْرٰیكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ اَلْفِ شَهْرٍ تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلٰئِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فٖيهَا بِاِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ اَمْرٍ سَلَامٌ هِىَ حَتّٰى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Qadr: And what will explain to thee what the Night of Qadr is? The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand Months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand: Peace! This until the rise of Morn!” (The Majesty, 97/1-5).

Narrated `Aisha:

Allahs Messenger (ﷺ) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.[14]

Narrated Abu Salama:

I asked Abu Sa`id, and he was a friend of mine, (about the Night of Qadr) and he said, “We practiced I`tikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet (ﷺ) . In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet (ﷺ) came and addressed us and said:

I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so, search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.[15]

Narrated Ibn `Umar:

Some men amongst the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) were shown in their dreams that the night of Qadir was in the last seven nights of Ramadan. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,

It seems that all your dreams agree that (the Night of Qadr) is in the last seven nights, and whoever wants to search for it (i.e. the Night of Qadr) should search in the last seven (nights of Ramadan).[16]

Narrated Abu Huraira, The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.[17]

During the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (ﷺ) abdicates from worldly affairs and cleaves to a mosque, spent more nights in worship and contemplation, and kept his family awake.[18]

Aishah narrated:

“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is your view if I know when the Night of Al-Qadr is, then what should I say in it?” He said:

Say: “O Allah, indeed You are Pardoning, [Generous,] You love pardon, so pardon me (Allāhumma innaka `Afuwwun [Karīmun], tuḥibbul-`afwa fa`fu `annī).[19]

For this reason, it is of special importance to spend the last ten nights of Ramadan and especially the twenty-seventh night indicated by the majority of scholars, by worshipping with the consciousness of servanthood and to decide not to repeat the mistakes have been made in the past.

Conclusion

Ramadan is a culture, a philosophy of life. It is not only the days that our nafs are restrained but an intense mobilization in which the poor, the fallen, the hungry, the needy, the unfortunate are remembered and protected.

The “Rayyaan Gate” in Paradise is only available to pass by the people who fast during Ramadan. Behind this door, there are delicious foods, drinks, and treats, and above all, Allah’s approval and mercy.

Allah says about the fasting person:

He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So, I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times.[20]

We hope that Allah Almighty and Taqaddas bring our Muslim brothers and sisters from all over the world to reach many Ramadan-sharifs and laylat al-qadrs in health, well-being, and happiness.


[1] Ebu Abdurrahman Halil b. Ahmed el-Ferâhîdî, Book of Ayn, 7/39; İbn Manzur, Lisān al-ʿArab, 5/315.

[2] Sunan an-Nasa’i, The Book of Fasting, 5 (2106).

[3] Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting, 9 (45).

[4] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2/292 (7904).

[5] Ibn Khuzaymah, Saheeh, Book of Fasting, 8 (1887); Al-Bayhaqi, Shuab ul Iman (The branches of faith), 5/224 (3336); Husam al-Din al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-Ummal, 8/477 (33714).

[6] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Fasting, 9 (1904).

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Fasting, 8 (1903).

[8] Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Chapters on Supplication, 86 (3519); Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 4/260 (18476); 5/363 (23461).

[9] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 1 (2014).

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari, To make the Heart Tender (Ar-Riqaq), 51 (6549); Sahih Muslim, The Book of Paradise, its Description, its Bounties and its Inhabitants, 2 (9).

[11] Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2/174 (6626).

[12] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Fasting, 7 (1902).

[13] Jami` at-Tirmidhi, The Book on Zakat, 28 (663).

[14] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 3 (2020); Muwatta Malik, Retiring to a Mosque for Remembrance of Allah (I’tikaf), 6 (1331).

[15] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 2 (2016).

[16] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 2 (2015).

[17] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 1 (2014).

[18] Sahih al-Bukhari, Virtues of the Night of Qadr, 5 (2024)

[19] Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Chapters on Supplication, 85 (3513).

[20] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Fasting, 2 (1894).

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