Ramadan – Secrets of the Greatest Month
A collection of narrations and sayings from the Prophet ﷺ, his Companions (God be pleased with them), the Righteous Ones [salihin] and our Shaykhs on Ramadan; the immense blessings in its first night, the unmatched rewards that it brings to those who fulfil its rights, the Night of `Id/Eid al-Fitr, and some the Night of Decree [Laylatul Qadr].
Imam Ahmad ibn Zayn al-Habashi’s Words on Fasting
Imam Ahmad ibn Zayn ibn `Alawi ibn Ahmad al-Habashi (d.1732), a student of Imam Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, wrote a comprehensive Islamic Jurisprudence [fiqh] text for beginners in the Shafi`i School of Thought entitled Risala al-Jami`ah and in the section on Fasting [sawm] he writes:
Fasting is the third pillar of Islam. It is the well-known act of withholding one’s self (from food and drink) but with certain special characteristics. Among them are making a daily intention during the preceding night, and abandoning all things which break the fast, including food, drink, sexual intercourse, ejaculation, and self-induced vomiting.
Among the things which perfect the fast is the refraining of the limbs from things which God the Exalted dislikes. The ‘seven limbs’ which need to be restrained will be discussed later. It has been said in a hadith the ‘five things nullify the act of a fasting person: lies, backbiting, slander, false oaths and looking with desire.
Among the things which perfect the fast are: hastening to break the fast with halāl food and not eating a great deal.
On the Unlimited Rewards of Fasting
Habib `Umar ibn Hafiz (God preserve him, benefit us through him and extend his lifespan) said:
Ibn `Uyayna (may God be pleased with him and have mercy on him) was asked about the Divine Utterance [ḥadīth qudsī], “except for fasting, for it is Mine and I give its reward”. His response was:
If a fast is accepted, God ﷻ will keep it protected with Him, such that even on Judgement Day, if this person were to have dues upon him from others, then God ﷻ will tell them to take from his other deeds, except for the fast, “for it is Mine”. They will be able to take from the other deeds, except for the fast because it will be protected. Even if all of his deeds were to be taken away by those whom he wronged, and they ask God ﷻ to give them the deed of his fasting, He will not allow them to.
So, how will they get their due?
Godﷻ will increase the reward of the fast and give them their due from Himself and he will enter him into Paradise from the reward of this fast.
Shaykh ash-Sha`rāwī (may God’s mercy and pleasure be upon him) also says that:
All other acts of worship can have their exterior appearances copied by the polytheists [mushrikīn] and the disbelievers, such as allotting places for pilgrimage, giving out money for a cause, sacrificing their animals for their gods, and similarly they would bow before their gods like in prayer but none of the polytheists would seek proximity to their gods through fasting. We did not hear of anyone fasting for al-Lāt and `Uzzah or any other thing worshiped other than Godﷻ. These are some of the understandings around the Divine Words, “except fasting, for it is mine and I will give reward for it.”
On Breaking the Fast
Habib Kazim as-Saqqaf (God preserve him, benefit us through him and extend his lifespan) said:
Recite the following supplication [du`ā’] and then break your fast with 3, 5 or 7 dates (an odd number), and that it will expel all of your sins as if you were a newborn (1).
He also mentioned that you should break your fast on three dates (or an odd number) and with each date you eat, make du`ā’ to reach and be exposed to The Night of Decree [laylatul qadr].
The Supplication to recite is as follows:
اللهّٰم يَاٰ عَظِيمُ يَاٰ عَظِيمُ
أَنْتَ إِلٰهِي لاٰ إلٰهَ غَيْرُكَ
إِغْفِرِ ٱلذَّنْبَ ٱلعَظِيمَ
فَإِنَّهُ لاٰ يَغْفِرُ ٱلذَّنْبَ ٱلْعَظِيمَ إِلّٰا ٱلْعَظِيمُ
Allāhumma yā aẓīmu yā aẓīm,
anta ilāhi lā ilāha ghayruk,
ighfir idh-dhanb al-aẓīm,
fa innahū la yaghfir udh-dhanb al-aẓīm ill al-aẓīm.
O God! O Mighty! O Mighty!
You are my Lord, there is no other god!
Forgive my great sins,
for none other than the All-Mighty is able to forgive them!
The First Night of Ramadan
Habib `Umar ibn Hafiz (God preserve him and benefit the Umma through him) said on the 25th of Sha`ban 1432:
Make sure you end Sha`ban in the best of states, for God records the rewards that we will receive and the supererogatory actions that we will perform before Ramadan enters. He also records the bad deeds and the wretchedness of those that will be deprived the blessings of Ramadan. What will be your state on the last Friday of Sha’ban and the night before it? Attend the gatherings at the end of this month with a heart focused on the All-Merciful.
Prepare for the first night of Ramadan, for on this night God gazes at His creation, a special gaze which is unique to this Ummah. God will never punish the one upon whom He gazes [Bayhaqi]. Look at how many gifts have been given to this Ummah – when Ramadan enters the gates of the Garden are opened and the gates of the Fire are closed [Bukhari & Muslim]. If someone who is destined for the Fire dies during Ramadan he will see that the gates of the Fire are closed!
Ibn `Abbas (may God be pleased with them both, in (at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2:439) reports from Our Master Muhammad ﷺ:
Surely Paradise is decorated the whole year for the Ramaḍān to come.
When the first night of the Ramaḍān comes, a wind called “Musīra” blows from the bottom of the Heavens.
The leaves of the trees of Paradise and the handles of its doors shake with such force and wonderful sound is heard that all listening have never before heard a more beautiful sound.
The Maidens [ḥūr al-`īn] of Paradise then appear standing on the highest point of Paradise saying, “Who is it that wishes to marry?” and God the Exalted marries him off to them.
Then the Maidens ask, “O, Keeper of Paradise! What night is tonight?”
The Keeper responds with respect, “Tonight is the first night of the month Ramaḍān. The doors of Paradise were opened for the ones from the Community [umma] of Our Master Muḥammad ﷺ who observed fasting.””
Then Our Master Muḥammad ﷺ said:
God ﷻ says, “O Riḍwān (Doorkeeper of Paradise)! Open the doors of Paradise and O Mālik (Doorkeeper of Hell)! Close the doors of Hell to the ones from the community of Muḥammad ﷺ who observed fasting!
O Jibrīl! Descend to the earth, handcuff and chain the wild ones of the devils, then throw them into the sea, so that they cannot ruin the fasting of my beloved Muḥammad’s ﷺ Community.”
Our Master Muḥammad ﷺ then said: Godﷻ orders a caller (an Angel) to make this call, three times every night of the month of Ramaḍān:
“Who is it that wishes for something? I will grant him what they want.
Who is it that wishes to repent? I will accept their repentance.
Who is it that wants forgiveness? I will forgive them.
Who will lend money to the poor not to the rich and to the loyal not to the oppressor?”
Our Master Muḥammad ﷺ continued: “Every day of Ramaḍān during the breaking of the fast, Godﷻ saves one million people from Hell who deserve it. On the last day of Ramaḍān, Godﷻ saves as many people as the sum of all of those Heﷻ saved during Ramaḍān.”
The Night of Decree [Laylat ul-Qadr]
Continuation of the previous hadith
On the Night of Decree [laylatul qadr], Godﷻ orders Jibrīl. Jibrīl descends to earth with Angels carrying a green flag. They plant the flag onto the Ka`ba. There are one hundred wings on the flag. Two of those wings do not open except on that night.
Jibrīl opens those two wings on that night, and those wings reach from the east to the west.
On that night Jibrīl instructs the Angels, and they salute and shake hands with everybody who is standing, sitting, performing prayers and remembering Godﷻ [dhikr]. They respond with “āmīn” to all of their prayers.
This continues until the dawn, when Jibrīl says, “O group of Angels! Prepare for the return.”
The Angels say, “O Jibrīl, what did Godﷻ do about the needs of believers who are from Our Master Muḥammad’s ﷺ Community?”
Jibrīl replies, “Godﷻ looked with mercy and grace at them tonight and forgave them. However, four groups are excluded.”
The narrator [Ibn `Abbās (God be pleased with them both)] says, “When we asked “O Messenger of God! Who are they?”, he ﷺ replied:
“The alcoholic, the rebellious child against his or her parents, the one who cuts off ties of kinship, and he who is mushāḥin.”
Then we asked “O Messenger of Godﷺ! What is mushāḥin?”, and he ﷺ said:
“He who cuts off ties between people and he who is disorderly and hostile.””
The Night of Reward and Celebration [`id]
Continuation of the previous hadith
When Ramaḍān ends and `Īd (celebration, holiday) night comes, it is called the Night of Reward.
In the morning of the `Īd, Godﷻ sends the Angels to every town. They descend to the earth, hold the street corners and shout with a sound every creature can hear except the human beings and the Jinn, “O! Community of Muḥammadﷺ ! Come to the presence of your Lord who bestows much and forgives your big sins.”
When they get to their places of worship Godﷻ asks the Angels, “What is the reward of the worker who has done his job?”
The Angels say, “O our exalted Lord! It is your giving his exact reward and payment.”
Upon that Godﷻ said, “O my Angels! Be witness that, I gave them my approval and forgiveness as a gift for their fasting and prayers they performed during Ramaḍān.”
And then Heﷻ ordered,
“O my slaves! Request from me. For the sake of my glory and superiority today I will surely give whatever you want for your Afterlife from me. And I will consider your situation for the things you want for this world.
For the sake of my glory, as long as you pay observe my approval, I will cover your mistakes.
For the sake of my glory and superiority, I will not disgrace you in front of the holders of a right and managers.
You gained my approval, return with my approval and having been forgiven of your sins.”
The Angels are then ecstatic and bring the glad tidings of the reward that Godﷻ will give to that community that breaks their fast at the end of Ramadan.
The Night of Decree [Laylatul Qadr] taken from Shaykh `Abdullah Sirajuddin al-Husayni
Shaykh `Abdullah Sirajuddin al-Husayni (God sanctify his secret) writes in his text, “Fasting: its Proprieties, its Aims, its Benefits and its Virtues”:
Abū Hurayra (God be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever spends the Night of Destiny in worship [qāma], with full faith in it, seeking what is promised of its reward, all of their past sins will be erased.”
Imām an-Nawawī (God be pleased with him) said regarding this Hadith, that the meaning of “spending it in worship with full faith in it” is that one is convinced that the Night of Decree is true and that it is an act of worship and devotion. And the meaning of “seeking what is promised of its reward”, that one seeks the Pleasure of God the Exalted and the reward He promised to those who perform worship on that Night, without any ostentation (showing off) and the like.
It is a Sunna to pray much on that night, and to make many supplications and all other types of worship. It is also recommended that one stays awake the whole night in worship and one needs to seek out the Night of Destiny in the last ten nights of Ramaḍān as it is related in Bukhari that our Liege-lady `Ā’isha (God be pleased with her and her father) said, “The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Seek out the Night of Decree in the final ten (nights) of Ramaḍān.”
And in the Two Authentic Ḥadīth Texts (Muslim and Bukhārī), it is mentioned that in the final ten nights of Ramaḍān, the Prophet ﷺ would spend them in worship, would wake up his family to perform worship, would exert himself ﷺ even more and would pull his waist-belt tight.
One who believes in that special night and worshiped God in it, will still receive rewards for it, even if its lights and special secrets were not unveiled for them; whether awake or asleep (in dreams). This is shown in a narration from Muslim that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever spends the Night of Decree in worship, and upholds it in belief and seeking its reward, their past sins will be forgiven.”
It is also recommended to recite often on this night the following supplication attributed to our liege-lady `Ā’isha (God be pleased with her and her father) whereby she asked the Prophet ﷺ, “O Messenger of God ﷺ, what should I say if I realised that I have found the Night of Decree?”
He ﷺ answered, “Say, O God, you are oft-forgiving, gracious and generous, You love to pardon, so pardon me (of my sins).”
اَللّٰهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ ٱلْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي
Allāhumma innaka `afuwwun karīmun tuḥibbul `afwa, fa`fu `annī
O God! Truly You are Oft-Pardoning, Gracious and Generous, You Love to pardon, so pardon me!
Dates for the Night of Decree
Based on the words of the Friends of God [awliya’]
Shaykh ibn ‘Arabī (may God sanctify his secret) stated:
“If the 1st of Ramaḍān falls on a Monday, then it (the Night of Decree) may be expected on either the 23rd night or the 19th.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Tuesday: 29th or 25th.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Wednesday: 21st or 17th.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Thursday: 27th or 23rd.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Friday: if the first day of any month other than Ramaḍān falls on a Friday, then the blessed night will be either the 15th night or the 19th of that month.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Saturday: 25th or 21st.
1st Ramaḍān is on a Sunday: if the first day of any month other than Ramaḍān falls on a Sunday, then the blessed night will be either the 17th night or the 13th of that month.”
According to Imām al-Ghazālī (may God sanctify his secret), the Night of Decree [laylatul qadr] can be calculated based on the following:
This is from his text where he said:
O ye who ask about the Night of Power which is…In the last ten days; it manifests
For verily it is in the odd nights of the ten [days]…It is known from the day on which the month [of Ramaḍān] begins
As for Sunday and Wednesday…[Then it begins on the Twenty] Ninth
And Friday with Tuesday…The [Twenty] Seventh
And if it began on a Thursday…Then it is the [Twenty] Fifth
And if it began on a Saturday…Then it is the [Twenty] Third
And if it began on a Monday…Then it is the [Twenty] First
This is [related to us] from the Sufi Ascetics.
1. Ṣaḥih, Ibn `Asākir.