The month of Ramadan marks the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. Since the worship rituals of Muslims are determined by the lunar calendar, Ramadan begins approximately 11 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar and lasts either 29 or 30 days. It is considered to be the most important month in the Islamic calendar, and is observed by more than two billion Muslims worldwide.
The Arabic term “Ramadan” refers to “intense heat”. Some scholars say that the reason why this blessed month was given this name is because fasting in this month burns away sins.
According to another narration, Ramadan was the name of a very hot summer month in pre-Islamic times. (However, the timing of Ramadan in the Islamic lunar calendar changes from year to year.) They named this month “Ramadan” because the stones got too hot from the extreme heat.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the most precious of all the months. The value given to this month is so great that Muslims refer to it as “the sultan of 11 months”.
The most significant act of worship performed in the month of Ramadan is fasting. The Arabic term for fasting is “sawm” in the Qur’an. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and requires abstaining from food, drink and marital relationships from dawn to dusk. Fasting is described in the Holy Qur’an as follows:
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you will perhaps guard yourselves (against evil).” [Qur’an 2:183]
Every healthy adult Muslim is required to fast during Ramadan. However, there are exemptions for those who are traveling, elderly, sick or pregnant. These individuals can make up their missed fasts at a more suitable time after Ramadan. The elderly and chronically ill who cannot make up missed fasts must feed a needy person for each missed day if they are financially able to do so.
Children are not obligated to fast either as their religious responsibilities begin with the onset of puberty. However, parents can educate their children about fasting and the month of Ramadan and may encourage them to fast for half a day or a few hours to experience the spiritual significance of this month.
The month of Ramadan is considered an important time for self-discipline, purification of the mind and body, increased piety (taqwa), and following the example of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) through acts of worship and good deeds.
Those who devote themselves to Allah (سبحان الله تعالى) during this holy month by fasting, praying, reciting the Qur’an, making dhikr, seeking forgiveness, and assisting those in need, will reap the rewards of its blessings for an entire year.
Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه) reported:
Verily the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“The five (daily) prayers and from one Friday prayer to the (next) Friday prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins.” [Sahih Muslim 233c]
In this month, which is a spiritual training period for Muslims, Allah (سبحان الله تعالى) provides blessings to His servants in various ways. As we learn from the hadiths of our Prophet (ﷺ), divine mercy increases, the gates of heaven are opened and the devils are chained during this month.
Narrated Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه):
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the (Hell) Fire are closed, and the devils are chained.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 3277]
The word “muqabala” means to compare two things with each other. In the context of Qur’anic literature, it refers to the practice of reading the Qur’an together with others. Muslims follow the example of Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) coming to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and reciting the Qur’an with him during Ramadan.
Every Ramadan, Muslims gather in their homes or mosques to listen to the Qur’an recited by a hafiz. Each day of the month, a chapter of the Qur’an (juz) is read, and the entire Qur’an is completed by the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr).
Since the Qur’an was revealed in this holy month, Muslims devote much of their time during Ramadan to reading and reflecting upon its teachings.
Taraweeh, which is the plural of the word tarweeha, means “to relax” or “to rest” and refers to the prayer performed after the Isha’ prayer during the month of Ramadan.
Taraweeh is one of the beauties of Ramadan nights; Muslims gather in mosques every evening after the iftar meal, throughout the month. This is a very blessed and highly spiritual experience. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself performed the taraweeh prayer.
Narrated Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه):
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying regarding Ramadan,
“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah (سبحان الله تعالى), then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [ Sahih al-Bukhari 2008]
It has been interpreted that the word “qiyam” in the original text of the mentioned hadith refers specifically to the taraweeh prayer.
I’tikaf means seclusion in a mosque or at home with the sole purpose of devoting one’s time to worshiping Allah (سبحان الله تعالى). Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) performed i’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan every year after he migrated to Madinah. His wives generally joined him in i’tikaf.
It is hoped that spending the last 10 days of Ramadan in which the Laylat al-Qadr is hidden with intense worship will also be a means of attaining the reward of that night.
‘Aishah (رضي الله عنها) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to observe I’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan and say, “
Seek Laylat-ul-Qadr (Night of Power) in the odd nights out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Riyad as-Salihin 1192]
The word “qadr” means power, judgment, appreciation, honor and greatness thus “Laylat al-Qadr” is referred to as the Night of Power. This special night which falls on the 27th night of the month of Ramadan marks the beginning of the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
“Verily, We have sent it down in the Night of al-Qadr
And What will make you know what the Night of al-Qadr is?
The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months.
Therein descend the angels and the Ruh by their Lord’s permission with every matter.
There is peace until the appearance of dawn.”
[Quran: 97 Al-Qadr]
The time of the Laylat al-Qadr is stated as follows in hadiths:
Narrated `Aisha (رضي الله عنها):
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 2017]
Narrated Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufyan (رضي الله عنه) :
The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
Laylat al-qadr is the twenty-seventh night (of Ramadan). [Sunan Abi Dawud 1386]
It was narrated that Abu Salamah bin ‘Abdur-Rahman (رضي الله عنه) said:
“Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) told me that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘
Whoever spends the nights of Ramadan in prayer (Qiyam) out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins, and whoever spends the night of Laylat Al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.”‘ [Sunan an-Nasa’i 2206]
Dua for Laylat al-Qadr
‘Aishah (رضي الله عنها) reported:
I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Laylat-ul-Qadr (Night of Power), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [At-Tirmidhi]
Overall, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to focus on their spiritual growth, to strengthen their relationship with Allah (سبحان الله تعالى), and to demonstrate their devotion to their faith. Through fasting, prayer, and charitable giving, Muslims are reminded of the importance of compassion, generosity, and community service and are inspired to continue these practices throughout the year.
Those who do not take advantage of the spiritual benefits of Ramadan are missing out on a great opportunity for growth and purification. It is important for Muslims to recognize the value of this blessed month and make the most of it through acts of worship and spiritual reflection.
Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“May the man before whom I am mentioned – and he does not send Salat upon me – be humiliated. And may a man upon whom Ramadan enters and then passes, before he is forgiven, be humiliated. And may a man whose parents reached old age in his presence, and they were not a cause for his entrance to Paradise, be humiliated.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3545]
I pray for all of us to take advantage of this opportunity and attain Allah’s (سبحان الله تعالى) mercy. Have a blessed Ramadan.
Ramadan 1444/ March 2023