The A to Z of the holy month of Ramadan

Updated 17 June 2015

The A to Z of the holy month of Ramadan

We are blessed to benefit from yet another holy month in our lifetime. Ramadan is here and we all are spiritually charged and excited to receive unlimited bounties. It is the time of the year when we try to please Allah and are rewarded with the limitless mercies of Allah. If you haven’t felt the thrill yet, then read on. Listed below are the A to Z of Ramadan, the benefits, wisdoms and lessons one learns from the fasting bonanza.

As-Siyam or fasting means to “abstain from something.” In Ramadan, one should abstain from food, drink, marital relations and other actions that displease Allah, from dawn to dusk with the explicit intention of doing so for the sake of the Almighty.

The blessings and benefits of Ramadan fasting are too many to be listed. Some of these include: The blessed Holy Qur’an was revealed in this month, the doors of the heaven are opened, while the doors of the hell are closed and the devils are chained.

The benefits of charity to the poor and needy are tremendous. Ibn ‘Abaas said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most charitable among the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month.” (Bukhari). The Prophet said, “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, without nothing being reduced from the fasting person’s reward.” (Tirmidhi)

Ramadan is a great time to make dua (supplication). A dua list will ensure that you will not miss out on any important dua that you want to make to Allah during this holy month. The Messenger of Allah said: “The dua of the fasting person will not be refused.” (Reported by Bayhaqi)

With the sighting of the moon at the end of the month comes the Eid Al-Fitr. It’s like the cherry on top of the cake as it’s a celebratory time that includes buying new clothes, parties, rides for kids and exchanging gifts with family members and friends.

Ramadan is the best time to forgive and be forgiven. The Prophet said, “Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent.” (Ibn Maajah) Allah provides many opportunities to repent to Him and seek His forgiveness.

The Prophet said, “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah has no need that he should leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari) We must pay attention to the purification of our manners. Backbiting and slandering is forbidden and it is like eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. Therefore stay away from Gheebah to realize the true spirit of fasting.

Fasting overhauls the body during the holy month. It speeds up the metabolism and improves brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It encourages Muslims to take care of their health and to build strong bodies. The Prophet said, “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone.” (Muslim)

It means seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. The Prophet would perform I’tikaf for 10 days every Ramadan. In the year that he died, he performed it for 20 days.

It is one of the ultimate goals of all Muslims. Ramadan is essentially a shield from the hell-fire. The Prophet is reported to have said about Ramadan, “An angel calls out: ‘O you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed. (Ahmad and Nasa’i)

Kibr is when a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. The Prophet said: “Never can the person who possesses a speck of pride inside his heart enter Paradise.” One should refrain from pride and self-glorification in Ramadan to please Allah. The act of fasting itself helps us to attain humility and get rid of arrogance.

Laylatul Qadr
The Night of Qadr is greater than 1,000 months of continuous worship; that’s over 83 years. Many will be freed from the hell-fire and granted Jannah on this night. Believers should therefore increase their ibadah, especially during its last third part when Allah descends to the lowest heavens asking for those who seek His forgiveness.

Using the miswaak is Sunnah when fasting and otherwise. However, a fasting person must be careful not to swallow anything.

One should be extremely mindful of his intention of fasting and do it only for Allah. The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever fasts one day seeking the pleasure of Allah, if that is the last day of his life, he will enter Paradise.” (Ahmad, 5/391) The intention of fasting must be made before Fajr and during every night of Ramadan. It need not be spoken.

Obligatory deeds
The reward of an obligatory deed in Ramadan is multiplied by 70 while a non-obligatory action commands the reward of a fardh (obligatory action) in this blessed month. This is a once-in-a-year opportunity to upgrade our rewards collection, thereby improving ourselves.

Allah legislated fasting for gaining Taqwa (piety), “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa.” (2:183) Taqwa in this case means to make a shield between oneself and Allah’s anger and hellfire. The purpose is met when at the end of the fasting day we are able to fear Allah SWT more and as a result are able to protect ourselves from the hellfire.

Qiyam Al-Layl
Numerous Qur’anic verses and prophetic narrations mention the excellence of the night prayer and the merit of those who perform it regularly. Abu Huraira said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, “The one who does Qiyam in Ramadan with faith and sincerity, all his/her sins will be forgiven.”

There is in Paradise a door called Rayyan. It is for the fasting Muslims. Only those who fasted the month of Ramadan will be able to enjoy the bliss of Paradise inside that area.

Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal taken before the time of Fajr. The Messenger of Allah encouraged us to take suhoor by saying, “Have suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing (barakah).” (Reported by Bukhaari).

Special prayers after Isha during Ramadan are called Taraweeh. It is strongly recommended that both men and women attend the prayer in congregation as Taraweeh is a means for forgiveness of the sins. Abu Huraira said: Allah’s Messenger said, “He who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past (minor) sins forgiven.”
The one who does Umrah in Ramadan will attain a reward equal in amount to that of Haj.

Many young Muslims are clueless about what they should do in Ramadan. It is therefore important to have a vision, not only for the month of Ramadan but after that as well. Goals should be set and a routine that will help you achieve those goals should be followed. Be it feeding 10 people, volunteering for charity work or reading the Holy Qur’an, list it on paper and start doing it.

By purifying oneself for prayer, a person expiates all of his sins and his prayer is considered an extra reward for him, which in turn is multiplied several times for it being Ramadan. A believer must try to do ablution to remain pure as much as he can in the blessed month. If a person makes wudu’ well, all his sins between two salats (between the salat he will perform and the subsequent one) will be forgiven.) — Bukhaari

X-ray your life
Ramadan is a good time to introspect whether or not your life is being led according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is an exercise in improving the self and setting goals for the present and the future. This month should also make us reflect on the endless bounties that God has bestowed on us and thank Him profusely for the same. It is also time for Tawbah (repentance with a pledge not to repeat) for the past sins.

The number of orphans worldwide has reached an all-time high.
Muslims should follow the example set by the Prophet Muhammad himself who said holding his index and middle fingers together upright, “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him will be in paradise like this.” They should come together to care for, provide for, and support orphans who cannot otherwise help themselves in the holy month of Ramadan.

Zakat Al-Fitr
The Prophet enjoined Zakat Al-Fitr so that those who observed fasting are purified of their bad deeds and thus, are able to perfect their fasting, and so that the poor and the needy are able to arrange for their basic necessities of food and clothing. It should be distributed before the Eid prayer.

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.