You have been given an opportunity of a lifetime. A business operates twenty four hours a day. The owner wishes to take a holiday and has requested you to run the business for one month. The arrangement is that for every second that you will personally man the business, you will get paid twenty rands. If you have to leave the business for any necessity, the person who relieves you will get the money for the duration of time that you are out! You have obviously grabbed the opportunity with open arms.
First let the above scenario settle in the mind. Now imagine that the month of running the business has just commenced. A close friend phones to invite you to a lavish function. “You must come,” he urges. Your almost spontaneous reply would perhaps be: “I am sorry but I am very busy and will not be able to attend.” The first weekend comes. Your children want to “go out for a drive.” “Not today. I am very busy,” says their father. The children’s mother also wholeheartedly agrees. After all she is also dreaming every night about what she will do with the twenty rands per second that her husband is earning. Hence she does not ask to be taken anywhere. How can she even think of it. Twenty rands per second — and just for one month only! And you … well obviously you are working beyond the limits of overtime. No time to eat in peace. Only the minimal amount of sleep. No shopping. No “drives.” No time to sit around with friends over coffee. And entertainment? Whatever is that? The very word sounds unfamiliar. All this due to the once in a lifetime opportunity of earning twenty rands per second for one month.
ANSWER ON DAY OF JUDGEMENT
Yet, if the person who slogged for the entire month to earn twenty rands per second … passes away on the thirtieth day, the wealth he earned will be of no use to him. He cannot take it along to his grave. If he does live to use it, the tax-man will be there to first take his share. He will have to worry about how to protect his wealth. Besides this, he will have to answer on the Day of Judgement about how he earned it and where he spent it. Generally, despite the abovementioned problems we will grab the opportunity of running the business for one month.
Allah Ta’ala is also granting us a lifetime’s opportunity. The month of Ramadhaan with its unlimited blessings is here. One month in earnings at the rate of twenty rands per second cannot even be called petty cash in comparison to the rewards that Allah Ta’ala grants and the blessings and mercy that He showers in the month ofRamadhaan. Every Ramadhaan must be treated as a once in a lifetime opportunity since we have no idea whether we will live till the next Ramadhaan. What are the rewards of good deeds in the month of Ramadhaan? The reward of every Fardh (compulsory) act is multiplied seventy times while every Nafl (optional) act earns the reward of one Fardh out of Ramadhaan. It is important to understand the latter aspect in its proper perspective. Tahajjud (Nafl Salaah in the last third of the night) is an extremely great ibaadah. Great virtues have been narrated for this Salaah. However, a lifetime of tahajjud cannot euqal one Fardh of Fajr Salaah! Yet in the month of Ramadhaan Allah Ta’ala grants us the reward of a Fardh action for every Nafl performed.
Thus, can we afford to waste this time? Can we still have time for “drives?” Is it possible for a person who values Ramadhaan in a similar manner that he values twenty rands a second, to spend hours “eating out” at after taraweeh feasts, or have time for other idle pursuits? Can we afford to spend valuable time glued to the airwaves listening to the “opinions” and “views” of all and sundry inDeeni matters whereas that time could have been used to at least recite Durood Shareef ? And entertainment? Have we heard that word before??? Thus the last thing that any Muslim who values Ramadhaan will bother about is who somewhere in the world is whacking a little red ball all over a field or who is kicking a ball between two posts!!!
Thus it also does not behove of people who value Ramadhaan to try to “save time” from the performance of ibaadah. Many people “work out” the shortest taraweeh — where they will be able to leave in the shortest possible time and head for the food outlets where ample time will be whiled away. Think of the twenty rands per second. We would break the records for over-time work. Thus in Ramadhaan we should break the record for the amount of time spent in Salaah, tilaawat (recitation of the Qur’an Shareef), zikr, dua, etc. Ramadhaan is not a month to “save” time from the performance of these acts. Rather it is a month to engage every moment possible in these acts. Apart from Salaah, tilaawat, etc., Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has himself stressed upon us to excessively engage in some practices. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “And in this month you should endeavour to perform four things in great number, two of which shall be to please your Rabb, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot make do. Those which shall be to please your Rabb are that you should in great abundance recite the “Kalima Tayyiba” (Laa ilaaha il’lallah) and make much istighfaar (beg Allah’s forgiveness with Astaghfirullah). And as for those two without which you cannot make do, you should beg Allah for entry into paradise and seek refuge with him from the fire of Jahannam.”
While one should engage to the maximum in the above good deeds, the purpose of Ramadhaan must be kept foremost in mind, which is to acquire Taqwa (Allah-awareness and piety). Thus together with the maximum amount of righteous actions one must totally refrain from all sins. One month of strictly conducting oneself in this manner will Insha-Allah have the effect of enabling one to live the next eleven months in a similar manner — in the complete obedience of Allah Ta’ala. May Allah Ta’ala enable us to appreciate and value the month of Ramadhaan — more than what we value twenty rands per second.
Preparation for Ramadaan
Before any event, preparations are made. In proportion to the event are the preparations. If it is a small event, then perhaps the preparations will commence a few days before and it will involve a few individuals. If it is a worldwide event, then preparations will commence weeks, rather months in advance and will involve many people. Likewise, we will witness, if Allah Ta’ala wills, such a grand, magnificent event that preparations have commenced for it an entire year in advance. Jannah is prepared and beautified by Allah Ta’ala the entire year for the moment when its doors will be flung open on the first night of Ramadaan. Such a great month that leave alone man, the entire creation of Allah Ta’ala is mobilised for it. The fish in the ocean make dua for the fasting person (Musnad Ahmad). The angels in the heaven make dua for their forgiveness. Precisely for this reason, Nabi (salallahu `alahi wasallam) declared this month as `azeem (great) mubaarak (blessed) (Ibnu Khuzaymah). It is a month in which Allah Ta’ala engulfs His creation in His rahmah. The excellence of this month has been encapsulated in the following words of Rasulullah (sallallahu `alahi wasallam) as reported by Abu Masood (radiyallahu `anhu): “Had my Ummah only knew the true value of Ramadaan, they would have desired that the entire year be Ramadaan” (Ibn Khuzaymah). Nabi (sallallahu `alahi wasallam) would make dua to be allowed to witness the month of Ramadaan from the time the crescent of Rajab would be sighted. “O Allah! Bless us in Rajab and Sha`baan and allow us to witness the month of Ramadaan” (Tabarani). He (salallahu `alahi wasallam) would also make the following dua: “O Allah! Safeguard me for the month of Ramadaan and guard the month of Ramadaan for me (that I attain the maximum blessings of this month)” (Tabarani). Imaam Suyuti (Rahimahullah), a renowned Shafi` scholar narrates in Ad Durrul Manthoor from Mu`alla bin Fadhl: The pious people of the past would begin making dua to witness the month of Ramadaan six months in advance!
What can we do in preparation for Ramadaan?
Firstly, fulfil all obligations that are outstanding towards people whether it be of a monetary nature or anything else. Secondly, try and programme ourselves in such a way that we have minimum work in Ramadaan and maximum time to dedicate to Allah Ta’ala. Thirdly, draw up for ourselves a programme, deciding how we will utilise our time fruitfully during the Mubarak month of mercy. Lastly, try and increase our time spent in the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala so that we are ready to receive this great month. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the best of this month and shower us with his mercy and forgiveness. Aameen.
Object of Ramadhaan
On a sweltering hot day your throat has become parched. You are in the privacy of your home and the refreshingly cool water is within hand’s reach. You desire to drink it, but you do not. Why? Simply because you are fasting and while fasting you cannot eat and drink. If somebody prompts you to nevertheless drink it and says: “Nobody is watching,” you will immediately rebuke him with the words: “But Allah is watching!”
ALLAH TA’ALA IS WATCHING!
Subhanallah! Allah Ta’ala is watching. Allahu Akbar! Allah Ta’ala is All Hearing, All Knowing, He is Omnipresent. He sees and knows when we cheat while fasting, thus we resist all temptations of food, drink and lawful conjugal relations from dawn to dusk. We have learnt the lesson of Taqwa. We have learnt that lesson which the fasting was meant to teach us. Allah Ta’ala is watching! Yes, Allah Ta’ala is Watching! Every time there is an urge to eat or drink while fasting, the voice from within cries out: “Allah Ta’ala is watching!” Dozens of times daily for an entire month this reality is reaffirmed. Allah Ta’ala is watching. So deeply is it embedded in the heart that by the time Ramadhaan is over, a person becomes conscious of Allah Ta’ala to such an extent that he is now guided by an inner force that propels him in the direction of righteousness and turns him away from sin.
The fasts of Ramadhaan were prescribed for the purpose and object of attaining Taqwa. This is clearly declared in the Qur’an-al-Kareem. Taqwa simply is to obey the commands of Allah Ta’ala and refrain from all sin, The increased rewards for lbaadah (worship) in Ramadhaan and all the blessings of this great month should be considered as the bonus. The object is Taqwa. If one performs an abundance of Salaah, completes the recitation of the Qur’an thirty times and engages in many other acts of lbaadah, but fails to give up sins – one has failed to achieve the object and purpose of Ramadhaan. One has failed to firmly embed the reality of Taqwa in the heart, the Taqwa that cries out “Allah Is watching” whenever one contemplates committing any transgression.
The dictates of Taqwa are not restricted to abstaining from drinking, gambling, adultery, transacting in interest and other such vices. Indeed Taqwa demands that while abstaining from all the above vices one also observes Taqwa in one’s business. When the temptation to cheat the customer beckons, or when one is tempted to buy stolen goods, or to indulge in fraud, at that time also the heart should cry out “Allah is watching” and it should restrain one from the sin.
Similarly, Taqwa demands the fulfillment of the rights of the husband/wife, It also demands the joining of family ties. It demands respect for the elders and kindness for the young. Taqwa entails, among other aspects, being honest and clear in all monetary dealings and social interactions. Hence when there is a wedding or funeral, or at the time of distributing the inheritance of the deceased, the same level of Allah consciousness must be displayed as was apparent when refraining from drinking the cold water while fasting.
Likewise, when the laws of purdah are violated, does the heart cry out “Allah is watching”? Or when one intends to watch something on TV., which will most definitely involve one in zina of the eyes and ears, does one hear the voice from within: “Allah is watching,” as a result of which one refrains from that sin? The same pertains to the Shari’ aspects of appearance and clothing. How often have we done things to appease and please even the enemies of Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)? How often have we abandoned the dictates of Taqwa in order to earn a few coppers? Now is the time to sincerely repent. It is the time to say “Allah is watching” and to do everything to please Him. It is a time to acquire Taqwa.
ABSTAIN FROM SIN
This then is the object of Ramadhaan. This will only be achieved if we conduct ourselves in this great month with Taqwa. Or else the object of Ramadhaan will be defeated. Hence Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “He who does not forsake lying and other futile actions, Allah Ta’ala has no need for him to give up his food and drink.” Thus together with fasting, performing Salaah, reading the Qur’an, serving the cause of Deen, etc,, one must totally abstain from every sin in the month of Ramadhaan and adorn oneself with Taqwa. Insha-Allah this will then carry one along for the rest of the eleven months to abstain from all sins. May Allah Ta’ala enable us to make this Ramadhaan a month where we will truly attain Taqwa. Aameen.