Ramadan Mubarak everyone! So blessed to have reached one more Ramadan. May Allah make us get the MOST out of it.
When it comes to virtue, Allah has decreed some people to be above others, some places to be above others, and some months to be above others. Ramadan is one of those months which Allah has favored over other months with regards to its virtues. It is a month full of blessings and opportunities to get closer to Allah.
Gates of Paradise Opened and the Gates of Hell Locked and the Devils are Chained Up
One of the greatest blessings of this month is that our archenemies, Iblis and his supporters among the devils, are locked up. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell Fire are closed, and the devils are chained” (Bukhari). Perhaps, it is due to this reason that we feel more tranquility and peace in this month than any of the others. Some of the scholars said that the devils are locked up to prevent them from harming the believers and agitating them. This is a form of mercy from Allah in order to make it easy for the believers to focus on worshipping their Creator. Some scholars also said that the devils being chained is only meant to be metaphorical and the meaning is that there is abundance of reward and forgiveness in this month. And the temptations and harms of devils are diminished to such an extent that it is as if the devils are chained.
Another virtue of Ramadan is that it acts as expiation for our minor sins. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 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” (Muslim).
Reward of ‘Umrah in Ramadan is Multiplied
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “’Umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj” (Ibn Majah). The meaning here is in reward and not that the obligation of Hajj is lifted from the one who performs ‘Umrah in Ramadan. There is a consensus among the Muslim scholars on this.
Laylah Al-Qadr (The Night of Power)
The night of power is said to be better than a 1000 nights (83+ years). Allah Says in the Qur’an [meaning of which is], “And what can make you know what is the night of Power? The night of Power is better than a thousand months” (Qur’an 97:2-3). So if you catch it and worship Allah during it, you will be rewarded as if you worshiped Him for a 1000 nights. This blessed night is in the last 10 nights of Ramadan but we do not know which one. Allah has hidden it from us. Some scholars said that it shifts every year to a different night within the last ten. The Prophet (pbuh) used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr (power) in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan” (Bukhari).
Reward of Praying Taraweeh in Ramadan
There is a consensus of Muslim scholars on standing in prayer during the nights of Ramadan. This prayer specifically is called Taraweeh. Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari). This prayer is not obligatory but recommended. The word taraweeh (تَرَاويحُ) comes from the word tarweeh (تَّرْوِيْح), which means resting or relaxation. The word taraweeh originally meant any sort of sitting to take rest, however, over time it came to be known as the sitting which occurs after four rak’ahs in the nights of Ramadan. Hence, the name “Taraweeh Prayer” or the prayer in which the people take rest every four rak’ahs.
Unfortunately, some people in this month get sucked into the irrelevant debate of 8 vs. 20 units of prayer. They fail to realize that it is only nawafil and the number does not matter as many scholars have pointed out. You will be rewarded for praying the whole night as long as you finish the prayer with the imam regardless of how many units of prayer the imam prays. There is a legitimate form of difference of opinion on the matter among the scholars and it should be respected not attacked and ridiculed.
It is recommended to spend the last ten days in the masjid to do I’tikaaf (staying overnight at the masjid worshiping and remembering Allah). If you cannot stay awake the whole night, then try to do the second half of the night, if you are unable to do that as well, then at least the last 1/3 of the night, which is the most blessed part of the night. It is reported by Aisha that, “Prophet (pbuh) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him” (Bukhari). The purpose of the I’tikaaf is to focus on Allah and connect with Him through dhikr, prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, supplication, etc. and to turn away from everything else. For those ten days, the believer becomes detached from the world and focuses exclusively on his afterlife.
Another purpose of the I’tikaaf is to try and catch Laylah Al-Qadr (night of power) because it occurs in the last 10 nights of Ramadan. This is why mosques all around the world increase their qiyaam-al-layl during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Thus, they do an extra qiyaam following taraweeh prayer. It is all based on the whole idea of catching the night of power, which is better than a 1000 months.
Revising the Qur’an
It is recommended (and not obligatory) to revise the whole Qur’an in Ramadan. It is reported that the, “Angel Gabriel used to meet the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur’an with him” (Bukhari).
It is important to revise it with understanding and not just parroting away without much thought. Quality of your reading trumps the quantity. So if you read less of the Qur’an but with understanding, this is more important than reading lots of it without understanding. This is because the purpose of the Qur’an is to be understood and acted upon. How can you act upon something you do not understand? Ibn Rajab, a great scholar from the past, said, “The greatest thing by which the love of Allah is attained from the nawafil actions is recitation of the Qur’an especially recitation with contemplation [over its meaning]”.
Being Extra Generous in Charity
It is reported that, “Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was the most generous of people in charity, but he was generous to the utmost in the month of Ramadan” (Muslim). The reward of deeds in Ramadan is increased and multiplied more so than other months, therefore, it makes sense to increase in charity in this month. Shaykh Ibn Baaz said, “Obedience [to Allah] in Ramadan is more rewardable with Allah than outside of it”. Also, this is a month of mercy, forgiveness, and emancipation from the fire of Hell. Additionally, Allah is merciful to those who are merciful to others as the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “Allah is merciful only to those of His slaves who are merciful [to others]” (Bukhari).