Ramadan, the Muslim Holy month of fasting is here again. Though most of us are aware of the virtues, and dos and don’ts of this holy month, they are worth recalling here so as to make best use of these precious days on one hand and try to clear the misconceptions about Islam if any in the minds of fellow non-Muslim brethren on the other.
We are grateful to Maulana Izhar Bashir Madani - the young and knowledgeable Head of the student section at Jamia Mohammadia Mansoora in Malegaon who gracefully accepted our request to Explore the Holy month of Ramadan in this series of video speeches for ummid.com.
In Part-I of the series today, Izhar Bashir Madani who has graduated from the Islamic University of Madinah briefly introduces the concept of moon in the Islamic calendar and some of the important virtues of the Holy month.
All praise is for Allah the Almighty who descended the Prophets and the Books for guidance of the mankind. Simultaneously, the Almighty Allah also bestows His choicest blessings on us. Owing to the virtues and importance associated with Ramadan, the month is no less than a unique opportunity for the mankind to purify themselves and seek forgiveness from the Almighty.
Ramadan like the other months in the Islamic lunar calendar begins with the sighting of the new moon over the horizon. Depending on the geographical locations, it appears with a difference of a day or two in various parts of the world pronouncing the arrival of the holy moments.
The Moon in the Islamic Calendar
Ramadan, also known as Mah-e-Seyam, the Holy month of fasting is 9th month in the Islamic calendar that succeeds Shaaban and precedes Shawwal. Any month in the Islamic calendar always begins and ends when after completing the full circle the new moon appears again over the horizon. A month can be of twenty nine days or thirty days but can never be of twenty eight days or thirty one days, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said:
The month (can be) 29 nights (i.e. days), and do not fast till you see the moon, and if the sky is overcast, then complete Sha'ban as thirty days. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar)
At another place the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said:Do not fast (for Ramadan) before the coming of the month until you sight the moon or complete the number (of thirty days); then fast until you sight the moon or complete the number (of thirty days). (Abu Dawood, Narrated by Hudhayfah)
Describing the new moon, Quran says:
They question you about the new moon. Tell them: it is to determine the periods of time for the benefit of mankind and for the Hajj (pilgrimage). (Surah Al Baqara, Ayah 189)
Because the important prayers and obligations are associated with these months, we normally look for the new moon on three occasions. 1. When Ramadan begins. 2. When it ends and 3. When begins Dhul Hijja - the month of Hajj.
After sighting the new moon on these occasions, while it is acceptable to greet each other, as a Muslim we need to recite the Dua (the prayer) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has advised us as confirmed by the following:
When the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) saw the new moon, he said: "A new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance; a new moon of good and right guidance. I believe in Him Who created you" three times. He would then say: "Praise be to Allah Who has made such and such a month to pass and has brought such and such a month." (Abu Dawood, Narrated by Qatadah)
At another place, it is reported:
When the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw moon he would say, "Allah is the Greatest! O Allah, make it shine upon us in peace, faith, security, safety, and with the power to do what You love and are pleased with! O moon! Your Lord and our Lord is Allah." (At-Tabarani, Reported by Abdallah bin Umar)
In this Dua lies an important point. When we say O moon! Your Lord and our Lord is Allah, we admit that like us the moon is also the creature of the Almighty Allah. Hence as it follows the Lord despite not being as accountable to the Almighty as we are, we must also follow Him in every respect.
Ramadan, the Holy Month
After the new moon appears over the horizon pronouncing the beginning of Ramadan, blessings of the Almighty begin to shower on us. Allah's Apostle said:
"When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira)
It is also reported that every night and at the time of Iftaar-the time when we end the fast, Allah Almighty forives
The main thing one should keep in minds that unlike Hajj that is performed only in the month of Dhul Hijja there is no prayer in Ramadan that is not being offered in other months. The difference is just of importance and obligations. The most important prayer that one performs in Ramadan is Saum or Fasting that is obligatory for every Muslim. Quran says:
"O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may learn self-restraint." (Surah Al Baqara, Ayah 183)
Describing the importance of fasting, the Prophet said:
"Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira)
At another instance, Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
"Ramadan, a blessed month, has come to you during which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast. In it the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of al-Jahim are locked, and the rebellious devils are chained. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months. He who is deprived of its good has indeed suffered deprivation." (Narrated by Abu Hurayrah Al Tirmidhi. Ahmad and Nasa'i transmitted it)
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) has also said:
"When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and the rebellious jinn are chained, the gates of Hell are locked and not one of them is opened; the gates of Paradise are opened and not one of them is locked; and a crier calls, 'You who desire what is good, come forward, and you who desire evil, refrain.' Some are freed from Hell by Allah, and that happens every night." (Narrated AbuHurayrah. Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it. Ahmad transmitted it from a man. Tirmidhi said this is a gharib tradition)
May Allah help us in properly utilizing these holy days.