It is reported that the Prophet, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him, spoke the following in the beginning of the month of Ramadhan (Independent translation of a hadith reported by Ali bin Moosa from Ali bin Abi Talib):
O my people, the month of Allah, the Almighty has come with blessings mercy and forgiveness. The most exalted month in the eyes of Allah. The days of that month is the most supreme among the days and the nights of that month is the most supreme among nights. The hours of this month is also the most high among hours. That is the month where you are invited as the esteemed guests of Allah. That you are in fact entitled to be given His extraordinary favours. Where your sighs are considered as praise to Allah, slumber as worship, actions are acceptable and prayers are materialized. So with purity of heart and good intention invoke the blessings of Allah for observing fasting during this month and reciting the Holy Qur'an for Allah's sake. Those who are denied the forgiveness of Allah in this month is the most unlucky. Let the hunger and thirst of this month might remind you of the hunger and thirst and turbulent hours of the Day of Doom.
Liberally give alms to the poor and the destitutes, honour the elders and show kindness to the little ones, strengthen your kinship, take care of your tongue, desist your seeing and hearing from that which are forbidden, show mercy to the orphans among you so that you maybe bestowed with mercy from others, return to Allah with true repentance and extend your arms in your prayers and performing salat seeking His blessings and mercies.
Remember that it is the most suitable time for your prayers to be answered. Then Allah will look up His slaves and would shower up on them with His blessings and mercies.
O my people, your souls are pledged against your own actions. Liberate them by seeking His forgiveness. Your shoulders are being hard pressed by your sins. Emancipate them by prolonged prostrations. Allah has taken a vow upholding His own exalted majesty that He will neither punish nor terrorize those who had prayed and prostrated before Him.
O my people, if you honour a faster by feeding him at Iftar, Allah will give you the reward of emancipating a slave, besides He will forgive all your sins. Hearing this a companion of the Prophet asked, O messenger of Allah, all of us are not in a position to feed the faster as you say, upon which the Prophet said: guard yourself from the Hell fire even with a piece of date fruit or with one gulp of water.
O my people if one of you rectifies your character during this month, Allah will help him pass the Sirat (the bridge between the Hell and Heaven) firm footed on the day when people shiver in their shoes. Allah will lighten the judgment to those who shows clemency during this month to those who are under his control. Allah will eschew anger when He meets His slaves on the Day of Judgment to those who abstain from sinful actions during this month. Allah would cut His mercy to those who breaks consanguinity during this month. Allah would keep those who observe non obligatory prayers during this month from the Hell fire, the reward for fulfilling obligatory prayers tantamount to those who have rewarded 70 obligatory prayers in other months. Those who increase Salat during this month that would weigh heavily in the balance on the day of judgment. Even if some one recite a verse of the Holy Qur'an during this month he will be rewarded for the entire recitation of the Qur'an in other months.
O people, the gates of the Paradise are being opened during this month. Pray Allah not to shut down those doors before you. The gates of the Hell are closed and pray Allah not to open those gates for you. Satans are in fetters, pray Allah not to have their sway on you.
Upon this Ali bin Abi Talib stood up and asked: What is the most sacred action during this month, on which the Prophet replied: the most sacred and rewarding action during this month is to be extremely careful for the forbidden things by Allah.
by Amanulla Vadakkanga
[Taken from Gulf Times]
Blessings of Ramadan
It is appropriate that every Muslim receive the blessed month of Ramadan with repentance, sincerity, resoluteness and earnestness. He/she should make the intention to perform extra acts of devotion and worship therein, including the Night Prayer (qiyam), recitation of Qur'an, and abundant charity to the poor and needy.
On the authority of Anas, May Allah be pleased with him: The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), used to say the following when the month of Rajab began. "O Allah! Bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban, and bring us, O Allah, to Ramadan." [Narrated by Tabarani and Ahmad]
The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying, "Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all." [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah; Suheil says: There is disagreement over its authenticity, as pointed by Shaykhul-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya]
In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, says, "Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted." [Narrated by Tabarani]
The preceding hadiths bring attention to [the importance of] readiness and preparation for receiving Ramadan. This is achieved by having a clear understanding of this month in one's mind, and greeting Ramadan with love and yearning. Also, one should have the determination and intention to perform good deeds and worship, and one should lay down a program to accomplish this in the days of the blessed month.
It is communally obligatory upon the Muslims to seek the crescent at the time of sunset on the 29th day of Sha`ban, and the 29th day of Ramadan, in order to verify the status of the start and end of their fasting. When seeing the crescent, it is sunnah for the Muslim to supplicate with the following supplication, which has been reported from the Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace.
On the authority of Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah (may Allah be pleased with him): when the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw the crescent, he used to say, "Oh Allah! Cause it to appear over us with prosperity, faith (Iman), security and Islam. (Then to the moon) My Lord and your Lord is Allah." [Narrated by Tirmidhi, who said it is a good (hasan) hadith.]
Qatadah said that he was informed that the Prophet, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say, when seeing the crescent, "A crescent of goodness and orientation, a crescent of goodness and orientation, a crescent of goodness and orientation. (To the moon:) I believe in Allah who created you." (Three times), and then he would say, "Praise be to Allah who has taken away such- and-such month and brought such-and-such month." [Narrated by Abu Dawud]
The month of Ramadan has excellences over the other months, as is testified to by the Qur'an and Sunnah, and out of these we will bring to attention the following virtues:
It is the month of the Qur'an, with regards to revelation and study. "The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Qur'an." [Qur'an, 2:185] On the authority of Ibn `Abbas: Angel Gabriel used to meet the Prophet every night in Ramadan and used to study Qur'an with him.
It is the month of seclusion (i`tikaf) Ibn `Umar said, "The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to seclude himself for the last ten days of the month of Ramadan."
It is the month of generosity Ibn `Abbas said, "The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to be at his most generous in Ramadan."
It is the month of standing (in voluntary night prayer) On the authority of Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever stands (in voluntary night prayer) during Ramadan, with faith and in expectancy of reward, his previous sins are forgiven him."
It is the month of the compulsory fast, because of Allah's saying, (translated),
"So, whoever among you witnesses the month should fast." [Qur'an, 2:185]
A terrible error prevalent among people is to talk about Ramadan just as they talk about the obligation of fasting, as if Ramadan and fasting are synonymous, each carrying the meaning of the other and not anything more nor less. Yet, fasting is [but] one of many acts of worship in Ramadan.
Many reports have been narrated from the Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, explaining the distinction of Ramadan, of which we have selected the following.
"The month of Ramadan has come to you; a month of goodness and blessing." [Ibn Khuzaymah]
"The Master of the Months is Ramadan, and the Master of the days is Friday." [Ibn Khuzaymah]
"Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith and in expectancy of reward, his previous sins are forgiven him." [Bukhari and Muslim]
"When Ramadan comes, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained." And in a narration from Nasa'i, the following words are added: "and a caller calls out every night: 'Oh seeker of Good, draw near! Oh seeker of Evil, desist!' "
Translated from an Arabic article authored by Abu Idrees