Brothers and sisters, every Muslim's favorite month is arriving soon. I know that I used to be especially happy as it approached when I lived in Columbia, South Carolina; the reasons for this were, of course, just because it was Ramadhan, and also because we would celebrate it and pass it as a group, together.
This week, I received an email from a brother on my email list that talks about the sunnah of doing things as a group. The introduction was:
"The duty of establishing the rule of Allah and the Islamic way of life is a task that can not, and should not, be performed individually. It is a communal duty that should be performed within a group, party or movement. This is demonstrated in the way the prophet (p.b.u.h.) tutored the early Muslims in the House of al- Arqam b. Abi al - Arqam, the prophet (p.b.u.h.) did not leave his followers to behave individually, rather they would meet together, read Quran together, worship together and in all aspects act as a group. The Sirat narrates for example that the Muslims once met together and talked about reading Quran at Al Kaaba publicly, in full sight and hearing of Quraysh; after counseling each other Abdullah B. Masoud volunteered to do so, and this he did."
Al-Fajr Magazine, September 1985
In general, performing deeds which are from the sunnah carry with them extra blessings. Now, when we combine these deeds with the specialness of the month of Ramadhan, you can not even imagine how unbelievable it is. I remember fondly the nights spent breaking fast with my sisters in Islam. The nights spent chatting and relaxing after an especially good meal (like one of my favorite sister's briyahni or another's lasagna). I remember the unity and love shared on those peaceful nights while we prayed taraweeyah together, or after when we would just sit outside, talk and watch the children play. Because Ramadhan is such a beautiful and special month, the common became special and the special became extraordinary. All of this was enhanced by the togetherness and the feeling not of community but of family.
Another special memory of Ramadhan is when I made umrah during Ramadhan. Here again, I was part of this group, a huge group, from all over the world. All were united with one purpose in mind, worshipping Allah, pleasing Allah, and receiving Blessings from Allah. We were the largest family in creation. We were brothers and sisters. We were what Islam is always supposed to be. I can't help but smile when I think about all the times I would walk out of the masjid after Maghrib salat, and I would see all the Muslims outside, with table spreads in front of them, lined up row after row, breaking their fast. I could not pass a Muslim or Muslimah that did not try to get me to share his or her meal. "At least a cup of tea..." they would say. All, were trying to get the blessings of feeding a fasting sister. I would finally just sit, and usually meet another sister from a far off land, here for the same purpose I was here for. I met Muslimahs from Sudan, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi, Ethiopia - you name a country, it was represented on those glorious nights. I can't help but remember the tears of every new arrivee, when she/he first saw the Holy Kaaba. I remember the feeling of waking to the adhan and sleeping to the Quraan. I remember the beauty of sisterhood and brotherhood as we all made tawaf. May Allah allow us all to feel the wonder and blessing of this great place in this great month. I could see why the Prophet told us umrah in Ramadhan was equal to Hajj with him. (Sahih Bukhari - Book of Fasting).
Ramadhan is a time that carries with it so many blessings. I know when it arrives, it is hard for the first few days, until we get into the swing of it, but few of us are happy to see it end. The release of the Shayateen, and the closing of the gates of Mercy are events none of us look forward to. So, now that Ramadhan is coming soon, lets try to prepare ourselves to experience every one of the blessings, to enjoy them and to enjoy each other as much as we can. I leave you with the following verses and hadiths about Ramadhan and Fasting:
The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful. 2:185
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, 2:183
(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. 2:184
It is made lawful to you to go into your wives on the night of the fast; they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them; Allah knew that you acted unfaithfully to yourselves, so He has turned to you (mercifully) and removed from you (this burden); so now be in contact with them and seek what Allah has ordained for you, and eat and drink until the whiteness of the day becomes distinct from the blackness of the night at dawn, then complete the fast till night, and have not contact with them while you keep to the mosques; these are the limits of Allah, so do not go near them. Thus does Allah make clear His communications for men that they may guard (against evil). 2:187
For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward 33:35
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: Allah's Apostle was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur'an. Allah's Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). Volume 1, Book 1, Number 5.
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.
2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .
4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said: "Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven." Volume 1, Book 2, Number 36:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting." The Prophet added, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times." Volume 3, Book 31, Number 118:
Narrated Abu Huraira: 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." Volume 3, Book 31,
Narrated Abu Huraira: 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." Number 123: Volume 3, Book 31, Number 125:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare). Volume 3, Book 31, Number 126:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Allah said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.' Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting.' By Him in Whose Hands my soul is' The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting." Volume 3, Book 31, Number 128:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it." Volume 3, Book 31, Number 146:
Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Hamza bin 'Amr Al-Aslami asked the Prophet, "Should I fast while traveling?" The Prophet replied, "You may fast if you wish, and you may not fast if you wish." Volume 3, Book 31, Number 164:
Narrated Sahl bin Sad: Allah's Apostle said, "The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast." Volume 3, Book 31, Number 178:
Sahih Muslim: Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) forbade to observe fast on these two days. Id al-Adha and Id al-Fitr. Book 6, Number 2534.
Narrated Abu Ayyub al-Ansari: Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal, it would be as if he fasted perpetually. Book 6, Number 2614.
Narrated Aisha: Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time. Book 6, Number 2644.
Narrated Amr ibn al-'As: Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn. Book 6, Number 2413.
Subhanak allaahuma wa bihamdik/Glory & praise/gratitude is to You OH Allaah, ash-hadu allaa illahaa illa Ant/I bear witness there is none that has the right to my worship but You, astaghfiruka wa a tubu Eellaik/I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.