By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam
The spiritual and cosmic glory of Ramadan is evident to every believer. It hardly needs to be emphasised. The holy Quran describes the holy month of Ramadan on various occasions describing its importance. The Holy Quran states:
· The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; 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, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful. (Al - Baqura:185)
That God the Almighty chose this month for the revelation of the Holy Quran, the book of guidance for the Muslims, is clear pointer to its importance. The Quran is the literal Speech of Almighty God to His archangel Gabriel who then recited the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This occurred over a period of twenty three years. The revelation of the holy Quran starts with the word “Iqra” meaning ‘read’. The word ‘Iqra’ among many others things reveals the importance of reciting Quran during our entire lifetime and especially so during the month of Ramadan. The holy Quran is the ‘Book of Guidance” and so the holy month of Ramadan is the “Month of Guidance”, “Month of Repentance” and “Month of Kindness and Benevolence” and above all “the Month of Forgiveness from the Hell Fire.”
The holy month of Ramadan is divided into three parts of ‘Mercy’, ‘Forgiveness’ and ‘Emancipation from the Fire (of Hell)’. The Prophet (pbuh) says:
· “It (Ramadan) is the month, whose beginning is mercy, its middle forgiveness and its end emancipation from the fire (of hell).”
During the first two parts of the month the believers are gifted with the mercy and forgiveness of God the Almighty and the last ten days are to ask for His forgiveness from the Hell Fire.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says,
· "If any Muslim comes out of Ramadan without gaining forgiveness and goodness, he is a real loser." (Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani)
The Prophet used to exert himself greatly during these last ten days of Ramadan. The worship and the prayers during this period draw human being even closer to Allah. According to Bukhari Sharif, Hazrat Aaisha (rta) says, "With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (pbuh) used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers”.
Night prayers provide a person to introspect and evaluate the life one is living. The calmness of atmosphere and serenity of the environment takes the soul to a different plane where one feels close to the God. If the prayers have sincerity in them, these are accepted and in reward one's sins are remitted. Another beautiful Hadees reported by Abu Hurayrah throws light on the timing of the prayers and the rewards by God. He reports that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says
· "When the last one third of the night remains, our Lord, the Glorious One, descends towards the lower heaven and proclaims: 'Is there anyone supplicating to Me so that I grant his supplication? Is there anyone begging of Me for anything so that I grant him his wish? Is there anyone who seeks My forgiveness so I forgive him?'" (Bukhari and Muslim)
After the two parts of ‘Mercy’ and ‘Forgiveness the last ten days (the Third Ashra) starts and it is the most important part of the month mainly because of the reason that Lailatul Quadr and Eitekaf falls during this period.
Lailatul Quadr or the Night of Power
The holy Quran describes Lailatul Quadr as under:
· "Indeed, We have revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months." (Al Quadr: 1 – 3)
Imagine! If one is offered to be given a salary of 81 years of one’s job if one agrees to work for ‘one night’ with all his concentration and ability. What will be the response of a mentally sound person? Or, if one is asked for a payment of 81 years of job if one works with all of one’s sincerity for five alternate nights. Will one not be ready to work with all sincerity, concentration and ability? God, the Almighty, the creator of this universe and in whose hands are life and death, which we all believe says that this one night, the Night of Power is better than a thousand months. We are repeatedly reminded through the holy Quran and Hadees that five nights of the last Ten Days of Ramadan will bring us forgiveness from the hell fire and prosperity and development in abundant measure. With such an offer on hand, if we fail to deliver, Prophet Muhammad (saw) says, narrated by al-Nasa’i,
· ....... and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived
In an another Hadees, Prophet Muhammad (saw) says,
· "Any Muslim who stands in Prayer during Lailatul Quadr out of faith and sincerity, his previous sins will be forgiven."
It would have been easier for us, the believers to celebrate Lailatul Quadr had we known the exact date of the Night of Power. But to our bad luck as far as the exact date of Lailatul Quadr is concerned, there is no absolute evidence of it.
There is one incident narrated by Ubaadah bin Saamit (may God be pleased with him) about our losing to know the exact date of the Lailatul Quadr:
“ Once Prophet Muhammad (saw) came out of his ‘Hujra’ (room) to inform of the exact date of Lailatul Quadr but unfortunately, two Muslims started quarrelling and he refrained from it, saying:
· "I came out to inform you as to when "Lailatul Quadr" occurs, but because two people quarrelled with each other, the knowledge of the correct date was taken away; perhaps that is better for you. So, seek it among the odd nights of the last Ashra”.
It will not be out of place to mention in passing that because of the quarrel the knowledge of the exact date of Lailatul Quadr was lost to the Muslim world, which is a great loss. In the same sequence I mention another narration: Once Prophet (saw) inquired from his Sahaba (r t a):
· "Shall I inform you of an action that is better than "Salaat", fasting and charity?"
The Sahaba Keram (may God be pleased with them) replied. "Certainly" Rasoolullah (SAW) then the Prophet (pbuh) said:
· "Maintain peaceful and good relations amongst yourselves, for verily quarrels among yourselves destroy (or shave off) faith;" i.e. just as a razor shaves off the hair, so does quarrelling affect Deen”.
In spite of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), not to talk of the ignorant people even the exceptionally religious people are engaged in arguments, day in and day out and thus, as Prophet (pbuh) had said, we are destroying ourselves. May good sense be bestowed upon those Muslims who are not following the Prophet (SAW).
During the last Ten Days of Ramadan God bestows upon us another opportunity of getting closer to Him and getting His forgiveness by attaining spirituality of highest standard by doing Eitekaf.
Spiritual Retreat, the Eitekaf
Eitekaf is abstaining from every kind of worldly affairs and staying in a mosque from the sunset of 20th of Ramadan till the Eid moon is sighted. During the Eitekaf one is supposed to perform all his daily chores in the mosque premises. One is not allowed to go out of the mosque unless it is very necessary, depending on the nature of work or duty to perform.
Eitekaf is the name of total submission to Allah. It is like going to Haj. One is supposed to spend his time in offering Nafil Salaah, recite the holy Quran and to keep busy in Tasbeehaat. One has to keep oneself busy in ‘remembrance of God, the Almighty through Zikr and in supplication. One has to leave behind all the cares of his family and home. The person willing to sit in Eitekaf has to arrange for the livelihood of all his dependants for ten days, the period of Eitekaf.
Only the person who is mentally stable, having Iman (true faith), intentions of seeking closeness to God and observing fast is eligible to perform Eitekaf. During this period one has to restrain oneself from applying perfume for deriving pleasure, discussion of any kind worldly or on the topic of faith. If any of such situations arises Eitekaf becomes null and void.
Mosques are the place which is recommended for the Eitekaf sits in as abstaining oneself from worldly affairs is more manageable from a mosque than a house. The serenity of the atmosphere in a mosque becomes a reason of spiritual proximity with God the Almighty.
A person sitting in Eitekaf is the reason of well being and happiness of the whole locality. God’s mercy, kindness and benevolence is bestowed upon every one residing in the surroundings of the mosque.
One request from the persons sitting on Eitekaf is to remember his family and friends during his prayers and say Dua for all of them as the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says:
· “The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.” Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi
And the God knows the best.