The Holy month of Ramadan is upon us. It is one of the most sacred months in the Islamic lunar calendar and Muslims all across the globe make special arrangements and preparations to celebrate this month and observe it with utmost religious zest. The prominent features of this month are fasting, the Taraweeh prayer at night and excessive Quran recitation and offering additional prayers.
In addition to the fasting and Taraweeh prayer, there are numerous deeds of Ramadan which a Muslim can pick up from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The way He celebrated Ramadan, the way He kept fast, the way He stood in prayer and the way He spent the days and nights of Ramadan are all what a Muslim needs to incorporate in his or her Ramadan days. The lines below first discuss the importance of Ramadan from the hadith of Prophet (PBUH) and then discuss the way He spent His Ramadan.
Importance of Ramadan:
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in His hadith:
“Whoever fasted in Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hopping for a reward from Allah, the all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the nights of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
From this hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) it is clear that Ramadan is a month of forgiveness and blessings. Whoever, observes this month with sincerity, Allah Almighty forgives and blesses him or her. Therefore, it is imperative for us that we observe this month in the true spirit and increase our faith by hoping for mercy and forgiveness from Allah Almighty.
The Ramadan of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
There were different deeds of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that were special to the month of Ramadan. A majority of these deeds are which Muslims practice at present, while there are others such as doing Miswak and so on which are also practiced by Muslims but not in the same frequency. Some major deeds of Prophet (PBUH) pertaining to the month of Ramadan are discussed below.
Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA) narrates:
“Jibreel used to meet Him [Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)] every night in Ramadan to study the Holy Quran carefully together.” (Bukhari)
From this hadith it becomes clear that in addition to the general recitation of Quran, being reflective on it is also the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which He would practice during the month of Ramadan. Therefore, we as Muslims must also try to try and reflect upon Quran and ponder over the message that Allah Almighty has embedded in it for us.
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The other major Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during the month of Ramadan was the night prayer after the mandatory prayer of Isha. Regarding this prayer, the hadith narrated is as follows:
Narrated Abu Salma bin ‘Abdur Rahman: I asked ‘Aisha, “How is the prayer of Prophet Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallamduring the month of Ramadan.” She said, “Prophet Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam never exceeded eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in other months; he used to offer four Rakat– do not ask me about their beauty and length, then four Rakat, do not ask me about their beauty and length, and then three Rakat.(Bukhari)
Another narration regarding Taraweeh is as follows:
Narrated ‘Aisha, the mother of the faithful believers: One night Prophet Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam offered the prayer in the Mosque and the people followed him. The next night he also offered the prayer and too many people gathered. On the third and the fourth nights more people gathered, but Allah’s Apostle did not come out to them. In the morning he said, “I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. the prayer) might be made obligatory on you, stopped me from coming to you.” And that happened in the month of Ramadan. (Bukhari)
This narration by Hazrat Aisha (RA) shows that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would offer additional Taraweeh prayer during the nights of Ramadan. Hence, for us Muslims it is more than necessary to try replicating this deed of Prophet (PBUH) and offer the Tarweeh prayer at night throughout the month of Ramadan.
Night of Decree:
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in one of His hadiths:
“Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Bukhari)
The night of Decree in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan is a special night where the reward for virtuous deeds and blessings increase more than ever and Allah Almighty sends His special blessings on all those who pray in this night.
Besides the night of Decree, Prophet (PBUH) used to follow a special routine in the last ten days of Ramadan, which is narrated by Hazrat Aisha (RA) in the following way:
“With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (PBUH) to tighten His waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep His family awake for prayers.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, in addition to praying during the night of Decree, we Muslims must also make sure that during the last ten days of Ramadan, we increase the frequency and quantity of prayers.
Another great Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) specific to the month of Ramadan is the Sunnah of Itekaf. Hazrat Abu Huraira narrates:
“The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform Itekaf every year in the month of Ramadan for ten days, and when it was the year of His death, He stayed in Itekaf for twenty days.”(Bukhari)
Thus, Muslims must also try observing this Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH) as well by taking time out of the busy life of this world and dedicating some time to Allah Almighty.
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) also used to give sadaqa and Zakaat to poor and needy. And following hadith about Charity defines the importance giving Zakaat.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524
Therefore, every one of us must follow it because Charity Rewards.
In a nutshell, although fasting is the major mandatory deed for the month of Ramadan, however, like all other things in life, a Muslim must try to imitate the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) spent His Ramadan in order to gather maximum blessings during the precious month.