In the name of Allah Who states "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint (al-Taqwa)" Q2:183
May the everlasting peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant our master Muḥammad and his purified progeny.
Let me start with a general congratulation on the advent of this great month - Ramaḍan. May Allah include us among His servants destined to achieve salvation in it. Some significant historic events remembered include loss of prophet's beloved wife Sayyidā Khadīja and his compassionate Uncle Abi Ṭālib, father of Imam 'Ali, the commander of the faithful, at the early stage. Thus, the year was named year of sorrow in Islamic history. Sayyidā Khadīja was the first wife of the Holy Prophet. She was a prominent lady known for her piety, compassion and generosity before revelation for which she was referred as "the pure" among other names. The prophet associated the success of Islam to her wealth, sword of 'Ali in defense of the religion and protection of Abu Talib! In a hadeeth "the most superior women of paradise are Khadīja daughter of Khuwailid, Fātima daughter of Muḥammad, Āsiyā daughter of Muzāhim and Maryam daughter of Imrān". She spent good fifteen years with Holy Messenger (S). And throughout the period, he did not marry any other woman. In fact, contrary to the lies circulated by the enemies, the logic in the marriages of the prophet was basically on compassionate and political ground.
'A'isha, mother of the faithful reported "one day the messenger of Allah remembered Khadīja (his deceased wife). I disliked this and said she was old; she was such and such. Now Allah has provided you with a better wife. (She meant herself). He said; Allah has not provided me with a better wife. She believed in my prophet hood when others refused to believe in me, and she verified and supported my words when others contradicted them, and she placed her wealth at my disposal when others disappointed me. Allah blessed me with children through her and not through any other wife" Istī'āb by Ibn 'AbdulBārr, with similar records by Bukhāri and Muslim. The prophet (S) conveyed Sayyidā Khadīja glad tidings of Allah's forgiveness and mercy in the hereafter!
It was part of the boundless blessings that her daughter Fātima was highly elevated above all women in this Ummah "O my daughter! Are you not satisfied that you are the doyenne of the women of the world? She said: o father! What about Mary daughter of Imrān (then)? He said: she was the doyenne of the women of her world and you are the doyenne of the women of your world; I swear by Allah that I have married you to a master in life and hereafter. Hilyat al-Auliyā volume 2 page 42.
Abu Tālib on the other hand was the father of 'Ali. He believed in the noble prophet and gave him utmost protection although the enemies of his son have rejected his faith. He also died in the same year as Sayyidā Khadīja for which the Great Messenger suffered much and named the year as mentioned above.
THE WAR OF BADR
The battle of Badr was fought in the holy month of Ramaḍān on the 17th. Despite fasting, the believers were faced with the persecution of the Meccan pagans under Abu Sufyān. As such Allah permitted them to protect themselves from the persistent persecution and helped them with great victory. "Assuredly Allah did help you In many battle-fields, And on the day of Hunain; Behold! Your great numbers Elated you, but they Availed you naught; the land. For all that it is wide, Did constrain you, and ye Turned back in retreat" Q9:25
Over seventy enemies of Islam were killed with about the same number taken as hostages! No one could imagine success for the believers with their little number and few arms when the unbelievers have more than tripled them fully armed to teeth! "Remember ye implored The assistance of your Lord, And He answered you; I will assist you With a thousand of the angels, Ranks and ranks" Q8:9. Similar victory awaits all believers steadfast in their faith forever "O Prophet! Sufficient unto thee is Allah, And unto those Who follow thee Among the Believers" Q7:64
BIRTH OF IMAM HASAN (AS)
Birth of Imam Hasan al-Mujtabā was part of the historic events. The Imam was born on 15th Ramadhan, 3 years after hijra. His father was the commander of the faithful, Imam 'Ali son of Abi Tālib and mother Sayyidā Fātima daughter of the noble prophet (S). At his birth, the prophet went to the house and took him in his blessed arms and recited Adhan and Iqāma naming him al-Hasan! He was brought up under the patronage of his grandfather the prophet (S). However, he was finally murdered on orders of his father's enemy, Mu'āwiya son of Abu Sufyān, 50 years AH.
MARTYRDOM OF IMAM ALI (AS)
The martyrdom of Imam 'Ali, commander of the faithful by Mu'awiya's tool, Ibn Muljim happened on 21st Ramadan, 40 years after hijra when the Imam was leading the morning prayer at Kufa. "And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay (they are) alive, but you do not perceive" Q2:154. Before his last breath, the Imam passed his lengthy will to his eldest son Imam Hasan, part of which; "… I advise you all my children, members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order and to maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard grandfather (the holy prophet) saying; improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting…"
ASSESSING OUR FASTING
As the above verse clearly stated, the rationale behind fasting is to achieve self-restraint, in other words, abstention from Allah's prohibitions and adhering to His commands with the aim of gaining His pleasure. No doubt, if this worship is done accordingly, the much needed taqwa could be achieved and will positively impact our bedeviled nation in turn. Fasting is not only leaving one's food, drink and sexual desires within the stipulated period, but one must put all his organs under control especially mouth from vain talks. With regard to some forms of worship specifically encouraged, l will briefly draw attention to the following points:
1. Qur'anic recitation: Undoubtedly, recitation of the noble Qur'an is the most important functions of the month. So, every believer should do his or her utmost best in this direction. I use this medium to encourage brothers and sisters on the need to master the noble book as the level of ignorance in this regard is very disheartening. Our attention is more on the secular direction. How many of us acquired their first, second degree and PhD but are lagging behind regarding the noble Qur'an? Therefore, we must wake up and do the right thing for our goodness. We should try to recite the whole Qur'an as many times as possible and sacrifice such rewards to the noble prophet and his progeny, parents and other loved ones dead or alive.
2. Salat: Another significant action we must draw attention to is the noncompulsory prayers. Taraweeh is the most popular. But there are different series in the month. In fact, there is a popular narration of a thousand raka'ats by Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq (AS). Accordingly, 20 raka'ats in the first 20 nights with 8 after Magrib and 12 after Isha respectively. In the last 10 days, 30 raka'ats are performed, 8 after Magrib, 22 after Isha and 100 raka'ats each on Layālul qadr' 19th, 21st and 23rd nights.
3. Supplications: More than any other time believers are encouraged to put in more efforts in this direction. Allah said "When My servants Ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed Close (to them); I respond To the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me; Let them also, with a will listen to My call, And believe in Me; That they may walk in the right way" Q2: 186. So, we should keep up the night prayers seeking Allah's forgiveness and mercy for our humble selves, parents and beloved to attain salvation. Additionally, other forms of remembrance such as Salatun Nabiy, Istigfar and so on must be maintained. We should befriend books of supplication like Mafaateehul Jinaan, Dhiyaa'us Saaliheen and so on. And as the Zaria massacre clocked more than four years, we should not relent in prayers for Allah's retribution against the killers of innocent, armless and peace-loving citizens.
4. Generosity: We should not neglect this important point. The prophet (S) has encouraged the Ummah especially the rich to do their best in this direction. The reward of kind gestures in Ramadhan is exceptionally rewarded. This is why group and community Iftar were encouraged to help the needy. So also, Zakatul fitrah (an obligatory charity) at the eve of Sallah celebration.
5. Tafseer sessions: With regard to Tafseer and relevant other sessions, most importantly. we make sure we practice lessons therein as actions always speak louder. This is on general basis, as the sources are immaterial.
Given the PANDEMIC SITUATION and social distancing, most of these acts will not be as they were formerly observed. So, believers should heed advices of medical experts and instructions of their local authorities.
While stressing the need for self and general assessment on the clearly stated objective of this unique act of worship, I reiterate the unconditional need for Sheikh el-Zakzaky's release and all his disciples.