July 22, 2013
Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds, may His blessings and peace be upon our prophet Mohammed and upon all his family and companions.
God says in the Qur’an, “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you shall be grateful.” (2:185)
In the light of this precious verse it is clear that every Muslim should prepare his/her self with strong determination to receive the blessed month of Ramadan with eagerness, sincerity and repentance. Muslims are required to be responsible for their acts during Ramadan. They are supposed to excel in performing various activities of worship and good deeds, such as praying at night (qiyām), reciting the Qur’an and helping the needy. The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, said: “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting person’s reward.” (Aḥmad, at-Tirmidhī, Ibn Ḥibbān, Ṣaḥīḥ ). One also infers from the preceding verse that Ramadan is indeed an exceptional month. It is a month of endurance and the reward of one’s endurance is paradise, as our prophet Mohammad, God bless him and grant him peace, once said to his companions. He added: “There are in the month of Ramadan in every day and night those to whom God grants freedom from fire.” (Al-Bazzār, Aḥmad, Ṣaḥīḥ)
Ramadan offers us a rare opportunity to think about ourselves, our behaviors and finally our relation with God. The purpose of the fast is to elevate one’s spirituality and to enable him/her to attain awareness of God. In this hadith, narrated by Ṭabarānī, our prophet Mohammad, God bless him and grant him peace, stated that in the month of Ramadan God looks at our acts: “Ramadan has come to you.(It is) a month of blessing, in which God covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, God looks at your competitions (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His Angels. So show God goodness from yourselves. For the unfortunate one is who is deprived in (this month) from God’s Mercy, the Mighty, the Exalted.” Accordingly, Ramadan or let’s call it the month of God, strengthens our faith in God, and paves the way to build a bond between God the Almighty and us (his servants).
This is of course through seeking another degree of fasting that can lead us to attain the rank of Iḥsān in Ramadan. Undoubtedly, when people fast, they cultivate good manners and in so doing their fast becomes a shield against their sins; our prophet Mohammad, God bless him and grant him peace, clarified this and said: “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from a Fire” (Aḥmad, Ṣaḥīḥ). For them Ramadan is a rare opportunity to seek God’s forgiveness for their past sins. The Prophet said: “He who fasts during Ramadan with pure faith and seeks reward from God will have his past sins forgiven. He who spends nights in Ramadan praying will have his past sins forgiven , and he who passes ‘Laylatul Qadr’ in prayer, seeking reward from God will have his sins forgiven”. (Bukhārī) .But most people ignore that the real quest is that rank of Iḥsān [spiritual excellence] during Ramadan. That highest level of faith, its meaning is: “To worship God as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him, He sees you (He is All- aware of your actions and deeds)” as stated by our Prophet Mohammad, God bless him and grant him peace. Then, every Muslim is supposed in this sacred month to remember God in all his/her actions, thoughts, feelings and keep him/herself in touch with Him, in order to gain His continuous support, blessing, and guidance. God says in the Qur’an: “When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he called on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me, that they may walk in the right way” (Q2:188). The attainment of Iḥsān demands a total devotion of one’s time, soul and body to God, in order to reach excellence in faith.
I conclude by rising this question: is there any higher goal than seeking Iḥsān in Ramadan? I do not think so, since the reward of Iḥsān is far better than any reward one can expect or imagine. The seeker of Iḥsān will not only gain God’s contentment and paradise, but he will also enjoy God’s promise of seeing His Face in the Hereafter.