Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam among five that is observed in Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month in Muslims lunar calendar. People will be fasting all over the world following traditional religious practices and procedures. The fasting in Ramadan is not just abstaining from drinking and eating but also abstaining from immoral and prohibited acts. It’s a great opportunity for the Muslim people to have maximum benefit of this month by prayers, reading the Quran and charity activities. Many people wait for this month to put up their best endeavor to please Allah. Ramadan provides a wonderful way of purifying Muslim people to remain in the right path keeping away from evil acts.
The Holy Quran highlights about the importance of Ramadan: O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may be mindful of learn piety and righteousness (Quran, 2:183). The holy Quran was also revealed in this month. It’s mentioned in the Quran; “It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So, anyone of you who sees in that month should fast, and anyone who is ill or on a journey should make up for the lost days by fasting in other days later. Almighty wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful. (Quran, 2:185).
It has been recorded as authentic hadith that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in these words ‘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’ (Bukhari: 1764). When someone fast in the month of Ramadan with sincere faith will be forgiven by Allah as it’s mentioned in hadith: Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, and then all his past sins will be forgiven. (Bukhari: 1767)
Another important aspect is that the Night of al-Qadr or Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan marks the most valuable and rewarding night for the Muslims which is declared better than a thousand months. It is mentioned in the Quran: By the scripture that makes (things) clear; truly we sent it down on a blessed night; we always sent warnings; a night when every decisive command was made distinct (Al Quran 44: 2 to 4).
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The Arabic word ‘Qadr’ means decree; it also means majesty, power, glory, honor and high esteem. Thus, the Night of Qadr means the Night of Decree or Majesty. Lot of people observe ‘Itikaaf’ that is residing in the mosque for worship especially in the last 10 days of this Holy Ramadan following the practice of Prophet (PBUH). It’s also time to celebrate as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the first revelation from Allah. It is so special that a complete Sura was revealed in the Quran that was named Sura Al Qadr. Quran mentions about the Night of al Qadr: We sent it down on the Night of Glory. What will explain to you what that night of Glory is? The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months; on that night the angels and the spirit descend again and again with their Lord’s permission on every task. Peace it is until the rising of the dawn. (Al Quran 97: 1 to 5)
The Quran is the Holy Scripture by the almighty Allah that’s the supreme authority and fundamental source of all rituals, laws, practices and procedures of Islam and the entire mankind. It should be noted here that sending down the Quran on the Night of Al-Qadr does not mean that it was revealed all at once to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). According to the Islamic scholars, it was sent down on that night from ‘Al-Lawh ul-Mahfuz’ by the Allah to the lowest sky. It was then revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) gradually and piece by piece as necessary over a period of twenty-three years in varying length according to the various circumstances. The various hadith and reports indicate that the Night al-Qadr certainly falls on the last ten days of Ramadan and to be more specific on the last seven nights. As said by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), ‘You look for the Laylat ul-Qadr on an odd night of last ten days in Ramadan’. (Bukhari: 1875) There are few other hadiths also available related to find the particular night of Qadr but that would certainly fall on any one of 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night in last ten days.
The safest approach is to follow the Night of Qadr on the odd nights of last ten days with special care given to 27th night because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gathered all of his family and passed it in prayers and worship as mentioned in hadith. (Bukhari, Muslim) The last ten days of Ramadan is considered to be most important and rewarding segment due to revelation of the holy Quran and Allah’s promise of reward for praying on the Night of Qadr that is better than a thousand nights or eighty-three years and four months.
We have to keep in mind that our Prophet (PBUH) said: “This Quran will intercede on the Day of Judgment” [Sahih Muslim 804]. Since Ramadan is the month of the Quran therefore it’s also an opportunity for people to build a relationship with Quran. Although the relationship with the Quran should not just last till the end of Ramadan, rather it should be a bonding throughout life.
On one hand, this month brings ample opportunity and opens the door to success in the hereafter, and on the other hand, it also warns in hadith of severe consequences if we fail to grab those opportunities. The Muslims across the globe pray to Allah for his blessing for the mankind, to accept fasting and good deeds and to forgive all the mistakes and sins. May the almighty Allah accept the prayers in this Ramadan and bless us all around the World.
Col Shammi Firoz, psc, G+ (retd) is a guest contributor and director of a business conglomerate