Friday, October 6, 2006

A Day and a Night in Ramadhan

A Day and a Night in Ramadhān
 By M. Abdul Salam
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

Most people, however, choose not to consume much, as it will hinder them in performing that worship which is the delight of the believer in Ramadhān – the Tarawīh prayer. This prayer is held immediately after the night [‘Isyak] prayer, which is performed when the last traces of dusk disappear, about an hour and a half after the dusk prayer.

The Tarawīh: The Night Prayer of Ramadhān

The Tarawīh is a special prayer performed in congregation. It is quite long, lasting about an hour to an hour and a half. It is performed every night of Ramadhān, and in it most of the Imams, or prayer leaders, seek to complete the recitation of the entire Quran. In it Muslims pray to their Lord, standing, bowing and prostrating to Him, and gain the opportunity to listen to the Quran in its entirety, listening to its verses in a melodious voice as if they were being revealed then and there. Mosques with more proficient recitors tend to fill quickly, so worshippers arrive earlier than the stated time to reserve their place. Some mosques have over a thousand worshippers who come from all over the city to attend. Indeed it is an experience one awaits an entire year to experience. The Taraweeh prayer is a means of forgiveness, as the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Whoever stands the night in prayer in Ramadhān believing in Allāh and seeking His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Worshippers listen to the Quran being recited in prayer and ponder over its meanings, and the voice of the Imam has much to do with the effect it has on people. In various mosques, it is not rare to see people crying while listening to its verses, verses which speak of the blessings of Allāh, His Mercy and Love, His Paradise which He has reserved for the patient believers, as well as verses which speak about the sufferings of Hell. The Qur'an is a revelation which speaks to each individual, and thus each individual feels that Allāh is directly addressing him when he hears it. Thus the feelings which arise while listening to its recitation is truly incomparable and indescribable.

At the end of the Tarawīh prayer, the Imam and the congregation raise their hand in supplication to Allāh for themselves and for the Muslims, asking Allāh to forgive their sins, give them strength to practice their faith and remain firm, enter them into Paradise, to cure the sick, to forgive those who have already passed away, and all other good things of this world and the next. They also ask Allāh to save them from the punishment of the Day of Judgment, to ease their account on that day, and also to ease the sufferings of their brethren throughout the world. It is not uncommon to find the majority of the congregation in tears begging their Lord. Indeed the Tarawīh prayer is one of the highlights of Ramadhān and plays a great role in giving inspiration to and the rectitude of the Muslims.

After the Tarawīh, Muslims return to their homes and eat dinner, and then retire to bed in preparation for their early rise for the predawn meal.

Ramadhān is a month in which various kinds of worship are performed to Allāh. Ramadhān is like a training period in which Muslims change their lifestyles to one which is in accords to Allāh’s commandments. From the time a person awakens in the morning, throughout the day and into the night, a Muslim is performing various types of worship, some obligatory while others voluntary, all in order to gain the pleasure of his Lord. This month is indeed a key factor in the lives of Muslims, a period of rejuvenation in which the believer is inspired for another year in his life, one filled with the pleasure of Allāh and void of His wrath.

The Last Ten Nights

It was Ramadhān in which the Quran was revealed from the heavens to the Earth. More specifically, it was in the last ten nights of this Blessed month. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Seek the Honored Night in the last ten.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Allāh says in Surah Al Qadar:

1. “Indeed we have revealed it (the Quran) in the Honored Night.
2. And what will explain to you what the Honored Night is?
3. The Honored Night is better than a thousand months.
4. In it, the angels descend as well as the Spirit (Gabriel) by the permission of their Lord, with all types of decrees.
5. ‘Peace’ it is until the rising of dawn.”

[Quran: 97: 1-5]

On that night, worship and good deeds are better than performing them for a thousand months, as mentioned in the verses above. Thus the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) would increase his worship by staying awake the whole night in worship

“When he entered the [last] ten [nights] of Ramadhān, the Prophet would ‘rollup his sleeves’ and give life to the whole night, and waken his family.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Muslims in Ramadhān seek this Honored Night in order that they may be given an increase in reward. Muslims spend the whole night in worship, from praying the Taraweeh prayer to reading the Quran, supplicating to Allāh, and praying extra voluntary prayers. During these nights, there is even an extra congregational prayer held in the mosques which last for about an hour and a half to two hours up until the time of the predawn meal. Nights are alive with worship, and people for these ten nights expend all efforts in doing so, seeking that they may have spent the Honored Night in the worship of Allāh. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Whoever stood in prayer in the Honored Night, believing in God and hoping for His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Ramadhān is a month of forgiveness, and people hope that they will people from those who are saved from the Fire:

“God chooses who will be saved from the Fire (in Ramadhān), and that is every night.”

For this reason in Ramadhān, people fast, pray, and seek the Honored Night in order that they may be forgiven for their shortcomings and enter Paradise.

Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage to Makkah)

The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) encouraged people to visit the Ka'abah and perform the lesser pilgrimage, or Umrah. He said:

“Indeed performing Umrah in Ramadhān is equal to performing Hajj with me.”

[(Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Thus, millions of people flock to Makkah to perform this lesser pilgrimage, most coming during the last ten days of the month hoping to earn the reward of Hajj and also witnessing the prayers at the Ka'abah, an exhilarating experience for the believer. One meets Muslims from all parts of the world, from all cultures and races, and all have congregated in this sacred sanctuary, fasting throughout the day and worshipping throughout the night, all to earn the pleasure of their Creator, their Lord.

A Month of Forgiveness

We mentioned various Prophetic sayings which state that the various types of worship in Ramadhān are a means for forgiveness. Fasting, the Tarawīh prayer, and praying in the Honored Night are all means of forgiveness.

“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadhān, believing in Allāh and hoping for His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]“Whoever stands the night in prayer in Ramadhān believing in Allāh and seeking His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]“Whoever stood in prayer in the Honored Night, believing in Allāh and hoping for His reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Ramadhān in general is a month of savior from the Fire:

“God chooses who will be saved from the Fire (in Ramadhān), and that is every night.”


A Month of Charity

As mentioned before, people seek to feed others with food for which to break their fast and donate food rations to needy families to suffice them the month of Ramadhān. In addition to this, people are more charitable in general during Ramadhān, as charity is considered worship for which Allāh will reward them. The companion the Prophet, Abdullah ibn Abbas (radiallāhu`anhu), said:

“The Prophet was the most generous of people, and he was even more generous in Ramadhān.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

In order to increase in their good deeds, some Muslims choose to offer in Ramadhān generous sadaqah apart from Zakat Fitrah , or obligatory annual charity.

Private Devotion

There is a special type of worship in Islam in which one devotes himself to the mosque for a period of time, whether it be for a day or a week, and spends his time in reciting the Qur'an and mentioning praises of Allāh, again a training for having a person becoming accustomed to living a life revolved around the worship of Allāh. In secluding oneself from one’s daily routine and indulging in the worship of Allāh, he learns to prioritize his life and give less worth to the life of this world. The Prophet, (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), himself would practice this act of devotion, called I’tikāf, during the last ten days of Ramadhān. He would pitch a tent in the mosque and seclude himself in it, busying himself in various types of individual worship.

Muslims around the world take leave from their work or school and try to fulfill this act of worship, but because of its difficulty, as it entails a type of cutting off from daily life, few people do so. None the less, the majority of the congregational mosques do have a few people who take to this worship.


Ramadhān is indeed a very special time for Muslims around the world. It is a month of worship in which sinners repent and return to Allāh, and the believer rejuvenate their faith. It is a training period in which one becomes accustomed to leading a life in accordance to the commands of Allāh and seeking His Pleasure. It is a time when one strengthens their relationship with their Creator. It is a time when one trains himself to do extra acts of worship in addition to the obligatory.

The month of Ramadhān is one which has no match, and the feelings Muslims have in this month are unexplainable. For this reason, the companions of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) would ask Allāh to give them the blessing to experience Ramadhān six months before its arrival, and for six months after its departure, they would seek forgiveness from Allāh for their shortcomings in it. We ask Allāh to accept the Muslims fasting and praying in this blessed month, and to give others the guidance to be able to fast it as Muslims.


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