Every year, Muslims across the world look forward with anticipation and excitement to the sighting of the new crescent moon that signifies the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the most sacred month in Islamic culture.
For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is a period of purification of our souls and focusing our minds on the Almighty Allah.
Muslims are commanded by Allah to fast during the month of Ramadan. Fasting inculcates self-restraint and self-control as the practice goes beyond abstinence from food and drink, but also refrain abstinence from many other worldly pleasures and vices.
Fasting is a complete purification and a means to developing the consciousness of Allah’s presence.
Also, fasting is an action which, we are told, will act as a shield for us when we most need it, i.e. on the Day of Judgement. On that day, when we will be called to give an account of every good and bad deed done in this world, fasting will intercede for us, provided of course, that every condition about the purity of intention and refraining from forbidden activities was done.
Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Fasting and the Quran intercede for a man. Fasting says, ‘O my Lord, I have kept him away from his food and his passions by day, so accept my intercession for him.’ The Qu’ran says, ‘I have kept him away from sleep by night, so accept my intercession for him.’ Then their intercession is accepted” (Tirmidhi).
Such importance is attached to fasting, that numerous glad tidings are given in the Hadiths to those who fast truly for Allah’s sake and for the sake of obeying His Command solely to earn His Pleasure in the life Hereafter.
The purpose of this period of fasting, as said by Allah in the Qur’an, is to firmly establish Taqwa (piety and being conscious of Allah) in our hearts.
The blessing of Ramadan is characterized not just by its obligation on every Muslim to keep away from certain things which are allowed in other months, but also by the weight of blessings attached to every good deed performed in this month.
In the month of Ramadan, the gates of Heaven are thrown open, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.
This essentially signifies that, in Ramadan, the devils and their advocates have a much more difficult job diverting true Muslims from fully reaping the bounties of Allah by performing every religious duty with a pure intention.
The Prophet SAW said, “When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and the rebellious jinn are chained, the gates of Hell are locked and not one of them is opened; the gates of Paradise are opened and not one of them is locked; and a crier calls, ‘You who desire what is good, come forward, and you who desire evil, refrain.’ Some are freed from Hell by Allah, and that happens every night.” (Tirmidhi).
As Muslims across the world mark the last days of the Ramadan, it is important that we encourage ourselves to stay the course and finish the fasting journey.
This is particularly important because although the whole month of Ramadan is filled with blessings, the last 10 days are crucial because it is the time of the advent of Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Power).
Lailat-ul-Qadr is one of the most sacred nights in the Islamic calendar. It takes place in the last ten days of Ramadan and was the night in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It is also believed to be the night in which Allah shows great mercy to His creation and the night in which one’s fate is decreed. Allah says in the Qur’an, “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months,” (Qur’an, 97:3).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever prays on Lailat-ul-Qadr out of faith and sincerity, shall have all their past sins forgiven.” No one knows the exact day or time the Night of Power happens but it surely comes with all its blessings. As we inch closer to the end of the Ramadan season, let us all be steadfast and experience the blessings of the season.
Alhassan Iddrisu Danaa
Head, Business Banking, Stanbic Bank