I’TIKAF in the first ten and in the mid ten days of Ramadan:
Abu Sai’id Al-Khudri Radiyallahu Anh narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) observed I’tikaf in the first ten days of Ramadan; he then observed I’tikaf in the middle ten days in a Turkish tent with a mat hanging at its door. The Prophet (PBUH) took hold of that mat and place it in the nook of the tent. He then put his head out, and talked with people who came nera him, and he said: I observed I’tikaf in the first ten nights and days in order to seek that night (Night of Decree). I then observed I’tikaf in the middle ten days. Then an angel was sent to me, and I was told that this night is among the last ten nights. He who among you like to observe I’tikaf may do so,” and people observed it along with him, and he again said: “That Night of Decree was shown to me in an odd night and I saw in the dream that I was prostrating in the morning in mud and water.” So in the morning of the twenty-first night when the Prophet (PBUH) got up for dawn prayer, there was rainfall and the mosque dripped, and I saw mud and water. When he came out after he finished the morning prayer, he saw that his forehead and the tip of his nose had traces of mud and water, and that was the twenty-first night of the last ten nights of Ramadan. (Bukhari 2018). (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 632)
I’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan
‘Aishah Radiyallahu Anha narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) was regular in observing I’tikaf in the last ten (days) of Ramadan until Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, collected him. His wives also used to observe I’tikaf with him. (Bukhari 2026). (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 633)
Striving hard in the last ten (of Ramadan)
‘Aishah Radiyallahu Anha narrated that when the last ten nights of Ramadan began the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) kept awake at nights (for prayer and worship), awoke his family, strove hard and fastened his lower garment. (Bukhari 2024) (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 634)
Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) and seeking it in the last ten (nights) of Ramadan
Ibn ‘Umar Radiyallahu Anhuma narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Seek it (Lailat-ul-Qadr) in the last ten (nights). If one of you shows slackness in the earlier part of Ramadan, let it not be weak to observe the last seven.” (Bukhari 2015) (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 635)
Lailat-ul-Qadr was the twenty-third night of Ramadan
‘Abdullah bin Unais Radiyallahu Anh narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “I was shown Lailat-ul-Qadr; then I was made to forget it. I saw that I was prostrating in water and mud in the morning of that night.” The narrator said: There was a downpour on the twenty-third night and the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) led us in prayer, and as he went back, there was a trace of water and mud on his forehead and on his nose. The narrator added: “Abdullah bin Unais used to say that it was the twenty-third night. (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 636)
Seek it (Lailat-ul-Qadr) in the ninth and seventh and the fifth (in the last ten nights of Ramadan):
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri Radiyallahu Anh narrated: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) observed I’tikaf in the middle ten days of Ramadan to seek Lailat-ul-Qadr, before it was shown to him. When these nights were over, he ordered a tent to be pitched. Then it was shown to him that (Lailat-ul-Qadr) was in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Then he ordered to pitch the tent again. He then came to people and said: “O people, Lailat-ul-Qadr was shown to me and I came out to tell you about it, but two man were quarrelling with each other, and there was a devil along with them, and I forgot it. So seek it in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Seek it on the ninth, on the seventh and on the fifth.” One of the narrators said: “Abu Sa’id, you know more than about numbers.” He said: “Yes, indeed we know better than you.” I said: “What is this ninth, seventh, and fifth?” He said: “When twenty-one nights are over and the twenty-second begins, it is the ninth; and when twenty-three nights are over, that which follows is the seventh; and when twenty-five nights are over, what follows is the fifth.” (Bukhari2016) (Source: Summarized Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 637)
Dear sheikh, as-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah. There are current discussions in the media about the new phenomenon occurring in Al-Haram in Makkah where some people reserve spots in the first rows and then sell them to those who come late in return for some money, that could at times add up to three hundred dollars. So, what is the stance of Islamic Shari`ah as regards this conduct?
Wa`alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, thank your for your concern and interest to know the teachings of Islam. May Allah Almighty guide us all to what is best in this world and in the Hereafter.
Regarding your question, it is unacceptable for people to pay money to sit in the first rows in the Sacred masjid in Makkah or in any other masjid. Likewise, it is not valid for people to reserve some places in the first rows and sell them for late comers. Muslims are recommended by the Sunnah to go as early as possible to the masjid and thus to vie to be in the first rows.
In his answer to your question, Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh, a Ph. D. holder and a Shari`ah consultant to Islamonline.net, stated,
Scholars have agreed that the best rows for men-whether there are women or children performing prayer along them or not-are the first, then the next and so on in sequence. The same applies to women in case no men are performing prayer with them. However, if men and women are performing Prayer together, the best rows for women will be the back (last) rows, as they are more proper and modest.
Muslim reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The best of men’s rows (in Prayer) are the first ones, and the worst of theirs are the last ones. And the best of women’s rows (in Prayer) are the last ones and the worst of theirs are the first ones.” Also, Al-Bukhari narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If the people were to know what (great blessings were) in the adhan (Call to Prayer) and in the first row, and then they found no way (as to decide who would be allowed to make the Call to Prayer or to be in the first row] except by drawing lots, they would certainly draw lots.”
The wisdom behind such encouragement is manifold, since standing in the first rows in Prayer indicates a Muslim’s hastening to perform the obligation, gaining precedence in entering the masjid, avoiding similarity to the hypocrites who are used to come late, gaining Allah’s mercy, etc.
Actually, these virtues and wisdoms cannot be achieved by means of reserving special spots to well-off latecomers who pay more in order to win such virtues, and thus depriving others from the reward. In fact, this enforces the inclination towards mutual passive dependence on others and weakens people’s determination and, most of all, deprives the poor of getting the full reward.
Unfortunately, some people seek to transmit some concepts and habits regarding worldly matters, which have been corrupted through people’s injustice, favoritism, and passive dependence on other people to fulfill one’s desires, to Almighty Allah’s – Exalted be He – Just Laws, which falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it.
We have been accustomed to see well-off people get everything fulfilled by their money and their intercession accepted, and to see them take their rights and seize the rights of others by way of bribery and inducement.
However, for Almighty Allah, exceptions are granted to those who deserve them. For instance, the sick and the aged are not required to observe the fast, the poor is not required to perform Hajj or to pay Zakah, and those who are on travel are allowed to shorten prayer.
Moreover, it is the due right of the Muslim who comes early (to the masjid) to sit in the first rows. It could be accepted that he willingly leaves such a spot for an elderly person or a praiseworthy scholar, however, it is absolutely unacceptable that such a conduct transforms into a form of trade and bidding by those who can pay more; this is indeed impermissible.
Moreover, we should never forget that it is Almighty Allah who gives the reward; He, Almighty, knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden. How odd then is the case of those people who come late (to the masjid) and yet step over the necks of people, harm them and unduly pay money to get a right which is not theirs, while in the meantime they seek reward from Almighty Allah for all that!
Besides, Almighty Allah is Good and He accepts only that which is good. Moreover, nothing of His Bounties can be obtained except though obedience to Him. In turn, we confirm that such an act (reservation of particular spots in the Masjid in return for a price to be paid by well-off latecomers for Prayer) is impermissible both for the one who pays the money and for the one who receives it. In addition, concerned authorities should ban such a conduct, which involves ignorance, greed and dressing falsehood in the guise of truth.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
I`tikaf is a recommendable act that brings one closer to Allah. It can be practiced any time throughout the year but it is strongly desirable in Ramadan, especially during the last 10 days of this blessed month.
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported:”The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform i`tikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan until he passed away; then his wives performed i`tikaf after he died.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The idea behind i`tikaf is helping Muslims devote themselves exclusively to worship at least for a few days a year. Therefore, i`tikaf should be performed in a mosque so that Muslims can be in complete devotion to worship and be away from the affairs of this world, which can distract one’s heart from the worship.
Responding to your question, Dr. Rajab Abu Mleeh, a Ph. D. holder and a Shari`ah consultant to IslamoOnline.net, stated,
According to the majority of scholars, i`tikaf is a sunnah (a deed recommended by the Prophet) that can be performed any time throughout the year, yet it is more desirable during the last 10 days of Ramadan. However, if a Muslim vows to perform i`tikaf, he or she is obliged to fulfill that vow. Some scholars hold the view that it is permissible to perform i`tikaf for a short period of time, even one or two hours, with the intention of getting closer to Almighty Allah.
The Malikis, Shafi`is, and Hanbalis are of the view that it is not permissible for a woman to perform i`tikaf in her own musalla (Prayer room) at home. They cite Allah’s saying, ( And touch them not, but be at your devotions in the mosques [i.e. while being in the state of i`tikaf]. ) (Al-Baqarah 2:187).
They also refer to the incident where `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) was asked about a woman who vowed to perform i`tikaf in her own musalla at home. He then (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “This is a bid`ah [innovation in religion], and the most odious act in the sight of Allah is introducing innovations [to the religion]. Hence, there is no i`tikaf except in the mosque, where the (five) Prayers are performed.”
The musalla at home cannot be regarded as a mosque, whether in reality or when a Shar`i ruling is established. Moreover, if this act was permissible, the Mothers of the Believers (i.e., the Prophet’s wives) would have performed it even once.
On the other hand, the Hanafis hold the opinion that it is permissible for women to perform i`tikaf in their own musalla at home. They opine that the place of i`tikaf for women is that preferred by them when they perform their daily Prayers, because, unlike men’s Prayer, women’s Prayer at home is better than their Prayer in the mosque. Accordingly, the place of i`tikaf for women should be their own musalla at home. Abu Hanifah and Ath-Thawri stated, “She [i.e., a woman] can perform i`tikaf in her own musalla at home. It is better for her to do so, as her Prayer at home is better than [her Prayer] in the mosque.”
Also, it was narrated that Abu Hanifah said that it is not acceptable for a woman to perform i`tikaf in the mosque, where congregational Prayers are held, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) abandoned the i`tikaf in the mosque when he saw the tents of his wives pitched inside the mosque; he then said to them, “Is it righteousness that you intended by doing so?”
In addition, as a woman’s own musalla at home is the most preferred place for her to offer Prayers; hence, her place of i`tikaf [(which is the musalla] ) is like the mosque for men where men are to perform i`tikaf.
Accordingly, we see that women can perform i`tikaf in the mosque, as the mosque is the best place for devotion to worship and remembrance of Allah — unlike the house, which does not have the spiritual atmosphere of the mosque. However, if a woman’s husband does not want her to perform i`tikaf in the mosque or she has young children to take care of, she is allowed to perform i`tikaf in her own musalla at home. According to some scholars, such a woman’s i`tikaf at home can be intermittent; that is, she can come out of her musalla and move in her house or go out if she needs to do so.
Finally, if a woman has a sincere desire to please Almighty Allah, she should know that the reward of fulfilling the rights and needs of her husband and children can be equal to, and even greater than, that of i`tikaf. That is the grace of Almighty Allah, which He bestows on whom He wills, and Allah is the Enricher and All Aware.
At a chaotic period of history when the murky clouds of infidelity had covered the firmament of the earth; at a time of turmoil, tumult, and oppression when instead of Allah, the Supreme Being, idols and power used to be worshiped; when innocent girls had to face the unsightly fact of being entombed alive; when the crevice between the exploiter and exploited was incessantly increasing; when lascivious modes of behavior, moral degeneration, and decline in human values were the order of the day; when prejudice, discrimination, and exploitation whipped the poor and the oppressed; when humanity was imprisoned by the ghoul of ignorance and arrogance; at that time, the Prophet appeared on the face of the earth.
The Prophet Arrives
That Prophet descended from the dynasty of Ibrahim the idol breaker, Moses the Pharaoh-fighter, and Jesus the Benevolent (Peace and Blessings be upon all of them). That Prophet set foot on the arena of existence and changed the course of history.
As Dr. John William Draper so aptly states in his book The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe: “In the year 569 CE, was born at Makkah in Arabia, that man who of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race — Muhammad.”
The Night of Power (Laylat Al-Qadr)
Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an,
(Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an as a guide to humankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).) (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
(We have indeed revealed this (message) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.) (Al-Qadr 97:1–3)
The Night of Power marks the commencement of the final Divine Revelation (the Qur’an) and made public the prophetic mission of the final Messenger of Allah (Prophet Muhammad). This event is of the greatest historic, religious, and spiritual significance for it ushered in the beginning of the end, the beginning of the end of revelation, the beginning of the ultimate guidance till the end of time, the beginning of the final onslaught against polytheism, injustice, subjugation, and oppression and the end of jahiliyyah (all forms of backwardness, ignorance, and retrogression).
The Night of Power indeed manifested the authority of Allah through His revelation and changed the fate of nations and the course of history and directed human destiny to its pinnacle. That revelation is still with us as the Qur’an remains unadulterated. Qur’an contains an ideology, a basis for values and standards, and a comprehensive code of moral and social behavior, all of which combined, aims at promoting peace within the human soul, the society, the world at large, and with the Creator.
When we consider the fact that night has been chosen rather than day, there seems to be a purpose for that choice. Night indicates quietness, privacy, peacefulness, and tranquility. The virtuous and pious are more inclined to spend their solitude in communion with the Divine. Thus, the night is an appropriate time, suitable for the nourishment of the soul and ideal for spiritual elevation and for reception of divine instruction.
The Night Journey and Ascension
At the most difficult and trying time of the Prophet’s life, after the death of his protective uncle Abu Talib and his most beloved wife, supporter, and confidant Khadijah, Allah took His beloved servant on a journey by night:
(Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our signs, for He is the One Who hears and sees (all things).) (Al-Israa’ 17:1)
This journey reached far beyond the parameters of human travel, beyond the perception that a human mind could ever imagine. Even Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who accompanied the Prophet on the journey, reached a point beyond which he could not traverse. Prophet Muhammad ascended to the highest manifestation of the Divine Presence till the summation at sidrat-ul-muntaha (the final point).
Only Prophet Muhammad, the most beloved of Allah, the greatest of His creation, could go to this uppermost limit, the limit of being before the Absolute.
Allah saluted Muhammad, “Peace unto you, O my beloved Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings are forever upon you.” The Prophet humbly responded, “Your Peace be on us (the Prophets) and on the sincere and righteous ones.”
Among the gifts that the holy Prophet descended with from that highest sphere is salah, the gift of Prayer (anywhere in the world), which is a means of expiation for the self and purification for the soul and a mode for moral rejuvenation and spiritual elevation. Thus, to the believers, salah resembles a mi`raj (ascension to heaven).
Encouraging the believers to imitate the Prophet in Prayer and motivating them to elevate themselves to the utmost of their ability, the great Islamic poet Shams Tabrizi said,
To follow Prophet Muhammad is, that he went on the Mi`raj, you go behind him.
Salah and Qur’an: Symbols of Al-Mi`raj and Laylat Al-Qadr
Both the salah and the Qur’an are integral to the Muslim faith and practice and are our daily access to the grandeur of Al-Mi`raj and the majesty of the Night of Power.
It is thus with the source of power (Qur’an) and the spiritual journeying (through prayer) that we ascend through decreasing stages of darkness to ever-increasing light. We recognize the Supremacy of Allah, appreciate the mission of His beloved Muhammad and commit ourselves to the pursuance of spiritual welfare and thus qualify to be true members of the global community of faith, the Ummah.
The last ten nights of Ramadan are very special. These are the nights that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to spend in constant worship, du`aa’ and dhikr.
The last third of Ramadan is the time for release from Hellfire, as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said in a Hadith reported by Salman Al-Farisi: “…The first third of the month of Ramadan is the time for mercy, the second third is for forgiveness, the third is for release from Hellfire…” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
Laylat Al-Qadr is your time to live with sincerity, joy and with a real sweetness that you will experience – the sweetness of Iman. Even if you were to live one thousand months with sincerity and dedication, this one night is much better. It is the night when the seal of the Prophets received the seal of revelations; the Glorious Qur’an.
If you are interested in living the Night of Power, and obtaining the treasures of the last 10 days, if you have the intention and determination, let us remind you of some of the things that you should do.
Wake Up the Family
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “During the last ten nights of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would tighten his waist belt and spend the night in worship. He would also wake up his family.” (Al-Bukhari)
Umm Salamah relates that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) woke her up one night, and said: “Glory be to Allah! What trials have been sent down during this night! What trials have been sent down, so that the denizens of the bedchambers will be awakened! O Lord! To be clothed in this world by being naked in the Hereafter.” (Al-Bukhari)
Love and Be Loved
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that Allah the Almighty says,
“My servant does not draw close to Me with anything as he does by carrying out what I have made obligatory upon him. My servant continues drawing closer to Me by performing optional deeds such that I love him, and when I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me I would surely give him and were he to ask Me for refuge I would surely grant it to him.”
Be a Thankful Believer
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to stand in prayer or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “Should I not be a thankful slave?” (Al-Bukhari)
Exerting Oneself in Worship
`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “I had never known Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to read the entire Qur’an in a single night, or to spend the whole night in prayer until the morning, or to spend a whole month in fasting – except in Ramadan.” (An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)
And, “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would exert himself in worship during the last ten nights more than at any other time of the year.” (Muslim)
She (may Allah be pleased with her) also told us that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would “tighten his waist belt”, (devote oneself fully to this task.)
Make Up for What You Might Have Missed
Almighty Allah is the Oft- Forgiving, the Compassionate and Merciful. He loves this Ummah and loves to forgive and have mercy upon its believers. He gives them chance after chance so that they would return to Him. The last 10 days are simply ‘another chance’ for those who missed the first 20 days and need to repent. The chance is still there and the doors are wide open. So, do not miss them again!
(Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (Az-Zumar 39:53)
Seeking Laylat Al-Qadr
A Muslim should seek this special night by spending the last ten nights of Ramadan engaged in various acts of worship. These include reading the Qur’an, dhikr, and begging Allah’s forgiveness
Ibrahim al-Nakha`i says: “Good deeds performed on this night are better than those performed consistently for a thousand months.”
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever spends Laylat Al-Qadr in prayer, believing in Allah and seeking His reward, all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah the Almighty says: (Laylat Al-Qadris better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with every decree. (This night is) peace, until the rising of the dawn.) (Al-Qadr 97: 3-5)
Retreat in the Mosque (i`tikaf)
Observing a retreat in the mosque is of the best things we can do during the last ten nights of Ramadan. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) told us: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe a retreat in the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan up until he died. His wives continued to observe this practice after his death.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The practice of i`tikaf helps us to devote our hearts exclusively to Almighty Allah. The person engaging in i`tikaf keeps this intention close to mind and seeks the blessings ofAlmighty Allah. It is important that he does not forget the reason why he is observing this retreat.
We are encouraged to be extra generous during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Ibn `Abbas related: “Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan. Jibreel used to meet with him every year throughout the month of Ramadan, so the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) could recite the Qur’an to him. Whenever Jibreel met with him, he became more generous than a beneficial breeze.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Al-Nawawi says: “Generosity and open-handedness are strongly encouraged in Ramadan, especially during the last ten nights. By doing so, we emulate the example of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as that of our Pious Predecessors…”
Remembrance and Dhikr
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Indeed, this world, with all it contains, is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allah and what follows it from deeds pleasing to Allah, scholars (of religion) and seekers of knowledge.“” (Tirmidhi).
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Muslim)
`Ubadah ibn As-Samit (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever gets up at night and says: — ‘La ilaha il-lallah wahdahu la sharika lahu lahu-l-mulk, wa lahu-l-hamd wahuwa ‘ala kullishai’in Qadir. Alhamdu lil-lahi wa subhanal-lahi wa la-ilaha il-lal-lah wa-l-lahu akbar wa la hawla Wala Quwata il-la-bil-lah.‘
(None has the right to be worshipped but Allah. He is the Only One and has no partners. For Him is the Kingdom and all praises are due to Him. He is Omnipotent. All praises are due to Allah. All glory is due to Allah. And none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and Allah is Great and there is neither Might nor Power Except with Allah). And then says: — Allahumma, Ighfir li (O Allah! Forgive me). Or invokes (Allah), he will be responded to and if he performs ablution (and prays), his prayer will be accepted.” (Al-Bukhari)
Du`aa’ of Laylat Al-Qadr
Imam Ahmad recorded from `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), that she said, “”O Messenger of Allah! If I find the Night of Laylat Al-Qadr what should I say?”” He replied, “Say: O Allah! Verily, You are the Oft-Pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Make a Personal Du`aa’ List
Ask yourself what you really want from Almighty Allah. Make a list of each and every thing, no matter how small or big it is, and whether it deals with this world or not. Almighty Allah loves to hear from us. Once you did, be sure that Allah will answer your du`aa’, either by giving you what you wanted , or by giving you a better thing, or changing your Du`aa’ to hassanate (good deeds) that weighs in your scale when you meet Him.
Make Up With Other Muslims
Quarrelling and disagreement was the reason why the exact day of Laylat Al-Qadr was not revealed to us, so we should not lose its reward by making the same mistake.
`Ubadah ibn As-Samit (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came out to inform us about the Night of Qadr but two Muslims were quarreling with each other. Therefore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I came out to inform you about Laylat Al-Qadr but such-and-such persons were quarreling, so the news about it was taken away; yet that might be for your own good, so search for it on the 29th, 27th and 25th (of Ramadan). (Al-Bukhari)
Ask yourself the questions that need to be asked. Evaluate where you are and where you are going. Let this evaluation lead you to feel happiness for the good you have done and remorse for the bad you have done.
Unlike many of us, the righteous Salaf (early Muslims) would feel grief and fear during the last days of Ramadan. They would feel grief for the farewell of this noble month, which is full of numerous opportunities of repentance and great reward. They would also feel fear that their deeds might not be accepted. They were an embodiment to whom Almighty Allah referred in the Qur’an saying,
(Those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear, because they will return to their Lord; it is these who hasten in every good work, and these who are foremost in them.) (Al-Mu’minun 23:60–61)
When the end of Ramadan approached, these feelings would be expressed by many of the sayings and deeds of the Salaf. Below are examples of their manners at the turn of Ramadan.
Mu`alla ibn Al-Fadl said about some of the Salaf, “They would supplicate Allah for six months so that He may let them live until they witness the month of Ramadan, and then [after Ramadan] they would supplicate Allah for six months so that He may accept [their deeds in] it.”
Wahb ibn Al-Ward once saw some people laughing carelessly on the day of `Eid; he then said, “If the fasting of those people was accepted, then such is not the conduct of the thankful, and if their fasting was unaccepted, it is not the conduct of the afraid.”
`Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) once went out on the day of `Eid and said in a sermon, “O people, you have indeed fasted for 30 days and performed supererogatory Prayers for 30 nights for the sake of Allah, and today you have come out asking Allah to accept it from you.”
One of the Salaf would look sad on the day of `Eid, and when it was said to him, “It is a day of joy and delight,” he answered, “This is true, but I am a slave who has been commanded by his Lord to do some work for His sake, and I am not sure whether He will accept it from me or not!”
It was also reported that Al-Hassan Al-Basri said, “Indeed Allah has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse in which His creatures compete in worshipping Him to win His Pleasure. Hence, some people gained precedence and thus they won, while others lagged behind and therefore they lost.”
It was reported that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud would say on the day of `Eid, “Who are those whose deeds were accepted, so we may congratulate them? And who are those deprived [of acceptance of deeds], so we may console them? O man of accepted deeds, blessed are you. And [as for] you who were deprived [of acceptance], may Allah relieve your affliction.”
This is how some of the righteous Salaf reacted to the end of Ramadan. It is beneficial to feel like them, react like them, and — above all — worship Allah like them.
As the last ten nights are now upon us, it is time to re-evaluate how far we have come. Two-thirds of the month have already passed and will not return. However, we still have enough time to make a final push in this month, to maximize the benefit that we can attain, and draw closer to Allah the Almighty.
One of the main goals of our fasting is the inculcation of taqwa (piety),
(O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious [people of Taqwa].) (Al-Baqarah 2:133)
`Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) defined taqwa as follows: “Taqwa is to fear the Most Exalted One, work upon His revelation, become content and ascetic and always prepare for the departure from this life.”
Taqwa means to be constantly aware of Almighty Allah and to worship Him with love, fear, and hope. Taqwa is also one of the main objectives of the revelation of the Qur’an, and our fasting is not complete without reciting it. There is a triangle of virtue formed with taqwa in this month: the revelation of Quran and fasting in this month.
The main purpose of fasting is to give us constant awareness and fear of Almighty Allah, as well as protection against evil. It is something that becomes ingrained in our minds at all times.
Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:
(And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for the people of Taqwa.) (Aal `Imran 3: 133)
Allah the Almighty has prepared paradise specifically for pious people. The beginning of the ayah is an encouragement to action; to have taqwa does not mean idleness, it means constant activity.
Ramadan trains us for this. It teaches us to be consistent in worship, to fast every day, to go to the masjid every night, to retrain ourselves to be mindful of what we say, watch, and do.
If we cannot derive spiritual benefit during the month of Ramadan, then in what other month can we find benefit? If we are lazy to do good deeds now, then when will we do them?
If we compare Ramadan to the rest of the year, we will see that our worship increases on a daily basis. This is training us to establish a regiment of worship, and focus – both mentally and physically – to sustain us throughout the rest of the year. This is also similar to what we often see in our work place when we have training every year or two. In the context of the work place, if we do not increase our knowledge or skills, we could lose your license or certification.
Ramadan has shown us what we are capable of doing when we push ourselves, and this is what we have experienced up to this point. Then, in the last ten nights we receive yet another push. Allah the Almighty says:
(Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.) (Al-Qadr 97: 1-5)
The theme of this surah is devotion in worship.
In the last ten days of Ramadan, there is Laylat Al-Qadr (The Night of Power). Whoever prays during these nights, believing in it, and hoping for its reward from Almighty Allah, He will forgive all his previous sins. Whoever misses this night and deprives himself of its good, has only himself to blame.
Laylat Al-Qadr is one of the last ten nights, and in some narrations one of the last ten odd nights. Of its signs is that it is not too hot, or too cold, and the heat of the sun is not intense.
These signs show that we should be devoted in worship throughout the ten nights, and not just one. For this reason, the signs that show Laylat Al-Qadr are towards the end of the night, and not before.
Almighty Allah did not specify its order among the ten nights so that people may exert their utmost efforts throughout all the ten days in worship. This is similar to the hour on Fridays when prayers (du`aa’ are accepted), performing optional night prayer, reciting the Glorious Qur’an and doing righteous deeds.
In the last ten nights – the best and most blessed nights of the year – we push ourselves even more than we did during the first twenty. It is like Allah the Almighty is showing us what our real potential is to worship Him. After all, this is the purpose of our creation:
(And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).) (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)
Part of this worship is knowing how to worship Allah the Almighty properly. For example, a person who has knowledge of Ramadan and Laylat Al-Qadr will know that it is hidden, and will understand the reasons why this is so. In this way, the person will know when to seek it, whereas someone without knowledge will simply come to the masjid on the twenty-seventh night only and do one night of worship. Only the person with knowledge can maximize his efforts in worshipping Almighty Allah, and obtain the reward.
Such a person knows that the twenty-seventh night is not a lottery jackpot, but a culmination and bonus for the one who has persisted in doing good deeds.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that Allah the Almighty says,
“My servant does not draw close to Me with anything as he does by carrying out what I have made obligatory upon him. My servant continues draw closer to me by performing optional deeds such that I love him, and when I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me I would surely give him and were he to ask Me for refuge I would surely grant it to him.”
A person cannot expect to not be constant in the five daily prayers and then receive eighty-three years worth of rewards from one night alone. Similarly, a person cannot skip fasting in Ramadan, and then fast six days of Shawwal thinking he will have a whole year’s worth of fasting recorded for him.
Allah the Almighty says,
(Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allah’s Signs and Verses). (Az-Zumar 39:9)
So, here Allah the Almighty gives two examples –a worshipper with another person who does not worship, and then couples it with one who knows and one who does not. Indeed, both of these go hand in hand. It is only when we combine the two that we can reach the highest stages of worship and attain success in this life and the Hereafter.
Knowledge cannot be attained without devotion, and devotion is not complete without knowledge. As Ramadan inculcates taqwa, one of the descriptions Allah the Almighty gives to those who practice it is:
(Verily, those who are pious, when an evil thought comes to them from Satan), they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright).) ( Al-A`raf 7: 201)
One example of this could be, for example, the trial of Dajjal, as only the knowledgeable and pious will be able to see through his plots while those who are ignorant will be misled. In this context, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When Allah desires good for someone, He gives him understanding of religion.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Ramadan Checkup (Part Two) Worshipping in the Last Ten Nights with Knowledge
Every Ramadan we make plans to improve ourselves as Muslims, but those plans do not always come to fruition later because the surge of faith that we have now is severely lacking outside this blessed month.
Part of the reason is because the devils are locked up during this month, so to repel the devils we need knowledge. Ramadan specifically is a period of worship. It is a time when families come together, make du`aa ‘together, break their fast together, and eat suhoor together. Families pray together more, and they read Qur’an. These are all acts that bring family members closer to each other, and in turn they also draw closer to Allah the Almighty.
These acts cannot be sustained until a person tastes the sweetness of faith, and that will not come until they are grounded in knowledge. This is how our belief increases, and we draw closer to Almighty Allah in this way, because when a person worships with knowledge, he worships with humbleness and firm belief.
We need activities to keep our faith on the increase. Specifically, we need to seek knowledge, especially in the west where we are faced with attacks from every direction.
Just wishing is not enough. If there is a thirst for knowledge and learning the religion, then why are we not taking advantage of the opportunity? How many people want to memorize Quran, but how many of those same people are willing to give a few hours of their time every week to review and memorize with a teacher?
It is not that these questions are unimportant, but they lack insight. We need to ask about the ruling on seeking knowledge of the religion which is obligatory upon every Muslim. Knowledge is obligatory on everyone no matter what field they are involved in; for example, you must learn the fiqh of business, and riba, before going into business or finance so that you do not fall into what is prohibited. If you have wealth, you must learn the fiqh of zakah . Every Muslim must know the rulings of wudu’ and prayer. A man must know, for example, what is obligatory upon him in regards to taking care of his wife and children
`Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Whoever has six qualities will leave no path to Paradise and be away from the Fire, but [he] will have taken it. They are,
1. He knows Allah and obeys Him
2. He knows the devil and disobeys him
3. He knows the truth and follows it
4. He knows falsehood and stays away from it
5. He knows life and avoids it
6. He knows the Hereafter and seeks it.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was commanded in the Qura’n to seek knowledge. We are only asked to increase our knowledge. He (peace and blessings be upon him) also used to supplicate Allah the Almighty to grant him beneficial knowledge, and he would seek refuge from knowledge that did not benefit.
Allah the Almighty says:
(But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what has been sent down to you (Muhammad SAW) and what was sent down before you, and those who perform As-Salah (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakah and believe in Allah and in the Last Day, it is they to whom We shall give a great reward.) (An-Nisaa’ 4: 162)
Knowledge is the Key to Establishing Endless Acts of Charity
Everyone wants to leave a legacy. This is a universal human value that we all share. Even the disbelievers share this goal with us. Almost every person has a goal of making some contribution to their family or society and being remembered for it. However, only the believer will see the benefits of this after death.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When a servant (of Allah) dies, his (good) deeds will cease, except for three (kinds of deeds): A charity with continuous effect, a kind of knowledge from which people draw benefit, and a good son who prays to Allah for him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
If we do not do this, we are like the rest of humanity and will be at a loss. This is the default situation of man, the base case scenario; he is at a loss.
(By Time, Verily Man is at a loss. Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommended one another to the truth, and recommended one another to patience.) (Al-`Asr 103: 1-3)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “Indeed, this world, with all it contains, is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allah and what follows it from deeds that are pleasing to Allah, scholars (of religion) and seekers of knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)
The problem is that we become content with what we have, and if we look at the example of our righteous predecessors, none of them were ever content. We must take advantage and change our lives right now. There is no time to make intentions and resolve to do better. Such thinking does not exist in the workplace so why do we expect it to exist with Allah the Almighty? We must take concrete action to better ourselves and our communities.
It is only Satan who misleads us and encourages us to be lazy, and he will keep making us procrastinate so much so that the only time we gain any real knowledge is after our death.
`Abdullah ibn ‘Awn said, “Those who were before us would leave for this life what remained with them after taking care of their Hereafter. You, on the other hand, leave for your Hereafter what remains after taking care of your life.”
We have a disease in our hearts when we say “faith is in the heart” or “faith is only on the inside.” This is nothing more than a feeble excuse and a trick! We all quote the hadith “actions are by intentions” as proof for this, but it is actually proof against us. It says actions are by intention – the action comes first and then the intention of the action is judged. To merely make an intention without an action is of no benefit, especially when there is nothing preventing us from doing the action.
We cannot simply intend to establish Islamic institutions, or establish classes, seek knowledge, or teach our children about Islam. We must put it into action because when we put it into action, then we can leave a lasting legacy of that knowledge to those around us. It does not necessarily mean that you must produce some academic work, but it means to impact someone around you in a positive manner, such that, in sha’ Allah, you will benefit from your action after your death.
Tying it All Together – Example of Worshipping with Knowledge
Imam Ahmad recorded from `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), that she said, “O Messenger of Allah! If I find Laylat Al-Qadr what should I say?” He replied, “Say: ‘Allahumma innaka ‘Affu, tuhibbul ‘afwa, fa’fu’annee’ (O Allah! Verily, You are the Oft-Pardoning, You love to pardon, so pardon me).” (Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i)
It is recommended that we supplicate with this as we seek the blessed night that the Quran was revealed in. Have we pondered over its meanings?
Al-‘Affu is one of the Majestic Names of Almighty Allah. Linguistically, it means to pardon. ‘Aafiyah is Allah’s defense of His servant from disease, tribulation, fears, doubts, and so on.
This name occurs in the Qu’ran five times, once with the Name al-Qadir, and the rest with Al-Ghaffur. Al-Ghaffur also means to wipe away a person’s sins. Combined with Al-`Affu it means that Almighty Allah overlooks and pardons a person’s sin, and then wipes it completely away.
Why would this name be coupled with Al-Qadir? Al-Qadir is the One who is powerful, able to do all things, the One with the right and power to punish His slaves for sinning. What does this have to do with neglecting one’s sins?
In our interpersonal relationships, sometimes we are compelled to forgive each other for things that have been done to us. It may be because of a favor someone has done for us, or pressure from someone. By combining Al-`Affu with Al-Qadir, Allah the Almighty is telling us that He has all power and every right to punish us for our sins; however, He (out of His Mercy) has chosen to forgive us and pardon us.
May Allah the Almighty let us all live to see Laylat Al-Qadr this year, and benefit from it, and be amongst His righteous and knowledgeable worshippers.
Ibn Abee Omar is a part time lecturer from the southern US.