The Importance of Ramadan in the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ Life

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Ramadan, the Sultan of the eleven months, the month of blessings and forgiveness, comes from the word “ar-ramadi” meaning “rain that cleans the earth from dust in late summer”, or “ar-ramda” meaning “flashing of sands and stones from sun’s rays”. According to this, just as how the rain cleans and washes the earth, and  just as the hot ground burns the feet of those who walk on, the month of Ramadan clears, burns, and wipes off the sins.2 with the following verse:

O Believers! Fasting was decreed upon you as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous. Fast for a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey during them, then an equal number of days are to be made up. And upon those who are able to fast, but with hardship, a ransom should be paid as a substitute of feeding a poor person each day. And whoever volunteers excess the amount of ransom, it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights the new moon of the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey, then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and wants for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that to which He has guided you, and perhaps you will be grateful.

Surah al-Baqarah, 2/183-185

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) showed his love and passion, desire and will to reach Ramadan with his prayers starting in the month of Rajab “My God! Make the Rajab and Shaban months blessed on us, bring us to Ramadan.”

The Importance of Ramadan

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), during his sermons and conversations before and during Ramadan, encouraged the believers to prepare for the blessed Ramadan in their minds, ideas, hearts and spirits and to perform worship, about the merit and blessings of Ramadan with the following hadiths:

“O people, a big and blessed month is approaching, its shadow has come to you. It is such a month that there is the night of Qadr, which is better than a thousand months. In that blessed month, Allah enjoins fasting during the day and encourages nafl (supererogatory) prayers at night. In this month, a person who does a small or big deed will be rewarded as a fard deed in other months. Doing a fard in this month is worth seventy fard in other months. This month is the month of patience and endurance for the troubles of hunger and thirst, and worship. The reward of patience is the Jannah (Paradise). This month is the month of solidarity, this month is the month that will increase the sustenance of believers. Whoever gives something for iftar to a fasting believer in this month, this yields his sins to be forgiven and to be free from Jahannam (Hell). He gains the same amount of good deed without decreasing any from the believer who fasted. Some of the Companions said, “O Rasulallah, we are not in a position to find and give something for iftar to whom are fasting.”Upon this, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘Allah gives this reward to those who provide iftar with a single date, a drink of water, a sip of milk to a fasting person.’ and he continued his sermon: The beginning of this month is mercy, the middle is forgiveness and the end is free from Jahannam. Whoever alleviates the work of his slave (worker and servant) this month, Allah forgives him and keeps him away from Jahannam. Therefore, in this month, you please Allah with two of the four things I will say, and the other two things that you can never abandon at any time. One of the things that yield’s Allah’s acceptance is continuing to say the Sahada, the other thing is asking for mercy and forgiveness from Allah. The two things that you can never abandon are asking for Jannah and taking refuge from Jahannam.  Whoever gives one sip of water to a fasting person, Allah will make him drink such water from his pool during the Day of Judgment, He will not suffer from thirst again until he enters Jannah. 3

İbn Huzeyme, es-Sahîh, savm, 2 (1785)

“The month of Ramadan has come. This month is a blessed month that Allah enjoined fasting. In this month the doors of the Jannah are opened, the doors of Jahannam are closed and fierce demons who are against God are chained. There is such a night in this month, it is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of the virtue of this night is as if deprived of the virtue of a thousand months.”

Nasai, Siyam, 5.

“When it is the first night of Ramadan, demons and fierce jinns are chained and Jahannam doors are closed. The doors of the Jannah are open. Then an (angel) calls out: O who asks for the good deed, come to worship and serve! Oh who wants evil, give up your sins! There are many who Allah freed from hellfire in this month and this is true for every night during Ramadan.”

Tirmidhi, Sawm,1; Ibn Majah, Siyam, 2.

“The month of Ramadan came to you with its blessings, Allah enriches you in this month, therefore Allah brings mercy on you, eliminates mistakes, he accepts prayers in this month. Allah looks at you (about worship and charity in Ramadan) to compete with each other and brags about you to His angels. Then show yourselves to Allah with your goodness and charity. In the month of Ramadan, anyone who deprives himself of the mercy of Allah is miserable.”

Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawaid, 3/344.

“If major sins are avoided, the five Daily Prayers act as redemption for sins that were committed from one Friday until the next and from one Ramadan until the next.”

Sahih Muslim, Taharah, 16.

“Whoever fasts during Ramadan with believing in Allah and  waiting his reward from Allah, his past sins are forgiven.”

Bukhari, Îmân, 28.

Making the Most of Ramadan 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who is a guide in all matters, taught his Companions how to make the most of and fast during Ramadan, and what to watch out for during fasting with his way of living, recommendations, and warnings. 

He read the Qur’an abundantly during the days of Ramadan, gave charity, and did good deeds. Gabriel (pace be upon him) came to him every night until the end of Ramadan and read the Qur’an to him.4

He spent the days of Ramadan fasting and nights with prayers such as the Qur’an recitation, the Tarawih, and the Tahajjud. Encouraging to make use of Ramadan days and nights, he would say: 

“Whoever fasts during Ramadan by believing in and waiting for his reward from Allah, his past sins are forgiven.”5

“Whoever revives the nights of Ramadan by believing in and waiting for his reward from Allah, his past sins are forgiven.”6

He paid special attention to the last ten days of Ramadan, went  into i’tikaf in Masjid an-Nabawi, and spent his time with worship and obedience. As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) went into i’tikaf for ten days every year until he passed away, he spent 20 days in i’tikaf in the year he passed away, Jibril (peace be upon him) recited the Qur’an twice to during Ramadan that year.7

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was always excited with the arrival of Ramadan. In the words of Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with him), his generosity would increase even more, especially in Ramadan, when he met with Jibril (peace be upon him). In those days, the Messenger of God would have been more generous than the wind that brought mercy to people.8 He also said to his Companions; “The charity given during Ramadan is more virtuous.”and encouraged believers to give charity generously. 9 He, for those who cannot do more in worship and generosity, drew a lower limit with the “sadaqa al-fitr”, which is one of the special prayers for Ramadan, he enjoined his Companions to give sadaqa al-fitr before the Eid Prayer.10

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) celebrated the joy of having spent a month of mercy and blessings with worship and prayers with his companions by eid celebration. He performed ghusl before going to the Eid Prayer 11 and He followed a different path to the place where the Prayer would be performed. 12 He welcomed eid with takbir and tahlil.14

One of the most important elements that make Ramadan blessed is that it contains the night of Qadr, which is “better than a thousand months”in the words of the Qur’an. The Messenger of God who paid great attention to this night said “The night of Qadr is hidden in the last 10 days of Ramadan.” 15 Because the odd nights in the last ten days of Ramadan were likely to be the night of Qadr 16, he would spend 23rd, 25th and 27th nights worshiping for a long time with his family. 17

Laylatul Qadr 

It is the night when the Qur’an was revealed from the Preserved Table to the sky of the earth. Jibril (peace be upon him) revealed the first five verses to the Messenger of God that starts with the first verse of surah al-Alaq: “Iqra!” (Read!). 

The surah al-Qadr, which is referred to in the Qur’an with the same name, talks about the beginning of revelation and the great power, virtue and blessings of this night, and the divine welfare that covers the universe that night: “We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Qadr. Do you know what is the night of Qadr? The night of Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand. There is peace until the appearance of dawn.” 18

In the Surah al-Dukhan, the power of this night is sworn in: “By the Book that makes things clear, we sent it down during a blessed night for we (ever) wish to warn (against Evil). In the (Night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom, by command, from Our Presence. For We (ever) send (revelations). 19

The night of Qadr is the acceptance of a prayer made by the Prophet for his love and fondness towards his ummah, as follows: The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was shown the duration of the lives of the people before him or the duration that Allah wished to show. Upon that, ‘Let my ummah have performed the deeds that other ummahs could not do in their long lifetime.’ he prayed. God then bestowed on him the night of Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.”20

Allah Almighty, first informed the Prophet of when is the night of Qadr in Ramadan and then made him forget.21 Until, it would be revived. Whoever revives only this night might take his share from that night but,  there is no doubt who considers every night as Qadr and revives it will definitely get his share from that night. 22

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said that this night is one of the odd nights in the last ten or seven days of Ramadan. 23 However, the hadiths who stated that it was the 27th night, were accepted by the majority of scholars and the whole Islamic world adopted it. 24

In the statements of the Prophet about the night of Qadr, he emphasized the following: 

  • “Allah gifted the night of Qadr to my ummah and did not give it to any ummah before.” 25
  • “Whoever revives the night of Qadr with worship in a hopeful manner from Allah, his past sins are forgiven.” 26
  • “Whoever perform the Prayers in the night of Qadr, believing Allah and waiting for his reward from Allah, his past sins are forgiven” 27
  • “ Whoever is present in the congregation on the night of the Qadr, which was present in the congregation, will take his share from that night.” 28
  • “Whoever observes the Evening and Morning Prayers with the congregation until the month of Ramadan ends, he gets a share more from the night of Qadr.” 29

The respected Aisha asked the Messenger of God, “O Messenger of God, how should I pray if I am to conform to the night of Qadr?” and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended to recite this prayer: 

“ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عُفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي”

My God! You are very forgiving, You are the All-Generous, you like to forgive, forgive me too”

Tirmidhi, Daawat, 89; Ibn Majah, Dua, 5.

Some of the important events that occurred in Ramadan during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

  • The Beginning of Prophethood; the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) receiving the first revelation in Hira;
  • Revelation of the first five verses of surah al-Alaq (610)
  • The death of the respected Khadijah (may God be pleased with her) (620)
  • Marriage of the Messenger of God to Sawda bint Zam (may God be pleased with her) [39]
  • Muahat: Establishment of brotherhood between the Ansar and the Muhajirun (1/623)
  • Sifu’l-Bahr (‘Is) Sariyya of the respected Hamza (may God be pleased with him)(1/623)
  • First Ramadan fasting (2/624)
  • The Battle of Badr (2/624): Battle was started  in Ramadan in the second year of the Hijrah, and a great victory was won against the Mecca polytheists on the seventeenth day of Ramadan. [40]
  • The death of Ruqiyya (may God be pleased with her), the daughter of the Messenger of God (2/624)
  • The assassination attempt of Umayr ibn Wahb to the Messenger of God and his becoming a Muslim (2/624)
  • Sadaqa al-fitr became necessary (2/624)
  • Marriage of the Messenger of God to Zaynab bint Khuzayma (may God be pleased with her) (3/625)
  • The birth of the the respected Hasan (may God be pleased with him) (3/625)
  • Return from al-Muraysi (Banu Mustaliq) Campaign (5/627)
  • The marriage of the Messenger of God to Juwayriya (5/627)
  • Drought in Medina and rain prayer (6/628)
  • Khaybar Sariyyah of Abdullah ibn Rawaha (may God be pleased with him) for discovery purposes (6/628)
  • Sariyyah of Izam (8/630)
  • The conquest of Mecca (8/630)
  • Cleaning the Ka’ba from idols (8/630)
  • The Prophet of Mercy to forgive the people of Mecca, who did all kinds of violence for him and his Companions for years. (8/630)
  • Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind becoming Muslims (8/630)
  • Hakim ibn Hizam becoming a Muslim (8/630)
  • Demolition of the Masjid al-Dirar (9/630)
  • Return form Battle of Tabuk (9/630)
  • The visit of  Saqif Tribe from Taif to the Messenger of God (9/630)
  • The king of Himyar accepting Islam (9/630)
  • The Messenger of God reading the Qur’an for the last time and his i’tikaf (10/631)
  • Yemen Expedition of the respected Ali (10/631)
  • The visit of Banu Bajila and Banu Ghamid delegations to the Messenger of God (10/610)

Footnotes

  1. Radi, Tafsir, 5/71; Ibn Manzur, Lisanu’l-Arab, 7/160-162./efn_note]

    • What makes the month of Ramadan valuable can be listed as follows: 
    • The Qur’an descended this month. 
    • The night of Qadr, which is more auspicious than a thousand months, is celebrated this month. The worships of fasting, tarawih, muqabla, i’tikaf, iftar, suhur and sadaqa al-fitr are special to the month of Ramadan. 

    Fasting during Ramadan was made obligatory to believers in the second year of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Hijra from Mecca to Medina, before the battle of Badr in the month of Shaban1Ibn Sa’d, At-Tabaqatu’l-Kubra, 1/248

  2. Al-Bayhaqi, Shuabu’l-Imân (3329); Al-Munziri, At-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2/94-95. Also in another report; Salman al-Farisi (may God be pleased with him) says: “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) addressed us on the last day of the month of Shaban: “O people! A big and abundant month is upon you. There is one night (the Night of Qadr) in it that is better than a thousand months. Allah Almighty enjoined the fasting in that month, and made the night worship (Tarawih) a very valuable supererogatory prayer…” It is narrated from Ibn Khuzayma and Bayhaqi. See M. Zakariya Kandahlawi, Fazail A’mal, p. 564.
  3. Bukhari, Sawm, 7.
  4. Bukhari, Iman, 28.
  5. Nasai, Siyam, 39.
  6. Ibn Majah, Siyam, 58.
  7. Bukhari, Badu’l-Wahy 5, 6, Sawm 7, Manaqib 23; Sahih Muslim, Fadail 48, 50.
  8. Tirmidhi, Zakah 28.
  9. Bukhari, Zakah, 76.
  10. Muwatta, Eidayn, 1.
  11. Bukhari, Eidayn, 24.
  12. Bukhari, Eidayn, 12[/efn_note]

    Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has condemned anyone who has reached the month of Ramadan, which is the month of mercy, forgiveness and blessings, and who has left without forgiveness of God and said: “ Shame on whoever leaves the month of Ramadan without achieving God’s forgiveness”. 13Tirmidhi, Daawat, 100.

  13. Muwatta’, I’tikaf, 6.
  14. Bukhari, Adhan, 135.
  15. Tirmidhi, Sawm, 81; Nasai, Sahw, 103.
  16. Surah al-Qadr, 97/1-5.
  17. Surah al-Dukhan, 44/1-5. 
  18. Muwatta, I’tikaf, 6.
  19. Bukhari, Fadlu Laylati’l-Qadr, 2; Bukhari, Siyam, 213.
  20. The Sage Bediüzzaman also explains the following regarding this secrecy:”It is evident that Allah Almighty has hidden very important things in this world of trial. He has hidden death in the life of man, his admired servants among humans and Ismu’l-A’zam among the Beautiful Divine Names. Likewise, he has hidden the hour of ijabah on Friday, As-Salatu’l-Wusta among five Daily Prayers, approval of God among all prayers, the apocalypse in time, the death in life, and the night of Qadr in Ramadan. Said Nursi, Sözler, p. 309; Algül, Hüseyin, Mübarek Gün ve Geceler, p. 21. As long as they remain hidden, even other parts remain valuable, and importance is given to them. Bediüzzaman states that the wisdom of hiding some things in some things is to appreciate other parts of that thing, and if such special things are explained, other things will fall from value. Said Nursi, Mektubat, p. 476; Hutbe-i Şamiye, s.124; Sünûât-Tulûât-İşârât, s.13; Sünûhât, p. 29.
  21. Tirmidhi, Sawm, 81; Nasai, Sahw, 103.
  22. The interpretation of this matter by Bediüzzaman is as follows: “Some of the mujtahids have allocated the night of Qadr to tomorrow (27th) night since it is very likely to be the night of Qadr. Although it is not for certain, the ummah looks at that night with that respect. I hope it will be accepted as it is. Said Nursi, Şualar, p. 510
  23. Suyuti, Jamiu’s-Saghir, 2/269.
  24. Bukhari, Qadr, 1; Bukhari, Musafirin, 175.
  25. Bukhari, Siyam, 71.
  26. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-ü Sitte, 3/289.
  27. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-ü Sitte, 3/289.
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