Monday, September 1, 2008

Here it comes...THE holy month of Ramdhan

Ramadhan, the Holy Month by leppardize.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all my brothers and sisters on the advent of the holy month of Ramadhan. May Allah bless you and may you all have a spiritual and joyful month inshallah :)

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
All praise is to Allah, Whom we thank and seek for His help and forgiveness.
We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and the burden of our evil deeds.
Whomsoever He guides, will never be misled, and whomsoever He misguides, will never find enlightenment.
I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Mohammad is His slave and Messenger.

Allah said, what translated means, “O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam” [3:102],

also, “Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations) of the wombs (kinship)! Surely, Allah is Ever an All- Watcher over you.” [4:1]
and, “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the Truth.” [33:70].

The best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is the guidance sent with Muhammad - peace be upon him. The worst of matters are Bid’ahs (innovations in the religion), every Bid’ah is a Dhalalah [misguidance], and every Dhalalah is in the Hellfire.

A. The Magnificent Month

Salman Al-Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) addressed us on the last day of Sha’ban and said: “People, a great blessed month has come upon you, a month containing Laylat al-Qadr which is better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting during it an obligation, and steadfastly observing its nights in worship a voluntary act. Whoever undertakes an act of obedience to Allah during this month with a righteous deed, it is as if he has performed an obligatory act at other times; and whoever performs an obligatory act during it is as one who performed seventy obligations at other times. It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is the month of goodwill, during which provisions are multiplied. Whoever feeds a fasting person will be compensated with forgiveness of sins and salvation of his soul from Hell. He will also receive a reward equal to that of the person he feeds, without causing him any reduction (in his good deeds).” (The Companions) said: “Not all of us can find something to feed a fasting person.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah gives this reward to whoever feeds a fasting person even with just a taste of milk or dates, or a drink of water. Whoever quenches the thirst of a fasting person, Allah the Almighty makes him drink from my pond such that he will never feel thirsty again until he enters Paradise. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is emancipation from Hell.

Therefore display four characteristics to a greater extent; with two of which you will please your Lord, and two you can not dispense with. The two with which you will please your Lord are to testify that there is no one deserving of worship except Allah, and to seek His forgiveness; whereas the two which you cannot dispense with are that you beseech Allah to place you in Paradise and that you seek refuge with Him from Hell.” [related by Ibn Khuzaymah and AlBayhaqi].

B. Blessings of Ramadan

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters! We are hosting soon inshaa’a Allah a unique, a generous and an honorable guest; a guest that visits us once a year and brings with it all sorts of goodness and happiness; a guest that brings with it the wide Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah; a guest that brings with it a smell of Paradise; a guest that makes the believer closer to Allah and His Paradise and away from Shaytan and Hell Fire. It is Ramadhan, the month of the Qur’an, the month of Mercy, the month of Forgiveness, the month of prayer at night and Suhoor, the month of solidarity and mutual help, the month of all blessings.

We are advised in our merciful religion of Islam to be kind and generous towards the guest, so what if the guest is the best of guests over the year? We should exert ourselves in generosity which is in this case good behavior and intense worship. It is from the immense mercy of Allah upon us that He made us Muslims and that He extended our lives till we reached this Ramadan. It is reported from some of the Salaf (Muslims of the first three centuries of Islam that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, praised in the well known famous hadith) that they used to pray to Allah during the six months before Ramadan to extend their lives so that they can fast Ramadan, and in the 6 months after Ramadan they would ask Allah to accept their fasting of Ramadan. Therefore, we have to be thankful to Allah that He allowed us to witness this Ramadan, so let us please Him during this month.

Why do we fast? It is from the nature of humans to ask and to wonder why they do things. Muslims do things to please Allah, and they can please Allah only by obeying Him and practicing His religion. Thus, in answer to this question “Why do we fast?” we respond that it is a commandment and a clear order from Allah upon us and we have no other choice but to obey Allah and please Him out of Love and Fear at the same time.

Allah says what means : “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa” (Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:183)

Ibn ‘Umar reports that Allah’s Messenger said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

  • 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.
  • 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  • 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity)
  • 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
  • 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. [Bukhari]

Abu Hurairah narrates that one day while Allah’s Messenger was sitting with the people, a man came to him walking and said, “O Allah’s Messenger. What is Belief?” The Prophet said, “Belief is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the meeting with Him, and to believe in the Resurrection.” The man asked, “O Allah’s Apostle, What is Islam?” The Prophet replied, “Islam is to worship Allah and not worship anything besides Him, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the (compulsory) charity (i.e. Zakat) and to fast the month of Ramadan.” [The narration of Muslim has Hajj as well]. The man again asked, “O Allah’s Apostle What is Ihsan (i.e. perfection or benevolence)? The Prophet said, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you.” Then the man left. The Prophet said, “Call him back to me.” They went to call him back but could not see him. The Prophet said, “That was Jibreel (Gabriel) who came to teach the people their religion.” [Bukhari].

Since Islam means submission to Allah, we have no other choice but to submit ourselves to Allah and obey His commandments. It is from the mercy of Allah towards us that while He prescribed on us fasting, He also showed us the greatness of fasting in this world and in the hereafter to make it beloved to us.

Abu Umaamah (r.a.a.) said: I said: O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an action by which I may enter Paradise. He said: Take to Fasting, there is nothing like it. [An-Nasaa’ee, Ibn Hibbaan, Al-Haakim, Saheeh]

In this hadeeth, the Prophet (s.a.w.) singled out fasting when asked about a deed that leads its doer to the best of rewards, Paradise. This fact alone is sufficient for us to understand the greatness of fasting. Mere knowledge of the importance and superiority of fasting, however, is not enough for a Muslim to attain Allah’s pleasure and then, in shaa’ Allah, His great reward.

Indeed, the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said: “Perhaps a person fasting will receive nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst.” [Ibn Maajah, Ad-Daarimee, Ahmad, al-Baihaqee, Saheeh]

This hadeeth should raise our concern about fasting and increase our desire to perform this act of worship with the best intention and in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.). The first step is for a Muslim to realize that Allah has prescribed fasting as a means of gaining Taqwa. Allah (swt) has also informed us that it is taqwa that distinguishes people in the His sight.

Allah says: “The most honoured by Allah amongst you are those best in taqwaa.” [49:13]

Ali ibn Abi Taalib was asked about the definition of taqwa, to which he answered: “[It is] Fear of the All-Mighty, acting upon the revelation, preparation for the day of travel [when we meet Allah], and contentment with a small amount.”

C. Virtues of Fasting as mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah

  • The reward for fasting is immense, as mentioned in the following Hadeeth: “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” [al-Bukhaaree]
  • Also, Sahl ibn Sa’ said that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Indeed there is a gate of Paradise called ar-Rayyaan. On the day of Resurrection those who fast will enter through it; no one enters it except for them, and when they have entered, it is closed so that no one enters it, so when the last of them enters it, it is closed, and whoever enters it drinks, and whoever drinks never becomes thirsty.” [Ibn Khuzaimah, Saheeh].
  • Fasting is a shield against the Fire: “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.” [Ahmad, Saheeh] and his saying (saws) “No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the hellfire seventy years further from his face.” [related by the group except for Abu Dawood]
  • On the Day of Judgement, “Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him.” [Ahmad, al-Haakim and Abu Nu’aim, Hasan]
  • Fasting is a means for one’s sins to be forgiven. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “He who fasts Ramadhan, due to Iman and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his past sins are forgiven.” [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]
  • Fasting is an expiation for various sins, as mentioned in the Qur’aan, in verses: 2:196, 4:92, 5:89, 5:95 and 58:3-4.
  • The supplication of the fasting person is answered: “There are in the month of Ramadhan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted.” [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad, Saheeh]
  • The fasting person will be among the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs: ‘Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhaanee r.a.a. said: A man came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and said: O Messenger of Allah, what if I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah, and I observe the five daily prayers, and I pay the zakaah, and I fast and stand in prayer in Ramadhan, then amongst whom shall I be? He said: Amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs. [Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh]
  • Fasting is a shield against one’s base desires, as the Prophet (s.a.w.) told the youth: “O youths, whoever amongst you is able to marry then let him do so, since it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts, and he who is unable, then let him fast because it is a shield for him.” [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]

Once we realize the greatness of fasting and what achievement it leads to, we must put all our efforts in performing the fast in the best manner possible. And since fasting is worship, it must be done solely for Allah’s sake, and no intention is accepted, other than pleasing Allah and seeking His Face with all one’s sincerity. Without a correct intention, no deed is of any value in the Hereafter.

We Muslims must constantly verify our intentions and consider why we perform fasting. Do we do so merely because it is the practice of our parents and friends, or do we do so because it is part of our tradition, or perhaps because we simply want to conform to our environment in order to avoid any problems? A Muslim who realizes that only that which is with Allah remains, and that He (swt) is the only One who grants and withholds, would not be of those to which the Prophet (s.a.w.) alluded in the Hadeeth: “On the Day of Judgement, a caller will cry out, ‘Whoever performed a deed for someone other than Allah may seek his reward from that for which he performed the deed’” [Saheeh al-Jami].

D. Ramadan and the Quran

This is based on an extract from Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s “Lataif al-Ma’arif” (pp. 179-182), quoted by Fahd bin Sulaiman in “Kay nastafeed min Ramadan” (pp. 48-50)

--------------begin quoting---------------------------

Ramadan has a special relationship with the Quran, of course, surah al-Baqarah:

“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down ... so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it...” [Note: in the tafsir of this verse, it is mentioned that the word ‘so’ (fa) in this verse gives the following paraphrase of one aspect of the meaning of the ayah: “Fast this month BECAUSE it is the one in which the Quran was sent down” -- see Sifah Sawm an-Nabee (saws) [eng. version] by Ali al-Halabi & Saleem al-Hilali for elaboration of this

In the Two Sahihs, from Ibn Abbas: “that the Messenger of Allah SAS was the most generous person, and he would be at his most generous in Ramadan, when Jibril would meet him and make him rehearse the Quran, Jibril would meet him every night in Ramadan to do this ...”

This hadith contains recommendation of the following:

  • studying the Quran in Ramadan
  • coming together for this purpose
  • checking (one’s memory/knowledge of) the Quran with someone who has preserved it better
  • increasing recitation of Quran in Ramadan
  • The night time is the best time to recite, when other preoccupations are less & it is easier to concentrate, as in Surah Muzzammil.

Also, the hadith of Fatima (ra) from her father (saws), who told her that Jibril would rehearse the Quran with him (in Ramadan) once every year, and he did so twice in the year of his death (saws).

Then, Ibn Rajab talks about the situation of the Salaf during Ramadan:

“Some of the Salaf would finish (reciting the whole Quran) during the night prayer of Ramadan every 3 days, others every 7 days (e.g. Qataadah), others in 10 days (e.g. Abu Rajaa’ al-Atardi). The Salaf would recite Quran in Ramadan in Prayer as well as outside it.

Al-Aswad would finish the Quran every 2 nights in Ramadan; Ibrahim an-Nakh’i would do that in the last 10 nights specifically, & every 3 nights during the rest of the month. Qataadah would regularly finish the Quran in 7 days, but in 3 days during Ramadan, and every night during the last 10. Ash-Shafi’i would finish the Quran 60 times in Ramadan, outside of Prayer, and similar is reported about Abu Hanifah. Az-Zuhri would say when Ramadan began: It is recitation of Quran & feeding people. Ibn Abdul Hakam said: when Ramadan began, Malik would leave reciting Hadith and sitting with the people of knowledge, and stick to reciting the Quran from the Mushaf. Abdur Razzaaq said: When Ramadan began, Sufyan Thawri would leave other acts of worship and stick to reciting Quran.

Aishah (ra) would recite from the Mushaf at the beginning of the day in Ramadan (i.e. after Dawn), until when the sun had risen, she would sleep. Sufyan said: Zayd alYaami would bring copies of Quran when Ramadan began and gather his companions around him...”

Ibn Rajab later continues: “the forbiddance of finishing reciting the Quran in less than 3 days applies to this being made a regular practice, but as for favoured times such as Ramadan, esp. the nights in which Laylat al-Qadr is sought, or favoured places such as Makkah for the visitor, it is recommended to increase reciting the Quran to avail the time and place. This is the view of Ahmad, Ishaq & other imams, and the practice of others indicates this too, as has been mentioned.”

---------------------------------------end of quote from book------------------------------

E. Virtues of the Quran

Shaykh `Abdul Qadir al-Arna'oot

(c) IIPH 1999

  • "The best of you is he who learns the Qur'an and teaches it." [al-Bukhari]
  • "Will not any of you go to the masjid and learn or read two verses from the Book of Allah `azza wa jall? (For) that is better for him than two she-camels, and three (verses) are better for him than three (she-camels), and four (verses) are better for him than four (she-camels). And the number (of verses read in total) are better than the same number of camels." [Muslim]
  • "There is no envy (acceptable) except in two (cases): a person whom Allah has given the Qur'an and recites it throughout the night and throughout the day. And a person whom Allah has given wealth, that he gives out throughout the night and throghout the day." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
  • "Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah will receive a hasanah (good deed) from it (i.e. his recitation), and the hasanah is multiplied by ten. I do not say that Alif-Laam-Meem is (considered as) a letter, rather Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter." [At-Tirmidhi, Ad-Darimi]
  • "He who is skillful in reciting the Qur'an is with the unveiled, honorable, and pious (i.e. Hur al `Ain). And he who stutters when reading the Qur'an, (and its recitation) is difficult upon him, will receive two rewards." [Al-Bukhari]
  • "Verily he who has nothing of the Qur'an in his heart, is like a house (which has been) destroyed." [At-Tirmidhi]
  • "Read the Qur'an. For verily it will come forth on the Day of Resurrection as an intercessor for its readers." [Muslim]
  • "The Qur'an is an intercessor (which by Allah's permission) intercedes, and an opponent (which is) truthful. He who appoints it as his leader, (then it) will lead him to Paradise. And he who puts it behind him, (then it) will lead him to the Fire." [Ibn Hibban, Al-Bayhaqi, At-Tabarani, Sahih]
  • "Fasting and the Qur'an will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: 'O My Rabb! I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.' And the Qur'an will say: 'I prevented him from sleep during the night, so accept my intercession for him.' He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: 'And they will (be allowed to) intercede.'" [Ahmad, at-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, Sahih]
  • "Maintain learning the Qur'an, by heart for verily it is greater in escaping from the chests of men than camels from their reins." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
  • "Verily Allah raises nations by this book (the Qur'an) and puts down (i.e. destroys) others by it." [Muslim]
  • "The likeness of the believer who reads the Qur'an is like that of citron; its taste is delicious and its scent is pleasant. And the likeness of the believer who does not read the Qur'an is like that of a date; its taste is delicious, yet it has no scent. And the likeness of a hypocrite who reads the Qur'an is like that of a basil; its scent is pleasant, yet its taste is bitter. And the likeness of a hypocrite that does not read the Qur'an is like that of a colocynth; its taste is bitter and it has no scent." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
  • "It will be said to the beholder of the Qur'an: 'Recite, ascent and rattil (recite slowly and distinctly) as you used to rattil in the life of this world, for verily your level (in Paradise) is at the last verse you read." [Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, Sahih]
  • "Read the Qur'an, put it into practice, do not abandon it, do not put grudges (upon others) through it, and do not eat and gain wealth through it." [Ahmad, At-Tabarani, Sahih]
  • "Read the Qur'an and through it seek the Face of Allah, Exalted be He, before there comes a nation that implements it like an arrow. They read it fast and they do not recite it slowly (to implement)." [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Hasan]
  • "Verily, the best of people with regards to voices, is he whom you feel fears Allah when he recites." [Ad-Darimi, Sahih]
  • From Anas ibn Malik, radhiallahu `anhu, (who said) that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, said to Ubay ibn Ka`b (radiallahu `anhu):
    'Verily Allah has ordered me to read upon you.'
    He [Ubay] said: 'Has Allah named me for you?!'
    He [sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam] said: 'Allah has named you for me.'
    He [Anas] said: 'So Ubay began to weep.'
  • "There is not a group which has gathered in a house from the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah, and studying it between them, except that tranquility will descend upon them, mercy will befall them, the Angels will encircle them, and Allah will mention them to those who are with Him (i.e. the Angels). And he who falls short (in gaining knowledge and memorizing the Qur'an) should (be prompt in) action, (in) that which lineage (*) will not hasten him (to do)." [Muslim]
    (*) For example, if someone is the son of a scholar and falls short in gaining knowledge and memorizing the Qur'an, then it is upon him to hasten in redeeming himself through studying and hard work, not by relying upon his lineage, i.e. him being the son of a scholar, king, or even being from the descendants of the family of the Messenger, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, etc. This meaning is taken from An-Nawawi's explanation of Sahih Muslim. [Transl.]

F. The Essentials Elements of Fasting

Definition of Siyam (Fasting): Siyam in Arabic means “to abstain from something”.

For example, Allah says about Mariam (Mary) in the Qur’an that she said [meaning]: “Verily!, I have vowed a fast to the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human this day “[Maryam 19:26]. In religion (Islam) Siyam means “abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset with the sincere intention of doing so (for the sake of Allah). Therefore the pillars of fasting are:

  • 1-The intention: To sincerely fast for the sake of Allah. The intension need not be uttered. It is in reality an act of the heart which does not involve the tongue. It is a bid‘ah [innovation] to do so. The fact that one knows he is fasting the next day is “intention”. The fact of taking Suhoor is “intention. About sincerity in acts of worship Allah said in the Qur’an [in the meaning of]: “And they were ordained nothing else than to worship Allah, keeping religion pure for Him” [al-Bayyinah, Also the Messenger of Allah (S) said : Actions are judged according to the intention behind them, and for everyone is what he intended” [Bukhari and Muslim] The intention must be made before fajr and during every night of Ramadan and is valid if made in any part of the night. Hafsah reported that the Prophet (S) said: “Whoever does not determine to fast before fajr will have no fast” (that is it won’t be accepted) [an-Nasa’i, atTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and others, Sahih].
  • 2-Abstaining from the acts that break the fast: Allah says in the Qur’an [in the meaning of]: “Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast until nightfall.” [al-Baqara, 2:187] ‘Adiyy Ibn Hatim said “When the Ayah “Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct to you ...” was revealed, I took a black thread and a white thread and placed them underneath my pillow. During the night I looked at them to if I could distinguish between them. In the morning I went the Messenger of Allah and mentioned that to him and he said: ‘It is the black of the night and the white of the day.’” [Bukhari and Muslim] Therefore, the believer must fast from Fajr [dawn] to Maghrib [sunset].

H. Other Rulings Pertaining to Fasting

  • The interval between the end of suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) and the start of the obligatory prayer is the interval sufficient to recite fifty Aayaat, as indicated by the Prophet (s.a.w.) and related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.
  • Eating the pre-dawn meal (suhoor) contains many blessings and the Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered us to do take it, forbade us from leaving it and told us to take suhoor to make a distinction between our fast and the fast of the People of the Book. In spite of this, Ibn Hajar reports in Fathul-Baaree that there is Ijmaa that it is mustahabb (recommendation). Allah knows best.
  • Falsehood, ignorant and indecent speech are to be avoided as they may render one’s fasting futile.
  • A fasting person can begin fasting while in the state of Janaabah (major state of impurity that requires bath due to a sexual intercourse), as explained in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.
  • Use of Siwaak (tooth-stick) is permitted. Likewise, washing the mouth and nose is permitted, but it should not be done strongly.
  • The Prophet discouraged a youth from kissing while fasting, while he allowed an old man since he is able to control himself.
  • Pouring cold water over one’s head and taking a bath contain no harm to a fasting person.
  • It is the Sunnah of the Prophet and the practice of his companions to break the fast as soon as the Sun sets even if some bright redness remains upon the horizon. Muslims are strongly encouraged to hasten breaking the fast. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “The Deen will not cease to be uppermost as long as the people hasten to break the fast, since the Jews and the Christians delay it.” [Abu Daawood, Ibn Hibbaan, Hasan]
  • The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to break his fast before praying and he used to break it with fresh dates, if not then with older dates. And if not with dates, than with some mouthfuls of water.
  • The supplication of the fasting person when he breaks his fast is not rejected. The best du’aa’ (supplication) is that reported from Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). He used to say when breaking the fast: “Dhahaba-DH-DHama’u wabtallatil-’urooqu, wa thabatal ajru inshaa Allah.” (The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is certain, if Allah wills.) [Abu Daawood, al-Baihaqee, al-Haakim and others, Hasan]
  • The Prophet said: “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons reward.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh]. Also, a fasting Muslim should not reject invitation of another Muslim to break fast.
  • As for Lailatul-Qadr, the Night of Decree, that is better than a thousand months (see Soorah Qadr (97)), the Prophet (s.a.w.) told us: “Seek it in the last ten, and if one of you is too weak or unable then let him not allow that to make him miss the final seven.” [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]. That which is the most specific states, “seek it on the (twenty) ninth and the (twenty) seventh and the (twenty) fifth.” [al-Bukhaaree]
  • The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to exert himself greatly during Lailatul-Qadr. He would spend the nights in worship, detaching himself from women and ordering his family with this. So every Muslim should be eager to stand in prayer during Lailatul Qadr out of Iman and hoping for the great reward. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever stands (in prayer) in Lailatul Qadr out of Iman and seeking reward then his previous sins are forgiven.” [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]
  • The supplication that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) taught ‘Aa’isha, radiyallaahu ‘anhaa, to say when seeking the Night of Decree is: O Allah you are the one who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.[at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah,, Saheeh]
  • It is Sunnah to pray Taraweeh in congregation and the one who knew best the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) at night, ‘Aa’isha, radiyallaahu ‘anhaa, said: “Allah’s Messenger did not increase upon eleven rak’ahs in Ramadhan, or outside it.” [al-Bukhaaree, Muslim]
  • All who are capable should take advantage of the month of Ramadhan and perform I’ikaaf, i.e. fully attach oneself to worshipping in the mosque. One should inquire how the Prophet (s.a.w.) performed I’ikaaf.
  • Zakaatul Fitr is prescribed by Allah as a purification for those who fasted from loose and indecent talk, and to feed the poor Muslims as a provision for eidul Fitr. One should inquire further about rulings related to it, especially upon whom it is obligatory and what is its quantity.
  • The last but not the least, we should strive to constantly improve our worship and obedience of Allah the Most High, including once the month of Ramadhan is over, inshaa’ Allah

1 comment:

Mohamed said...

Schacht asserts that hadiths, particularly from Muhammad, did not form, together with the Qur'an, the original bases of Islamic law and jurisprudence as is traditionally assumed. Rather, hadiths were an innovation begun after some of the legal foundation had already been built. "The ancient schools of law shared the old concept of sunna or ‘living tradition’ as the ideal practice of the community, expressed in the accepted doctrine of the school." And this ideal practice was embodied in various forms, but certainly not exclusively in the hadiths from the Prophet. Schacht argues that it was not until al-Shafi`i that ‘sunna’ was exclusively identified with the contents of hadiths from the Prophet to which he gave, not for the first time, but for the first time consistently, overriding authority. Al-Shafi`i argued that even a single, isolated hadith going back to Muhammad, assuming its isnad is not suspect, takes precedence over the opinions and arguments of any and all Companions, Successors, and later authorities. Schacht notes that:

Two generations before Shafi`i reference to traditions from Companions and Successors was the rule, to traditions from the Prophet himself the exception, and it was left to Shafi`i to make the exception the principle. We shall have to conclude that, generally and broadly speaking, traditions from Companions and Successors are earlier than those from the Prophet.

Based on these conclusions, Schacht offers the following schema of the growth of legal hadiths. The ancient schools of law had a ‘living tradition’ (sunna) which was largely based on individual reasoning (ra'y). Later this sunna came to be associated with and attributed to the earlier generations of the Successors and Companions. Later still, hadiths with isnads extending back to Muhammad came into circulation by traditionists towards the middle of the second century. Finally, the efforts of al-Shafi`i and other traditionists secured for these hadiths from the Prophet supreme authority.

Goldziher maintains that, while reliance on the sunna to regulate the empire was favoured, there was still in these early years of Islam insufficient material going back to Muhammad himself. Scholars sought to fill the gaps left by the Qur'an and the sunna with material from other sources. Some borrowed from Roman law. Others attempted to fill these lacunae with their own opinions (ra'y). This latter option came under a concerted attack by those who believed that all legal and ethical questions (not addressed by the Qur'an) must be referred back to the Prophet himself, that is, must be rooted in hadiths.These supporters of hadiths (ahl al-hadith) were extremely successful in establishing hadiths as a primary source of law and in discrediting ra'y. But in many ways it was a Pyrrhic victory. The various legal madhhabs were loath to sacrifice their doctrines and so they found it more expedient to fabricate hadiths or adapt existing hadiths in their support. Even the advocates of ra'y were eventually persuaded or cajoled into accepting the authority of hadiths and so they too "found" hadiths which substantiated their doctrines that had hitherto been based upon the opinions of their schools’ founders and teachers. The insistence of the advocates of hadiths that the only opinions of any value were those which could appeal to the authority of the Prophet resulted in the situation that "where no traditional matter was to be had, men speedily began to fabricate it. The greater the demand, the busier was invention with the manufacture of apocryphal traditions in support of the respective theses."

In summary, Goldziher sees in hadiths "a battlefield of the political and dynastic conflicts of the first few centuries of Islam; it is a mirror of the aspirations of various parties, each of which wants to make the Prophet himself their witness and authority." Likewise,

Every stream and counter-stream of thought in Islam has found its expression in the form of a hadith, and there is no difference in this respect between the various contrasting opinions in whatever field. What we learnt about political parties holds true too for differences regarding religious law, dogmatic points of difference etc. Every ra'y or hawa, every sunna and bid`a has sought and found expression in the form of hadith.

And even though Muslim traditionalists developed elaborate means to scrutinize the mass of traditions that were then extant in the Muslim lands, they were "able to exclude only part of the most obvious falsifications from the hadith material." Goldziher, for all his scepticism, accepted that the practice of preserving hadiths was authentic and that some hadiths were likely to be authentic. However, having said that, Goldziher is adamant in maintaining that:

In the absence of authentic evidence it would indeed be rash to attempt to express the most tentative opinions as to which parts of the hadith are the oldest material, or even as to which of them date back to the generation immediately following the Prophet’s death. Closer acquaintance with the vast stock of hadiths induces sceptical caution rather than optimistic trust regarding the material brought together in the carefully compiled collections.

From Daniel Brown Muslim Scholar from America

The relevance of the past: classical conceptions of Prophetic authority

The word sunna predates the rise of Islam and is well attested in pre-Islamic sources. The word sunna was likely to be applied to Muhammad even during his lifetime (p8).

The Quran never mentions sunna-al-nabi (sunna of the Prophet). The application of the term sunna is likely to be post-Quranic, especially when applied exclusively to Muhammad.

Early muslims did not give precedence of Muhammad's sunna over other sunnas, such as the sunna of the early caliphs or early companions. The sunna term was not exclusive to Muhammad. There were no rigid distinctions about sources of religious law, i.e. it wasn't concrete that Muhammad's sunna could be used as a source of law.

Shafi was born in 204 AH (193 years after Prophet Muhammad's death). He was the first to argue the Prophet's sunna as a source of law, identified to authentic prophetic hadith, and give it an equal footing to The Quran. Different attitudes to sunna existed during Shafi, al-kalam (a particular group or school of thought) rejected hadith altogether in favour of The Quran alone. Shafi's view was also oppossed early by schools of jurisprudence in Hijaz, Iraq and Syria, who applied the term sunna to Muhammad, his companions and the early caliphs as well.
After Shafi, it is rare to find the term sunna applied to other than Muhammad. Al-kalam argued the sunna of Muhammad should never be allowed to rule on The Quran and described the science of hadith (as in the methods used to collect hadith) as arbitrary. Evidence of this was the hadith was filled with contradictory, blasphemous and absurd traditions. [top]

Challenges to the view of the organic relationship between The Quran and sunna are not completely unprecedented in the history of Islamic thought. Some of the opponents of Shafi argued that The Quran explains everything (e.g. 16:89) and needs no supplement, this was because one of Shafi's central arguments was the need to clarify The Quran. This opposing viewpoint was snuffed out after the triumph of the traditionist view. However and it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the argument was seriously revived. One of the reasons Daniel Brown gives for the defeat of the opponents of Shafi was that they could not deny the authority of the Prophet. If for example, you found a hadith that was truly authentic then there is no way you can deny it because as it states in The Quran the Prophet was a very good example. Also, Shafi emphasised that to obey the Prophet was to obey God. Under this pressure, the opponents of Shafi were defeated. Rarely does the author address how specific arguments were defeated unfortunately, which was the most disappointing aspect of this book.

The question arose: how is it possible to determine which hadith were authentic and which were not?

In the 19th and 20th centuries, increased criticism and scrutiny by Western scholars of Islam showed Muslims that the hadith could not stand up to the criticism, whilst The Quran could. It made Muslims look back on the hadith and reflect more and examine their basis and origin in Islam.

The authenticity of hadith

The great compilations of the hadith took place in the 3rd century AH (i.e. beginning about 189 years after Prophet Muhammad's death, with the 6 books being complete about 280 years after his death), p83. In the eyes of most Muslim scholars sahih (reliable/authentic) hadith could with a high degree of confidence be considered to represent the actual words and deeds of the Prophet. On the other hand, few scholars would have argued the system was full proof. Any information in the hadiths was no absolute truth, it had to be classified as conjecture. The opponents of the hadith at the start were a minority. It was not seriously questioned.
Goldziher was unquestionably the most important 19th century critic of hadith. He became the first scholar to subject the hadith to a systematic historical and critical method. His study was published in 1896. Joseph Schacht "origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence" in 1950 was published. Like Goldziher, he concluded that few, if any traditions originated with the Prophet.
Even the Prophet recognised that there were people among his companions or those living during his lifetime were spreading lies about him. This is testified to in a hadith in Bukhari (p85). There is documented evidence that the companions disagreed with each other and criticsed each other, for example Aisha and Ibn Abbas were reported to have criticised Abu Hurayra. A number of companions demanded evidence for the truth of reports passed onto them. Umar alledgedly questioned a report from Fatima bint Qays. Umar is also reported to have confined three companions to Medina to keep them from spreading traditions. Abu Huyrara was only with the Prophet for 3 years, yet he is alledged to have been the most prolific in transmitting hadith. Biographical literature provides ample material for criticism for Abu Huyrara's character, Umar called Abu Huyrara a liar for example. Aisha criticised Anas for transmitting traditions as he was only a child during the life of the Prophet. And Hassan called both Umar and Zubair liars.

The process of hadith transmission was primarily oral, at least through the first century. Even after written collections of hadith were compiled, oral transmission remained the ideal (p88). Abu Rayya argues that the late date when traditions began to be registered in written form more than 100 years after the Prophet's death became a major obstacle to the fidelity of hadith (p89). Emerged in final form only in the 3rd and 4th centuries

Those who argue that Muhammad's companions began to record hadith in writing during his lifetime must explain the Prophetic prohibition on writing of hadith. Contradictions within the hadith exist regarding this subject. (p91)

Under orders from Caliph Hisham, Shihab al-Zuhri was first assigned to collect hadith. This tradition has commonly been taken to mean that al-Zuhri, under duress, became the first traditionist to violate the Prophet's prohibition on recording hadith in writing. Al-Zuhri is reported to have said: "We disapproved of recording knowledge until these rulers forced us to do so. After that reason we saw no reason to forbid the Muslims to do so." In other words, before al-Zuhri writing was the rare exception; after him writing of traditions became commonplace. This argument is bolstered by numerous accounts that early generations of pious Muslims, including not only al-Zuhri and traditionists like him but also the first four Caliphs, strongly disapproved of writing hadith.
The evidence strongly suggests that early generations of Muslims did record traditions in writing, however having reports about written records is rather different than having the records themselves. Thus, the apparent aversion of pious Muslims to the recording of hadith should be interpreted as reluctance to record an official, public collection of hadith. (p92)

Scholars agree that forgery of hadith took place on a massive scale. The science of hadith developed gradually as a response to this problem. The early written compilations called suhuf were little more than random transcriptions or personal collections. Muslim sources identify the first systematic collection in recording of the hadith with the Ummad Caliph Umar and with the scholars Abu Bakr. No such collection has survived. The earliest systematic collection is the muttawata of Mailk bin Anas, 179 AH (168 years after Prophet Muhammad's death), p94. Isnad (checking of transmissions) was not applied until after the early 2nd century AH according to Schacht. The book studies in early hadith literature stated it was earlier than this. For middle ground see Juynboll: "Muslim tradition". Major works of hadith (p161 footnote 70).

According to some, forgers of hadith became active even during the lifetime of the Prophet. In the Caliphate of Umar, the problem became so serious that he prohibited transmission of hadith altogether. The degree of the problem that resulted can be seen from the testimony of the muhahadithin (those who collect hadith) themselves. Bukhari selected 9000 traditions out of 700 000 (p96). When Bukhari reports that he selected from over 700 000 traditions, he is counting every different transmission chain, even when the substance of the tradition are the same (p99). The point is that hadith criticism did not begin during the 3rd century but was practiced continually from the time of the companions onwards (p99).