Now has come yet again, the month of tranquil days and blessed nights; the month of Ramadan. Indeed, it is one of blessed nights as it is during its nights that such blessed activities like the sahur, iftar, tarawih and laylat ul Qadr all take place.

THE SAHUR: Allah says, "...And eat and drink unt1the white thread of fqjr appears distinct from the black thread ..." ((12:187)

Unfortunately this eating and drinking is what some people restrain from today. It is the sahur: the meal that a fasting person should take at the last third of the night preceding the fasting day.

Rasulullali (peace be upon him) referred to it as the the blessed breakfast and concerning it, advised: "Have sahur for in sahur there is barakah (blessing)" (Bukhari). If one does so, one will inshaa Allaah, get the reward of acting according to the sunnah as opposed to the action of the People of the Book who fast without the early morning meal.

A Muslim should therefore strive to take something at sahur, even if it is only a drink of water. The eating can continue until Fajr as-Sadiq (the true fajr), just before the adhaan of the fajr prayer and it is best to delay the sahur till this time. This was the practice of the Rasul (peace be upon him). If one hasnt finished his fair share of the meal before the adhaan, Rasulullali (peace be upon him) admonished: "When one of you hears the call and a dish is in his hand, then lie should not put it down till he has finished what is necessary for him of it." (Abu Dawud)

The iftar: "At the iftar, Allah chooses people to free from Hell fire." (Ahmad) The iftar is the fast breaking meal. It should not be delayed once its time sets in. Rasulullali (peace be upon him) said, "My ummah will not cease in good as long as it hastens to break fast. (Bukhari) Hastening to fast breaking means to begin partaking in the iftar as soon as the sun has disappeared as long as its view is not blocked by the clouds or any other physical obstruction. The iftar does not depend on the adhaan as the adhaan may be delayed may be called too early.

Rather, it should be a meal that depends solely upon the setting of the sun. It is best to keep the iftar light so that one does not- stuff himself with different types of food that may subsequently lead to indigestion and make further acts of ibaddah difficult The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "when one of you breaks his fast, he should do so with some dates: but if he can not get any, he should break his fast with water, for it is purifying." (Ahmad)

Spending all of our time in preparing all kinds of food for the iftar and treating food preparation as a special Ramadan task so that once its time for iftar, we take a bit-of this and a bit of that is not sunnah. Doing this can turn the month of blessed nights into one of sleepless nights as a result of indigestion and other gastric illness. After the iftar, one should express pleasure by saying: "Dhahaba al zama wa btallat al- urooq wa thabat al-arju inshaAllah" (Thirst is gone, veins are moisturized and the reward is certain, insha Allah) (Abu Dawud)

Inviting others to the iftar is a sure means of attaining more blessings as the Rasul (peace be upon him) said, Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, he will receive a reward equal to his, without any decrease in the fasting persons reward. (Tirmidhi) This however should not be limited to the rich inviting the rich but should be extended to all Muslims; rich and poor alike.

THE MAGHRIB PRAYER: The food of iftar should not keep one too busy to the extent that maghrib salaat is prayed just before isha or it is prayed with undue haste or sluggishness. This opposes the suunah of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

THE NIGHT PRAYERS (TARAWIH): The virtues and importance of extra voluntary prayers (Tarawih) during the month of Ramadan are established from the sayings and actions of the Rasul (peace be upon him). He (peace be upon him) persevered to excel in worship more in Ramadan than oilier tunes and he (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever prays at night in Ramadaan our of faith: and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven" (Bukhari)

Number of two Rakahs: The number of rakahs for the tarawih prayers of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is eleven. Rasulullali (peace be upon him) never did more than that and it is preferable not to exceed this number, following his practice. Describing his prayer in Ramadan, Aisha (RA) said, "The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) never prayed more than eleven rakahs (of qiyaam, whether during Ramadaan or any other time. He would pray four, and dont ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray four, and dont ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray three (witr)." (Muslim).

The Timing: The time for the tarawih prayers is from after lsha until Fajr. It is however better to pray it at the end of the night than at the beginning, If one fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, then he should pray it at the beginning of the night. Between Praying Individually and In Congregation It is allowed to pray tarawih in congregation: . If it is the  matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end Of the night, it is preferable to pray with the jamaaah.

This is based on the statement of the Rasul (peace be upon him) that, If a man prays with the Imaam until he finishes, it will be counted as if he prayed the whole night. (Abu Dawud). He did not enforce the observance of tarawih in jamaaah during his life time because he feared that it would then become obligatory, and we (his ummah) would not be able to do it. (Bukhari). Following his death, that fear wag no longer a factor, as Allah had completed the religion and the previous ruling: that congregational prayer is something prescribed in Islam, remained in effect. Umar (RA) with the agreement of the companions, revived the practice. (Bukhari)

RECITING QURAAN IN QIYYAAM: It has become customary among us that we only look forward to praying the tarawih prayers where the recitations are shortest and the whole prayer lasts a bit more than the twinkle of an eye! Though the Rasul (peace be upon him) did not set a limit or state what was too much or too little as regards reciting from the Quraan during qiyaam. whether in Ramadaan or at other times, he used to say, "Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred aayaat will not be recorded as one of the negligent." . (Bukhari)

According to another hadeeth: "... and reads two hundred. aayaat, will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers. " (Bukhari) At times, he (peace be upon him) would lead his companions in the tarawih till they feared they would miss the sahur !This definitely differs in manner to what we do nowadays. A person should therefore strive to follow the example of the Rasul (peace be upon him). Surely, "the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad .,. (Bukhari)

LAYLAT UL-QADR: One particular night of Ramadan has extra special significance. Indeed, it is the best and most blessed of the nights of Ramadan. It is the night of Laylat ul-Qadr. the night of power, when the revelation of the Quran commenced. (Q2:185)

IT'S TIMING: Laylat ul-Qadr falls on one of the odd-numbered nights in , the last ten days of Ramadan. According to tile most correct opinion, it is the twenty -seventh night of Ramadaan: Zirr ibn Hubaysh narrated: I said to Ubayy ibn Kab; your brother (in faith) Ibn Masud says: He who stands (for the night prayer) throughout the year will find Laylat al-Qadr.

Thereupon he (Ubayy) said: May Allah have mercy upon him. (He said these words) with the intention that people might not rely only (on one night), whereas he knew that it (Laylat al-Qadr) was in the month of Ramadan and it was the twenty-seventh night He then took all oath (without making any exception, i. e. without saying insha Allah) that it was the twenty-seventh night. I said to him: AbulMundhir (Ubayy), on what grounds do you say that? Thereupon he said: By the indication or by the sign which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave us, and that is that on that day (the sun) would rise without having any ray in it. (Muslim)

It's Significance: It is a night wherein worshipping Allah is better than the worship of a thousand months. (Q97) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever prays at night during Laylat al- Qadr and manages to "catch" it out faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven ." (Bukhari)

It is however sad that this Night of Majesty, in which every sincere servant should be occupied with nothing but the fear be of Allah, worshiping him as exemplified by the Rasul (peace upon him), hastening to repentance and other acts of ibaadah has been turned into one that is ushered in like a . jamboree. It is on this night that the grave sins- singing, dancing, drumming and intermingling between sexes- take place in the masjids And it has since been turned into a fund raising event! May Allah help us! As Muslims, we need to go back and seek for the immense blessing Allah has associated with this night.

The Rasul (peace be upon him) spent the last ten days of Ramadan in retreat in the masjid Itikaf; and encouraged all his household (females not left out ) and companions in doing the same so that they would not miss the blessing of the Night of Power. (Bukhari) Iメtikaf Itikaf is the seclusion for the specific purpose of focusing and devoting all our attention to worshipping Allah. It is not prescribed except in a mosque, as Allah says: "And do not have sexual relations with them (Your wives) while you are in i'tikaf in the mosques. ,. (Q2:187).

The mosques mentioned here are not to be taken unrestrictedly since a restriction occurs in the authentic statement of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) that "there is no itikaf except in three mosques. " (al Tahhaawi ill Mushkil al athaar, 4!20) The three mosques that are referred to in the hadith are the Masjidul Haraam (Makkah), Masjidun Nabawi (Madeenaln and Masjidu! Aqsa (Jerusalem).

Some Scholars however, interpret the hadeeth as a recommendation of where it is best to do Iメtikaf. Hence ,they say Itikaf is permissible in all masajid (mosques). And Allah knows best. There are many hidden benefits behind itikaf. . When a person is in itikaaf, he trains himself to apply tile concept of true enslavement to Allaah (uboodiyyah) in his life and devotes his time to drawing closer to Allaah by doing acts of worship on his own; reading Qur aan, making Dhikr, duaa and so on.

FINALLY: The Rasul (peace be upon him) "During the month of Ramadan, the gates of Paradise are opened and tile gates of Hellfire are closed and the Shay tans are chained.(Bukhari) Do not therefore miss the opportunity that Ramadan provides so that you can enter a-Jannah. May Allah help us! (Amin)

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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