Written by: Imam Ridwan Jamiu
Ramadan 2020: How Prepared Are You?
Year 2020 is an unforgettable experience to all living humans. It features apprehension and panic. It has been attended with economic downturn and colossal loss of lives. What's important however is to learn how to manage what we can't change. Take precautions, be helpful, prayerful and hopeful. Above all, let's learn. Despite the time's uncertainties and eventualities, WE SHOULD NOT FORGET WE ARE IN SHA'BAN _ the month ushering in Ramadan. Ramadan 2020 may be a special one. How prepared are you?
1. Do you know that the Prophet, Sallallaahu'alayhi wasallam, used to fast most of SHA'BAN? This is probably meant to prepare the mind and body for Ramadan. It's also reported that the record of our weekly deeds are taken to Allah on Mondays or Thursdays, while record of the yearly deeds are taken up in Sha'ban. This is why the Prophet ﷺ used to fast mostly on those days and that month. Let's follow the Sunnah.
2. Do you know that you must not carry on the days missed in the last Ramadan to this year's? You must pay back before Ramadan. If you missed some days because of pregnancy or breastfeeding, it suffices in lieu of fasting to feed poor people now. This is the preponderant opinion of Sahabah such as Ibn Abbās and Ibn Umar. The number depends on the number of days you missed. A cooked full meal stands for a day, or two Muddu of staple raw food. You can do the same if you missed it due to chronic illness or old age. Others must pay back. (Q2/183-186).
3. Do you know that one should stop any voluntary fast when it's a day or two days to Ramadan?
4. Do you know that it's compulsory to follow the religious authority to begin fast and end it, according to the tradition of the Prophet? In Nigeria, we must follow the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
5. Do you know that it is a religious duty to fast Ramadan and to rely on sighting the crescent or completing Sha'ban to start it?
6. Do you know that there is no special recommendation to fast on the 15th of Sha'ban or to observe Tahajjud on its night? Beware of innovated practices; they will be rejected by Allah.
7. Group Iftār may not be advisable at the start of this Ramadan (if hopefully the situation improves before it); feeding the poor with raw and cooked food will be especially rewarding this Ramadan. Group Iftār is Hadiyya_ gift to promote Islamic brotherhood and love, while feeding the poor is a Sadaqa (charity) and lifeline. Both are rewarding but circumstances determine which is more rewarding and reasonable. Lockdown would have done much economic damage to most households. Ramadan 2020 should be Charity Ramadan. Ibn Abbās said that the Prophet ﷺ was the most generous person. But he used to be more generous in the month of Ramadan.
8. If Taraweeh cannot be conducted in a congregation, it's also encouraged individually. The Prophet ﷺ said, " __Whoever offers the voluntary night prayers in Ramadan out of faith and in hope of Allāh's reward, his past sins will be forgiven." _The Prophet ﷺ used to pray 11 Raka'at at night, during and outside Ramadan. He prayed individually and sometimes led a congregation. While standing, you can read from a copy of the Qur'an to make your Salat longer.
9.We need not bathe any Muslim who dies of Coronavirus or shroud him; preservation of life takes precedence over such recommendations. It doesn't affect the status of the deceased with Allah. The Prophet ﷺ said " _Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.” We may also relax some other funeral recommendations in the time of lockdown. But burial must not be delayed without legal reasons. Slain Muslim warriors were buried in their blood during the time of the Prophet ﷺ. Reason for the latter might be constraint and the number. Reason for the former is also constraint and contagion. Funeral prayer is allowed in absentia where a congregation is not possible or advisable. Funeral prayer is only one standing with four 'Allāhu Akbar.' Recite Suratul Fatiha after the first; Salatul Ibrahimiyyah after saying the second; pray for the deceased after the third; pray for the Muslims after the fourth and make Taslim. You can make Du'a in any language if you cannot say it in Arabic. And we should always make private Du'a for the deceased Muslims.
10. Should Eid prayers too are affected, Eid prayer can be observed individually by one who missed the congregation, according to the stronger opinion of the scholars. Eid prayer has two Rakat with 7 Takbeer in the first and 5 in the second. It is better done with members of the family where the traditional congregation isn't held.
11. If the distribution of Zakatul Fitr will be affected, the scholarly verdict that money equivalent of the four Muddu of staple food payable, can be adopted. Hence, money transfer through banks is made to the deserving.
12. Use of alcohol-based sanitiser doesn't affect Salat or fast. Alcohol is Haram when It's meant for consumption. The Islamic practice of washing hands with sand (and today soap) and our regular ablution are far better.13. If this pandemic lasts till Ramadan, it should not see us through it. We should humble ourselves before Allah and fervently beg His pardon and mercy. Du'a is highly efficacious while fasting. May Allah have mercy on us and save us from these diseases.