ABU TARIQ HIJAZI
Islam is a unique religion that provides the longest festival period to its followers. This festival is not marked by dance, drama, gambling, drinking and dining but it is for moral uplift and spiritual enhancement. The main feature of the month, Ramadan, is fasting from dawn to dusk, which is the third pillar of Islam. This helps to improve health in many ways and at the same time gives a real feeling of hunger suffered by millions of people around the world. When a billion people fast around the globe for one month, they save millions of tons on foodstuff annually for their hungry brothers. Such a great contribution is not made by any other community of the world.
Ramadan is the time when Muslims abstain from all bad deeds and try to surpass each other in doing good deeds. Everyday of the month is full of blessings. Here are a few:
THE GRAND AMNESTY: The first 10 days of this month is the period of Rahmah, (mercy); the next 10 days Maghfirah (forgiveness); and the last 10 days release from hellfire. Almighty Allah gives Muslims great rewards during the month. He forgives thousands of sinners during Ramadan.
TEN-FOLD REWARD: The time of iftar (breaking of the fast) is a blessed moment for acceptance of prayers. Further, if a person invites another person to iftar he earns the reward of another Saum. Subsequently if you invite ten persons to iftar (even with a date or curd) you get reward of ten Saum in one day. So people arrange long iftar parties. It is reported that three million cups are being used daily to drink Zamzam in Haram this Ramadan.
SEVENTY TIMES REWARD: It is reported that voluntary prayers is considered as obligatory, and obligatory (fardh) prayer is rewarded seventy times more in Ramadan. And when prayers are offered in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the reward is increased to 100,000 times.
TARAWEEH, THE GIFT OF RAMADAN: Additional prayers called Taraweeh is the special gift of Ramadan. Generally one part is recited daily in Taraweeh thus completing the whole Qur'an in 30 days of Ramadan. According to Hadith, when the full recitation of the Holy Qur'an is completed, 70,000 angels pray for the people attending it. There are people who recite the whole Qur'an once in the month. But there are people who recite it 10 times, some 30 times and Imam Shafeii and Imam Abu Hanifa used to recite over 60 times full Qur'an in the month of Ramadan.
NIGHT OF POWER: This is one of the greatest gifts of Allah during Ramadan. He designated one night as Lailatul Qadr (Night of Power) in Ramadan. This night is more virtuous than a thousand months. So if you worship in this night you get the reward of worship for more than 30,000 nights, which is equivalent to 83 years and four months. This night lies within the last ten days of Ramadan every year. Most of the people offer prayers on these nights.
REWARD OF HAJ IN RAMADAN: According to a Hadith, an Umrah performed during Ramadan is equal to a Haj. In another version of the Hadith, it is equal to a Haj performed with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). This is a great blessing of Ramadan. People from distant lands, like Iran, Turkey, Egypt, India, Indonesia, UK and USA, Canada and Australia come by road and by air to perform Umrah in Ramadan.
ZAKAT: Islam ordains the regular support of the weaker section of the society. Every Muslim having an annual saving equal to 95 grams of gold or its price is required to give 2.5 percent of it to the poor. Thus, Muslims worldwide distribute Zakat to the tunes of billions of riyals that also support orphanages, Qur'anic schools and welfare centers. This is the monetary worship of Islam which has supported noble causes around the globe. Generally, people distribute Zakat in Ramadan and get double reward.
SALAATUL-LAIL OR TAHAJJUD: The last ten nights of Ramadan are the most rewarding. So people offer Tahajjud during these nights. This prayer may also be offered in congregation in a mosque. This prayer is offered during the last ten nights in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah attended by over a million people.
EID Al-FITR: When the month of Ramadan is over, worshippers arrange a grand celebration. Attired in colorful dresses, they go for Eid prayer seeking the mercy of Allah. Prayer and thanksgiving to Allah is the main theme of all Muslim celebrations. They pray five times a day, also offer weekly prayers every Friday and then Eid prayers are held in every village, town or cosmopolitan city around the world and finally they offer the largest prayer in the shape of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah.
ZAKAT AL-FITR: The Muslim community never forgets the poor on their festivals. Every well-to-do person should distribute dry foodstuff like cereals, rice, dates or their equivalent to the poor of their locality. Thus millions of kg of foodstuff is distributed worldwide among the needy families on or before the Eid day.
SPENDING ON THE FAMILY: Eid Al-Fitr is the main annual festival of the Muslims. Every person spends on his family to increase the joy of his wife and children. According to Hadith whatever a person spends modestly on his family is considered Sadaqa or a monetary worship.
FASTING THROUGHOUT THE YEAR: According to a Hadith, if a person observes fasting for six more days after Eid (or in the month of Shawwal) he or she gets the reward of fasting the whole year. But it is not obligatory.
A'ITEKAF IN RAMADAN: This is a unique practice of devoting solely to the worship of Allah. A person performing Aitekaf confines himself/herself to a mosque (or corner of a house) devoting full time in prayers. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform Aitekaf in Masjid Nabavi during the last 10 days every year.
WINNERS AND LOSERS: The whole month of Ramadan provides occasions and opportunities for Muslims to win the pleasure of Allah and His forgiveness, which is the goal of every Muslim. The people who observe Ramadan with full devotion and care have been promised great rewards by Almighty Allah. It is reported in Hadith that Almighty Allah says that "The Fasting is for me and I shall grant (enormous) reward for it."
But those who do not care for Ramadan or spoil their fasting by bad habits, a painful punishment awaits them. It is said in a Hadith that "The person who got the month of Ramadan and could not win his forgiveness from Allah through his (or her) good deeds, is doomed." So Ramadan is the best chance to win Allah's pleasure and His forgiveness.