Ramadan: The richness of a special month

Excerpts from a lecture delivered by Prince Amen Oyakhire, erstwhile military administrator of Oyo and Taraba states, as part of this year’s Ramadan.

RAMADHAN is primarily intended to make Muslims and indeed mankind to remain generally good, pure and righteous. It is Allah’s yearly serious purification of the body, heart and soul of every true Muslim in readiness for admission into Paradise (a Garden under which Rivers flow).

Ramadhan is an Arabic word which literally means an “excessively hot thing or an excessively hot situation which compels an urgent action”. Ramadhan fasting is obligatory (compulsory) for true Muslims described in the Noble Qur’an as believers in Allah. Ramadhan is Allah’s yearly refresher course for only a monthly recurrence of absolute purification of true Muslims. It is a spiritual retreat for believers in which an excessive “religious heat” is greatly exhibited by true Muslims who are sincerely in need of Allah’s blessings, forgiveness and mercy. Ramadhan, ipso facto, teaches common sense, good manners, civilised standards, ideals and religious morality. In Ramadhan, therefore, Allah’s inestimable generosity is yearly replicated in His blessings, bounties, favours and mercy for true Muslims. May Allah mercifully make the current Ramadhan fasting easy, peaceful and rewarding for all true Muslims in Nigeria, Africa and the world.

Many good things usually happen in Ramadhan, including fasting which is done solely for Allah. Ramadhan strengthens the faith (iman) of Muslims. Faith is nourished, hope is increased and charity (love) is strengthened by Allah during Ramadhan. It is not the hardship experienced by Muslims in fasting generally and more so in Ramadhan that is noticed, appreciated and rewarded by Allah, rather, it is the good intention (niyyah) cum humility, obedience, modesty and sincerity with which the injunction is actualised. Fasting increases piety and curbs lust. It is among the best acts of obedience. Fasting is not mourning but a spiritual activity which is practised by many religious adherents for spiritual growth and purity. Obedience brings the assurance of a glorious future while disobedience facilitates destruction as well as the wrath of Allah. Allah prefers obedience of His commandments and repentance for transgression (sin) to burnt offerings or sacrifices.

In Ramadhan, Allah’s inestimable generosity is yearly replicated in His blessings, bounties, favours and mercies for true Muslims. The eight gates into Paradise are opened for Muslims. The gates of hell are firmly closed and all the devils are chained by Allah. The Noble Qur’an is consistently, highly, religiously and vociferously read and recited by true Muslims during Ramadhan fasting. Allah’s consciousness is greatly heightened in attaining piety, training and reinvigorating Muslims to be the best they are expected to be in life. Muslims must reflect in themselves decency, truth and piety in their daily activities because Paradise is their desired and ultimate destination. Ramadhan fasting increases piety, cleanses the bodies of Muslims who consistently repent from sins, purifies hearts and sanctifies souls in readiness for admission into Paradise. Ramadhan is per se the pursuit of piety and human purification (reformation) in preparation for entry into Al-firdaus (Paradise).

Ramadhan fasting teaches common sense, good manners, civilised standards, ideals and religious morality. In Ramadhan, therefore, Muslims must compulsorily refrain from aggressive, uncivilised, unhealthy, indecent, irreligious and unrighteous behaviours which may either be auditory, documentary, physical, verbal or visual. It is a period of serious devotion, meditation and regeneration which entails mental, moral, physical and religious discipline. It is a month that initiates serious improvement in character, reputation and in the cultivation of good habits. The sinless conduct of Muslims generally and more so in Ramadhan pleases Allah greatly. The blessings given by Allah to Muslims who fast for 29 or 30 days in Ramadhan are equivalent to the blessings obtained from fasting for ten months in a year. Allah’s magnanimity is stupendous when people persevere patiently in obedience and repentance.

Ramadhan fasting is much more than just merely skipping meals. It demands that true Muslims cherish Allah ever more, recite the Quran and be very strong in faith, love one another, pray hard and bind themselves to the doing of ceaseless good deeds that beget Allah’s favours and forgiveness. When a righteous prayer becomes a habit for a true Muslim, Allah makes victory a lifestyle for him or her. Ramadhan purifies the entire mankind.

Naturally, the less a person eats the weaker his desires are and the weaker his desires are the less sins he commits. Great eaters and great sleepers are incapable of doing anything that is great. Candidly, any desire without discipline derails good intentions. What true Muslims deserve by Allah’s favours and mercies are definitely greater than what they desperately desire. They must curtail their insatiable desires and jettison all acts of iniquities in their mundane activities. The pious standards attained in Ramadhan by Muslims should, insha Allah, be strongly sustained. Indeed, Allah does not accept anything that is sinful or ritually unclean. Honour seeks and sustains true Muslims strongly and righteously as it seeks only the Worthy in the true Worship of Allah.

It is not mandatory for all adults to fast in Ramadhan. Adults who fast must be men and women who are physically strong and mentally healthy, including young persons who have attained the age of puberty. They fast to become spiritually pure. Men and women who are very old or are often unhealthy must not fast but if they by themselves consider it absolutely necessary, they should feed one poor person (fuqara) daily during the period of fasting in Ramadhan. Women who are pregnant or who have just given birth or are often sickly must not fast. Besides, women and ladies who are menstruating should not fast and must not even pray because they are considered as not “clean” in nature by Allah during such period. Allah is Most Merciful and knows mankind fully (in totality).

It is candidly not an act of piety for a person to fast when he or she is not healthy. It is not a sign of true devotion or religiosity for a person to bring upon himself or herself any act of health hazard. If death occurs in consequence, such a person would be shocked to discover in Allah’s Assembly (Resurrection) that the death he or she considers to be a kind of martyrdom is nothing but suicide.  Suicide is both a crime and a sin. Life belongs to Allah. It is given to human temporarily in trust. It must be protected, preserved and should not be callously destroyed. Allah commands us to be careful, reasonable, protective and to live wisely.

In Ramadhan, true Muslims only sleep but a little by night and in the hours of early dawn are often found praying for forgiveness. True Muslims who persistently engage themselves in night worship have dutifully unravelled one of the secrets of sainthood. The ability to suspend the pleasures of sleep for righteous devotional rituals is among the first steps towards piety. Indeed, the body-sides of believers often forsake their beds at night during Ramadhan. Ramadhan is a holy month with immense blessings, stupendous wealth and unprecedented forgiveness of sins by Allah for true Muslims globally.

All the days of Ramadhan are full of blessings, merits and rewards but the 10 nights of the last 10 days hold special status in the recommendations and practices of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his companions and followers. They are the most blessed days in the blessed month of Ramadhan. Prophet Muhammad exerted himself in devotion during the last 10 days to a greater extent than at any other time. The days are times and moments for soul searching, evaluating the life of a Muslim, supplicating and seriously asking Allah for total forgiveness. These should be done sincerely because when Allah accepts supplications, He rewards by the remission of sins. The days are also known for special spiritual retreat in the Mosque, called I’tikaf. It is the seclusion in the Mosque during the last ten days of Ramadhan.

One remarkable event occurs in one night during the Ramadhan period and it is called the “Great Night of Power (Decree)” or “Night of Majesty” – Lailatul Qadr. On that “Night of Majesty” began Allah’s Revelations in parts, of the contents of the Noble Qur’an, all the 114 chapters and 6,536 verses which continued uninterruptedly for 23 years to Prophet Muhammad. It is a night full of incomprehensible lights, vast in dimensions and grand in descriptions. The Night is better, holier and more luminous than 1,000 months (83 years and four months). “The Night of Power” is one of the odd numbers in dates, notably, (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th) during the last ten Nights of Ramadhan. Worshipping Allah in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than worshipping Him for 1,000 months. Muslims who in diligence, humility and obedience spend the “Night of Decree (Power, Al-Qadr)” in worship with a pure motive of faith and devotion usually have all their sins forgiven by Allah. Repentance leads to forgiveness of sins and the attainment of Paradise.

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