Ramadhan: The month of Taqwa
21 Feb 2020
By Maulana Zayd Gajia Saab
Its 4am and a long line of customers are queuing up outside the department store. It’s the summer sale and everyone is anticipating the bargains that will be available. Items that are normally too expensive for the working class people are going for half their normal prices. Everyone wants a piece of the bargain. Although the doors open at 5am, eager customers are already lining up from as early as 4am. Some have bought flasks of tea and coffee. Others have sat down on blankets and are dozing off. The atmosphere is charged. This is an example of the scene that one encounters when participating in the sales. It is the time which everyone hopes to make the most out of. A person buying anything for full price during the sales is laughed at and those who do not attend normally end up paying double the price after the sales have ended. Very soon we too will be entering the 'sale' season, a sale that will last for a full month. This one month period of sale is known as Ramadhan.
The spiritual sale through the tongue of the Beloved Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam
The Beloved Prophet of Allah Ta'ala mentioned many great virtues regarding this month of Ramadhan. This is so that we, being lazy and prone to the attacks of shaytaan and nafs, can make use of this one month and do as much good as possible. At the close of Sha'baan the Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam would gather His companions and give a sermon. He would say;
"Oh people, there comes upon you a great month, a most blessed month, in which lies a night greater in worth than one thousand months. Allah has made compulsory fasting in this month and has decreed wakefulness at night (I.e. Taraweeh) sunnah. Whoever tries drawing nearer to Allah by performing any nafl deed in this month, for him shall be the reward as if he has performed a fardh in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a fardh, for him shall be the reward of seventy fardh in any other time of the year." (Ibn khuzaymah)
Subhanallah! One nafl act is equivalent to a fardh act, and one fardh act is equivalent to 70 fardh, what extreme mercy from Allah Ta'ala!
"The month of Ramadhan, the month of blessing has come upon you, wherein Allah turns towards you and sends down to you His special mercy, forgives your faults, accepts prayers, observes your competition for doing good deeds and boasts to the angels about you. So show to Allah your righteousness; for verily, the most pitiable and unfortunate one is he who is deprived of Allah’s mercy in this month." (Tabrani)
"The doors of jannah are opened on the first of night of Ramadhan. Not a single door is closed until the last night of Ramadhan." (Bayhaqi)
"Fasting is exclusively for Allah, the reward of it (being limitless) no one knows besides Allah." (Tabrani)
"During each day and night of Ramadhan, Allah sets free great numbers of souls from hell. And for every Muslim, during each day and night, at least one dua is certainly accepted." (Bazzaz)
Allahu Akbar! From these few ahaadith, we can realise how much Allah Ta'ala wants to shower us with His mercy and blessings in this blessed month. Yet, Allah Ta’ala has also given us a goal and a target which we must aim to reach in this month. Allah Ta’ala says;
"Fasting has been ordained upon you, as it had been ordained upon those before you so that you may acquire taqwa." (2:183)
This verse very clearly highlights our objective for this month; the acquisition of Taqwa.
Ramadhan and Taqwa
The objective of this month is to acquire taqwa, but what is taqwa? Taqwa, to put it simply, means to save oneself from each and every disobedience of Allah Ta'ala. This temporary life of ours; a journey through different conditions and situations are fraught with attacks from Shaytaan and Nafs. They are forever enticing humans towards committing acts of treachery against Allah Ta’ala. A person has to manoeuvre through life’s road dodging and circumnavigating these obstacles. The Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam himself drew a diagram on the sand highlighting this very same aspect of our lives to his beloved companions. However, a common problem we all encounter is dodging these traps of sins and disobedience which are left on our paths. We continue to get caught in these traps. This is where the speciality of Ramadhan comes into action. Allah Ta’ala has made this month a month wherein His mercies have surrounded us. The doors of hell are shut and the shayaateen are chained up. The most hardened criminals in the eyes of Allah Ta’ala drastically cut down on disobeying Allah, and fasting becomes compulsory upon us during the day. When we fast, we are in actual fact stopping ourselves and restricting ourselves from three things which at any other time of the year, are permissible to carry out; eating, drinking and cohabiting with our wives. During 29/30 days of this rigorous exercise, from dawn until sunset, we learn the lesson of abstinence. This builds the stamina inside us to stay away from those things which are impermissible. After spending so many days staying away from permissible actions, automatically we will feel guilt when faced with acts of disobedience. We will think that ‘on the one hand I am stopping myself from eating and drinking, what’s the use if I’m going to carry on disobeying Allah?’ Slowly we will become mindful in making Allah pleased and particular in not committing any disobedience. Like the man who is very particular in saving each and every penny and does not waste a single penny in things that are not beneficial. He will automatically save himself from those business ventures where there is even the slightest hint of making a loss. This man will always have capital to fall back on when times are rough and he will feel that his cautiousness in saving every penny paid off. Likewise if we spend this month of Ramadhan in such a manner wherein we understand this objective of acquiring taqwa and thereafter with this objective in mind we fast, we will begin to have control over our nafs and shaytaan. Now their attacks will become weaker-rather, we will become stronger and more able to fend off their evils. Where once we misused our eyes 10 times a day, now we will cut down to once or twice. This will be the state of all our sins. This state of being is called taqwa and it all begins from this Ramadhan.
The result of Taqwa
Once we have this quality of taqwa within us, all of Allah’s promises of salvation become applicable to us, the greatest of which Allah mentions in the Glorious Quraan;
“And regarding that person who feared standing in front of his lord, and kept his nafs from carrying out its impermissible desires; verily paradise will be his abode.” (79:30, 31)
Allah through his sheer grace has once again given us this month of spiritual sale, this month of Ramadhan. Like those who find the sales of this world very important, and endeavour to make the most out of the decreased prices of different items, we too need to understand the reality of the sale we are going through and make the most out of the ease in which salvation of the next world can be acquired. Because, in the same way that those who miss out on the sales regret their inaction so too will we open our eyes in the life hereafter and regret wasting those golden opportunities which Allah gave us in His disobedience and useless activities. The first step on this road of acquiring taqwa is Ramadhan, therefore we must seize this month and become from amongst the mut- taqeen; those lucky servants who have attained taqwa.