Checklist – The Last Ten Nights and Days of Ramadan…

In this blessed month of Ramadan, we have now come to the grand finale – the last ten days of Ramadan that are even more blessed than the rest of Ramadan. In it is a night that Quran tells us is better than 1000 months (yes, months – not days).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month which Allah has enjoined you to fast, during which the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained up. In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.” Narrated by al-Nasa’i, 2106; Ahmad, 8769. classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 999.

So, in preparation for the grand finale, here is a checklist of some of the things that we can all do to make the remaining days of Ramadan work to our advantage –

1) Get in high gear for the next 10 nights and days –

Time is of the essence. Every moment counts. Whatever you need to do for the next ten days to make the most in Ibada, good deeds, reciting Quran, dhikr, making dua, etc., rewards are going to be multiplied. No one knew about the importance of these days more than the prophet (saws). Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that when the last ten days of Ramadan began, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and tie his lower garment tight. According to Ahmad and Muslim: he would strive hard in worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan as he did not do at other times.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said “When Ramadan would come, the Messenger of Allah would say,

Verily, the month of Ramadan has come to you all. It is a blessed month, which Allah has obligated you all to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled. In it there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived.)” An-Nasa’i recorded this same Hadith.

If we lose this opportunity, we get our next opportunity next year – assuming we are still around and are in good health and shape to make use of it. Even if we are – we have the past years’ sins on our shoulders and life’s normal trials and tribulations to face the coming year. So, there is no better time to ask Allah to make all that easier than NOW.

2) Get a Quran and recite as often as you can –

A few lines on this post can’t even come close to explaining the benefits and virtues of Quran. It is proven in the saheeh Sunnah that the Quran will intercede for those who read it at night, as Ahmad (6626) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Fasting and the Quran will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say, ‘O Lord, I deprived him of his food and his desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.’ And the Quran will say: ‘I deprived him of his sleep at night so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will intercede.” Narrated by Ahmad; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jami’, no. 3882.

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said,

The example of a believer who recites the Qur’an is that of a citron (a citrus fruit) which is good in taste and good in smell. And the believer who does not recite the quran is like a date which has a good taste but no smell. And the example of an impious person who recites the Qur’an is that of Ar-Rihana (an aromatic plant) which smells good but is bitter in taste. And the example of an impious person who does not recite the quran is that of a colocynth which is bitter in taste and has no smell.” (Book #93, Hadith # 649)

As is stated in the hadeeth narrated by ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them both), in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Whoever recites ten aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays a thousand aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 635).

3) If your sins are holding you to move forward, this is the time to get them forgiven –

First the bad news – In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Thawbaan said: The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said:

A man is deprived of provision (Rizq) because of the sins that he commits.’” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4022, classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah).

And now for the good news –

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Whoever spends the night of Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, will be forgiven his previous sins.”

4) What to say on Laylat al-Qadr –

One of the best dua’s that can be recited on Laylat al-Qadr is that which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her). It was narrated by al-Tirmidhi, who classed it as saheeh, that ‘A’ishah said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah, If I know which night is Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?” He said: “Say: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibb al-‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are All-Forgiving and You love forgiveness so forgive me).”

5) Get in the class of the Pious People –

Allah has described the pious as follows (interpretation of the meaning):

They used to sleep but little by night (invoking their Lord (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope). [Quran: Surah Adh-Dhariyat (17)]

And in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness, [Quran: Surah Adh-Dhariyat (18)]

6) Finally……

Think of all that you need to ask Allah for and ask Him now. If you haven’t before, this is the time to connect with Him and feel closer to Him. And when you do during these last ten nights and days of this Ramadan, you would want to do this again and again – even after the month is over.

And finally, when you are in a state of prayers and worship, please open your heart for others as well and please do remember your brothers and sisters in your prayers. Remember what the Prophet said:

“The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.” Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi

May we all make the most of the last ten nights and days of Ramadan…

Laylat al-Qadr and its significance

Laylat al-Qadr (night of Decree) is one of the major blessings of Ramadan. During this night, Quran was sent to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). About this night, the prophet has informed us that all our sins could be forgiven. Worshipping Allah on that night is better than worshipping Him for 1000 months.

The following hadith shed light on the days of observing Laylat al-Qadr.

According to a hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten days of Ramadan, when there are nine days left, and seven days left, and five days left.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/260

‘Aa’ishah who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek Laylat al-Qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 4/259

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.” ( Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1912, see also, 1913. Also narrated by Muslim, 1167, see also 1165

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, when there are nine left, when there are seven left, when there are five left” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1917-1918

Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah said: “But odd-numbers have to do with what is past [i.e., when one starts counting from the beginning of the month], so it should be sought on the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-seventh or the twenty-ninth; or it may be with regard to what is left, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘when there are nine left, or seven left, or five left, or three left.’ On this basis, if the month has thirty days, these will be even-numbered nights, so on the twenty-second there will be nine days left, on the twenty-fourth there will be seven days left. This is how it was explained by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri in the saheeh hadeeth, and this is how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed qiyaam during this month. If this is the case, then the believer should seek it in all of the last ten days.” ( al-Fataawaa 25/284, 285).

Virtues of Laylat al-Qadr

There is a specific chapter in the Quran that describes the significance of Laylat al-Qadr. Allah says:

1. “Verily, We have sent it (this Quran) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).

2. And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?

3. The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).

4. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees,

5. (All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn”[Surah al-Qadr 97:1-5]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever spends this night in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward will be forgiven his previous sins.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1901; Muslim, 760.

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Seek Laylat al-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 2017; Muslim, 1169

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: When the last ten days of Ramadan began, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would tighten his waist-wrapper, spend his nights in prayer, and wake his family. Narrated by Muslim, 2024; Muslim, 1174.

Allah says in the Quran:

“The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months” [Surah al-Qadr 97:3]  

2. Revelation of Quran

In the following verses is another verse that mentions about revealing of Quran on that blessed night.

“Haa-Meem. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.] By the manifest Book (this Quran) that makes things clear. We sent it (this Quran) down on a blessed night [(i.e. the Night of Al-Qadr) in the month of Ramadan]. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship]. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments. As a Command (or this Quran or the Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messengers) (As) a mercy from your Lord. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Surah al-Dukhaan 44:1-6]

Ibn ‘Abbaas and others said: “Allah sent down the Quran at one time from al-Lawh al-Mahfooz to Bayt al-‘Izzah in the first heaven, then it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in stages according to events over twenty-three years.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer (529 / 4)

3. Better than a thousand months

The significance of this night is obvious from the fact that worshipping during this ONE night is better than worshipping Allah for more than a thousand months (not days). Allah says in the Quran:

“The night of al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” [Surah al-Qadr 97:3]

Allah also described it as being blessed, as He said (interpretation of the meaning)

“We sent it (this Quran) down on a blessed night” [Surah al-Dukhaan 44:3]”

4. Forgiveness of Sins

On this night, a person’s past sins could be forgiven. Considering that sins block happiness in this life and hereafter, this is a major reward. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (al-Bukhari, 1910; Muslim, 760)

“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Agreed upon).

The phrase “out of faith and in the hope of earning reward” means, believing in Allah’s promise of reward for this, and seeking the reward, with no other aim or purpose, such as showing off etc.” (Fath al-Baari (25 1 / 4).

The least form of fasting is leaving off food and drink

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Know that there are certain manners to fasting that must be abided by and adhered to so that the fast could proceed in the way it was prescribed so that one could achieve its benefits, fulfill its objective and not find it discomforting and without benefit.

This is as the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ”Perhaps all a person fasting derives from his fast is hunger and thirst.” So fasting is not just the abandonment of food and drink only. Rather, it also entails abandoning improper statements and actions that are forbidden or disliked. One of the Salaf once said: “The least form of fasting is leaving off food and drink.” This is since drawing near to Allaah by abandoning allowable things cannot be complete unless after drawing nearer to Him by abandoning what Allaah has prohibited under every circumstance.

Even though a Muslim is obligated to abandon the unlawful at all times, it is even more binding upon him while he is fasting. If one commits the unlawful in times other than when he is fasting, he is sinning and worthy of being punished. But if he commits it while fasting, then on top of being sinful and deserving of punishment, this affects his fast by it being either deficient or nullified. So the person who truly observes the fast is he who withholds his stomach from food and drink, refrains his limbs from sins, restricts his tongue from vile and evil speech, restrains his ears from listening to songs, musical instruments, backbiting and gossip, and holds back his eyes from looking at the forbidden. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting upon it, then Allaah is not in need of him abandoning his food and drink.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaaree] The person who is fasting must avoid backbiting, gossip and insulting others, based on what the two Shaikhs (Al-Bulkhaaree and Muslim) reported from Abu Hurairah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) that he day in which one of you is fasting, then he should not be vile in speechnor should he be sinful nor should he be ignorant. And if someone reviles him, then he should say: ‘I am a person that is fasting.’” The word junnah (armor) is that which protects the one who wears it from the weapon of his opponent causing harm to him. So fasting protects a person from falling into sins whose consequences are punishment in this world and the next. The word rafath in the hadeeth refers to lewd and immoral speech.

Imaam Ahmad reported in marfoo’ form that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, fasting is armor so long as it is not pierced.” It was said: “What causes it to be pierced?” He (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Lying and Backbiting.” This is proof that backbiting pierces the fast or makes a dent in it. When armor is pierced it is of no more use to the one wearing it. So in the same manner, when one’s fast is pierced, it is no longer any benefit to the one performing it. Backbiting is as the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explained it, and that is mentioning about your brother what he hates. It has been reported in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad that this breaks the fast: “Two women were once fasting during the lifetime of Allaah’s Messenger and they almost died of thirst. This was mentioned to the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) but he turned away from (allowing) them (to break the fast). Then they were mentioned to him again, so he called for them and ordered them to vomit, i.e. throw up, what was in their stomachs. So they both vomited and filled up a bowl with puss, blood and pieces of flesh. Then the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

‘These two fasted by refraining from what Allaah made lawful for them. But they broke their fast by doing what Allaah made unlawful for them. One of them sat with the other and they began to eat from the flesh of people.’” What transpired with these two women in the presence of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from their vomiting vile and disgusting things – this was from the miracles that Allaah allowed to occur at the hand of His Messenger so that he could show the evil effects of backbiting to the people. Allaah says: “And do not backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” [Surah Al- Hujuraat: 12] This hadeeth shows that backbiting breaks the fast. This is in the figurative sense, meaning it nullifies the reward of fasting. May Allaah send His peace and blessings on our prophet, Muhammad, his family and Companions.

Source: What is Prohibited and Disliked for the one Fasting – by Shaikh Saalih Al-Fawzaan [Ittihaaf Ahlil-Eemaan bi-Duroos Shahri Ramadaan, Al-Ibaanah.com]

Striving Hard, Competing for Good Deeds in Ramadaan

by Shaykh ‘Abdul-’Azeez bin Baaz All Praise is due to Allaah, and may the peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad. It is legislated for all the Muslims to strive hard in the various types of worship during this noble month. They should strive to pray voluntary prayers and recite the Qur‘an with reflection and thinking. They should increase the glorification of Allaah [saying ”SubhanAllaah”], declaring Allaah’s right to be worshiped alone [saying ”La illaaha il Allaah”], praising Him [saying ”Al-Hamdulillaah”], declaring His greatness [saying ”Allaahu Akbar”] and seeking His forgiveness. They should say legislated supplications, command the good, forbid the evil, invite to Allaah, be generous to the poor and needy, strive to be kind to parents, keep good family ties, honor the neighbor, visit the sick, and other types of good deeds. This is due to the Prophet’s (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) statement: quote: • ”Allaah looks at your competing for good works during it and He proudly tells the angels about you all. Therefore, show Allaah goodness from yourselves. For verily, the wretched person is the one who is deprived of Allaah’s Mercy during it (Ramadaan).” – Majma ‘uz-Zawa’id 3:142; Kanzul-’Ummal no. 23692. This is also due to what is reported from him (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) that he said: ”Whoever draws near to Allaah during it (Ramadaan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” – Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1887. This is also due to his (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) statement in the authentic hadith: ”An ‘Umrah performed during Ramadaan is equal to a performance of Hajj – or he said – a Hajj with me.” – Al-Bukhari (no. 1863) and Muslim (no. 1256). The ahadith and narrations that prove the sanctioning of competing, and being aggressive in performing the various acts of goodness in this noble month are numerous. Allaah is the one Who is asked to help us and the rest of the Muslims to do all that contains His Pleasure and to accept our fast and standing for night prayer. We ask Him to correct our situations and protect us all from the deviations of trials and temptations. Likewise, we ask Him to make the leaders of the Muslims righteous, and unite their word upon the truth. Verily, Allaah is the Guardian of that, and He is capable of doing it. Source: Fataawa Islamiya, pp. 220-221

This article was culled from AbdurRahman.org

Power of “Istighfar” (A moving story)

This story about “Istighfar” is from the life of Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal, who is considered as a renowned scholar of Islam and a famous theologian. Imam Ahmed is also considered to be the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and is one of the most celebrated Sunni theologians, often referred to as the “Sheikh ul-Islam” or the “Imam of Ahl al-Sunnah.”
During his old age, while Imam Ahmed was travelling he stopped by a town. After the prayers, he wanted to stay for the night in the masjid yard because he didn’t know anyone in the town. Owing to his humility, he hadn’t introduced himself to anyone thinking that if he did, he would be welcomed by many people. Failing to recognize Ahmed bin Hanbal, the caretaker of the mosque refused to let him stay in the mosque. As Imam Ahmed was quite old, the caretaker had to drag him out of the mosque. On seeing this, a baker from a nearby place felt pity for this man (Imam Ahmed) and offered to be the host to him for the night.
During his stay with the baker, Imam Ahmed observed that the baker would constantly recite Istighfar (seek forgiveness from Allah). Imam Ahmed asked the baker if the constant practice of saying Istighfar had any effect on him. The baker responded by telling Imam Ahmed that Allah had accepted all of his duas (supplications), except one. When he asked him what dua was it that hadn’t been accepted, the baker replied that he had been asking Allah to provide him the privilege to meet the famous scholar Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal.On this, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal said that Allah had not only listened to his dua but had dragged him onto his (the baker’s) doorsteps. [Summarized from Al Jumuah magazine, vol 19, issue 7]
This story is a reminder of the power of saying Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) frequently. Let’s remember that the prophet used to say Istighfar frequently during the day.

Tafseer Al-Qurtubi states:A man complained to Al-Hasan about a drought, and he said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”Another man complained to him of poverty and he said to him: “Pray to Allah to forgive you.”Another man said to him: “Pray to Allah to bless me with a child.” He said: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.”Another complained to him that his garden was dry. He said to him: “Pray to Allah for forgiveness.” He was asked about it and he said: “This is not my personal opinion, for Allah says in Surah Nooh (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.” Tafseer Al-Qurtubi (18/301-302).

One of the narrators of a Hadith was asked about the manner in which forgiveness is to be sought, to which he answered: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to say: ‘Astaghfirullah! Astaghfirullah! (I beseech Allah for forgiveness, I beseech Allah for forgiveness)’.” [Sahih Muslim].