Fuad Alam, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa is reported to have said, “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” (Sunan an-Nisa’i, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 2099)
It is important to consider the figurative meaning of this statement rather than taking it literally. It is not that Satan willingly submits to God and accepts his chains and sulks in a corner of a dark room for a month; rather, this saying is a powerful symbol that represents the profound spiritual transformation that takes place during Ramadan. During this month, Allah gives us countless opportunities to spend our time in the right way and makes it easy for us to do so. This saying is, therefore, a reminder for us to make the most of the advantages and opportunities offered by Ramadan by advancing our spiritual well-being and getting closer to Allah.
Food and drink
Fasting enables us to act upon and reflect on an important commandment of God the Almighty:
کُلُوۡا وَاشۡرَبُوۡا وَلَا تُسۡرِفُوۡاۚ اِنَّہٗ لَا يُحِبُّ الۡمُسۡرِفِيۡنَ
“Eat and drink but exceed not the bounds; surely, He does not love those who exceed the bounds.” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.32)
Excessive consumption of any substance inevitably has side effects. Fasting, however, enables us to fulfil God’s call and restrain our natural inclination to overindulge in eating and drinking, especially in our modern society that promotes hyper-consumption.
During Ramadan, we have a unique opportunity to overcome Satan’s temptations and regulate our eating and drinking habits. By doing so, we develop self-discipline and cultivate an awareness of our physical and spiritual needs. Nevertheless, it is essential to keep the above teaching in mind even when we break our fast or take the morning meal.
A reduction in our daily food intake goes hand in hand with a drop in spending on food. As Muslims, in our quest to attain the happiness of Allah, we make sure that money goes to those who need it far more. Our empty stomachs leave the hands of the less fortunate full.
In Ramadan, we are reminded of the Prophetic practice of increasing charity in this month, and therefore, Satan – who otherwise threatens people with poverty and enjoins upon them what is foul (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.269) – is crushed by Muslims who are motivated to give charity to the poor and needy.
Allah states in the Quran:
اَلَّذِيۡنَ يُنۡفِقُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ بِالَّيۡلِ وَالنَّہَارِ سِرًّا وَّعَلَانِيَةً فَلَہُمۡ اَجۡرُہُمۡ عِنۡدَ رَبِّہِمۡۚ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَا ہُمۡ يَحۡزَنُوۡنَ
“Those who spend their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, have their reward with their Lord; on them [shall come] no fear, nor shall they grieve.”(Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.275)
It was narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairahra that the Holy Prophetsa said:
“Fasting is a shield, so let [the fasting person] not utter any obscene or ignorant speech, and if someone tries to fight him or insult him, let him say, ‘I am fasting,’ twice.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab as-sawm, Hadith 1894)
With peace being the very meaning of Islam, quarrels and fights are already looked down upon in the religion. However, we have been directly instructed by the Prophet Muhammadsa to abstain from any such activity this month – being ever cautious. As a result, this impacts how we treat those around us, enabling us to once again fulfil the ordinance of God:
وَبِالۡوَالِدَيۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا وَّذِي الۡقُرۡبٰي وَالۡيَتٰمٰي وَالۡمَسٰکِيۡنِ وَقُوۡلُوۡا لِلنَّاسِ حُسۡنًا
“[Show] kindness to parents and to kindred and orphans and the poor, and speak to men kindly.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.84)
تَعَاوَنُوۡا عَلَي الۡبِرِّ وَالتَّقۡوٰي
“Help one another in righteousness and piety.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, Ch.5: V.3)
This month shuts Satan outside and prevents him from whispering into the hearts of believers to quarrel and fight. Hence, by observing Ramadan and following the teachings of Islam, we can strive towards a more peaceful and harmonious society.
Prayer and additional worship
Ramadan is a transformative time that offers an opportunity for change, especially for those who may struggle to engage in nawafil consistently throughout the year.
The emphasis on reading and studying the Holy Quran, offering the pre-dawn prayer – Tahajjud – and engaging in voluntary prayers enables one to excel in spirituality. The collective community atmosphere during Ramadan serves as a shield against Satan’s attacks.
The Holy Quran is recited and studied extensively during this month, as Allah states:
شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيۡۤ اُنۡزِلَ فِيۡہِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ ہُدًي لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡہُدٰي وَالۡفُرۡقَانِ
“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and discrimination.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.186)
With the recitation and contemplation of the Holy Quran, Satan’s influence diminishes.
Sahoor or the pre-dawn meal that Muslims eat during the month of Ramadan before beginning their fast, carries blessings as per the saying of the Holy Prophetsa. (Sunan an-Nasa’i, Kitab as-siyam, Hadith 2146) Moreover, it provides energy and sustenance for the body during the day-long fast. However, beyond its practical purpose, suhoor offers a spiritual opportunity for believers to pray additional prayers in the latter part of the night and distance themselves from Satan in accordance with the following commandment:
وَمِنَ الَّيۡلِ فَتَہَجَّدۡ بِہٖ نَافِلَةً لَّکَ ٭ۖ عَسٰۤي اَنۡ يَّبۡعَثَکَ رَبُّکَ مَقَامًا مَّحۡمُوۡدًا
“And wake up for it in the [latter part of] the night as a supererogatory service for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to an exalted station.” (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17: V.80)
The following verse further highlights how salat, in general, helps a person distance themselves from Satan:
اِنَّ الصَّلٰوةَ تَنۡہٰي عَنِ الۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَالۡمُنۡکَرِ ؕ وَلَذِکۡرُ اللّٰہِ اَکۡبَرُ ؕ وَاللّٰہُ يَعۡلَمُ مَا تَصۡنَعُوۡنَ
“Surely, Prayer restrains [one] from indecency and manifest evil, and remembrance of Allah indeed is the greatest virtue. And Allah knows what you do.” (Surah al-‘Ankabut, Ch.29: V.46)
Thus, for a Muslim who pushes to fulfil every rite of Ramadan, Allah’s blessing comes beckoning. By following every practice, Muslims unlock doors to success and triumph and say goodbye to vices and dark alleyways to sin.
However, this comes with a condition.
Despite all the benefits we receive from this blessed month, we can lose them just as quickly if we neglect to apply what we have learned. That is why it is important to strive to open the doors to heaven for ourselves and keep Satan away even after Ramadan.
In his 2021 Eid-ul-Fitr sermon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated that the true blessings of Ramadan will only be recognised when a true change is brought about. Furthermore, one will only experience the true happiness of Eid when these changes become a permanent part of one’s life. (“Love for Allah and Humankind – the True and Everlasting Eid & Special Prayers for Palestine and the World”, www.reviewofreligions.org)
Ramadan is the key to opening the gates of Paradise, and as Muslims, we all search for a way to escape Satan and the allure of sin. Thus, when the gates of Paradise open for a pious believer who follows the Sunnah and fears God, the gates of Hell close in response, and Satan is shackled.
May God guide us through the gates of Paradise.