Ramadan 2022 comes at a precarious time in the world’s geopolitical landscape. We are surrounded by wars, hatred and injustices; not to mention a crippling and ongoing pandemic.
In the past months and weeks, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa – amid the Russo-Ukrainian War – has been especially drawing the attention of Ahmadi Muslims towards praying for peace to prevail and for humanity to recognise its Creator. Ramadan provides us with the perfect opportunity to intensify these prayers.
Ramadan, as Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra once said, takes us back to the time of the Holy Prophetsa and wraps up all those centuries between us and him (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, pp. 393-394). It brings an environment where we can almost see for ourselves how the Prophetsa lived and practised Islam all those centuries ago. It creates a spiritual echo chamber in which we can focus on our spirituality, morals and prayers like no other month.
To reap maximum benefit from Ramadan we must follow the sunnah of Prophet Muhammadsa, about whom his most ardent follower, the Promised Messiahas said:
“By walking under his shadow for 10 days, one obtains that light which before him could not be obtained in 1,000 years. […] We have found every light by following the immaculate Prophetsa, and whoever follows him will also find it and they will become so accepted by God that nothing will be impossible for them.” (Siraj-e-Munir, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 12, pp. 82-83)
The Promised Messiahas attributed the great station he received to following the Holy Prophetsa:
“I have, by the sheer grace of God, and not by any merit of my own, been accorded a full measure of the bounty, which was bestowed before me on the Prophets and Messengersas and the Chosen ones of God. It would not have been possible for me to receive this bounty had I not followed the ways of my lord and master, the Pride of the Prophets, the Best of Mankind, Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa [the Chosen One], may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Therefore, whatever I have attained, I attained due to this following and I know, through my true and perfect knowledge, that no man can reach God except by following the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, nor can anyone have a share of the complete cognition.” (Haqiqatul Wahi [English], p. 78)
Here are some key teachings and practices of the Holy Prophetsa concerning Ramadan that all can benefit from and follow to acquire spiritual grace in Ramadan and stay as close to the sunnah as possible.
A moral transformation in Ramadan
The Holy Prophetsa taught that abstaining from food and drink was not the sole objective of Ramadan – a moral revolution was required. He instructed:
مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلّٰهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah does not need his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, The Book of Fasting)
Speaking about avoiding all unrest and quarrels while fasting, the Prophetsa said:
“When any one of you gets up in the morning in the state of fasting, they should neither use obscene language, nor do any act of ignorance. And if anyone slanders him or quarrels with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
In another narration, he said:
“Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is [exclusively] meant for Me and I [alone] will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, they should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise their voice; or if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting’. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgment than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two [occasions] of joy; once when he breaks the fast and he is glad about his breaking the fast, and once when he meets his Lord and he is glad about his fast.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
Having a predawn meal
The Prophetsa would have a pre-dawn meal before commencing his fast. He instructed Muslims to eat before starting their fast as this meal was a blessing:
تَسَحَّرُوْا فَإِنَّ فِي السُّحُوْرِ بَرَكَةً
“Take meal a before dawn, for there is blessing in it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, The Book of Fasting)
Defining the difference between the Muslim fast and that of thePeople of the Book, he said:
فَصْلُ مَا بَيْنَ صِيَامِنَا وَصِيَامِ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أَكْلَةُ السَّحَرِ
“The difference between our fasting and that of the People of the Book is eating shortly before dawn.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
Ending the fast without delay
The Holy Prophetsa was clear that Muslims should not delay in ending their fast. Prolonging one’s fast past sunset does not bring more blessings; rather, the Prophetsa said Muslims should hasten in breaking their fast. He said:
لاَ يَزَالُ النَّاسُ بِخَيْرٍ مَا عَجَّلُوا الْفِطْرَ
“The people will continue to prosper as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
The Prophetsa instructed:
إِذَا أَقْبَلَ اللَّيْلُ وَأَدْبَرَ النَّهَارُ وَغَابَتِ الشَّمْسُ فَقَدْ أَفْطَرَ الصَّائِمُ
“When the night approaches and the day retreats and the sun sinks, then the observer of the fast should break it.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
Hazrat Abu Atiyyara narrated the following about not delaying in breaking the fast:
“Misruq and I went to Aishara and Masruq said to her, ‘There are two persons among the Companionsra of Muhammadsa none of whom abandon the good, but one of them hastens to observe sunset prayer and break the fast, and the other delays in observing the sunset prayer and in breaking the fast’, whereupon she said: ‘Who hastens to observe sunset prayer and break the fast?’ He said, ‘It is Abdullah’. Upon this, she said, ‘This is what the Messengersa of Allah used to do’.” (Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting)
The Holy Prophetsa was known as the most generous person, but his generosity soared during the month of Ramadan. It is narrated:
“The Prophetsa was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabrielas visited him, and Gabrielas used to meet him every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophetsa used to recite the Holy Quran to Gabrielas, and when Gabrielas met him, he used to be more generous than a gale (which causes rain and welfare).” (Sahih Bukhari, The Book of Fasting)
Reciting the Holy Quran
As the above hadith shows, Gabrielas would go over the whole Quran with the Prophetsa during the month of Ramadan and during the last Ramadan of the Prophet’ssa life, they went over the Quran twice. The Quran was also revealed in the month of Ramadan. Therefore, constantly reading and reflecting on the Quran during this month is a prophetic practice and brings great rewards.
The Holy Prophetsa would encourage his Companionsra to wake up for Tahajjud prayers regularly and concerning Ramadan he said:
“Whoever prays during the night in Ramadan out of sincere faith and seeking its reward from Allah, will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari, The Book of Fasting)
As the Promised Messiahas said, it is only when we follow the Holy Prophet’ssa example that we can get spiritual grace. By staying close to the Prophetsa in his practice we will set ourselves in the best position to spiritually benefit from Ramadan and for our prayers to be accepted by Allah.