+All you need to know about the holiest month
Nigerian Muslims will on Saturday, June 28, 2014, join their brethren all over the world to commence the 1435 A.H (2014) Ramadan fasting, ENCOMIUM Weekly can authoritatively reveal.
This will be based on the sighting of the moon on Friday, June 27 night, which is equivalent to 29 of Sha’ban, eight islamic calendar. However, if the moon is not sighted, the month of Sha’ban will be 30 and Sunday, June 29 marks the beginning of the fast in the blessed month of Ramadan.
Although, there is no official statement from the Sultan of Sokoto, who is the President of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), sighting of moon is a general rule for commencement and termination of Ramadan fasting.
According to the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says, “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for humanity and clarification of that guidance and a standard. So whoever witnesses (shahida) the month among you, let him fast” (2:185).
Many Islamic scholars have clearly stated that in the above verse the word “month” actually refers to the crescent moon of the month and was called “the month” (al-shahr) due to everyone knowing of its arrival.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), clarified this further in the following Hadith, as narrated by Abu Hurayrah:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made a mention of the new moon and (in this connection) said: Observe fast when you see it (the new moon) and breakfast when you see it (the new moon of Shawwal), but when (the actual position of the moon is) concealed from you (on account of cloudy sky), then count thirty days.
Ramadan started in the month of Sha’aban (eight month of Islamic calendar) around 624 A.D, two years after Hijrah (the migration of Prophet Muhammed from Mecca to Medina). According to Qur’an, chapter 2: 183, Allah (SWT) says fasting in the month of Ramadan is for believers alone. This was because Allah (SWT) used the month to celebrate the revelation of the Qur’an as cited in the above verse. Hence, fasting in the month of Ramadan is not meant for non-Muslims. Even when they try to observe it, probably to strengthen their relationship with Muslims, they’ll have no rewards. However, Islam has not prevented Muslims from relating with people of other religions, they are expected to be good and live in peace with them, especially in this blessed month.
The fast of Ramadan, according to the Qur’an, sunnah (the Prophetic ways of life) and consensus of all the scholars, it’s obligatory upon every sane, adult, healthy Muslim. Some people are, however, exempted. They are categorised into two, namely, those exempted for life and those that are exempted but must repay it. Those exempted for life are not going to pay back. All they need to do is to feed fasting Muslims, which is called Fidya in Arabic. This includes aged males or females and those who suffer illness that cannot be healed again. Those exempted but will pay back include travellers, pregnant and breastfeeding women and chronic sicklers. They will have to pay back the missed days.
As for Muslims doing hard labour, it’s advisable for them to go on leave or vacation as there is no evidence of exemption for them.
WHY IT’S UNIQUE
In Islam, Friday (Yaomal il Jumuah in Arabic) is regarded as the best day of the week and Ramadan is the best month of Islamic calendar. In other words, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said it is a blessed month, in which, “The gates to paradise are opened and the gates of hellfire are locked, and the devils are chained. There is a night (during this month) which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived (of something great).”
HOW TO PREPARE
Preparing for Ramadan goes beyond buying plenty of foodstuff as most people do, even though it is necessary. Fasting in the month requires a lot and it was reported that early Muslims would start preparation six months ahead. The top on the list is the state of health of a fasting Muslim. He’s expected to go for medical check-up to know if he’s fit or not.
In Nigeria, it has become a routine for Islamic organisations to stage health programmes for members, in preparation for Ramadan. Last week, more than 300 Muslims benefited from Al-Mu’minaat (the believing women) organisation’s free medical services in Lagos suburbs.
The guest lecturer, Hajia Basirah Oreagba sensitized muslims on the need to stay healthy throughout ramadan and beyond. She said, “Eat little, drink water a lot, and be close to God. We should spend more on fruits and vegetables because they are low in calorie and they contain lots of minerals and vitamins which are good for our health. We should take little of carbohydrate, protein, fats and oil.
… Spiritually fit
The month of Ramadan requires high level of spirituality from Muslims, it’s important we prepare to engage in acts of worship, with the intention of moving close to Allah.
While preparing for Ramadan, fasting Muslims are to make ready items such as Qur’an (possibly the ones divided in parts), misbaha (rosary), jalabia (praying gown), praying mat that will aide their Ibadah (worship) and adhkar (remembrance) etc.
It is mandatory to start fast by making intention known. Without it, the fasting is null and void! The intention has to be made before fajr (dawn) and during every night of Ramadan. Saying out the intention is the common mistake people make but it need not to be spoken, as it is in reality an act of the heart which does not involve the tongue. It will be fulfilled by one’s intention to fast out of obedience to Allah and for seeking His pleasure.
WHY DO WE TAKE SAHUR AND IFTAR
Sahur means early morning meal and iftar is the meal we take while breaking fast. They are technical words in the Islamic jurisprudence for commencement and termination of fast and it’s expected of every Muslim to abide by it even if it’s a sip of water, one must take something. There is the impression among non Muslims that fasting in Islam is not something serious or difficult, because it’s only the lunch meal that’s missing. While explaining the wisdom behind it, an erudite scholar, Shaykh Luqman Abdur Raheem, said, “It’s ordained by Allah and we must abide by it. We are not like those who invented lies into their doctrines after the demise of their leaders. In Islam, we don’t do innovation. But the issues is when you’re thirsty during the day, you can’t take water; when you are hungry, you can’t eat even though you have the money. You can’t sleep with your wife until you terminate your fast at night and the essence of fasting is more than that. it’s taqwa (piety) that Allah wants.”
The first 10 days of Ramadan is a Blessing, says Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Why not use it to seek Allah’s blessings before it passes?
A fasting Muslim can use tooth stick/brush. According to Islamic jurisprudence, it is allowed and there is no difference if he uses it at the beginning or the ending of the day. The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have used it. So, the idea of having mouth odour all in the name of fasting is not allowed in Islam because Allah loves cleanliness.
Rinsing the mouth and nose especially during ablution is allowed but it is disliked to exaggerate as some people do. They deliberately use this as an advantage to swallow water but if nobody sees them, Allah sees them. “Worship Allah as if you could see Him, for if you cannot see Him, He sees you”, said the Prophet (SAW).
THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE IN RAMADAN
They are things we underrate but are gracious before Allah. Doing them, especially in the month of Ramadan are more rewarding. Fasting Muslims are therefore advised to include them as part of their activities in this glorious month.
Cultivate the habit of spending everyday (sadaqah- voluntary donation) no matter how little. Take time to visit relations, especially parents, and break the fast with them as frequent as possible.
Pay attention to your spouse(s) and the children in Ramadan by taking iftar with them at least once a week as well as gathering them and supplicating together for the family and Muslims generally.
ALLAH’S SPECIAL VISITOR TO MANKIND
Ramadan is not an ordinary visitor, but a special guest from Allah (SWT) to bring blessing and good-tidings to mankind. This visitor has come to stay with Muslims for either 29 or 30 days. So, whoever wants to welcome and accommodate Allah’s visitor for the period of his stay must know about Him, and prepare for Him.
This visitor deserves high level of preparedness in terms of sincerity and definition of honesty of purpose. This includes the preparedness to relate with the Qur’an, standing up in the night for tahajud (night prayer), and perfect our fast during Ramadan. We should know that fasting during Ramadan is an obligation that Allah (SWT) has placed on man, except those He has exempted.
It is a period of worship, the rewards of which are in manifolds. During Ramadan, Allah has prepared for Muslims high level of provisions and for any Muslim who feeds a fasting Muslim will have his sins forgiven and will be emancipated from hell fire to paradise. It is the period that the beautiful women of paradise created by Allah for righteous Muslims will cry to Allah, “Oh Allah! Make for us among your pious slaves in the month of Ramadan on earth that will be our husbands in paradise.” Also our wives on earth who are pious will be the leaders of all these women in paradise.
During Ramadan, a fasting Muslim must live by the Qur’an, recite, memorize, and ponder over its meanings. This is because it is a month of the Qur’an. It is also expected of such person to attend lectures, particularly tafsirul Qur’an. This was the way the early Muslims related with this visitor. For instance, Imam Shafi’i (may Allah be pleased with him) would complete the recitation of the Qur’an sixty times during the month of Ramadan (He would complete Qur’an during the periods of night and day, and he would complete it the second time between evening and day, thereby making 60 times before the end of Ramadan).
In conclusion, we should have time table that will guide our activities during the month and evaluation of oneself on a daily basis. For instance, total of 12 rakaat of nawafil should be made in a day (that is, before and/or after compulsory prayers): two rakats before solatus Zubh, two rakat before and after salatuz zuhr, two rakat before salatul asr, two rakat before and after salatul Magrib and two rakat before and after salatul Ishai.
Other acts of worship one can do in the month of Ramadan includes: observing salatud Duha (minimum of two and maximum of 12 rakaat) regularly, cultivate the habit of spending everyday (sadaqat) no matter how little, create time to visit the sick as this will remind you of Allah’s favour on you. Lastly, you must set your agenda from beginning of fast, especially the number of Quran to be recited, and always assess yourself before the day Allah will assess all your deeds.