THERE is Godliness (Ar-rabbaaniyyah) in everyone, no matter how terrible they might be. My recent encounter with some street urchins popularly known as area boys, who were also preparing for Ramadan, has proven so.
No doubt, area boys are known for their reckless lifestyles and hooliganism. We live with them and obviously, we’re aware of the troubles they cause. But when the month of Ramadan approaches, the Muslims among them amend their ways and lead a Godly life.
I intentionally listened with rapt attention to the conversation between two popular street urchins at Ijeshatedo area of Lagos, for the purpose of this article. Sir Fathy (real name, Abdul-Fatai) just left his regular gambling joint, when he met ID (real name, Idowu), who challenged him in their local street parlance Were!! E ma wo oloriburuku yi sha! O si n ta naira bet. Ti awe ma beere l’ola. Oo le kuu re, walai! meaning Mad man! See this unfortunate being. You still playing naira bet, when Ramadan begins tomorrow! I swear, you can’t die a noble death!”
Sir Fathy replied, Oga gbagbe! Mo ju n be. Omo boi lati sare shey runs kekere ki awe to beere. Osha mo, ti awe ba bere n’sin, no more betting. A ma kawo so ke fun saati ramoni ni. K’omo boy sare je nkan ti ma fi s’awe. O saa mo. jeun soke n tie meaning Brother, forget it. Don’t mind me. I have to quickly do some “runs” before Ramadan starts. As you know, once Ramadan begins, there’s no room for betting and gambling. We will have to submit ourselves to the Great One. Let me quickly earn some cash to feed myself during fasting”.
The last Solatul Jumah (Friday prayer) of Shaban, the month preceding Ramadan, was over-crowded in most central mosques in Lagos, because of the arrival of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Sir Fathy was among a handful of Muslims who bought Islamic items at Folawiyo Central Mosque, Surulere, Lagos, in preparation for the Holy Month. I guess it was from gambling money he purchased a new jalabia (robe), cap, rosary, among others.
Did I hear you say ‘gambling money’ to prepare for Ramadan? Exactly, that’s what he did. But before you condemn him, there are many so-called Abdul-Fatahs (Sir Fathy) among the fasting Muslims out there. Forget about the fact that he’s a street urchin who earns his living from gambling, what about you? Do you think your source of income is pure enough for you to maximize the rewards of fasting in the month of Ramadan? Think about it now!
Who am I to judge you, but what is certain is that it’s a sin for anyone to eat from haram things Allah has forbidden, not to talk of taking it to observe Ramadan. There will be no reward of fasting for such a person.
Allah (swt) warns in the Glorious Qur’an, “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith we have provided you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He whom ye worship.” (2:172)
In another verse, He (Allah) says, “O ye Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do right…” (Quran 23:51)
In the hadith of Abu Hurairah, Prophet Muhammad (saw) told his companions, “Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good.” The Messenger of Allah narrated the case of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying]: O Lord! O Lord!-while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can his invocation be accepted.” The above narrations showed that it’s important we are conscious of what we eat, drink and where we get the money to buy those things we wear, especially in the month of Ramadan and beyond.
But, come to think of it, what’s so unique about Ramadan that suddenly transforms many unrepentant sinners to God-fearing beings. Why is the month special to many people, irrespective of their personalities, especially somebody like Sir Fathy who spends most of his life gambling?
The answer to the question lies in the hadith (sayings) of the Prophet (peace be upon him), when he said, “During Ramadan, the gates of hell are closed, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the devils are in chains. An angel calls out: ‘O you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed.”
That’s the secret. Ramadan is the most sacred of all months. Everybody wants to benefit from the holy month by enjoining good and refraining from evil. That’s why most fun spots, especially bars, clubs, etc that have long enjoyed high patronage of Muslims, witness low turn-out. Most conscious hoteliers too reduce their activities to honour the month.
Truthfully, if you can become godly in Ramadan, then it’s possible for you to be godly throughout the rest of your life. Forget about the unchained devils, he’s your enemy, my enemy, and you should not allow him and his agents to mislead you.
According to the Qur’an, Shaitan succeeded in misleading our first parents, Adam and Hawwa (Eve), and has promised to mislead his progenies (you and I) from following their Lord’s guidance. Surah Al-A’raf (Q.7; 16-17), Shaitan said to Allah, “Because You have sent me astray, surely, I will lie in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, You will not find most of them as thankful ones…”
My brethren, godliness can be attained, even after Ramadan. Shaitan wants you to be swimming in sins, but you must fight your ways to desist from all forms of sin. Although it’s not easy, the following steps would help you achieve godliness.
1 The worship of Allah
You should at all times know that it’s only Allah alone we worship and Him alone you seek for help. You should not seek other lords beside Allah, not to seek other helper, protector or gods beside Allah. (Study the following verses, Q3: 164, Q.3:162, Q.3:14)
2 Fear of Allah
But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires and lusts. Verily paradise will be his abode. According to Qur’an 79: 40-41. Imam Al-Qurtubi commented: “his fear of Allah while on earth that made him to abstain from sin when he was about to commit it” (Al-Qurtubi 19\208)
3 Know, you can’t hide from Allah
Truly, nothing is hidden from Him, in the earth or in the heaven, says Allah in the glorious Qur’an, 3: 5. “It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceal his speech or declares it openly, whether he hid by night or goes forth freely by day.” Qur’an, 13:10, “And Allah is with you (by His knowledge) wheresoever’s you may be. And Allah is All-seer of what you do.” Qur’an 57:4. Always know that Allah sees you.
4 Self Evaluation
There is need for sincere evaluation of one’ self, the essence: “Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah, verily Allah is All-aware of what you do.” Qur’an 59:18. Also, “That day shall you be brought to Judgement, not a secret of you will be hidden.” Qur’an 69:18 For instance, Umar bin kathab (the second caliph of Islam) used to beat his leg and say: “What have you done today.” Another companion, Ibn Summah, a devout, once counted his days on earth, when he was 60 years old. It totalled 21,600 days. He screamed: “Am I going to meet Allah with 21,500 sins?! How if I commit thousands of sins every day?!” he collapsed and fainted.
A Practical steps to achieving self evaluation
Consciousness at all times. Prepare an answer for all your saying and deeds. Belittle your righteousness. Do not undermine your sins, have a time for self evaluation. Reflect on all your action for the period. Thank Allah for your righteousness. Rebuke yourself for your inactions and all misdeeds. At bed-time know that it could be your last night. If eventually you wake know that it is a respite for you to repent and it could be the last. Be sad when you miss an obligation. Be sad if you do not increase in virtue. Know that your time ticks away very quickly. Review your actions at every Salat and make mend.
B Repentance of Allah
Essence of repentance: To desist from all forms of sin, to regret all past misdeeds, to determine never to return. It is obligatory: “And repent to Allah all of you, O believers, that you may be successful” Qur’an 24:31. Also, “And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed the wrongdoers.” Qur’an 49:11. And the Prophet says: “A repentant from his sin is like who had never committed one.” All sons of Adam are fallible. The best among the fallible is the repentant.
C Conditions of repentance
To be remorseful, to desist from sinning, to determine never to take other people’s belonging, to do righteous in place of every sin. “…verily the good deeds remove the evil deeds” Qur’an 11:114, “and follow every evil deed with a good one. It will wipe it off…” said the Prophet (peace be upon him).
D Benefits of repentance
The one with a satisfactory soul: he sustains his repentance and makes up for his past misdeeds and never thinks of going back. That is the perfect repentance (at-taubatun- nasuh).
The one with a reproaching soul: he is consistent in his repentance from major sins but sometimes commits minor ones unconsciously but quickly repents.
The one with a weak soul: he is inconsistent in his repentance. Follows his lust and deliberately sins again but wishes to repent again.
The one with an evil soul: repents for a while but quickly returns to his sinful life without thinking of repenting again.
5 Remembrance of death
As Muslims, we should always do remember of death at every time, this will make you to fear Allah and shun evil.