By Imaam Musa Oladapo Raji
I seek refuge in Allah from the devil the accursed and I start in the name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Waliy (guiding friend) to lead him (to the right path). I also testify that Prophet Muhammad is His messenger. May His benediction be upon His (Muhammad) soul, members of His household, His companions and all those who follow His way till the day of Judgment.
Just as the popular axiom says that whatever has a beginning must have an end. The month of Ramadan is gradually running to the end.
And by implication, the two third (2/3) of it remains few days. Hopefully, you and I shall be among those that will witness the last one third (1/3) which is the pinnacle of it all. The Prophet had once described Ramadan period thus: the first ten days as mercy; it’s second ten as period of forgiveness and the last ten days as when Allah sets the fasting Muslim free from the hellfire.
However, this should not be misconstrued to be an automatic ticket for one’s entry into the Paradise. There are some conditions that govern it. Even though Allah is Benevolent during this period, He still reserves the right not to forgive these set of people according the tradition of the Prophet: (1) Drunkard (2) Disobedient child to his Parent (3) He who does not keep good relation with his kith and kin (4) He who keeps malice. These sets of people will not enjoy that benefit.
Laylatul Qadr: Many translators have tried to give a concise meaning to the phrase in an attempt to convince readers of what actually Allah means by it. Some call it “Night of Power”, “Night of Decree”, “Night of Majesty”. All these are just a matter of semantics; it is only the original language (i.e. Arabic) that can convey its real meaning.
Laylatul Qadr is just a single night that comes but once in a year. Allah says “Therein (the night) is decreed every matter of ordainments”, Quran 44:4. Every matter, i.e. the matters of deaths, births, provisions, calamities, etc. for the whole (coming) year as decreed by Allah. If you like, you can describe it as a night of stocktaking or night of budgeting. What makes the night so magnificent is the revelation of the Holy Qur’an therein.
The period of Laylatul Qadr could be further described as one of the seasons where the adherents of Islam realise a bumper harvest. Bumper harvest here does not mean what one realises from farm product but the mercy and grace of Allah that the period envelopes.
Allah is so merciful that when the night is pointed at in the Qur’an as being powerful. Out of His grace, He gave the indexes in the Qur’an that lead us to discover the night of Power and that night is better than a thousand month. He says: “Verily, we have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) and what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?. The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (worshipping Him a thousand months i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels and the Ruuh (Jibril (Gabriel)) by Allah’s Permission with all Decree. (All that night), there is peace (and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.” Quran 97:1-5
Even though, it is on record that a number of people claimed to have seen the night among the last seven nights in the hadith as reported by ibn Umar(RAA), he states that some companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) were able to see the Blessed Night among the last seven nights of the Month of Ramadan in dream. On this, the Holy Prophet (SAW) remarked yours have confirmed the existence of the Blessed Night among the last seven nights of Ramadan. Therefore, anybody who seeks the Blessed Night should look for it among the last seven nights of the month of Ramadan.
In another place in the Qur’an, Allah says: “We sent it (this Qur’an) down on a blessed night…” Quran 54:3. With the two quoted references above, the night remains ambiguous and it should be so stressful to look for such if not for His mercy. Allah then scaled it down to a particular month in the year. He says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)”. Quran 2: 185. Thereafter, the Prophet (SAW) further scaled it down to the last ten night of the month. When he was probed further by his companions, narrated by Aishah (RAA) Allah’s messenger said: “Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan” – 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th.
Among what makes the period unique is the special attention paid to it by the Prophet. One He used to embark on a RETREAT in the mosque during the period. A number of traditions confirmed this. Ibn Umar (RAA) states that the holy Prophet (SAW) used to retire to mosque for devotion and abstention during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan (Bukhari and Muslim). Aishah (RAA), his wife also relates that the Holy Prophet (SAW) was regular in retiring to the mosque for prayers during the last ten days of Ramadan up to the last day of His life. After His (SAW) demise, His (SAW) wives continued the practice. Bukhari and Muslim.
Lastly Abu Hurayrah (RAA) says that the Holy Prophet (SAW) retired to the mosque for ten days every year in the month of Ramadan, but in the last year of his life he retire to the mosque for twenty days. Bukhari.
Whenever the Prophet (SAW) exemplified an act like this, it served as an impetus for his companions to follow suit. Apart from the fact that He (SAW) persuaded us of doing it because of the derivable benefits and spiritual growth therein.
Aishah(RAA), His (SAW) wife says that the Holy Prophet (SAW) used to endeavour (in worshipping) during the month of Ramadan more than He strove in any other month, and He prayed harder and more earnestly in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan more than He did in the first twenty days of this month. Aishah (RAA) says further that she asked the Holy Prophet (SAW): “O Messenger of Allah, if I come to locate the Blessed Night, then how should I pray in this night? The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “ALLAHUMA INNAKA ‘AFUWWUN TUHIBUL ‘AFWA FA’AF’ANNI” (Allah thous art Most Forgiving and Lovett forgiveness then do thou forgive me).
With all these explanatory quotations above, it suffices to say that it is part of religion to embark on ‘I’tikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. However, there are conditions that govern this act of Ibaadah, parts of them are as follows: (i) Retreat with fasting; Retreat does not count without fasting. (ii) It must be done in a mosque where five daily obligatory prayers and Jum’ah are observed. Allah says: “And do not have sexual relations with your wives while you are in ‘I’tikaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques. (iii) If a person gets sick during the period, he should go home and when he gets well, he should take up where he left off. The same holds for a woman who menstruates while she is on retreat. (iv) A willing Muslim should enter his place of retreat before sunset of the night he wishes to begin his retreat. (During the period) He should not go out to visit the sick, to do Salat over the dead, or to trade. Someone on retreat should not leave the mosque except to take care of nature where the facilities are not. (v) Someone on retreat till the last day of Ramadan should not return home until he spends the night before the eid in the mosque then he leaves in the morning for the Salat praying ground.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to state here that Zakatul Fitr (otherwise known as JAKA) is paid before going to the praying ground. It is an established Sunnah, prescribed by the Prophet (SAW) for every Muslims, young or old, male or female, free or slave. Each person must give a SA’I (or 12 tins of milk) as the standard of the Prophet (SAW) of the most common staple foods of the people. Head of the household pays for himself and for all his dependents and make sure that the food items reach the beneficiaries before they leave for the praying ground. Because the main aim of the act is for the poor and the needy to have sense of belonging. If it is not done that way, the reward may no longer be there.
What marks the end of it all is Salatul I’dul Fitr. This festival is an established Sunnah. The Imam and Muslims Faithful (male and female) would leave for a praying ground earmarked for such, just after sunrise to observe a two Raka’at. The Imam is expected to recite Suratul Fatihah and other chapter aloud. After the prayer, he is expected to deliver a sound and meaningful sermon.
The feast has a member of etiquettes. They are so numerous that this piece can’t take them all. But let us look at few of them.(1) It is Sunnah to eat before going to the eid (Ramadan feast only). (2) Glorification of Allah while going to the eid. (3) Taking bath before going to the eid. (4) Wearing of one’s best cloth. (5) Application of scent on one’s cloth (men only). (6) Congratulating one another on e‘id. by saying; “TaqabalaIlahu mina waminkum” i.e. May Allah accept it from us and from you.
Finally the Prophet (SAW) recommends that after the feast of eidul fitr we should endeavor to fast for six days during the month of Shawwal. (tenth month of lunar calendar). As narrated by Abu Ayub (RAA), the Prophet (SAW) said: “One who observes this fast throughout the month of Ramadan then followed by fasting six days in shawwal, is as good as if he observed the fast throughout the year. (Muslim)
My esteemed readers, I enjoin you all to take solace in doing all the recommended acts of Ibaadah during all the last lap of this glorious moment: one for our spiritual growth and two for the betterment of the society because if we (all of us) take its advantage to repent sincerely and turn to Him (The Most High) for assistance, Allah is ever ready to come to our rescue. He is our Waliy (protector). I say all that you are listening to and I seek forgiveness of Allah from my sins and yours.
•Imaam Musa Oladapo Raji is the Chief Imaam of Telemu, Ola-Oluwa LGA, State of Osun.