By Maisuna, M.Yahya, The Founder Al-Mustofiyyah Society of Nigeria
The Month of Ramathan is especially significant in the life of every Muslim, irrespective of age, gender, status or race. Ramathan is the third compulsory pillar of Islam, preceded by five daily prayers (Solawaatul- khams) and followed by giving out compulsory alms (Zakah) only for those who are endowed or blessed with wealth to accomplish the task (of Zakah). The month, (Ramathan) is the ninth (9th) month of Islamic calendar. The Month is segmented into three, the first ten encapsulates the immeasurable blessings of Allah (Rahmah), the second ten contains Allah’s overwhelming forgiveness (Magfirah) and the last nine or ten delves in emancipation of Muslims, who devotedly sincerely participate in the fast, from being inmates of hell fire to becoming inhabitants of Paradise.
Other fasts that preceded Ramathan: There were many Prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who were ordered by Allah to partake in fasts, though, in different patterns from Ramathan .Almost in the same vein, Prophet Moses (Musa (A.S) fasted for thirty days. unintentionally and while trying to cleanse his teeth from the oozing odour of his fast before speaking with his Lord, he was returned by Allah and the order to have additional ten, equaling forty (Q7:142).So did Prophet David (Daaud ( A.S) but in a style of every other day; Prophet Isah (Jesus(A.S) fasted too; so also did many other Prophets. Allah says: O you who believe! Observing the fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious (Q2:183).
Determining the Month Ramathan: Every true Muslim will always be on outlook for the month of Ramathan, based on the clues given by Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Without being unnecessarily controversial or maneuvering, or claiming monopoly of knowledge. Insistence on visioning the moon split of Ramathan, by individualism, may result in inadequacy of utilisation of the existing knowledge of Islamic law (Shari’ah).Very obviously, and in accordance with Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, (SAW) he was quoted by Abu Hurayrah saying…Fast due to its sighting and break your fast due to its sighting. If it is obscure to you, then reckon the month of Sha’ban) to be thirty days. (Buhkari & Muslim).Waiting for one’s scholar, father or directive from an uncle, before one begins to fast, is a sick idea without premises of evidence. In the same proportion, fast of Ramathan, is terminated at sighting the moon as well, or by the same process of having two reputable and honest Muslims as witnesses; as reported by ‘Abdur- Rahman bn Zayd in (Badawi 260).
Eligibility of Ramathan: Engagement in the exercise for the period of twenty-nine or thirty days, actually exempts some categories of Muslims. Those who must fast include: matured male, Female, healthy, non-traveler to a very long distance or on a physical stressful journey, and it also exempts extremely old and weak .The Glorious Qur’an states: Fasting for a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey, then an equal number of days (are to be made up) And upon those who are able (to fast, but with hardship) …. (Q2:184)… so who ever sights (the new moon of) the month, let him fast it, and whoever is ill or on a journey…. (Q2:185).
The summary of the above two verses of Q2:184 depicts that the seriously ill persons battling with life threatening diseases: chronic ulcer, diabetics, Hepatitis B, Ebola, Lassa fever deadly cancerous disease, Corona virus , to mention but a few; that will require constant monitoring with administration of drugs and other medications at short intervals: those who travel very far distances, pregnant women, a woman who has just delivered a baby with running birth blood, are exempted from fasting, in the month of Ramathan.
Although, there are two options for the traveler, and pregnant women, If they can fast, as long as they have the strength, they can go ahead; but if they cannot, then, after Ramathan of that particular year, before the next Ramathan, the numbers of the days missed will be calculated and they will repay. Or, as for the pregnant woman and the nursing mother, whose fear is for her health condition, or her child’s wellness, they may break the fast and feed the poor person in lieu of each day, and they do not make up their fasts (Shaikh al- Albani, in Irwa al Ghaleel, vol. 4.p. 19). Nafi’said, one of Ibn Umar’s daughters was married to a man from Quraysh. She was pregnant and was very thirsty during Ramathan. Ibn Umar told her to break her fast and to feed a poor person in lieu of every day (Badawi 264).
Activities in Ramathan: Ramathan, usually, is a month that is preoccupied with chains of events. Some of which are spiritual, socio-spiritual and economic. Under spiritual, the fasting itself attracts abundant rewards for the one who fasts. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, that Ramathan (Sawm) is for Allah, and He is the One to recompense it.
Recitation of the Noble Qur’an: The noble Qur’an came to a complete perfect stage of compilation in the month of Ramathan as attested to by Angel Jibril. The highest time Muslims all over the world recite Qur’an most is in every month of Ramathan. What a beautifully honoured and blessed month! Day, night, afternoon, morning, evening, it is repeatedly recited, enthusiastically hoping for double reward therein. (Q2:185).
Tarawih: Tarawih is a supererogatory prayer observed in twos of five or more, ending it with the popular ‘Shaf’i (two Raka’h) and followed immediately with one (witr). Although, there is no qualms if one delays witr till mid night, during vigil (Tahaajjud).
Vigil (Tahaajjud): Vigil is one of the supererogatory prayers in Islam. It is observed during any part of the night without time limit, using the verses and chapters of the Noble Qur’an during its observation. The vigil is mentioned in different part of the Noble Qur’an, authenticating its legality. (Q17:78- 79), (Q73:1-6).
Seclusion (I’htikaaf). It’s a religious systemic way of retiring to engaging in spiritual private policy; the seclusion which must take place within the four walls of a Masjid where Friday (Jum’a) prayer is observed on weekly basis. Seclusion, must not in any way, affects negatively, the observation of five daily, congregationally. I’htikaaf is specifically done only in Ramathan; and particularly during the last ten days of Ramathan. Allah says:…and have not contact with them while you keep to the Mosque (Masaajid)….(Q2:187).
Islam plays equity, in that, it allows male and female’s participation, but with a clause that married women must ask for their husbands’ consent, and which must be fully granted before participating in the religious seclusion. Allah stipulates: …And women have rights similar to the rights of men in a just manner, and the men have a degree (of advantage) over them…. (Q2:228). The expression: and the men have a degree over them indicates the permission or consent women must seek for before attending seclusion.
It should be noted that, any woman who attends I’htikaaf with her husband’s consent has done that at her own peril, there shall be no reward for participating, and she has invited Allah’s anger on herself. Expected activities during the period of ten days are: constant recitation of the Noble Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, asking for Allah’s forgiveness, chanting and boosting Allah’s egos and qualities via his names, asking for the betterment of this world and the hereafter etc. Analogically, this is a self or personal lockdown or stay at home in Islam.
So, lockdown may not just be applicable to epidemical or calamitous situation as Corona pandemic warrants lockdown now! As we endure during seclusion, so we need to do during this pandemic, despite the difficulties many are experiencing, such as hunger! Indeed, hunger is not applicable to I’htikaaf in that, fast goes on from dawn to dusk.
Night of Majesty/Night of Power (Lailatu Qadr): Night of Majesty is a powerful night in that, that single unknown night is more powerful and majestically beneficial. Allah says: The grand Night is better than a thousand months (Q 97:3) for so many reasons. (a)The Glorious Qur’an was revealed and read by prophet Muhammad (SAW), its complete perfect and correct recitation was witnessed and attested to by angel Jibril in the blessed month (Ramathan), (b) thousands of angels descend in that particular night of Majesty(c) parts of the descending angels’ duty is to come along with the already decreed portions of everything that will occur in the following year.
The issue of annual budgeting by the governments is therefore a copyright of Islam. Qur’an 43:1-5 explicitly explain and buttress (Q97:3) Allah says: Ha, Meem. By the clear Book. Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night .Indeed, We were to warn (mankind). Therein, (i.e., on that night) is made distinct every precise matter. (Every) matter (proceeding) from Us. Indeed, We were to send (a messenger).
…to be continued next week