All praise is due to Almighty Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful and the Disposer of all affairs. May His peace and benediction be showered on the soul our exemplary prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his household members, his faithful companions and this blessed gathering, amin.
O brethren! Here comes another golden opportunity for the seekers of Allah’s pleasure and the Garden of al-Rayyan to make strategic preparation to receive and relate with this Blessed Month of Ramadan. Wise and conscientious Muslims would consider preparation for Ramadan important, but ignorant folks among us will foot drag and refuse to make preparation for this precious annual visitor. Allah urges believers to make preparation thus:
“And take provisions, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!” Q2:197
Ibn Kathir commented on the Hadith collected by Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud as narrated by Abdullahi Ibn `Abbas that, “The people of Yemen used to go to Hajj without making enough preparation in terms of basic supplies with them for pilgrimage. They used to say, `We are those who have Tawakkul (reliance on Allah).’ Allah thus revealed the above Ayah instructing: And take provisions (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is righteousness.
Before discussing further, let us look at the virtues of Ramadan.
On the virtues of Ramadan, Abu Huraira (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said: “When the month of Ramadan starts, the Gates of the Heaven are opened and the Gates of Hells are closed and the Devils are chained” (Al-Bukhari). This statement is an indication that Allah provides enabling environment for believers to maximise the bountiful rewards of Ramadan, thus attaining the desired level of Taqwa.
In another narration Abu Huraira (RA) reported that: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘’Whoever observed salat (supererogatory prayer) on the night of Qadr (in Ramadan) with sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever observe sawm (fasting) in the month of Ramadan with sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven” (Al-Bukhari). This narration underscores the importance of Ramadan as the month of forgiveness and compensation.
Another virtue of Ramadan is acceptance of supplications. Let us therefore supplicate to witness this Blessed Month. Mu’alla bn al-Fadhl said: Our predecessor used to supplicate for six month that Allah spares their lives to witness another Ramadan, and supplicate for another six month that all their efforts therein be accepted as meritorious deeds. Yahya bn Kathir said: among their prayer is:
“O Allah, spare my life to witness Ramadan, and enable us to be righteous therein and accept it from us’’.
Further on the virtues, Allah 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). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan, i.e., is present at his home), he must observe fasting that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days which one did not observe fasting must be made up from other days. Allah intends for you ease and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.Q2:185
Lastly, Allah honoured Ramadan by revealing the Glorious Qur’an therein, just as He did for all other Divine Books revealed to some Prophets (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon them). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The Suhuf of Ibrahim was revealed during the first night of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of Ramadan. The Injil was revealed during the thirteenth night of Ramadan. Allah revealed the Qur’an on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan” (Imam Ahmad)
How prepared are you? There are several aspects of preparation for Ramadan. These include:
- Spiritual preparation: Muslims, as fathers, mothers, matured boys and girls are implored to prepare themselves proactively before the Blessed Month approaches. Spiritual preparation entails cleansing ourselves from past sins, misdeeds, wrongdoings and iniquities by seeking swift repentance (Tawbah). The prevalent sins and excesses in human society especially Nigeria include adultery, alcoholism, drug addiction, peddling narcotics, fornication, gambling, fraudulent sales, dirty businesses, and dishonesty by artisans, rigging election, imposition of imbeciles as political leaders, counterfeiting, harmful businessmen and corruption by public servants. Other aspects of spiritual preparation include: constant and regular Salat, charity and Zakat, modest in dressing, shunning tribalism, envy, jealousy, backbiting, rumour-mongering, gangsters and frivolities.
- Physical preparation: Physical preparation entails a cursory examination by every individual Muslim of his/her state of health in readiness for 29 or 30 days of spiritual retreat and fasting. It is also a deliberate move to seek the advice of a honest Muslim medical doctor on fitness to fast especially by the sick, aged and those suffering from ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, fever et cetera. On this, we recommend malaria test, ulcer counseling, high-blood pressure test et cetera. A strong Muslim is better than a weak one.
- Organizational Preparation: Islamic organizations, masajid, business organizations, NGOs, Charity-based association and Muslim Communities are all requested to have well-designed programmes and projects for implementation in the Month of Ramadan. Organizational preparation include setting up committee on Moon Sighting for Ramadan, engaging in Mosque rehabilitation/decoration, environmental sanitation, printing of pamphlets/leaflets for awareness, sponsorship of lectures on Radio/TV, establishing Fund Raising activities for public Lectures, Laylatul Qadr, Eidul-Fitri Get-together, Zakat-ul-Fitri collection, sensitization on Zakat assessment, collection & distribution. On the preparation to monitor the crescent of Ramadan, which unfortunately is one of the causes of disunity in Nigeria, we recommend the counsel of the Prophet (Peace be upon him): He said: “Do not begin fasting until you sight the moon, and do not break your fast (for ‘Eed) until you have sighted it.” (Bukhari Muslim). “Count well the crescent of Sha’aban because of Ramadan” (al-Tirmidhiy). “Start to observe fasting when you see it (crescent of Ramadan) and give up observing fasting when you see it (crescent of Shawwal) and if the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it, complete the counting of Sha’aban to be thirty” (Bukhari and Muslim).
- Financial Preparation (Budgeting): As individuals, groups, masajid and organizations adequate financial preparation is imperative and non-negotiable. Budgeting has been defined as a financial plan embodying an estimate of proposed expenditures for a given period and the proposed means of financing them. Financial preparation through budgeting therefore entails making adequate estimates of proposed spending in Ramadan (on programmes and projects) and how to raise the required funds would be sourced from halal channels. Allah says: “O mankind! Verily Allah is pure; He will not accept nothing but the pure. And verily Allah commanded the believers with the same command issued to the messengers saying: O messenger, eat from what is pure and work righteously” (Imam Ahmad).
- Intellectual Preparation: Intellectual preparation entails readiness of Imams, Islamic scholars, Radio/TV preachers and students to acquaint themselves with knowledge, rules, regulations and jurisprudential verdicts on fasting (Sawm) and related religious issues. This is required to provide the needed guidance to Muslims. Ramadan is month on unquantifiable blessings, which can be optimized only if adequate intellectual preparation is made by the learned and learners. Allah says: O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may acquire Taqwa. Fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have a choice either to fast or to feed a poor person for every day. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know. Q2: 183 – 184.
يَـأَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ
O Messenger! Proclaim which has been sent down to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. Allah will protect you from mankind. (Q5:67)
Abul ‘Ala Maududi had long ago lamented our refusal to proclaim the beautiful message we have. He said: “We are surrounded by treasures, but how do we treat them? We play with them in the same way as that ignorant child who, surrounded by diamonds, regards them as stones. My heart bleeds when I see us frittering away such tremendous wealth and power through ignorance and foolishness”.
I wish all Muslims a Blessed Ramadan in advance.