Following is the talk by Ustadh Abu Muassab organized by Kalemah on the 14th of July 2014. While listening to the talk, I tried to write as much as I could to the best of my ability, and am sharing it here so that maximum of us can benefit, In sha Allah.
“Parallel Ramadan” by Ustadh Abu Mussab Wajdi Akkari
Every year we see practices being adopted during Ramadhan that are a distraction and are opposite to the objective of this Blessed Month. The nights of this month are ought to be spent in Iʿtikāf and seeking the night of Qadr. As we all know the reward of worship in this night is equal to worship of more than 83 years. So, are we going to spoil these blessed days and nights playing games and eating our hearts out from the time of breaking our fast up until Fajr? Even though it might be an innocent game of merely popping bubbles but it is distracting. Soap operas produced specifcally for the month of Ramadhan are shown the entire 30 days, the content of which have no relevance to the Holy Month what so ever. Similarly during the World Cup many chose watching the game over spending those precious nights in Ibadhah and Dhikr. A sport in itself is not haram but it is the vice distractions associated with it that make watching it less desirable.
Contrary to the most popular belief, this Hadith is Weak!!: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) addressed us on the last day of Sha’baan and said: ‘O People, there has come to you a great and blessed month, a month in which there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting (this month) an obligation and spending its nights in prayer an act of voluntary worship. Whoever draws near to Allah during this month by doing some good deeds is like one who does an obligatory action at any other time, and the one who does an obligatory action during this month is like one who does seventy obligatory actions at any other times. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness and its end is ransom from the Fire…’”. (*explanation given at end of post)
Prophet Muhammad PBUH said, “At every breaking of the fast, Allah has people whom He redeems from the fire.” [Ahmad]
The Prophet PBUH said, “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious jinn are chained up and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist. And Allah has those whom He frees from the Fire, and that happens every night.” [at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah and Ibn Khuzaymah – Classed as Hasan by Sh al-Albaani]
So what is hindering our path to not be included in those people whom Allah redeems from the hell fire?
As has been observed, even though the devils and jinns are chained still we do not stop from doing bad deeds. Two explanations have been given for this. Some scholars say that only the strong ones are chained. And some scholars are of the view that even if they are chained it doesn’t mean they cannot harm us. It’s just like when a dangerous dog is tied we assume that it can’t harm us but when we go near it, it can still bite us even though it is chained!!!
There are three types of Nafs one of which is Nafs al–Ammara Bissu’, the Soul that urges us to do Evil. So when this Nafs interacts with the shatayeen, the human being is prone to do bad deeds unless he occupies himself with Dhikr and Ibadhah.
The word Taraweeh comes from the word Raha which means a break or to take rest. The Sahabah used to be up all night for Taraweeh until before Fajr so they needed to take rest in between the Taraweeh prayers.
With regard to the Taraweeh prayer, people can be divided in to four categories:
- those who do not pray Taraweeh at all. Now we know that although offering Taraweeh is a Sunnah of the Prophet and he did not pray it continuously in congregation for the fear that it might be made obligatory. It was Umar RA who revived this Sunnah. Missing out on the Taraweeh is a major loss.
- those who do not offer the daily five Obligatory Salah but offer only the Taraweeh, sometimes wasting the first 20 nights and praying only that of the last 10. They feel they can compensate the reward by being regular only in the last ten nights.
- those who do go for the Taraweeh but they have no idea what is going on. They look around for Masjids with the quickest Imam and the shortest Taraweeh!! Even then they feel good that Allah will accept their Ibadhah.
- those people who go for Taraweeh and know exactly what the Imam is doing.
We should strive to be such people and make a significant difference in how we understand the Taraweeh, the Quran and the language. Choose an Imam who has a melodious voice and who interacts with the Quran. When you offer the Taraweeh behind him, you get to know the sequence he is following. Now, there are many of us who unfortunately don’t know the Arabic language. So we need to do extra homework which is to go home and read the portion of the Quran which the Imam will cover in the next Taraweeh. Read and understand its meaning so that while the Imam is praying you too can feel and get engaged with the actual recitation of the Quran.
Instead, what happens is we are so oblivious of what is being recited that we feel all sorts of twists and cramps in our legs and calf!! Therefore, make the learning of the Arabic language a MAJOR OBJECTIVE of your life. It is normal for people to be bilingual. Most of us can speak at least two languages. So what’s the problem with learning a third one? Why not learn a language that can help us to understand the Quran and be the key for us to enter Jannah. Just like the effort we take to attain everything in life, learning Arabic too will require some serious efforts like money, time, going for an institute or a private tutor. But taking the effort to learn this language will make a big difference in our life for the rest of our life!! Ask someone who has learnt the Arabic language, the difference of his Khushu’ in the Taraweeh prayer before and after learning the language that Allah chose for the Quran.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH showed us three ways to attain forgiveness, which is, by fasting, praying during the nights of Ramadhan, and establishing prayers during the nights of Qadr. Abu Hurairah RA narrated the following Ahaadeeth:
“Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
“Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
None of us has read our Book of Deeds; Good or Bad. The number of sins we have done knowingly and on purpose since the time we attained puberty till now are accumulated in that book in the form of a big disaster and bankruptcy. As for our good deeds we do not know whether they have been accepted or not!!
“Then as for one whose scales are heavy [with good deeds], he will be in a pleasant life. But as for one whose scales are light, his refuge will be an abyss. And what can make you know what that is? It is a Fire, intensely hot.” (Surah Al-Qari’ah; 101:6-11)
It are these bad deeds that we can remove by fasting. The condition is Eemaan (Sincere Faith) and Ihtisaab (seeking reward for the sake of Allah).
The traveler and sick can break their fast. Some scholars say that if the traveler can manage to fast he may do so but fasting with difficulty while travelling or sick (according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad SAW) is not a form of piety.
It doesn’t matter if Qiyam is done with the Imam or at home. What matters is where your heart finds Khushu’.
Do not overeat prior to when seeking the night of Qadr as you may become physically fatigued and feel sleepy. The least thing you can do to ruin that special night is to eat overwhelmingly.
We are almost done with the month of Ramadhan and this is what we need to do if we haven’t made use of this Blessed Month already:
- Limit the use of smart phones. Either our smart phones are not that smart or we are not using it smartly!! Give your phones a vacation unless you are using it for recitation of the Quran or its tafseer. Minimize its use unless you are using it as a means to get closer to Allah.
- Switch off the TV unless you are using it to watch beneficial Islamic programs, and not anything evil and vice.
- Back to the Quran. Read and understand each ayah as you go. Interact with it, ponder and reflect upon it.
- Revive the Sunnah: When you come across an ayah that mentions the beauty of Jannah, ask for it from Allah. If it mentions the hell fire, seek refuge from it with Allah. If it mentions the Mercy of Allah, ask Allah for His Mercy. It was the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH to do so. Also, when you come across Surahs and Ayahs describing the qualities of believers ask Allah to make you such awesome people. Say Aameen to every Dua’a you come across.
- Don’t be obsessed with finishing the Quran just so that you can tell others that you have done so. Culturally it has become a ritual. We finish the Quran 4 times so that when people ask we don’t feel low in front of them. Forget about the people. The Sahabah or the pious could do it only because they lived the Quran and knew Arabic very well.
So we have Two Parallels during Ramadhan. One is Legit and the other is Devilish and Fake. One is, to occupy oneself with Ibadhah, Quran, Dhikr and Charity, and the other concerns with the TV, phone, games, over eating and social networking. Don’t think and tell yourself that you will improve next year. DO IT NOW. We still have time and we are still in Ramadhan. So make use of the rest of the time.
The Ustadh also answered questions from the Audience, as well as those coming from live streaming.
- Don’t choose something of less significance over that which is of greater importance. Instead of listening to lectures, try to work on understanding the Quran.
- Masjid or Home. Pray where your heart finds Khushu’. Women gain more reward by praying Taraweeh at home. But if her heart is in the Masjid she may pray there provided she observes the full Hijab upon leaving her house and is not a source of Fitnah. A group of women can also offer the Taraweeh prayer at home in Jamaa’a where a lady may lead the other ladies behind her. Men are not allowed to pray behind a woman at all as has been shown in certain segments of the media.
- Zakat can be payed any time of the year. It is to be calculated from the time when you start saving, till one year is over. Don’t wait for the month of Ramadhan to pay Zakat just to gain more reward.
“Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Surah At Tawbah, 9:60)
- If a year has passed since you started saving and you know someone is entitled to your Zakat money, help him with it instead of not giving him his right, and don’t sit on it till Ramadan just to get more reward.
- It is permissible to have Iftar get-togethers, BUT if the women of the household spend the entire day over the stove preparing food and are busy in planning the layout of the Iftar tables and decorations, and forget about the Salah on time, Ibadhah, Quran and Dhikr then better to avoid such gatherings. Plan out the day and set a time limit till when the guests can stay for Iftar. Let your guests know your plan before-hand so that they don’t over stay. Don’t choose something of less significance over that which is of greater importance.
*Why is this Hadith weak? Because:
- a good deed earns a reward between ten and seven hundred times in Ramadhan and at other times, and nothing is exempted from that apart from fasting, for its reward is immense and unlimited.
- nafil actions are nafil and obligatory actions are obligatory in Ramadhan and at other times.
- the bounty of Allah is immense, all of Ramadhan is mercy and forgiveness, and there are those whom Allah ransoms from the Fire every night and at the time of breaking the fast, as is proven by the Ahaadeeth. (Excerpt taken from here.)
How do you plan to spend the remaining days of Ramadhan? Please share in the comments section so that all of us may benefit, In sha Allah.