By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Bestower of Mercy
All Perfect Praises are to Allah; we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and He whom He leaves astray there is none to guide him! I bear witness that none is worthy of worship but Allah, who is alone without partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad (Pbuh) is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:102)
“O People! Revere your Lord, who created you from a single soul. Created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is Ever watchful over you.” (An-Nisa’ 4:1)
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger (Pbuh) have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:70-71)
Indeed the best speech is Allah’s Book and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (Pbuh). And the worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovations is an act of misguidance leading to the fire.
Servants of Allah! Islam is a religion that encourages generosity in its followers and gives a full code of life to Muslims. When the wealthy and fortunate ones are generous, it ultimately lends to the sharing of delights and as a result whole of the community and society is able to enjoy the blessings of Almighty which in other case would have been difficult for someone to attain and cherish. Therefore, one element that can be found in abundance in the character of Muslims is generosity.
Brothers and Sisters! Besides the compulsory act of Zakah as an exemplification of generosity, there are other generous deeds, which a Muslim can commit for the well being of fellow humans in general and Muslims, in particular. Moreover, the reward and imperativeness of these acts of generosity increases substantially when they are undertaken in the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan as a Month of Generosity
My people! Before moving on to the imperativeness and need of generosity in the month of Ramadan, it is imperative that a Muslim realizes and identifies Ramadan in itself as a generous offering from Allah Almighty to Muslims.
Ramadan is a month in which Allah Almighty showers His blessings and mercy upon Muslims with full throttle. It is a month in which Allah closes the doors of Hell and opens the doors of Paradise for Muslims, which means that the generosity of Allah Almighty is at its peak and He is open to forgiving all those who repent from true heart and in addition to simple forgiveness also grant them with rewards and blessings so that they land a better and higher place in Paradise. Therefore, Ramadan in itself is a month of generosity in every aspect.
The lines below discuss why a Muslim must be increasingly generous during the month of Ramadan.
A Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)
Above all, perhaps the biggest and greatest reason why a Muslim must be generous during the month of Ramadan is the fact that being specifically generous during the month of Ramadan is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Ibn Abbas (RA) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) was the most generous of people. He was especially generous in Ramadan when the Angel Gabriel (Jibril) would come and review the Quran with Him. Gabriel (Jibril) would review the Quran with Him every night during the month of Ramadan. Verily, when Gabriel (Jibril) would come and review the Quran with Him in Ramadan, the Messenger was more generous than the free blowing wind.” (Tirmidhi)
From this narration, two things become clear about the personality of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The first thing that becomes clear is that Prophet (Pbuh) was most generous of all, therefore, Ramadan or no Ramadan. One ought to follow his Sunnah and be generous in everyday life. The second thing that is evident from the narration is the fact that Prophet (Pbuh) was especially generous during Ramadan and it is one of his beloved deeds during the month of fasting, hence, more the reason for a Muslim to show and indulge in acts of generosity during this month and share the blessings and joys with other fellow beings during this Noble month, so that all are able to enjoy and celebrate the Noble month in the best possible manner.
Allah Practices and Encourages Generosity
As discussed earlier that the month of Ramadan in itself is a symbol of generosity by Allah Almighty, therefore, if Allah Almighty who despite all the sins of humans is generous to them, there is no reason why Muslims should not be generous to each other. Prophet (Pbuh) mentions in a hadith:
“During it (Ramadan) a caller cries out, ‘Those desiring good come forward, and those desiring evil stay away’. Allah has those He liberates from Hell and that occurs every night (during Ramadan).” (Tirmidhi)
Also from this hadith it is clear that during the month of Ramadan, Allah Almighty specially opens the door of forgiveness for Muslims. It is in the nights of this Noble Month that He forgives people from Hell and takes them to paradise. Therefore, Allah Almighty shows additional generosity during the month of Ramadan.
At another place, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said:
“I swear by Allah, He (Allah) will never disgrace you! (Because) You uphold the sanctity of blood relations, you honour the guest, you bear the burdens of others, you spend on the deprived, and you assist people in the face of calamities.” (Bukhari)
My Respected people! This hadith shows that Allah Almighty never disgraces people who are generous. Moreover, this hadith also shows the factors that can be considered as act of generosity, which include the following:
- Firstly, a person is to hold the sanctity of blood relations from which it can be inferred that being good to the blood relations, taking care of them is also an act of generosity, therefore, every Muslims must hold the sanctity of blood relations.
- Secondly, a Muslim must be hospitable to the guests and give them proper respect and deal with them with graciousness and take care of them properly, which also falls under the circle of generosity.
- Thirdly, helping others in sharing their burden of any sort is also an act of generosity. Thus, when a Muslim helps another Muslim in bearing the burden no matter if it is financial or physical burden, he or she is actually being generous.
- Fourthly, spending money on those who are deprived of the necessities of life and assisting the people who are facing any calamity is also an act of generosity. Hence, during Ramadan a Muslim must not let any chance of helping others go from hand.
Distinction on the Judgment Day
Generosity is an act of virtue and being generous during Ramadan and after it gives a separate identity to a Muslim for which he or she will receive distinction on the judgment day. In one hadith, Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“Should I not inform you of the most generous of all? Allah is the most generous of all and I am the most generous of humanity. After me the most generous person is a man who learns something beneficial and disseminates it. He will be resurrected on the Day of resurrection as an individual nation. Likewise, is a man who gives his life in the way of Allah.” (Ibn Adiy)
Dear Brothers and Sisters! From this hadith it is clear; those who are generous will rise as a separate nation on the resurrection day. This rising separately is a blessing from Allah and it shows that the generous will be distinct from others. Therefore, being generous in Ramadan is actually an upward movement in spiritually and piety for distinction.
In a nutshell, exhibition of generosity in general is recommended in Islam; however, the need and rewards of it rise heavily in the month of Ramadan. In Ramadan, being generous helps sharing of joy and blessing, whereas the reward against it also gets multiplied many times like any other virtuous deed committed during this Noble Month.
Ramadan – The Life Transforming Time of the Year
Servants of Allah! As always mentioned, Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic Calendar in which Muslims all over the globe keep away from eating, drinking and fulfilling other physiological needs from dawn to dusk just for the sake of pleasure of Allah (SWT). It is deduced from the Arabic word, “Ramada” which means “Extreme Heat.” As it is commonly known that intense high temperature can twist and curve even the strongest metals, same is the case with this Noble Month which is a great source of shaping the lives of believers for their own betterment. The Almighty Lord says in the Noble Quran:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran, 2:183]
The above mentioned great verse clearly suggests that Ramadan is not any normal time of the year rather it is an absolute blessing from the Gracious Allah which makes Muslims more productive through “Taqwa.” It comes from the Arabic root word “Waqa” meaning “to guard or protect”, which implies that Taqwa is the name of Consciousness of the Exalted One through actions. More specifically, it tells us to do what pleases Him and avoid anything that displeases the Most Merciful. The modern science also advocates that a normal individual needs about four weeks time in order to change its habits. Similarly, Ramadan serves as fixing up the bad patterns of a Muslim through a highly disciplined schedule of fasting, performing Salah, Quran Reading, and giving charity and so on.
Now let us take some considerations to keep in mind in this consecrated period to benefit from it to the fullest.
Inconceivable Amount of Reward for Fasting
My people! The biggest incentive for anyone in Ramadan could be that the return as a result of restraint from all kinds of daily necessities for the Creator of the universe is unimaginable. No one has the idea about how great in number and magnitude the reward could be because this deed is solely for Allah (SWT) and He is the One Who knows about its worth. Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:
“By the One in whose hand my-self is, the smell of the breath of a man fasting is better with Allah than the scent of musk.’ He leaves his desires and his food and drink for my sake. Fasting is for Me and I reward it. Every good action is rewarded by ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for Me, and I reward it.’ “(Muwatta Malik)
It means that the Almighty Lord loves His servant who is in a state of fasting many more times than the one who is not performing it. This Hadith also shows that “fasting” is the action that is only done for the sake of attaining pleasure of the Most Beneficent by refraining from food and water throughout the day. Although it seems like a very extreme kind of activity but it is also a great test of one’s faith which is to be fulfilled through deed of fasting. In Ramadan, each good action is rewarded from ten to seven hundred times in return and that is concerning normal acts. On the other hand, fasting is rewarded to a degree that no one can even dream about. Thus, fasting in Ramadan is an immense means of encouragement and motivation in terms of its greatest number of rewards.
Drawing Closer to Allah (SWT) Through Night Prayers
As compensation for normal deeds increase manifold in Ramadan, there is also a very important task to accomplish during this Noble Month, i.e. Night Prayers. Compulsory Salah itself is a great source of attaining closeness to Allah (SWT), which results in His mercy and Forgiveness. But praying in the dark hours (Nawafil/non obligatory prayers) when most of the people are asleep, it shows one’s determination on its religious conviction. The Messenger of Allah is reported by Abu Hurairah (RA) to have said:
“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
It shows that during Ramadan, Nafilah Ibadah with honest conscious causes one’s pardoning of all of its past wrongdoings. This routine will also result in constant memory of the Almighty Lord even in other months and will serve as benchmark for bringing one near to Him.
Building a Habit of Reading Quran
Brothers and Sisters! The sacred Book of Quran is nothing but a great source of clarification and enlightenment in all walks of life. The demise of Muslims in this day and age is also due to negligence about the teachings of Quran and living in darkness. Ramadan provides a great opportunity for all believers to learn the Quran and know about their purpose of life. It is also the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Pbuh) to recite this Highly Revered Manuscript in Ramadan regularly.
“Jibril used to come to the Prophet (Pbuh) every night in Ramadan, and study the Quran with Him.” (Bukhari)
It means that Jibril (AS) used to visit the Prophet (Pbuh) every day in this hallowed period of the year and study Quran Karim with Him which he did not do in normal days frequently. Reading this Sanctified Scripture in Ramadan will not only fulfill the Prophetic tradition but also help in developing a custom of understanding and learning the Quran daily.
Caring for Others and Thankfulness to Allah
Ramadan is the time when Muslims come to realize about the good things like assets and money which Allah (SWT) has blessed them with. It is also the occasion when believers all over the world pay Zakah (Charity) to the poor families from their own wealth to a certain proportion.
Narrated Anas (RA):
“The Prophet (Pbuh) was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan. He said: “Sha’aban in honour of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He (Pbuh) said: ‘Charity in Ramadan.’”
The previously stated account of conversation of the Prophet (Pbuh) suggests that aiding deprived ones in Ramadan is indeed the best of the charities one can ever accomplish. This act not only teaches one to feel for other’s needs but also be grateful also to the Gracious Allah for everything.
Adopting a Well Balanced Diet and Routine
For all those who complain about their fitness problems, Ramadan is that time period which automatically gives those best results. Developing right kinds of eating habits at Suhur and Iftaar make one able to know about its finest possible dietary plans. Thus, Ramadan is not only a name of fulfilling religious responsibilities alone, rather it provides a complete package in order to make one’s routine more fruitful and well disciplined.
In short, the Noble month of Ramadan comes up with many lessons that eventually transform the lives of Muslims in the best way.
My respected people! To conclude my Sermon, I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognize the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, Ameen.
My People! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, and upon his family and Companions.
With this, I conclude my Sermon and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving, most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Sermon (Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 22, 1438 A.H. (May 19, 2017), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.