By Navida Sayed
Life is full of opportunities, sometimes we take advantage of them and sometimes we don’t, later wishing for another chance. One amazing opportunity never to be missed, which comes knocking at every Muslim individual’s door, is when Allah the Almighty opens His doors of mercy, forgiveness and salvation in the blessed month of Ramadan.
The first ten days of Ramadan are recognised as the days of mercy, because Muslims enter a phase of sacrifice by performing an act of worship in the form of fasting from dawn to dusk. This enables Muslims to understand how the hungry and poor people in the world feel and in return to pray for them, as well as thank Allah for the sustenance they have. From a medical perspective ‘Research shows fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool for combating obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems.’i
Over the course of the thirty days, fasting is a time for self-improvement and self-development; overall the most rewarding and rejuvenating experience during the month of Ramadan is spiritual reflection and reformation of man through prayers, seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.
The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: He who observes the fast during Ramadan out of sincerity of faith and in hope of earning merit will have his past sins forgiven him. (Bokhari and Muslim)
Ramadan is the most opportunistic time in the year when Allah enables man to reach out to Him when He opens the gates of Paradise. In relation to this there is the following tradition of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
When Ramadan arrives the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and satans are put in chains. (Bukhari and Muslim).
The Holy Prophet, (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said that from the first night of the month of Ramadan, satanic forces are chained, rebellious elements are disciplined and the shutters of Hell are drawn without exception. All the gates of Paradise are opened and a crier shouts: ‘O the seeker of righteous deeds proceed, and O the recliner to evil intentions desist’. Many sinners are granted amnesty from Hell, and this occurs every night of the month. (Bukhari and Muslim)..
Ramadan is the special month of fasting, prayers, repentance and ‘Zikr Ilahi’ (remembrance of Allah), in relation to this the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said,
‘It should be remembered that the fast does not mean merely that a person should abstain from food and drink over a certain period. During the fast one should be occupied greatly with the remembrance of God. The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) occupied himself greatly with worship during the month of Ramadan. During that month one should discard one’s preoccupation with eating and drinking, and cutting asunder from these needs should address oneself wholly towards God. Unfortunate is the person who is bestowed material bread and pays no attention to spiritual bread. Material bread strengthens the body, and spiritual bread sustains the soul and sharpens the spiritual faculties. Seek the Grace of God, as all doors are opened by His Grace.’ (Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, p. 316)
During this blessed month we can ask ourselves, how are we going to avail this opportunity in the best way? In a Friday Sermon, Hazrat Khalīfatul-Masīh V (May Allāh be his Helper), worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said ‘when Allah is so forgiving in ordinary times then during Ramadan His mercy must shower down. Fortunate are those who take advantage of His mercy and His forgiveness. There is still time to seek His mercy and forgiveness. When a person turns to Him in absolute humility then Allah states no one is as merciful as I am. In order to attain Divine mercy and forgiveness we need to look and search. Allah declares especially in these days that His door is open. Whoever will look for Him will find His door open. Allah has employed the words ‘I am near’ (2:187) in the Qur’an when citing Ramadan. Allah says come into the refuge of My forgiveness. Even in ordinary times My mercy is more and My chastisement is less but in the days of Ramadan further doors of mercy are opened.’
Hazrat Khalīfa-tul-Masīh V (May Allāh be his Helper) also said ‘whenever a person ‘walks’ towards Allah, Allah runs to him. As the Qur’an states: ‘And as for those who strive in Our path – We will, surely, guide them in Our ways. And, verily, Allah is with those who do good.’ (29:70).’ii
The main objective of the first ten days of Ramadan is to practice being merciful because it is only when the heart becomes merciful that it can be humbled to a state of compassion to seek forgiveness.
i Mercola.com. (2019). One of the Worst Intermittent Fasting Mistakes. [online] Available at: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/07/02/intermittent-fasting-with-ketogenic-more-effective.aspx.