By Imam Atif Chaudary
Assalamu alaikum, brothers and sisters, we’re in the midst of the blessed month of Ramadhan. A month that is better than the rest of the eleven months in the year. A month that is the month of forgiveness. A month in which Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has provided us with many opportunities to wash away the sins and mistakes of the earlier time before Ramadhan. We go through the year, and the distractions, the temptations, and the problems we face have an effect over our soul, over our hearts. There is an influence over our iman that if we were to continue on that path, our salvation would be questionable, our saving ourselves from ourselves would be difficult. From the mercy of Allah (SWT), Allah has given us a month, an opportunity to fast, an opportunity to pray, an opportunity to give our wealth, an opportunity to unite as a community as one ummah, an opportunity to come to the masjid, an opportunity to feed those that are hungry, an opportunity to do what we normally don’t do in the rest of the year, and there is a reason for it.
Many people will have noticed this that the month of Ramadhan, worship for Allah (SWT), doing good becomes a lot easier, and this is not just a coincidence. This is not just happenstance, but this is actually from the mercy of Allah (SWT). It is mentioned that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said that in the month of Ramadhan, Shaitan and his minions are locked away in chains. Now Shaitan himself, the worst enemy of a human being, the worst enemy of a Muslim, and it’s a very long history of enmity, right? From Adam (alayhis salaam) all the way up until now. His mission has been to misguide all those children of Adam out of spite for what he had lost paradise. He wants us to lose the same thing, so the battle between haqq and batil has been going on for a very, very long time.
Allah (SWT) has given us a very powerful month to fight a very powerful foe, and Shaitan is very powerful. He’s invisible. He has help. He has Shayatheen, minions that provide him assistance. Not only that, but he has the power to do as was to insinuate, put into people’s hearts, inspire people evil. Put thoughts into people’s minds that they normally wouldn’t have thought of, this is what Shaitan does. Shaitan puts into a person’s heart, ill feelings in regards to many issues especially to put quarrels and fights in between brothers and to break communities, this is from Shaitan. No matter how powerful he is, in the blessed month of Ramadhan, Allah (SWT) has locked him away. In yet, you would think that we would go through this month in a sinless manner, that we would be free from mistakes, and haram, and disobedience of Allah (SWT), but the reality is that when your body, and your soul, and your habits are all trained, and they become accustomed to disobeying Allah (SWT) throughout the year then the month of Ramadhan, you’re just following with what you have allowed your mind, and your body, and your soul to do for the rest of the year. Even now where Shaitan is not here, and we don’t have the excuse, “The Shaitan made me do it. Shaitan put it in my mind. Shaitan prevented me from doing this.” Now when you say, “Audhu billahi min ash-Shaitanir rajeem” Allah has already given you protection and refuge from him.
What is it now that still makes you sin? Brothers and sisters, that is your nafs, that is the ego, that is the soul of a person, nafs al-ammara, the nafs that orders a person to do haram. This is your enemy in this month of Ramadhan because when a person does not have control over his desires, and a person does not have control over his soul and his nafs, and his ego then he continues on a path which is similar to what Shaitan wants him to travel. The beauty of the month of Ramadhan is that Allah (SWT), being Ghufran, being Gaffur and Raheem, He has given you many opportunities to battle your nafs. The whole purpose of fasting is to fight your nafs. When you fast, you stop eating and drinking, and having intimate relations, and you stop backbiting, and you stop insulting people, and you stop worrying about other people’s affairs, and you try to focus on uplifting your own spiritual state. You focus on improving your own iman. You focus on how on how you can earn in the first ten days the rahmah of Allah (SWT). The next ten days, the maghfirah of Allah (SWT), and in the last ten days, freedom from the hell-fire.
Brothers and sisters, we are in the second ashirah, the second ten days of the month of Ramadhan. Our Huffaz have completed more than half of the Qur’an. Time is flying. If you have missed out on the opportunities in the month of Ramadhan up until now then please know that you still have a chance because unlike any other part of the year, Ramadhan is a special time where every night is blessed, every single night. No one should think that in the month of Ramadhan, I will continue my routine, I will continue what I do throughout the year, and insha’ Allah, when Lailatul Qadr comes, I will ask for forgiveness. You don’t have to wait for Lailatul Qadr. Yes Lailatul Qadr is a powerful and special night. Yes, it’s a night that is better than a thousand months, but so is every single night of the month of Ramadhan. Rasulullah (SAWS) have mentioned that there was a tribe called Bani Kalb, and they had a lot of sheep, cattle, and animals. The Prophet (SAWS) said that if you were to have a valley and you would see that the inside of the big valley would be full of sheep, and that’s how many sheep that the people of Bani Kalb had, in the thousands. They had thousands of sheep. The Prophet (SAWS) that in the month of Ramadhan, Allah (SWT), every night, He gives forgiveness to the believers equal to the hair on the sheep of Bani Kalb. Thousands of sheep and on each sheep, there is millions of strands of hair. This is how many people Allah (SWT) forgives, not just on Lailatul Qadr, every single night on the month of Ramadhan.
Don’t take for granted the blessed month of Ramadhan and let it slip through your fingers thinking, “I will find the night of Qadr. I will worship on the night of Qadr.” The reality is we don’t know what the night of Qadr is. It might be the 21st, it might be the 23rd, it might the 25th, or the 27th or even the 29th. The odd nights in the last ashirah, the last ten days of the month of Ramadhan, that is where we’re supposed to search for this blessed night. But there is a reason why Allah (SWT) did not give us that information, and that’s not to deprive you of forgiveness because this whole month is forgiveness. This whole month is mercy. The whole purpose of Ramadhan is to improve the state of a believer, and to bring him into paradise. Why would Allah (SWT) withhold that information? Why did Rasulullah (SAWS) not pinpoint the exact day to make it easier for us because he wanted you to worship every night. He wanted you to worship every opportunity that you are given. He wanted you to see the potential and the value of the blessed of Ramadhan. Again, brothers and sisters, we still have time.
We still have time in this month that Allah (SWT) has closed the doors of Jahannam. He has closed the doors of Hell. He has opened the doors of paradise. What does this mean? It could mean, literally, that Allah (SWT) has opened Jannah, and it could also mean, figuratively, in the sense, that the paths, the deeds, the actions that lead you to Jannah, Allah has made it easier for you, or the things that lead you to the Hell-fire, Allah (SWT) has made it a bit more difficult. Allah has protected you from that. This is what it means when Allah (SWT) has opened the doors of paradise, and He has locked the doors of hell. Allah is making it easier for you, and how easy is it? Rasulullah (SAWS) have mentioned that there is two times in the day when you do du’a, Allah (SWT) in Ramadhan, Allah (SWT) will not reject your du’a. For a person who’s fasting, we are awake at that time. We are aware at that time, the time of suhoor and at the time of iftar. At the time of suhoor because you’re doing something very important, you’re making the intention that you’re going to fast for the sake of Allah (SWT) just making the intention at that time, just starting your fast, just getting into this noble worship of Allah (SWT) is enough to make that time special. It’s enough to make it into something where if you were to ask Allah (SWT) something at the time of suhoor, Allah will not reject your du’a, and obviously at the time of iftar. After a full day of restraining your desires, after a full day of fulfilling the command of Allah (SWT) and fasting purely for the sake of Allah (SWT), when you are at the end of your noble deed, and you raise your hands, and you ask Allah (SWT), “Oh Allah, for You I have fasted, please forgive me.” Do you think Allah will not forgive you?
When the stomach is empty and the mouth is dry, when the person has protected himself from haram throughout the day, and then he asks Allah (SWT), “Oh Allah, forgive me.” Do you think Allah will not forgive you when His forgiveness is at its height in the month of Ramadhan? Brothers and sisters, this is a month of forgiveness. Do not forget that. Look at all your bad habits, your mistakes, the haram we have committed before the month of Ramadhan, and even now the things that we’re doing in the month of Ramadhan. May Allah protect us. Think of all those things and know that they are not bigger than the mercy of Allah (SWT) in this blessed month. They are not bigger. They are not more important. They are not more potent than the mercy and forgiveness of Allah (SWT) in this blessed month. When you wake up for suhoor, don’t just do it so you have enough energy for the day. I mean, yes, that is the purpose of eating, that is the purpose of following this beautiful sunnah of our Prophet (SAWS), but that is one of the most beautiful times a person has. It is the time of tahajjud even.
If you wake up early then pray two raka’at to Allah (SWT). Pray to Allah (SWT) that He has given you this opportunity and thank Him out of gratitude that He has given you this opportunity that one more day you can include into your scale. One more day you can include into your account. Why? Because there are people that at the end of Sha’ban, if they were to die, they would go to Hell. At the end of Sha’ban, there are people, the month that comes before the month of Ramadhan, if they were to die on the last day, right before Ramadhan, they were going to go to Hell because of their own deeds, because of their own mishaps. But because of the month of Ramadhan, when they come out of it purified, when they come out of it better Muslims, better servants of Allah (SWT), and Allah (SWT) closes the door of Jahannam on them. Allah (SWT) grants them His forgiveness, that one month changed eternity. That one month changed something that was everlasting because, look, it’s just one month, it’s temporary. A small effort on your part in one month of the year can mean heaven or hell. Do not take this blessed month of Ramadhan for granted.
We are in the middle of the month of Ramadhan, and this is the reminder so that you don’t lose that passion that you had early on. The people that were coming to the masjid in the early days of Ramadhan, some of them are slipping away. Why? Because, again, we get comfortable. We fall back on to our previous routines, and then maybe come back when it’s Lailatul Qadr or the khatmah Qur’an or things like that. But the reminder for today is no, everyday is special. Do not waste these opportunities, come to the masjid as much as you can. Do as much as you can. Who knows what we have in the future? Sometimes, yes, we will get busy. Sometimes we would have to work. We would have to do other things. We have other matters that we have to take care of. Even then there is the mercy of Allah (SWT). If a person cannot ask for forgiveness himself in the month of Ramadhan, Allah (SWT) has appointed the rest of the creation to ask for forgiveness for him. There are birds, there are fish, there are insects, there are different things from the makhlooq of Allah (SWT) that have been given the command for the people that are fasting. This is for the people, the 16:27, this is for them, that the people who are fasting, that even the creation of Allah (SWT) asks forgiveness for them.
When a person is busy in a halal way for halal reasons, you’re working, your jobs or something else; if you’re doing something and you don’t have the opportunity to worship, so what’s being said here is not that you come and you just stay in the masjid the whole day, and you stay in the masjid the whole night because you have a family, you have responsibilities, you will not be able to do that, but this is a good way of building that good habit for the rest of the year, but even then we fall short. But if you are not wasting your time, you are not doing something haram, and you are still doing something for the sake of Allah (SWT), for the sake of your family, there are still creations of Allah (SWT) that are doing du’a for you. This is, again, from the mercy of Allah (SWT). Allah has provided many blessings in the month of Ramadhan.
The worst thing that a person can do is to let this month go by in a manner that it is no different than any other month. The worst thing that a person can do is to sleep the whole day and at night just to watch TV and just stay in the internet and waste opportunities to read the Qur’an or to pray the nawafil, or even come to the masjid for taraweeh, that’s the worst thing that a person can do. Why? Because you are saying, because of your conduct, that you don’t need this. You are saying that you don’t need the blessings of the month of Ramadhan. You are saying that, for you, it doesn’t matter, you’re indifferent to this blessing that Allah has given you. If it wasn’t there, it made no difference because you did not change yourself. You did not adjust to the opportunities of this month, and that is dangerous. There is woe, there is that we say in the Urdu language, there is this idea that person destroyed himself, that person has wasted the blessings of the month of Ramadhan, that person who has not realized the potential and the power of the month of Ramadhan. That person that goes through the day as if it’s any other day, no, this is where you improve yourself.
Again, I come back to what was said earlier, you don’t have the excuse anymore, the Shaitan is making you do what you do. Now it’s for you to raise yourself to a higher level, to break your bad habits, to start doing things that are good and increasing your good habits, and building habits that will continue for the rest of the year because when a person continues on a path of wrong, if he doesn’t have anything to bring him back, to restore the spiritual balance because this is what Ramadhan is for because some of us outside of Ramadhan, we go to the opposite extreme. We go very far away from Allah (SWT), and the month of Ramadhan is to bring you back so that the more you do in the month of Ramadhan, the better you earn in terms of the reward and opportunities that you take advantage of in the month of Ramadhan that you normally won’t have outside of Ramadhan. The worship and the stuff that you do in Ramadhan is very different from what’s going to happen afterwards. But if you benefited from it a little bit, and you went to the other direction, you went as far as you can go in terms of spirituality and pleasing Allah (SWT), and trying to attain the pleasure of Allah (SWT) then when you come out of the month of Ramadhan then you’re going to get closer to the middle. You’re going to bring balance back into your life.
This is what Ramadhan is for, not only to balance you in terms of your physical health, in terms of your diet, and in terms of staying away from eating and drinking, but also spiritually. If people think that Ramadhan is just about eating and drinking, and not doing things of that nature then you’re missing out. This is not just about not eating, not drinking, this is more than that. This is to bring you more in line with the character of Rasulullah (SAWS), to bring you more in line with the teachings of the Qur’an, to bring you more in line with anything that makes Allah (SWT) happy with you. I ask Allah (SWT) to give us that taufiq. I ask Allah (SWT) to protect us from our nafs. I ask Allah (SWT) the ability to break our bad habits, and to stay away from things that waste our times especially in the month of Ramadhan. May Allah (SWT) make it easy for us. Now, there are many opportunities in the month of Ramadhan, and one of the best opportunities is that, which obviously we find from the example of Rasulullah (SAWS).
Insha’allah today we’re not going to do a fundraiser, but I just want to remind everyone that donated last week, please fulfill your promise to Allah (SWT). If you made a pledge and you’re finding it difficult then you can still go to family and friends, and other people, and they can assist you. But whatever you promised for the sake of this masjid, for the sake of the house of Allah (SWT), please make sure you fulfill your promise. The brothers and sisters that were not here last week, we ask you to give in the name of Allah (SWT), give in sadaqah, give in charity, give as a sunnah of Rasulullah (SAWS) because he was the most generous in the blessed month of Ramadhan. If you want to show your generosity, if you want to increase your reward, if you want to get more bang for your buck then this is the best time of the year. Why? Because everything is multiplied. When a person does enough an-nafl, he will get the reward of a fardh. When a person does fardh then he will get the reward 70 times more than that. Any good deed that you would normally do is going to be increased to a very, very, very high level, so keep that in mind. Make this opportunity. Even if you can’t give it, even if you don’t have money, you don’t have the finances, make the intention now, make the pledge now, and you will benefit from the rewards of the month of Ramadhan and then you can pay it later. Insha’allah, Allah (SWT) will accept it, and that is the best way to maximize your reward. We ask the brothers and sisters that on your way out, that if you see the boxes, or if you see the pledge forms, please, whatever you want to give, this is your choice. You can fill it out and you can help the masjid in the best way.