The Excellence of Fasting in Ramadan and Night Prayers (1/2)
Muhammad Abdul Raoof
With Important Rulings not known to some People
This is a brief exhortation on the excellence of fasting in the month of
Ramadan and getting up at nights for worship during it, as well as the benefit
of competing in it in good deeds; besides, there is also an elaboration of
certain vital rules of this fasting that might not have come in the knowledge
of some people.
It is an established fact that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) used to
inform his Companions about the commencement of Ramadan and he (peace be upon
him) also used to tell them that the month of Ramadan is a month in which the
doors of Rahmah (grace) and doors of Jannah (Paradise) are opened; while doors
of Jahannam (Hell) are closed; and during that period the devils are tied. The
Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
''When it is the first night of Ramadan, the doors of Jannah (Paradise) are
opened and none of them is closed; and the doors of Jahannam (Hell) are closed
and none of them is opened; the devils are tethered; and a caller calls
saying: ‘O those who seek righteousness, get closer; O those who seek evil, be
you at a loss; it is upon Allah to bar (Hell) fire,' and that will happen
every night of Ramadan.''
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:
''Ramadan has come to you, the month of Barakah (blessings); Allah covers you
during the month, descends Rahmah (grace), removes sins and answers the
invocations. Allah sees (in this month) your competitions (for good deeds) and
so He boasts to the angels about you. Show Allah what is better (than this) by
yourselves; verily the wretched are those debarred from Allah's Rahmah
And the Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
''Whoever fasts in Ramadan with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his
previous sins are forgiven; and whoever gets up in the nights of Ramadan to
worship, with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are
forgiven; and whoever gets up at nights of Qadr during Ramadan with firm
belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven.''
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said that Allah says:
''All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, and the reward of good
deeds is multiplied ten times to seven hundren times, except Sawm (fasting)
which is for Me. And I will give the reward for it. He has left his food,
drink and desires for My sake; there are two pleasures for the person
observing Sawm, one at the time of breaking his Sawm and the other at the time
when he will meet his Lord, and the smell coming out from the mouth of a
person observing Sawm is better with Allah than the aroma of musk.''
There are various Ahadith on the benefits of fasting in Ramadan and
worshipping at nights therein.
So a believer should seize this opportunity in which Allah has bestowed grace
upon the believers. So they should aspire to obey Allah, shun bad deeds and
should work hard in performing what Allah has made obligatory on them,
particularly offering the five prayers, for, these are the pillars of Islam
and the foremost obligation after the two testimonies. It is therefore an
obligation upon Muslims (male or female) to establish them and perform them in
their right times with submissiveness and composure.
Among the most important obligations regarding prayers (Salat) upon men is
performing them in congregation in the houses of Allah (Masjid) in which Allah
has enjoined that His Name be remembered; as He says in His Noble Book:
''And offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and Irka' (i.e.
bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allah) along with Ar-Raki‘in.''
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:43)
Allah also says:
''Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers especially the middle (i.e. the
best) (Asr) prayer. And stand before Allah with obedience (and do not speak to
others during prayers).'' (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:238)
And He said:
''Successfull indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all
solemnity and full submissiveness.'' (Surah Al-Mu'minun, 23:1, 2)
He also said:
''And those who strictly guard their
(five compulsory congregational) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These
are indeed the inheritors who shall inherit Firdaus (Paradise). They shall
dwell therein forever.'' (Surah Al-Mu'minun, 23: 9-11)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
''The difference between us (Muslims) and them (Kuffar) is prayers and
whosoever leaves prayer is disobedient (infidel).''
Next to Salat (prayers) in importance is to pay Zakat, as Allah says:
''And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship
none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and offer
prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and that is the right
religion.'' (Surah Al-Bayyinah, 98:5)
Allah further says:
''And offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat and obey the
Messenger (Muhammad (peace be upon him) ) that you may receive mercy (from
Allah).'' (Surah An-Nur, 24:56)
The Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) have described
that whoever does not pay Zakat over his wealth, shall be punished on the Day
The most important issue in Islam after prayers and Zakat, is fasting during
Ramadan which is one of the five pillars of Islam as mentioned in the Hadith
of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
''Islam is based on five (pillars): To testify that there is no God except
Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; To offer Salat (prayer); To pay
Zakat (obligatory charity); To observe Sawm (fasts during the month of
Ramadan) and; To perform Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).''
A Muslim should protect his/her fasting and waking up for worship at nights,
from all that Allah has forbidden, be it in deeds or in uttering, because the
purpose of fasting is to obey Allah and glorify His sanctities and fight the
self against its desires in obeying his Lord, and get the self- accustomed to
abstaining from what Allah has forbidden, as the fasting does not mean merely
abstaining from eating and drinking the things that break the fast. In this
sense Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) has also said in an authentic
''Fasting is shield; so when it is a day of fasting one should not indulge in
obscene behavior or glamour, or shout about; if any one quarrels with him or
engages him in fight, he should say: ‘I am fasting'.''
The Prophet (peace be upon him) further said in an authentic Hadith:
''Whosoever doesn't abstain from false utterings, obscene deeds and absurd
acts, Allah does not care for his abstaining from eating and drinking.''
What we learn from all the above reports and from various others, is that it
is a must for a fasting person to abstain from all that Allah has forbidden
and strictly guard and observe what Allah has made compulsory for him to do.
Then, in this way he will get forgiveness, protection from the Fire, and
acceptance of his fasting and Qiyam (i.e. night prayers).
There are other issues which may be not clear or unknown to the people One of
them is: a person should fast with firm belief and intention of reward; and
not as a show-off or for reputation, or in imitation of other people; rather
he should fast on the basis of his belief that Allah has made it obligatory
for him to fast, and in hope of reward from Allah. Likewise, passing the night
in prayer should be done with full confidence and in the hope of reward for
it; and not for any other reason. In this sense, the Prophet (peace be upon
''Whoever fasts in Ramadan with firm belief and hope of reward, gets his past
sins forgiven. And whoever stood for prayer at night with firm belief and in
hope of reward, gets his past sins forgiven; and whoever stood for prayer at
the nights of Qadr (Decree) with firm belief and in hope of reward, gets his
past sins forgiven.''
There are certain problems which some people face during their fasting like
being wounded, or nose bleeding, or vomiting or devouring water or petrol
through his throat unintentionally; all these things do not vitiate fasting:
and whoever vomits intentionally will vitiate his fasting: this is in line
with the Hadith:
''Whoever vomits unintentionally, his fast is not disrupted, but whoever
vomits intentionally, his fast is disrupted and he has to make it up.''
The person who is Junub (impure after sexual intercourse) and has delayed
taking bath up to dawn, should observe fast. Similarly, the woman whose
menstrual or labour bleeding has ceased to come before dawn and she delays in
taking bath up to the dawn, she should also observe fast. The delay in taking
bath up to the dawn to purify oneself from cultic impurity is not prohibitive
for fasting. However, one (he or she) should not delay oneself from
purification up to sunrise; rather one (he or she) should purify oneself and
pray Fajr Salat before sunrise. Moreover, a man should be prompt enough in
this regard so that he may join the congregation for Fajr Salat.
Source: Important issues on Zakat and Fasting