My brothers and sisters, all praise and thanks be to Allahﷻ that he granted us another Ramadan. This is a gift the value of which depends on what we choose to do with it. It is up to us to make it as valuable as we wish.
Rasoolullahﷺ gave a Khutba on Friday, which was the last day of Sha’abaan. On the authority of Salman Al-Farsi (R), Rasoolullahﷺ said: O People! The month of Allahﷻ (Ramadan) has come with its mercies, blessings, and forgiveness. Allahﷻ has decreed this month the best of all months. The days of this month are the best among the days and the nights are the best among the nights and the hours during Ramadan are the best among the hours.
This is a month in which you have been invited by Him (to fast and pray). Allahﷻ has honored you in it. In every breath you take is a reward from Allahﷻ. Your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your duas are answered. Therefore, you must call upon your Rabb in all earnestness with hearts free from sin and evil and pray that Allahﷻ may help you to keep fast, and to recite the Qur’an. Indeed! miserable is the one who is deprived of Allahﷻ’s forgiveness in this great month.
While fasting remember the hunger and thirst on the Day of Judgement. Give charity to the poor and needy. Respect your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing (forbidden) and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. Be kind to orphans so that if your children may become orphans they will also be treated with kindness.
Do repent to Allahﷻ for your sins and make dua with raised hands at the times of Salah as these are the best times, during which Allahﷻ looks at His slaves with mercy. Allahﷻ answers if they supplicate, responds if they call, grants if He is asked, and accepts if they entreat.
O people! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allahﷻ for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate yourself before Allahﷻ for long periods, and make this load lighter. Understand fully that Allahﷻ has promised by His Honor and Majesty that, people who establish Salat and Sajda will be guarded from Jahannam on the Day of Judgement.
O people! If anyone amongst you arranges for Iftar for any believer, Allahﷻ will reward him as if he had freed a slave, and Allahﷻ will forgive his sins.” A Sahabi asked, ‘Ya Rasoolullahﷺ but not all of us have the means to do so.’ Rasoolullahﷺ replied: ‘Keep yourself away from Jahannam even if it is by half a date or even some water if you have nothing else.’
“O people! Anyone who, during this month cultivates good manners, will walk over the Sirat (bridge to Jannah) on the day when feet will tend to slip. For anyone who during this month eases the workload of his servants, Allahﷻ will make easy his accounting, and for anyone who doesn’t hurt others during this month, Allahﷻ will safeguard him from His Wrath on the Day of Judgement. Anyone who respects and treats an orphan with kindness during this month, Allahﷻ shall look at him with kindness on that Day. Anyone who treats his kinsmen well during this month, Allahﷻ will bestow His Mercy on him on that Day, while anyone who mistreats his kinsmen during this month, Allahﷻ will him keep away from His Mercy.
Whoever prays the Fardh prayers during this month, Allahﷻ will save him from Jahannam, and whoever observes his obligations during this month, his reward will be seventy times the reward during other months. Whoever repeatedly invokes Allahﷻ’s blessings on me, Allahﷻ will keep his scale of good deeds heavy, while the scales of others will be tending to lightness. Whoever recites during this month an Ayah of the Qur’an, will get the reward of reciting the whole Qur’an in other months.
O people! The gates of Jannah remain open during this month. Pray to your Rabb that they may not be closed for you; while the gates of Jahannam are closed, pray to your Rabb that they never open for you. Shaytaan has been chained, invoke your Rabb not to let him dominate you.”
Ali ibn Talib (R) said: “I asked, Ya Rasoolullahﷺ, what are the best deeds during this month?'” He replied, ‘O Abul-Hassan, the best of deeds during this month is to be far from what Allahﷻ has forbidden.'” [Baihaqi]
Since Allahﷻ has chosen to bless us, let us remind ourselves as follows:
Make goals for Ramadan. Goals for reading Qur’an, giving charity, and changing our habits. Goals to change our life going forward. Ramadan is a special month where Allahﷻ skews the field in our favor. Shayateen are chained. The rewards of deeds are multiplied. Allahﷻ forgives our sins. The gates of Jannah are opened, and gates of Jahannam are shut. Allahﷻ makes it easy for us to earn the maximum reward that we can. Let us ensure that we don’t waste a single second of our time in this month.
The most fundamental belief in Islam is the belief in resurrection after death on the Day of Judgment and the meeting with Allahﷻ. Take any of the other parts of our Creed including Tawheed, Risalat and so on and ask, “So what?” The answer always is, “Because we will meet Allahﷻ.” Islam makes sense only if we believe in the meeting with Allahﷻ. The criterion of success in this meeting is submission and obedience. That is the meaning of Islam and that is what Taqwa is. Ramadan comes to teach us to submit. Not because we want to, or it makes sense, or it is good for health or anything else. But because Allahﷻ ordered it.
All the promises of Allahﷻ in this life and the Aakhira are for Al-Muttaqoon. Ramadan comes to help us to join that group. The beginning of all goodness is repentance and returning to Allahﷻ. Istighfaar wa Tawba. Rasoolullahﷺ told us that the one who is most intelligent is the one who remembers his death most often. To remember death is to remember the meeting with Allahﷻ. Intelligence is to prepare for it. Allahﷻ said: Bal hum bi liqaai Rabbihim kafiroon – not – they deny Allahﷻ’s existence or His Uniqueness. But they deny meeting Him. May Allahﷻ make our meeting with Him, the best meeting of our existence.
We must remind ourselves that Allahﷻ asked a question: Alam ya’alam bi annAllaha Yara – Does he not know that Allahﷻ is watching? Why is that important? Because he is going to meet Allahﷻ. What will he say to Allahﷻ then if he continues to behave in this way in this life? My brothers and sisters, the time to change is now. That is because the present is all that we have. The past is over. The future may never come to us. But we have the present and what we choose to do or not to do, will affect our everlasting future. Allahﷻ made it easy for us. Let us ensure that we use this great month to return to Allahﷻ and never leave that path.
In Ramadan, we stay away even from Halaal things, only because Allahﷻ ordered us to do that. That is so pleasing to Allahﷻ that in a Hadith Qudsi Heﷻ said, ‘The fast is for me and I will reward it.’ Allahﷻ didn’t state the reward. Heﷻ said, ‘Ana ajzi bih.’ I will reward it. What is that reward? It will be in keeping with the Majesty and Grace of our Rabb. This is the reward of obedience. Just think what the lesson is, that we must learn from this. If we stay away even from Halaal in Ramadan, how much more important it is to stay away from Haraam? Not only in Ramadan but all through our life. Ramadan comes to teach this lesson. Are we learning?
When the slave changes his life and opens his eyes to his connection with Allahﷻ – Allahﷻ is close to him and listens to him. When Allahﷻ is close to him, the slave wants to talk to Allahﷻ, to beg Him for His forgiveness and mercy and to ask Him for what he needs. So, Allahﷻ answers Him. Allahﷻ said in the middle of the Ayaat about fasting:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لِى وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
Baqara 2: 186 And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammadﷺ) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near. I respond to the dua of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.
The answer comes with a rider: Obey Me and have faith in Me and you will be rightly guided. I remind myself and you that all promises of Allahﷻ are conditional upon action. If we want something, we must do something. Allahﷻ rewards hugely and out of proportion to the deed. But He doesn’t reward the one who does nothing. So, let us learn to act to please Allahﷻ alone. For that is the only thing that matters.
Then comes the final gift – Laylatul Qadr – worship during which is better than worshiping Allahﷻ continuously for 1000 months – 83 years. Rasoolullahﷺ told us to search for it in the last 10 nights of Ramadan. The best way to do that is to make Itikaaf in the last third of Ramadan. Then we will be assured of finding Laylatul Qadr In-sha-Allahﷻ. Our mother, Sayyida Ayesha Siddiqa (RA) asked Rasoolullahﷺ, ‘Ya Rasoolullahﷺ, if I find Laylatul Qadr what dua should I make?’ Rasoolullahﷺ taught her the dua, ‘Allahumma innaka afuwwun, tuhibbul afwa, fa affu anni’. [O Allahﷻ you are the Forgiver, and you love to forgive, so forgive me].
In conclusion, I remind myself and you to remember all those who were with us last Ramadan but are not here today. Did they know that last Ramadan would be their last? Had they known, what do you think they would have done differently from whatever they did? As I have said before, this is not about them. It is about us. It is for us to remind ourselves that this Ramadan may be our last. And even if it is not, there will be one Ramadan which will be our last. We don’t know which one that will be. The best thing to do therefore is to treat every Ramadan as if it is the last one because one will be the last.
Therefore, any time there is any thought about doing less, about laziness, about giving less, about not giving up bad habits and so on, remind yourself that we may never have this opportunity to make critical changes which may spell the difference between Jannah and Jahannam. Let us take advantage of this opportunity which Allahﷻ gave us and maximize our benefit.
It is not about others. It is about us.