How to take full advantage and benefit from the last part of Ramadan ?
Although the whole month of Ramadhan is full of blessings and rewards, the last ten days seem to hold a special status as reflected in the practices and recommendations of the Prophet (S.W.A) and the Sahabas (companions). The three major practices of the Prophet (S.W.A) were:
1- Praying in the last ten nights of Ramadan
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah; that during the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship)’’. A narration in Muslim states:“He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadhan more than he would at any other time.”
Aisha also reported that with the start of the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Prophet (peace be upon him), used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari]
No one is guaranteed to live for the arrival of the next Ramadhan so make the most of your time now. This year you may have good health whereas next year your health may deteriorate hindering you from praying as much as you can. Consume your time wisely in Ibadah and be grateful that you have the means to pray and worship your Lord, Allah the Almighty.
2- Performing I`tikaf in the Masjid (seclusion in the Mosque)
I`tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practice of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam. He would also do this in other months as well but especially during the last ten days of Ramadhan.
From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He has prescribed for them fasting, which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking, and empties the heart of its desires which divert it on its journey to Allah the Most High. He prescribed it in due proportion as will be appropriate and will benefit the servant, with regard to this world and the Hereafter, and does not harm him, nor damage what is beneficial for him.
“He(Allah s.w.t) also prescribed I’tikaf for them, by which is intended that the heart is fully occupied with Allah, the Most High, concentrated upon Him alone, and cut off from preoccupation with the creation. Rather it is engrossed with Him alone, the One free of all defects, such that remembering Him, loving Him and turning to Him takes the place of all anxieties of the heart and its suggestions, such that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his concerns are for Him. His thoughts are all of remembrance of Him, and thinking of how to attain His Pleasure and what will cause nearness to Him. This leads him to feel contented with Allah instead of the people, so that prepares him for being at peace with Him alone on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there is no one else to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace except Him. So this is the greater goal of I’tikaf”. [Shaikhul-Islam Shamsuddeen Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah; Zaad al’Ma’aad fi haydi khairi al ‘ibaab].
It is preferred for the one who is making I`tikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship and to occupy himself with prayers, reciting the Qur’an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and His greatness, asking His forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and supplicating Allah – that is, all actions that bring one closer to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books of tafsir and Hadith, books on the lives of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, books of fiqh, and so on. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did if possible.
The following acts are permissible during I’tikaf:
- The person may leave his place to bid farewell to their spouse (his wife) who has come to see them during their I’tikaf.
- Combing and cutting one’s hair, clipping one’s nails, cleaning one’s body, wearing nice clothes or wearing perfume are all permissible.
- The person may go out for some need that he must perform. ‘Aishah reported: “When the Prophet Performed I`tikaf, he brought his head close to me so I could comb his hair, and he would not enter the house except to fulfil the needs a person has.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The following acts nullify I’tikaf:
- Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so, even if it is for just a short time. In such a case, one would not be staying in the mosque, which is one of the principles of I`tikaf.
- Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. If you ascribe a partner to Allah, your work will fail and you will be among the losers.
- Losing one’s reason due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, all of which disqualifies a person for I’tikaf.
- Sexual intercourse. Allah says [in meaning]: “But do not associate with your wives while you are in seclusion (I`tikaf) in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus does Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint.[al-Baqara; 2:187]
I’tikaf is not only restricted to men but women may also perform I’tikaf. By performing such an act you not only act upon a Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), but you also gain a more intimate relationship with the Almighty. You spend time reflecting on yourself and how to better yourself as a Muslim.
3- Seeking Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Decree)
- It is the greatest night of the year like the Day of `Arafat is the greatest day of the year. It is a night about which Allah revealed a full Surah, Suratul-Qadr [97:1-5] and the 3rd to the 6th verses of Surat ad-Dukhan [44:3-6].
- It is the night when the Quran was revealed.
- It is the night Muhammad (Sal Allahu alaihi wasalam)’s prophecy began.
- It is the night where every matter of ordainment is decreed.
“Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the Night of Decree (Laylatul-Qadr). And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh (i.e. Jibra’eel [Gabriel]) by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees, Peace! Until the appearance of dawn.” [97:1-5]
"We sent it (this Qur'aan) down on a blessed Night. Verily, We are ever warning (mankind of Our Torment). Therein (that Night) is decreed every matter of ordainment. Amran (i.e. a command or this Qur'aan or His Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messenger). (As) a Mercy from your Lord. Verily! He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. [44:3-6]
Abu Hurairah Radhiya Allahu `anhu reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said : "Whoever stands (in prayer) in Lailatul-Qadr out of Eemaan (faith and sincerity) and seeking reward then his previous sins are forgiven". [Bukhari]
It is recommended to supplicate a lot during this night, it is reported from our mother 'Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha, that she said: "O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Lailatul-Qadr was, then what should I say in it?" He said.- "Say.- (Allahumma innaka 'affuwwun tuhibbul 'afwa fa'fu 'annee.) "O Allaah You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.". [at-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah with a Sahih Isnad]
When is Laylatul-Qadr ?
It is preferred to seek this night during the last ten odd nights of Ramadan, as the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam,, strove his best in seeking it during that time.
Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet,salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said, "Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan ,' on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan (i.e. 21, 23, 25, respectively)." [Bukhari]
`Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha said: "Allah's Messenger used to practice I`itikaf in the last ten nights and say: 'Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten of Ramadan." [Bukhari and Muslim]
However if the servant is too weak or unable, then he should at least not let the last seven pass him by, due to what is reported from Ibn 'Umar, who said: Allah's Messenger said: "Seek it in the last ten, and if one of you is too weak or unable then let him not allow that to make him miss the final seven.' [Bukhari and Muslim]
What are the signs of laylatul-Qadr?
Allaah's Messenger , salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, described the morning after Lailatul-Qadr, so that the Muslim may know which day it is. From Ubayy, radhiya Allahu 'anhu, who said: that he, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: "On the morning following Lailatui-Qadr the sun rises not having any rays, as if it were a brass dish, until it rises up."[Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmithi and Ibn Majah]
Abu Hurairah, radhiya Allahu 'anhu, said : "We were discussing Lailatul-Qadr in the presence of Allah's Messenger so he said : 'Which of you remembers [the night] when the moon arose and was like half a plate?... [Muslim]
Ibn 'Abbaas, radhiya Allahu 'anhuma, said: Allaah's Messenger, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: "Lailatul-Qadr is calm and pleasant, neither hot nor cold, the sun arises on its morning being feeble and red." [at-Tayaalisee, Ibn Khuzaimah and al-Bazzaar with a Hasan Isnad]
We pray to Allah All Mighty Most Merciful to bless us this Ramadan by witnessing Laylatul-Qadr