Ramadan: The Month of Patience
All praise is due to Allah Who revealed the glorious Qur’ân in a night better than a thousand months and may His choicest salutations descend upon our master and leader who was the personification of the Qur’ân.
Almighty Allah says: “O you who believe! Fasting has been ordained for you as it was ordained on those before you, so that you learn taqwa” (2:183)
Ibn Umar Radhillahu ‘anhu narrates that Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Indeed your period of existence in relation to those before you is like the time between Asr and Maghrib salâh. Your example and the example of the Jews and Christians is like a man who employed labourers saying: “Who will work for me till midday in lieu of a qirât (a specific measure)?” The Jews worked (from sunrise) till midday for a qirât. The man then said: “Who will work for me from midday till Asr for a qirât?” The Christians worked from midday till Asr for a qirât. The man thereafter said: “Who will work for me from Asr salâh till sunset for two qirâts?” You are the ones who work from Asr till sunset and you will have the reward of two qirâts, indeed your reward is multiplied…” (Bukhari)
This Ummah has a relatively short lifespan compared to the lifespan of the previous Ummats. Allah has however blessed us with certain practices and occasions through which we are able to achieve multiplied rewards so that we could earn what otherwise took hundreds of years to achieve. Ramadân is one such occasion wherein every act of obedience is multiplied in reward, where the reward for fasting has no quantifiable measure, where a Sunnah is compensated with the reward of a fardh, whilst the reward of a fardh is multiplied seventy fold. Ramadân is a bonus month that offers us an opportunity to earn in thirty days what previous nations earned in a lifetime. It is a month that offers us the opportunity to reap rewards, draw closer to Allah and elevate our ranks in the hereafter. “Every action that the son of Adam does, [its reward] will be multiplied, a good deed will be increased tenfold. Allah Mighty and Magnificent says, ‘except for the fast, for that is for Me and I will reward him for he left his desires and food for My sake.'” [Muslim]
Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has called Ramadân the month of sabr [patience]. Sabr is made up of three levels of endurance:
• Persistence in acts of obedience: As humans we tend to be inconsistent, we become lethargic, weary and lazy. Our challenge is to persist and subdue the tendency to be inconsistent and irregular in our ibadah. Ramadân gives us the spirit and resilience to persist in our ibadah. If we cannot be consistent in our ibadah during the month of Ramadân, it is hardly possible to do so outside Ramadân. The minimum requirement is to discharge all our farâ’id obligations.
• Abstention from acts of disobedience: Ramadân is a month that helps us to control our desires and passions. Fasting gives us the ability to resist the enslaving urge to do wrong. It is a “…protective shield, so when one of you are fasting, let him not behave or speak indecently; if someone tries to abuse him or fight him, let him say, ‘I am fasting’….” [Bukhari and Muslim]. Every limb of our body must fast from indecency and vice. Both men and women should be conscious of their attire… tight fitting jeans that accentuate the contours of their bodies, revealing tops, etc. goes against the grain and spirit of fasting. If we cannot learn modesty in our conduct and attire in the month of Ramadân, chances are that we never will!
• Perseverance in times of difficulty: The third component of sabr is the ability to persevere in the face of difficulties. No difficulty, no pain, no hardship is in vain, they have a meaning which often times is beyond our understanding. The life of a believer revolves between gratitude and patience. It is during times of difficulty that our faith is tested, are we going to loose hope and become despairing? We must view the difficulties attached with fasting, taraweeh and sehri as a test of our faith, and a means of securing the pleasure of Allah. If we fail to persevere in Ramadân, we harm none except ourselves; we certainly do not harm Allah!
The following verse describes the spiritual state of a true believer; our challenge is to use Ramadân to infuse these qualities in our lives.
“ Those who turn in repentance (whenever they have sinned) those who worship Him (with adoration) those who praise Him ( out of unending gratitude) those who fast( seeking His pleasure) those who make rukû and sujûd, and enjoin the doing of right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and keep to the limits set by Allah. And give (O’ Prophet of Allah) glad tidings to all believers” (9:112)
We only find the need to repent if we feel hurt and remorse at disobeying Allah, we only feel compelled to praise and glorify Him if we are grateful and appreciative of all the blessings we enjoy, we will only worship Him and be ever mindful of our salâh if we acknowledge His greatness and believe that we are going to stand in His court to give an account of our actions. The hallmark of this Ummah is to enjoin good and forbid vice. Do we ever encourage our friends, our children or our relatives to do good? Do we with wisdom prevent them from doing wrong? True believers will never look the ‘other way’ when wrong is done in their presence! Allah has set limits; He has clearly defined right from wrong and good from bad. Our challenge is to steer clear from these limits lest we transgress them. All the decisions we make, all the choices we make, the friends we associate with or the places we frequent has to be well within these limits. Ramadân gives us the opportunity to keep within the limits set by Allah. If we guard against what is disliked we would steer clear from what is forbidden. If we discharge what is optional we will naturally fulfill what is compulsory. Ramadân is therefore the month of sabr, the month wherein we shun everything that may be disliked by Allah and discharge what is otherwise optional.
May Allah Ta’âla give us the ability to secure His forgiveness and pleasure during this month.