The word “Ramadaan” is derived from “ramadha” which literally means “intense heat”. There are a number of possible reasons for such a name including:
- When the Islamic months were enforced the month of fasting coincided with the summer months of intense heat.
- The second reason which has been mentioned is that due to fasting the temperature within the stomach increases, again the element of heat is a factor behind the actual naming of this month.
The month of Ramadaan is a season of divine blessings, a month of purification and it is meant for annual renovation of inner-spiritual qualities. It is a golden opportunity for every Muslim to strengthen their imam, purify the heart and soul and remove the effects of sins. During this blessed month fasting is obligatory on all able-bodied Muslims and it is a time to maximize the acts of worship, minimize all mundane activities and refrain from all forms of sin. It is also recommended that one performs Umrah once on any one day of the month as this is a Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW).
شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدً۬ى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِۚ فَمَن شَہِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّہۡرَ فَلۡيَصُمۡهُۖ
“Ramadaan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185)
Abu Hurairah related that Rasulullah (SAW) said “If anyone omits his fast even for one day in Ramadaan without a concession or without being ill, then if he were too fast for the rest of his life he could not make up for it.” (Bukhari)
Abu Hurairah (RA) related that Rasulullah (SAW) said that Allah the Majestic and Exalted said “Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Sawm (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord.” (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (RA) related that Rasulullah (SAW) said “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” (Darimi)
The month of Ramadaan contains the most blessed month of the year, since it contains Laylatul-Qadr, the night when Allah chose to reveal the Qur’an:
إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ فِى لَيۡلَةِ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (١) وَمَآ أَدۡرَٮٰكَ مَا لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ (٢) لَيۡلَةُ ٱلۡقَدۡرِ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَلۡفِ شَہۡرٍ۬ (٣)تَنَزَّلُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيہَا بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّہِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمۡرٍ۬ (٤) سَلَـٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطۡلَعِ ٱلۡفَجۡرِ (٥)
“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power. And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein descends the angels and the Ruh (Jibrail) by Allah’s permission with all Decrees. There is peace until appearance of dawn” (Surah Al- Qadr 97:1-5)
Worship performed in this night brings more reward than the worship performed in one thousand months. Allah also says about this powerful night in Surah Dukhan:
حمٓ (١) وَٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ ٱلۡمُبِينِ (٢) إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ فِى لَيۡلَةٍ۬ مُّبَـٰرَكَةٍۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ (٣) فِيہَا يُفۡرَقُ كُلُّ أَمۡرٍ حَكِيمٍ (٤) أَمۡرً۬ا مِّنۡ عِندِنَآۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُرۡسِلِينَ (٥) رَحۡمَةً۬ مِّن رَّبِّكَۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ (٦)
“Ha. Mim. By the book that makes things clear. We sent it down on a blessed night (the Night of Al-Qadr) in the month of Ramadan. For We (ever) wish to warn (against evil). In that (night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom, by command, from Our Presence. For We (ever) send (revelations), as a mercy from Thy Lord for He hears and knows (all things).” (Surah Dukhan 44:1-6)
Salmaan (RA) reported that on the last day of Sha’baan the Messenger of Allah (SAW) addressed them and said “Oh people, there comes before you now a great month, a most blessed month in which lies a night greater in virtue than one thousand months; (LAYLATUL-QADR). It is a month in which each day should be observed by fasting, this has been made obligatory by the Almighty Allah.”
Abu Hurairah (RA) related that Rasulullah (SAW) said “Whoever fasts during Ramadaan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Based on the saying of Rasulullah (SAW), this incredible night falls in the last ten nights of Ramadaan, “Search for the Night of Al-Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadaan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) And it falls in one of the odd nights more likely than on the even nights, based on Rasulullah (SAW) saying “Search for the Night of Al-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadaan.” (Al-Bukhari)
And it is closer to the last seven nights, based on the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (RA) that “Some men from the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saw the Night of Al-Qadr in a dream during the last seven nights (of Ramadan). So Rasulullah (SAW) said: ‘I see that all of your dreams agree that it (the Night of Al-Qadr) is in the last seven nights. So whoever wants to search for it, then let him search for it in the last seven nights.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And it is also based on the hadith in Muslim from Ibn ‘Umar (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Look for it in the last ten nights. But if one of you becomes weak or is unable, then do not let the remaining (last) seven nights overcome him.”
Amongst the odd nights in the last seven nights, it is closest to the twenty-seventh night due to the hadith of Ubay Bin Ka’ab (RA) who said: “By Allah, I know which night it is. It is on the night that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) commanded us to perform the Night Prayer. It is on the twenty-seventh night.” (Muslim)
The night of Al-Qadr is not specified to one fixed night throughout all the years. Rather, it constantly changes. So one year it could occur on the 27th night for example and on another year it could occur on the 25th night, according to Allah’s Will and Wisdom. What directs us to this is Rasulullah (SAW) saying: “Look for it (i.e. the Night of Al-Qadr) when there remain nine nights, when there remains seven nights, or when there remains five nights (i.e. 21st, 23rd and 25th respectively without mention of the 27th).”
Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr said in Fath-ul-Bari “the most strongest opinion is that it is on an odd night in the last ten nights and that it constantly changes.”
Allah has hidden the knowledge of its occurrence from His servants out of mercy for them so that they can increase their actions in the search for it during these honourable nights, by praying, making Dhikr, reciting the Qur’an and supplicating an so they grow and increase in the nearness to Allah and His reward. Allah also kept it hidden from them as a test for them to distinguish who amongst them struggles and makes an effort to find it and who is lazy and negligent. This is since whoever constantly strives for something, he will exert himself in his search for it and trouble himself in finding it and achieving it.
The signs of the Night of Al-Qadr include:
- The sun rises early in the morning without rays.
- Rain may fall either during the night or during the day of that night.
- During night the sky will be lightly foggy.
- The sky will be slightly lighted without reflections and without rays.
Allah discloses the time of the occurrence of the Night of Al-Qadr to some of His servants through signs and signals, which one is able to see, Just as Rasulullah (SAW) saw its sign that he would be prostrating in mud on its following morning. So it rained on that night and he prayed the (following) morning (Fajr) prayer in mud. (Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaimin in his book Majaalis)
The Night of Power is a very important occasion in Islam. Everyone is asked to live it and to enjoy it. This Night is a night of Mercy, a night of Blessing, a night of Peace and a night of Guidance. It is a night of Unification between the finite world of ours and the Infinite Universe of the Unseen. Anyone who is interested in attaining the Mercy of Allah will strive very hard to look for the Night of Power. Anyone who is interested in receiving the blessings of Allah on the Blessed Night will work very hard to enjoy the Night of Power. Anyone who is interested in attaining peace of mind, peace of body and peace in society, he has to look for this Night and to live it.
Another unique form of worship for this month is that of Itikaaf in which a person gives up all his activities, abandons his attachment, association and routines and in so doing separate oneself from the normal routine of worldly activities and sit in exclusion devoting his heart and soul to Allah.
Observing itikaaf in Ramadan is established in the hadith of Abu Hurairah (RA) as reported by Al-Bukhari and Ibn Khuzaimah in their Saheeh collections: “Allah’s Messenger (SAW) would make ‘Itikaaf for ten days in every Ramadan. But when it was the year in which he died, he made ‘Itikaaf for twenty days.”