Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN
AKRA FM Friday Discourse
December 15, 2000
RAMADAN AND THE NIGHT OF POWER
As-salâmu 'alaykum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the peace, mercy and bounty of Allah be with you. May He let you benefit from the blessings of Ramadan. May He shower you with His mercy and honor you in this world and in the hereafter.
a. The Importance of Lâ ilâha il-lâl-lah
Amr ibn-i Murra al-Juhanî RA said:
(Jâe rajulun ilan-nabiyyi sallallàhu alayhi wa sallam, feqàl: Yâ rasûlallah! E ra-ayta in shahidtu an lâ ilâha illallàhu wa annaka rasûlullàh, wa sallaytus-salawâtil-khams wa addaytuz-zakâta wa sumtu ramadàna wa qumtuhû, famimman ana? Qàle: Minas-siddîqîna wash-shuhadâ') Sadaqa rasûlullah, fî mâ qàl, aw kamâ qàl.
This hadith was recorded in the collections of Ibni Huzayma and Ibn-i Hibbân. It is also in the collection of Bazzaz. From the tribe of Juhayna, Amr ibn-i Murra said: (Jâe rajulun ilan-nabiyyi sallallàhu alayhi wa sallam) "A man, a believer, came to the Prophet SAS (feqàl:) and asked: (Yâ rasûlallah! E ra-ayta in shahidtu an lâ ilâha illallàhu) 'O Prophet of Allah, what would you say if I testify that there is no deity but Allah (wa annaka rasûlullàh) and you are the Prophet of Allah, (wa sallaytus-salawâtil-khams) and offer five daily-prayers, (wa addaytuz-zakâta) pay the zakat, (wa sumtu ramadàna wa qumtuhû) and fast during the day and offer prayers at night in Ramadan. (Famimman ana) From what group of people would I be?' (Qàle: Minas-siddîqîna wash-shuhadâ') The Prophet said: 'from the siddîqîn and shuhadâ.'" [Here, siddîq means a person who is "eminently truthful and utmost sincere." Siddîqîn is the plural form of siddîq. These are the people who bear witness to Allah's truth. Shuhadâ is the plural form of shahîd, a person who lost his life in a battle for the sake of Allah.]
This is a great news for all of us. If a person declares that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad is His Prophet, offers daily five-prayers, pays zakat, and fasts during day and offer (Tarawih) prayers at night in Ramadan, he will attain high ranks in the hereafter.
Let us go over the deeds listed in the hadith. First one is the declaration of faith: "Ash-hadu an lâ ilaha il-lal-lah." This is something that we all believe and say: I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah. He is one and only God. I declare this all the time, everywhere. I convey this message to all. Worshipping something other than Allah is wrong; it is a reason to incur a grave punishment in the hereafter.
Alhamdu lillah, as Muslims, we all believe in it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, a grat majority of the people in the world do not declare their faith in this way. From a scientific point of view, their beliefs are questionable.
Some people worship the Moon or the Sun. That is wrong. There are other heavenly bodies that are greater than the Moon and the Sun. Why would they insist on worshipping the Sun? Some people worship the cow. In this 21st century, despite the advances in the science and information technologies, some people still worship the cow, polar bear, cobra snake, and other creatures. Some people made up gods and goddesses in their imaginations and worshipped them. These are all baseless and false.
Some people claim that God has a son. Almighty Allah does not have a wife; how could there be a son? Creatures maintain their species through reproduction and successive generation. Almighty Allah is above such needs. Subhànaka tabârakta wa ta-àlayta ammâ yaqùluz-zâlimûna ululuwwan kabîrâ... Such an attribution is a grave injustice.
(Innash-shirka lazulmun azîm) (Lokman: 13) When a person commits shirk, i.e., when he associates anything with Allah, his injustice will be grave.
We know that Almighty Allah is the creator of earth and heavens and everything in them. We know that everything is orderly. The motion of the Moon, the earth, the Sun, the wind, the formation of clouds, the atom, the macro cosmos, the micro cosmos, the laws of physics and chemistry, the law of life, and alike are perfect. There is a supreme power to maintain this order. He is all powerful, all knowledgeable. There is none like Him.
We declare this fact wholeheartedly, sincerely. It is our duty to tell other people about this fact just as the Prophet conveyed the same message to people around him. He also send letters to the rulers of countries around: Egypt, Iran, Byzantine, Bahrain and Ethiopia. He invited them to Islam and pointed them the truth. We must convey the same message to the mankind throughout the world.
I keep telling my students since I was a faculty member at the university: "Do not confine yourselves into Turkey. Go abroad! Study those countries, get to know their language, history, literature, customs, and traditions. Get to know people in these countries. We make sure that there is a post, a representative for us in each of these countries. That will serve as a bridge for us to take knowledge to the world."
Some brothers followed my advice--May Allah be pleased with them. I met with such brothers in many countries. When I am with them, I feel I am in my own country, Turkey. For instance, I am in Stockholm, and I feel as if I am among my brothers in Istanbul. When I am in Australia, I feel I am in Ankara. We have mosques, brothers and sisters there. We offer congregational prayers, sing hymns, recite Qur'an. We maintain various Islamic activities there. Alhamdu lillah that is a good development.
This is a duty! The Tawheed Year is about to end; we are in the middle of December, yet with this year, the Century of Tawheed started. The 21st Century is the Century of Tawheed. Keep reminding you that our greatest responsibility is conveying the message of lâ ilâha il-lal-lah to all.
We shall seek all kinds of opportunities to carry out our duty: appointments abroad, business trips, sight-seeing trips and alike. You may go to places to see new places, new tools, new devices; still, you must convey the message of lâ ilâha il-lal-lah. You must explain the meaning of "Ash-hadu an lâ ilâha il-lal-lah, wa ash-hadu anna muhammadan abduhû wa rasûluhû" in the best way possible.
Of course, to convey this message, you need to get informed. You must study the sunnah and life of the Prophet and learn his ahadith. When you study, you will realize that the Prophet had stated something regarding the issues that trouble you. It is our duty to study the life of the prophet and inform others about him and his ahadith.
Going back to the hadith, we all say "Ash-hadu an lâ ilâha il-lal-lah, wa ash-hadu anna muhammadan abduhû wa rasûluhû." The second deed is offering daily five-prayers. Some do offer these prayers regularly, some do not. May Allah guide them all. Failure in carrying out the prayers could be due to laziness. It could also be due to the way children are raised. It may look difficult to pray five times a day. In Mi'raj [Ascension] of the Prophet, Prophet Moses AS told Prophet Muhammad "I got to know and tested people before you. The fifty prayers a day will be too much for them to offer. Ask your Lord to reduce the number." Then, the number was reduced to forty, to thirty, to twenty, to ten, and finally to five. By the grace of Allah, the number of prayers was reduced to make it easier on people.
It is five times a day. The first one (fajr) is to be offered before sunrise, before leaving for work. It could be offered in the mosque or at home. It must be a part of daily duties such as brushing the teeth, washing your face, shaving or trimming your beard, having your breakfast, and leaving for work. The second prayer time (dhuhr) starts with the lunch break. You must offer this prayer during this time. You will be home for the evening (maghrib) and night (ish'a) prayers. You will perform them there. There is the afternoon (asr) prayer which may coincide with the work hours or you may be on the road. You have to find time for it, too. You can take a short break to offer it. There are endless blessings and benefits of offering prayers in time. Those who are negligent about these prayers should try harder.
May Allah give all of us guidance, zeal and will to get over the laziness. We all should realize the importance of the prayer. It is a form of ascension for each of us. May Allah accept our prayers and give guidance for those who are negligent about the prayers.
The third deed in the hadith is paying zakat. The two thirds of Ramadan is already passed, and there are about ten days left. We must pay our zakat in Ramadan because it has seventy times more rewards when it is paid in Ramadan. We must not miss this opportunity. Calculate your zakat and give more than your due. Pay your zakat so that your property is cleansed spiritually. Do not transgress the rights of the poor. Give them their share. This will bring abundance for your property just like a trimmed tree producing more fruits. If the zakat is not paid on the property, it will incur loss. So, pay your zakat.
The fourth deed mentioned in the hadith is fasting during day and offering night prayers in Ramadan. These deeds are among the five pillars of Islam. Only one pillar, (Hajj) performing Pilgrimage, is not mentioned here. Perhaps Hajj was made obligatory after this hadith was stated. It should be performed, too. If all of the above is performed, a person will be from the group of siddîqîn and shuhadâ. They will gather under the banner of the Prophet Muhammad on the Day of Judgement. They will be rewarded with Paradise.
Please try your best to carry out your duties in the best way possible. Do not miss the opportunities that Ramadan offers. Appreciate the value of your time and do not waste it.
b. Rewards for Fasting and Offering Tarawih Prayers
The second hadith is from the collection of Nasa-î. The Prophet SAS said:
(Innallàha farada siyâma ramadàn, wa sanantu lakum qiyâmahû, wa men sàmahû wa qàmahû îmânan wahtisâban kharaja min dhunûbihî kayawmi waladat-hu ummuhû.)
As you know, Imam Nasa-î is the author of one of the six famous authentic hadith collections--may Allah bless his soul. He included this in his collections. The Prophet said: (Innallàha farada siyâma ramadàn) "Verily, Almighty Allah made the fasting in Ramadan (fard) obligatory." It is a must on Muslims; it is a great duty, a great worship. It is easy and extremely beneficial. It is good for this world and for the hereafter. It is good for the individual and for the society.
Alhamdulillah we are aware of the obligations, and we fulfil them sincerely. We are also aware of the prohibitions, and we stay away from them. As Muslims, we love Ramadan and fasting.
The prophet continued: (Wa sanantu lakum qiyâmahû) "And I made the qiyam in Ramadan a sunnah a tradition." Here qiyam means prayer at night, especially the Tarawih prayer. The prophet says, "Almighty Allah made the fasting in Ramadan an obligation, and I made the prayers a tradition, a sunnah. (Wa men sàmahû wa qàmahû) If a person fast in Ramadan and offers [Tarawih] prayers at night (îmânan wahtisâban) with a sincere faith and with expectation of rewards from Allah, just for the sake of Allah, (kharaja min dhunûbihî) he will come out of his sins (kayawmi waladat-hu ummuhû) and become as pure as he was on the day he was born."
Imagine a newborn, a sweet baby with little eyes, hands and fingers, pink cheeks. We all accept the purity such a baby. Unfortunately, in some paces in the world, this baby is believed to be born with sin. How could a baby be a sinner without doing anything at all? It is wrong to consider the child impure spiritually. According to Islam, every baby is born pure and clean spiritually. The parents influence the child as they raise the child.
I am amazed with what I see here in Sweden. I told my friends to let people in Turkey know about it, too. The Christmas and the New Year are celebrated with full participation of schools, government offices and churches. As the Christmas draws near, many streets, houses, apartments, and offices are decorated with lights. All offices are decorated with Christmas trees. It became a national tradition for all including the atheist. The government supports it well.
Children of Muslim families living here are also taken to churches. Dressed up in bright colors, they sing hymns along with the other children. Most Muslims families do not seem to mind their children participating in such activities, yet some parents oppose such participation indicating that it is against our beliefs. The school administrators tell them that this is not a matter of belief and that it is some fun activity for children.
What I want to point out that these people pay attention to their religion and traditions. They try hard to instill in children the very same feelings that they have. It is their identity.
When a baby is born, it is pure. Later on, the child is influenced by the parents, customs and traditions. He becomes an adult who has the same beliefs as the parents. Nevertheless, when a child becomes an adult, when he reaches an age in which he can differentiate the right from the wrong and truth from the falsehood, he is required to acknowledge the presence and unity of Allah. He has to abandon the false beliefs that his parents might have taught; otherwise, he will be held responsible because Allah gave him the necessary intelligence. He has to turn away from the falsehood and turn to the truth, to the servitude to Allah.
We have seen the value of fasting and the value of Tarawih prayers that we offer in Ramadan. Being aware of these ahadith, offer your prayers wholeheartedly, sincerely and properly. Encourage your children to do the same and take them to mosque. One of my professors took his child to mosque after the child become an adolescent. He told me: "Es'ad, I sent my child to a private school run by foreigners. He was educated alright, but not the way I wanted." The professor himself was not a practicing person. Of course, the child followed the path of the parents. The society and the government failed to provide the proper environment for the youth to become a good adult. The child was not aware of what he is missing.
We can realize our mistakes by comparing our deeds with those of others. Then we can try to correct them.
c. The Night of Power
Since we are in the last ten days of Ramadan, I selected the third hadith on a related topic. It was narrated by Ubâdatubnus-Sàmit RA.
(Akhbaranâ rasûlullah sallallàhu 'alayhi wa sallam, 'an laylatil-qadr. Qàla: Hiya fî shahri ramadàna fil-'ashril-awâkhiri laylata ihdâ wa 'ishrîn aw thelâthin wa 'ishrîn, aw khamsin wa 'ishrîn, aw seb'in wa 'ishrîn, aw tis'in wa 'ishrîn, aw âkhiri laylatin min ramadàn. Men qàmahahtisâban ghufira lahû mâ takaddama min dhanbihî, wa mâ ta-akh-khara) Sadaqa rasûlullàh, fî mâ qàl, aw kamâ qàl.
Ramadan is a month for which we prepare two months ahead. We start with Rajab and the Night of Raghaib. Then we have the Night of Mi'raj, followed by the month Sha'ban. We have the Bara'at Night (Nisf-u Sha'ban) in the middle of the month. The joy we get from the worship increases as the month of Ramadan draws near.
Ramadan is considered as three parts: Al-ashril-awâ'il, Al-ashril-awâsit Al-ashril-awâkhir: The first ten days, the middle ten days and the last ten days. We are entering the last ten days of Ramadan. The Prophet SAS used to increase his worship so much that he would not go to his house but stay in the mosque during these last ten days. This is called I'tikâf.
This Saturday, with the sunset, we will be in the last ten days of Ramadan. I'tikâf will start at that time. As the Prophet increased his efforts to do worship, we should do the same by making I'tikâf. Especially those who have the time, should practice this sunnah.
The purpose of increasing the worship and practicing I'tikâf is be a winner, to attain the mercy of Allah. we should complete our fasting in the best way possible.
There is also the Night of Power (Laylat-ul Qadr) in the last ten days of Ramadan. The last hadith I read informs us about this special night. Ubâdatubnus-Sàmit RA said: (Akhbaranâ rasûlullah sallallàhu 'alayhi wa sallam, 'an laylatil-qadr.) "The Prophet SAS informed us about the Night of Power. (Qàla:) He said, (Hiya fî shahri ramadàna) 'It is in the month of Ramadan, (fil-'ashril-awâkhiri) in the last ten days. It could be in (laylata ihdâ wa 'ishrîn) the twenty-first, (aw thelâthin wa 'ishrîn) or twenty-third, (aw khamsin wa 'ishrîn) or twenty-fifth, (aw seb'in wa 'ishrîn) or twenty-seventh, (aw tis'in wa 'ishrîn) or twenty-ninth, (aw âkhiri laylatin min ramadàn) or in the last night of Ramadan." These are the odd numbered nights of Ramadan.
The prophet continued: (Men qàmaha) "if a person spends this night with prayers (ahtisâban)for the sake of Allah, expecting the rewards from Allah, (ghufira lahû mâ takaddama min dhanbihî, wa mâ ta-akh-khara) the sins he has committed and the sins he may commit in future will be forgiven."
That is why we must not miss this opportunity. We must enliven the Night of Power. These are the last days of a "rally." We are approaching to the finish line. Soon we will get our rewards. I recommend all of you to do I'tikaf.
Our Prophet was shown the lives of past ummahs. Prophet Noah AS lived 950 years. His ummah had a life span as long. A person who lives that many years can accumulate so much reward. Our Prophet was worried about life span of his ummah. He thought his ummah will not live long enough to accumulate great rewards. Upon this, Almighty Allah blessed his ummah with the Night of Power. There is a Surah in the Qur'an about this night. Insha-Allah you will read about it or listen to the interpretations of this surah as much as you can.
May Almighty Allah keep His guidance with you, grant you the opportunities to spend the Night of Power in prayers. May He give you zeal and power to increase you worship in the last part of Ramadan.
The Night of Power is hidden in Ramadan. There is a wisdom for that of course. If it were not hidden, people would relax on other days and be negligent. Thinking about this fact, please increase your worship and zeal. Try harder to offer more prayers and do charitable deeds.
May Allah guide you to salvation and place you in His paradise in the Hereafter.
Please also remember us in your prayers. Please also remember your friends, your brothers and sisters, and your loved ones. Do not offer supplications for yourself only; instead, share it with them so that Almighty Allah would reward you all.
May Almighty Allah grant you honor and happiness in this world and in the hereafter. May he Honor you with his Beauty in His Paradise. May He bless you with high ranks in Paradise.
As-salâmu 'alaykum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..
December 15, 2000 - SWEDEN