Tahajjud in Ramadan
وَ اِذَا سَاَلَکَ عِبَادِیۡ عَنِّیۡ فَاِنِّیۡ قَرِیۡبٌ ؕ اُجِیۡبُ دَعۡوَۃَ الدَّاعِ اِذَا دَعَانِ ۙ فَلۡیَسۡتَجِیۡبُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لۡیُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِیۡ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَرۡشُدُوۡنَ
Alhamdulillah Summa Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah, I thus continue my sermon which I started last Friday. I read the verses 184-187 of the Surah Al-Baqara, and when one reads the last verse (i.e. Verse 187), Almighty Allah says:
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.”(Al-Baqara, 2: 187).
This is also a verse which is subject to long commentaries and we can say that this is a period when Almighty Allah comes nearer to us (His servants), and when He is prepared to receive/ accept our supplications/ requests (duahs). But this is not without condition! There are some conditions which are attached with that (divine) statement/ promise. One must listen to Allah (listen to what He has to say), obey Him and have faith (Iman) in Him. It is then that Almighty Allah shall be ready to listen to our duahs.
Ramadan: best time for renewal
Now, in connection with knowledge itself, I put forward some Hadiths of our beloved prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) who possessed the greatest knowledge of the advantages, benefits and blessings of Ramadan. Therefore, in reference with that same subject and in connection with knowledge, I put before you these few Hadiths.
In Nasaï, Kitaab’-al-Sawm, Hazrat Abdur-Rahman bin Auf (ra) narrated that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned the month of Ramadan and said that this month is the best of all months, and he also said that the one who lives the month of Ramadan in a state of Iman, and with sincerity and (with the intention) to receive rewards (Thawaab), and he makes lots of Ibaadat (acts of worship), then that person becomes clear/ clean of all his sins. He becomes so pure as if he has reborn (taken a new birth/ life). Therefore, each Ramadan brings along the good news of a new birth for all of us. If we live the month of Ramadan like Almighty Allah has prescribed for us and under the conditions that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) had mentioned, then it is as if each year which passes by, we get to have a new spiritual birth and all our sins are erased.
Forgivance of Sins
In another Hadith found in Bukhari, in the Kitaab’-al-Sawm, in the chapter concerning the superiority of the month of Ramadan, Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said that the one who fulfils the demands of Iman and with the intention of receiving rewards, and he wakes up in the nights of Ramadan and prays Namaz (Salaat), then all his sins shall be forgiven.
There is a difference between these two Hadiths. In the first Hadith, there is the mention of Ibaadat in general; i.e. the one who does his Ibaadat with sincerity and faith, it is as if he has got a new spiritual life. In the second Hadith, there is a specific mention of the Tahajjud prayers. It is said that in the nights of Ramadan, if that believing person wakes up and prays (does acts of worship), then all his sins shall be forgiven.
Ramadan and Tahajjud
Therefore, Ramadan has a special connection with the Tahajjud prayers. On the contrary we must say that the Tahajjud prayers have a special connection with Ramadan despite the fact that we pray Tahajjud even during the remaining months. And in that particular context, all those who fast, then there is a path which is opened for them so that they can enter the realm of Tahajjud (i.e. the blessings found in the Tahajjud prayers) because the people makes special efforts to wake up during the night to pray Tahajjud whereas it would have been very difficult for them to do so during other months. But as they have to wake up very early during Ramadan to take their pre-dawn meal before the fast (Sehri/ Suhur), i.e., their physical food, then why not benefit also from all spiritual provisions as well? Thus, you (believers) need to make it a habit, a foremost duty to wake up and pray the Tahajjud prayers before the Sehri, and you teach your children also to pray Tahajjud even if it is only two cycles (Rakaat) of prayers. If they reach the age to fast, then you definitely need to attract their attention on the need to pray the Tahajjud as well. It is not for you that you just wake up for the Sehri while still in a state of sleep (feeling still sleepy) and eat food. This is against the spirit of Ramadan.
And like Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has said, true blessings are reaped from the Tahajjud prayers. I hope that my disciples in the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam around the world shall make it a habit for them, and their children also (to wake up for the Tahajjud prayers) and this advice applies also for the elders and all Muslims around the world. How can a Muslim wake up, have his Sehri without performing first the Tahajjud prayers ! It is impossible to imagine that, but these kinds of people exist.
Therefore, this is my advice for all, be them old or young, that they need to wake up for the Tahajjud prayers and if there is still a little time left, they make it a habit to read the Holy Quran also and then afterwards they can have their Sehri. In other words, after reflection, you have got to spend your night plunged in Ibaadat, and you have slept little and prayed Allah much more, and you have also spend less time taking your Sehri and maximize the time in Tahajjud prayers and Holy Quran reading. It is thus that particular tradition which we must all put into practice and preserve it in our present times also.
Seek protection from Sins
In the Hadith Book of Ahmad bin Hanbal, there is a Hadith narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri (ra) whereby he stated that he heard the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) say that the one who observe the fasts of Ramadan, who recognises and accomplishes the demands of Ramadan, and the one who protects himself during the month of Ramadan from all things which he should avoid, i.e. he protects himself from all kinds of sins, then for this kind of faster, his fasts becomes a source of veiling for all his past sins, meaning that besides the Tahajjud etc. (and all other acts of Ibaadat), there are other demands of Ramadan which we must accomplish. When fulfilling these demands, you must give special attention to the commandments which the Quran and Hadiths have ordained so as one remains under appropriate (divine) protection, especially during the month of Ramadan. If a faster observes the fast by fulfilling all these demands, then all his past sins are forgiven.
Door of Paradise vs. Door of Hell
In Bukhari, Kitaab’-al-Sawm, Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) said that when Ramadan comes, the doors of paradise are opened and the doors of hell are closed and that the Satan is chained. About this Hadith, the explanation which I am hereby giving is to enable all people to dissipate all their misunderstanding concerning the words of this Hadith. It does not at all mean that all those people in the world who shall commit wrongdoings/ sins during the month of Ramadan shall remain safe from hell! No. And it does not at all mean that all people who are witnessing the month of Ramadan, be them believers or non-believers, that the door of paradise are opened for them all. No.
The truth is that if a Mumin (believer), someone who says that he has Iman (faith), if during the month of Ramadan he does something against the demands of this month and purposefully acts against (the spirit of) Ramadan; not only Ramadan but also against the other days, then for such a person the door of hell shall be widely open for him. Verily, the contents of this Hadith is a good news for such believers who remains in the circle of the obedience of Allah, of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and that of the Quran. And these are two names for the same thing because the Quran has mentioned obedience to Allah and to His Messenger. This command has been mentioned separately to make you know that if ever you do not see a direct instruction in the Holy Quran but that the answer is found in the sayings (or actions) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), then you must bear in mind that you need to obey that instruction also (Obey Allah, and also obey the Messenger) for the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did not say anything without prior permission/ authorization from Allah. Therefore, when you shall obey him, then it is as if you are obeying Allah Himself.
It is in that spirit that the Quran each time mentions “Obey Allah and Obey His Messenger.” This is one same thing for if you obey the prophet (pbuh) without obeying Allah, then this obedience is without any sense. This is because the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was the one who knew better what really obedience to Allah was (i.e. he practiced it best) and nobody else knew that better than him. Thus, in that context, the door of paradise opens for those who spend their time in the obedience of Allah and of His Messenger. That door does not open for those who despite receiving the boon of the blessed month of Ramadan, they turn their faces from it and reject all its demands. On the contrary, it is more probable, there is much more mischance that the door of hell become all the more wide open for them instead of it remaining close. In reality, the words of this Hadith are good news for the Muhammadan Ummah (pbuh) who truly pay obeisance to Allah and to His Messenger. It is for them that the door of hell shall remain close.
Now the question which can be asked, is for whom the door of hell shall be opened after the month of Ramadan? Is the door of hell close only during Ramadan? No! It means that Ramadan brings in so many messages of good deeds, so many messages of goodness for them and it gives them so many lessons on Taqwa (piety, fear of Allah) that it becomes now not possible that they do such deeds as to lead them towards hell. But during ordinary days (prior to Ramadan) people usually neglect doing all these good and they do not pay heed to those messages. Indeed there is something really special concerning the month of Ramadan compared to other moths in that which it can attract the people towards doing good deeds and to avoid evils. That is why for the believers the month of Ramadan is the best of months, the month which is best protected (against satanic influence). In that month there is no danger for the (true) believer because his attention is attracted each time towards the intention of coming out of that shower which Ramadan represents, completely pure from all evils.
Therefore, it is in that sense that we need to understand that Hadith because it is upon the true believers which are manifested all these good (i.e. the door of paradise opens wide for them). It is for these kinds of believers that the doors of hell are closed. The door of paradise opens and the devil is chained. This is indeed a very important matter that we must always remember.
May Almighty Allah help each one of us to well understand the importance of Ramadan in all its aspects and may we continue to benefit from that sacred month of Ramadan in its integrality. Insha-Allah, Ameen.
---Friday Sermon of 10 June 2016 ~ (04 Ramadan 1437 AH) by Hazrat Muhyi-ud-Din Al-Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.