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122) The Spirit of Ramadaan

11 June 2016

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

من روح الله إفطار الصائم، ولقاء الاخوان، والتهجد بالليل

Among God’s gifts of grace: feeding a fasting person (iftaar), meeting brothers, and praying in the deep of the night (bihori/tahajjud

(Imam Ja’farus-Sadiq SA)

Shehrullah is known as the month of fasting and the month of fortitude (sabr). It is also known as the month of prayer (bandagi, namaaz, bihori), the month of Quran, the month of giving (zakaat, silat, muwasaat, iftaar), and the month of seeking forgiveness (from Allah and from each other).  Shehrullah is the month of reconciliation.

Ja’far-us-Sadiq Imam SA focuses on three virtues of the spirit of Ramadaan, “Among God’s gifts of grace: feeding a fasting person (iftaar), meeting brothers, and praying in the deep of the night (bihori/tahajjud).” This combination of virtues together represents the spirit of Ramadaan.

Feeding a fasting person: Iftaar

Offering iftaar to one who is fasting is a unique virtue. Rasulullah SA has said that, “the one who fasts has two joys - One when he breaks his fast (iftaar) and the other when he meets Allah (and sees his reward).” There are many sayings and examples that demonstrate the sawaab of offering another iftaar. Rasulullah also said “Whosoever feeds a fasting person at the time of breaking fast, will gain forgiveness for his sins and the freeing of his neck from Hellfire; he will have the like of [the fasting person’s] reward, without any decrease in [that person’s] reward.” It is well known that Amirul Mumineen SA offered iftaar to all the residents of Kufa in Ramadaan. Amirul Mumineen’s Dai Syedna Burhanuddin RA offered iftaar to all Mumineen around the world on 19th Shehrullah for many years. In many suburbs of Mumbai, Syedna Qutbuddin RA directed Zahra Hasanaat to organize iftaar jaman for thousands of peopleevery Ramadaan. In present-day Cairo, “ma’idat al-rahman” (Allah’s thaal) tents pop up in many parts of the city. Generous people contribute to and set up these places in which anyone and everyone is welcome at the time of iftaar. Many say that this is a practice that started in Fatimid times. 

The act of Iftaar – and encouraging people to offer iftaar to each other – is an incredible balance to the fortitude of roza. It brings joy to the one offering iftaar and the one to whom it is offered. It brings people together and garners immense sawaab. It is an essential part of the spirit of Ramadaan.

Meeting of Brothers - Mumineen

Since an invitation to iftaar is never turned down, iftaar itself brings Mumineen closer. Similarly, praying namaaz together in the Masjid, offering muwasaat and exchanging silat with our relatives and friends, brings Mumineen closer. Imam Ali Zainul Aabideen SA says in his doa – which we recite every day in Shehrullah after Fajr namaaz,

Give us tawfeeq to strengthen bonds of affection with our family, be generous and kind to our neighbors… win back one who cuts off relations with us, give justice to one who oppresses us, and make peace with one who proffers us enmity – except the enemy who is hated because he is your enemy, for he is an enemy whom we will never befriend, an adversary whose hand we will never clasp.”

Bringing Mumineen closer to each other is a great virtue of Ramadaan. In the spirit of Ramadaan  we reconcile with those with whom we have become estranged. We come together as family sharing our fortitude in fasting, our iftaar, our prayer, our wealth (muwasaat) and through this sharing we strengthen our spirit of brotherhood. This is part of the spirit of Ramadaan.

Praying in the Deep of the Night: Tahajjud (Bihori)

Tahajjud is prayed at a time when the world is sleeping and the one praying is focused on prayer in the silence of the night.  During Bihori namaaz we pray munajaat, which literally means “a conversation in solitude with Allah Ta’ala.” Indeed, bihori and ‘ibaadat at night is the most intimate form of supplication and prayer.  

Imam Ali Zainul ‘Aabedeen prayed one thousand rak’ats every night. The effect of the Imam’s prayers was that his Dawat would survive and persist till the end of time. The doas recited by Imam Ali Zainul ‘Aabedeen are a remarkable resource for us in praying bihori. Many of the doas have been presented on FatemiDawat.com in the Bihori section. The doas following the namaaz of Nisful Layl capture the essence of Bihori, a pause from the frenzy of life,

“Maula, my Maula, the stars have set, and eyes have closed in sleep, but you are a Living, Standing, King. Maula, my Maula, other kings have locked their doors, secured by their guards and sentries, and retired to their chambers, and lovers have shut out all others. But your door is open to supplicants. So here I am, a supplicant at your door, a saa’il at your door…”

As worldly benefactors sleep, as the material world fades, and as we sit alone in the darkness of the night, we remember and supplicate the Almighty. This is the essence of Bihori and Tahajjud, to remember that one day we will face the Almighty with nothing but our deeds. The day to day necessities of life, family, social and work issues and the general grind of the materialistic day and night make the inevitable day that we have to face the Almighty fade into the future. Too often, the now and the present takes precedence. The Bihori and Tahajjud namaaz and doas strengthen our direct connection with Allah Ta’ala.

With their pious deeds and inspiring words, our Hudaat Kiraam exemplify the spirit of Ramadaan. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the strength and inspiration to follow their example and live the true spirit of Ramadaan. May we garner Allah’s mercy in this holy month.