Receiving Ramadan

How should we receive the month of Ramadan? Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) points us in the right direction. This is a summary of various lectures on the topic.

We are about to receive the master of all months, the best of all months, the month in which gifts constantly pour forth from the ocean of divine generosity. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ once mentioned Ramadan and said out of veneration: “Do they realise what is coming to them and what they are receiving?” The believer should reflect upon his connection with his Lord, the One who has made this month an opportunity for him to receive His gifts and His forgiveness. We should receive this month in three ways.

Firstly, we should have joy upon its arrival.

Allah says: Say: “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice! That is better than the wealth they amass.”1Take a look at the manifestations of Allah’s bounty in this noble month. Sayyiduna Salman narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ spoke to us on the last day of Sha`ban saying: “O people, a great and blessed month has approached, a month in which there is a night greater than one thousand months. Allah made fasting in this month a compulsory act and made praying in the night a voluntary act. Whoever seeks to draw close to Allah in it with a good deed will be rewarded like someone who performed a compulsory action at another time. Whoever performs a compulsory action in it will be rewarded like someone who performed seventy compulsory actions at another time. It is the month of steadfastness (sabr) and the reward of steadfastness is Paradise. It is the month of charity. It is the month in which a believer’s provision is increased.”2

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah made fasting Ramadan compulsory and made the night prayer recommended. Whoever fasts in it and prays in the night in a state of belief; seeking Allah’s reward, will be free of sins like the day on which his mother gave birth to him.”3 The Messenger of Allah ﷺ informed us that in this month gates of the heavens are opened,4 meaning that it is easy for our actions, our prayers and our repentance to find acceptance with Allah. It has also been narrated that when Ramadan enters, Allah orders the angels who carry His throne to stop praising Him and to seek forgiveness for the Ummah of Muhammad.5

The Prophet ﷺ said: “My Ummah has been given in Ramadan five things that no prophet before me was given. The first is that on the first night of the month of Ramadan Allah gazes upon them and if Allah gazes upon someone, He will never punish them. The second is the smell emanating from their mouths in the latter part of the day is sweeter in Allah’s sight than the scent of musk. The third is that the angels seek forgiveness for them every day and night. The fourth is that Allah says to Paradise: ‘Prepare yourself and beautify yourself for My slaves for they will soon find rest in My Abode in the place of My generosity after the hardship of this life. The fifth is that they will all be forgiven on the last night.”

Someone asked: “Is that Laylat al-Qadr? He replied: “No, look at workers: when they finish their work they are given their wages in full.”6

Secondly, we should be wary of things that prevent us from attaining the gifts that are bestowed.

Fasting and all acts of worship were legislated to allow us to attain true taqwa: O you who believe, fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may attain taqwa.7The essential meaning of taqwa is to place a barrier between yourself and the anger of Allah by obeying His orders and avoiding that which He has prohibited. The Ummah has lost this fear of Allah and as a result its enemies have been given power over it. Acceptance of our fasting and other acts is also based on taqwa: Allah only accepts (the actions) of people who possess taqwa.8

We should avoid any false speech. The Messenger of Allah said: “If someone does not leave false speech and acting upon it, Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.”9

We should avoid rude and obscene speech and argumentation. The Messenger of Allahsaid: “Fasting is a shield. If someone is fasting let him not speak obscenely or argue.” He also said : “Fasting is a shield, as long one does not pierce it.”

He was asked: “How does one pierce it?”

By lying or backbiting,” he replied.

There are four categories of people who are denied Allah’s forgiveness in Ramadan and at other times. They are those who sever kinship ties, those disobey their parents, those who have rancour in their hearts for other Muslims and those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

The believer should be extremely careful to break his fast on lawful food, for “Allah is good and only accepts that which is good and wholesome.”10 One of the early Muslims said: “When you fast, pay attention to what you break your fast on and who you break it with.”

Prepare to receive Ramadan with pure hearts, for by Allah, abundant prayer, fasting and recitation of the Qur’an will be of no benefit if your hearts are full of darkness.

Thirdly, we should strive to do good works to the best of our ability, for Ramadan is an opportunity to take provision and to gain great rewards.

It is narrated that an angel calls every night in Ramadan: “O seeker of good, approach! O seeker of evil, retreat!”11 The believer must thus constantly seek good. He must constantly seek to rectify himself and their families and those over whom they have been given authority. They should spread goodness among the Muslims and among humanity. If he has these good and broad intentions he will then be called by the angel: “O seeker of good, approach!”

During Ramadan, Imam al-Shafi`i would complete the Qur’an once during the day and once during the night so that by the end of the month he had completed the Qur’an sixty times. People used to be so absorbed in worship during Ramadan that they would hardly see their relatives or their friends. They would see each other briefly at the Friday prayer but even then everyone would be busy with prayer and reciting the Qur’an. For this reason `Id would be a joyful occasion, because on that day it would be as if people were meeting each other for the first time after having been apart from each other for a whole month.

Since the gates of the heavens are open during this month we should take advantage of this, and plead with Allah for our needs to be answered. Are you concerned with the Ummah of Muhammad? This is the Lord of the Ummah of Muhammad promising you that He will answer your prayers. So plead with Him that the Muslims are granted relief from their sufferings; that their hearts are united; that the sick are healed; that the disobedient are given the ability to repent and that the ignorant are granted knowledge. Allah says: You sought relief from your Lord, and He responded to You. He said: Call upon Me and I will answer you. Nothing is too great for Allah. “Come to know Allah in times of ease, and He will be with you in times of hardship.”

Al-Sayyidah `A’ishah asked the Messenger of Allah what she should ask for if she knew that it was Laylat al-Qadr.

He replied: “Say: ‘O Allah, truly You are all-Pardoning, You love to pardon so pardon us.’”12

He also said : “Do four things in abundance: two things with which you please your Lord, and two things which you cannot do without. As for the two things with which you please your Lord: your testifying that there is nothing worthy of worship other than Allah and your seeking His forgiveness. As for the two things which you cannot do without: your asking Allah for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from the Fire.”13

So say these things in abundance, for they are the best things for which you can use your tongue. Say them in your homes, in the streets, in the mosques not just at Iftar or after Tarawih.

[On the basis of these two hadiths the scholars and people of Tarim repeat the following du`a throughout the month of Ramadan:

أشْهَدُ أن لا إلهَ إلا الله نَسْتَغْفِرُ الله نسأَلُكَ الجنَّةَ ونَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ النَّار(3)

Ashadu alla ilaha illallah, nastaghfirullah, nas’aluk’l-jannata wa na`audhu bika min an-nar

I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship other than Allah and we seek the forgiveness of Allah. We ask You for Paradise and take refuge in You from the Fire.” (3 times)

اللهمَّ إنَّكَ عَفُوٌ تُحِبُّ العَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنَّا(3) يا كَرِيم

Allahumma innaka `afuwun tuhibbu-l’`afwa f`afwa `anna

O Allah, truly You are all-Pardoning, You love to pardon so pardon us” (3 times). On the third time say “O Most Generous” (Ya Karim).]

Allah give us the biggest portion of all goodness. Make Ramadan a cause of rectification and the removal of tribulations.

Your Prophet would expend great efforts in worship in Ramadan, and particularly in the last ten days, so emulate your Prophet . Beware of striving at the beginning of the month and then becoming lazy towards the end, as “actions are judged by their endings.”14

Please also benefit from the Ramadan Reader, which includes an outline of Sayyidi Habib `Umar’s schedule for students of Dar al-Mustafa throughout Ramadan.

May Allah grant us His Enabling Grace to make the most of the blessed month and aid us in doing so by giving ease in observing at least some parts of the blessed schedule.

Yunus, 10:58

Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah

3 Narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasa’i

4 Narrated by al-Bayhaqi

5 Narrated by al-Daylami

6 Narrated by al-Bayhaqi

7  Al-Baqarah, 2:183

8 Al-Ma’idah, 5:27

Narrated by al-Bukhari, Abu Daud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah

10  Narrated by Muslim

11  Narrated by Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Hibban

12  Narrated by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi with a sahih chain of transmission

13  Narrated by Ibn Khuzayma

14  Narrated by al-Bukhari

On Difficulties for Muslim Women in France

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

The situation is very difficult for Muslim women in France. The hijab is banned in schools and in the workplace and attacks on Muslim women are on the increase. There is widespread Islamophobia in the media and in politics. How should we react to these attacks and how should we protect our religion and not allow hatred to enter our hearts?

The real essence of the believers becomes manifest in times of hardship. Women should retain their modesty as far as possible[1] and remain firm, show good character and patiently bear the hardships they are exposed to and the end result will belong to the people of taqwa. Allah mentions in the Qur’an the types of people who have hatred for Islam in every generation: You are those who love them, but they love you not… when they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers in rage… if any good befalls you, it grieves them, and if any evil befalls you, they rejoice at it. Allah did not then say: “You should hate them, treat them harshly, plot against them or be happy if evil afflicts them.” Rather Allah said: If you have patience (sabr) and taqwa then their scheming will not harm you.[2] Our brothers and sisters should embody this Qur’anic character: we should wish goodness and guidance for them in spite of their harming and insulting us. Allah mentioned that the Messengers said to their peoples: We shall patiently bear the harm that you have inflicted upon us, for those who put their trust should put their trust in Allah.[3]

 

[1] Habib Umar mentioned that they may leave the niqab or face covering, since the scholars differ over whether it is compulsory. They may not, however, leave the hijab which covers the hair and they should avoid beautifying themselves and using perfume.

[2] Al `Imran, 3:119-20

[3] Ibrahim, 14:12

Intentions Upon Entering Ramadan

Answered by Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).  
What should our intentions be upon entering Ramadan?
  • We should intend to be in the state that Allah and His Messenger love for us to be in.
  • We should seek to attain Allah’s pleasure and to strengthen our following of the Messenger of Allah  so that we attain his companionship.
  • We should intend that a new door is opened to us in understanding the Qur’an and acting according to it.
  • We should intend to avoid the inward things that nullify our fast just as we avoid the outward things.
  • We should truly seek to raise our fast from the fast of the ordinary people to the fast of the elite and we should aspire to attain the fast of the elite of the elite even if only for a short time.
[Habib Umar is referring to the three grades of fasting mentioned by Imam al-Ghazali in Ihya Ulum al-DinThe fast of the ordinary people means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction. These are the outward things which nullify the fast. The fast of the elite is guarding one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet and all other organs from disobedience. By disobeying Allah with these organs one nullifies one’s fast inwardly. The fast of the elite of the elite is for the heart to be focused on nothing but Allah. It is broken by thinking of anything other than Allah.]

Imam al-Haddad’s Prayer for Strength

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This is Imam al-Haddad’s Prayer for Strength. Habib Umar bin Hafiz recommends reciting it regularly.

(اللَّهُمَّ يا رَبُّ يا قَدِيرُ يا قَوِيُّ يا مَتِينُ  (ثلاثاً

أَسْأَلُكَ بِقُدْرَتِك وبِقُوَّتِكَ أَنْ تُمِدَّني في جَميعِ قِوايَ وجَوارِحِي الظَّاهِرة ِوالباطِنة ِبِقُوَّةٍ مِنْ قُوَّتِك َوقُدْرَةٍ مِنْ قُدْرَتِكَ أَقْدِرُ بِها وأَقْوَى بِها على القِيامِ بِما كَلَّفْتَنِي بِهِ مِنْ حُقُوقِ رُبوبِيَّتِك ونَدَبْتَنِي إِلَيْهِ مِنْها فِيما بَيْنِي وبَيْنِكَ وفِيما بَيْنِي وبَيْنَ خَلْقِكَ وعلى التَّمَتُّعِ بِكُلِّ ما خَوَّلْتَني مِنْ نِعَمِك الَّتي أَبَحْتَهَا لي في دِينِك ويَكونُ كُلُّ ذلِكَ على أَصْلَحِ الوُجُوهِ وأَكْمَلِها وأَحْسَنِها وأَفْضَلِها مَصْحُوباً بِالعَافِيةِ والقَبُولِ والرِّضى مِنْكَ يا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمين

O Allah, O Lord, O Omnipotent, O Most Powerful, O Most Firm (three times).

I ask You, through Your ability and power, to bolster my inward and outward strength, giving me the ability and strength to perform the things which You have charged me to perform which pertain to the rights of Your lordship;

And to perform what You have encouraged me to perform, whether this pertains to my relationship with You or my relationship with Your creation;

And to enjoy every one of the blessings that You have bestowed upon me, which You have made permissible to me in Your religion;

And that all this be in the best, most beneficial and perfect way, accompanied by well-being, acceptance and Your good pleasure, O Most Merciful.

How Anyone Can Call to Allah

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

If someone is not a good speaker and does not have a lot of knowledge what can he do to call people to Allah?

Someone can be engaged in calling people to Allah through reflection and then giving advice to people based upon what he has reflected upon. He can spend his time and wealth, he can practically assist those engaged in dawah and he can make dua. He can distribute books and recordings to those who will benefit. He can call people to Allah on an individual basis and he can do so by showing good character to people generally.

On Preparing for Hajj

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

How do I prepare for hajj?

You prepare for Hajj by purifying your heart, making sincere tawbah and giving people the rights that are due to them. You need to learn the rulings of Hajj and Umrah and etiquettes of Ziyarah. You must have veneration for Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and the Sacred House. Also read about how the pious performed Hajj and visited the Prophet ﷺ .

Dhikr for Someone Close to Death

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What dhikr can we give someone who is close to death?

They can recite the following 40 times and then repeat this at intervals:

لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنْ الْظَّالِمِين

La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu min az-zalimin

There is no deity other than You. Transcendent are You. Truly I am one of the wrongdoers.

 

 

On Discouraging Convert Sisters from Wearing Make Up

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What can we do to discourage convert sisters from wearing make up?

First of all we should strive to make faith firm in their hearts so that they taste the sweetness of faith. We should let them mix with other sisters who have left things like make up. We should teach them about the lives of the Mothers of the Believers and the daughters of the Prophet ﷺ so that they then come to venerate these great women. We should convey to them the true meaning of honour and nobility that Allah has accorded believers both male and female in what He has legislated for them. We should convey to them also that the hijab and modesty are a means of honouring and protecting a woman.

We should not talk about the issue directly in the first instance but rather we work on establishing the foundations of their faith. Each individual is different so we must take this into account. Some will take longer than others to leave these things. The Prophet ﷺ taught Mu`adh to call people in stages: first to call them to faith, then to prayer and then to zakat.

How Many of My Prayers Should I Make for You?

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

Sayyiduna Ubayy bin Ka`b said to the Prophet ﷺ: “I bestow prayers upon you and do so in abundance. How many of my prayers should I make for you?” What is the meaning of this statement?

The scholars say there are several possible meanings. The meaning which is closest to the wording of the hadith is ‘how much of the reward of my prayers should I donate to you?’

A second possible meaning is ‘how many of all my duas should I make for you?’

A third meaning is ‘how much of my time should I spend bestowing prayers upon you?’

The first meaning encompasses the other two meanings.

When Ubayy said that he would make all his prayers for the Prophet, the Prophet said to him: “If you do that, your worries will be removed and your sins will be forgiven.”[1]

———————

[1] Narrated by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim

The Best Dua the Seeker Can Make for his Shaykh

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What is the best dua that the seeker can make for his shaykh?

The seeker should ask:

  • that his shaykh be a source of pleasure for the Prophet ﷺ
  • that his shaykh be pleased by what the Prophet ﷺ gives him, his companions, the people of his time and the Ummah
  • that his shaykh be raised to the highest station of khilafah (representation) of the Prophet ﷺ
  • that his shaykh be engaged in that which is most beloved to the Prophet ﷺ – it is more fitting that they please Allah and His Messenger if they are truly believers.[1]

[1] Al-Tawbah, 9:62