Monday, June 22, 2015

Ramadhan: Mercy, Forgiveness and Deliverance from Hellfire

Ramadhan is the holiest month in Islamic Calendar. In this blessed month, fasting is divinely prescribed for every Muslim men and women. Virtues and benefits are certainly showered to those who are sincere in the observance of fasting in Ramadhan. There are thirty days in Ramadhan of which is categorized into three, namely: 1. First ten days; 2. Second ten days; and 3. Third ten days. Every category has different rewards bestowed by Almighty Allah for those doers of good deeds in the most glorious days of Ramadhan. Thus, increase of doing righteous deeds is enjoined by the Holy Prophet, Mohammad (S.A.W.) during the great month of Ramadhan. Every muslim is advised to do more supplications to Allah. Zikir, reading of Holy Quran, supererogatory prayers and many other forms of good actions should be done excessively. 

Mercy is for the First Ten Days of Ramadhan

A great way for Muslims to worship for the first ten days of mercy is to recite Du’as (supplications) andDhikr (remembrance) invoking God’s mercy. With the doors of Paradise swung open and the doors of Hellfire shut, God never goes back on His Promise and with that, this is the perfect time to beg for God to shower His servants with Mercy. A recognized Quranic supplication, that can be recited as a remembrance is:

{O! My Lord, forgive and have Mercy and You are the Best of Merciful.} (Al-Mu’minun 23: 118)

God also says:

{So, Remember Me, and I will remember you.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 152). This is the best reminder to continuously ask from God, to continuously invoke blessings from God, to continuously prostrate and beg God for His Mercy – no matter how low, no matter how tired, no matter how riddled Muslims are with difficulties. Believers must never give up on God’s Mercy. Another hadith talks about God’s mercy in the world – the world that Muslims live in, the days they scamper through. Although Muslims see a lot of destruction, they also see plenty of love: from a husband to a wife; from a mother to her suckling baby; from a teacher to his students; from children to animals; and even from animals to their young. Mercy surrounds the world, yet God says He divided His mercy into a hundred parts, and only one of those hundred parts manifest itself in this world. The rest of the mercy belongs to God alone. Imagine God’s mercy during the first ten days of Ramadan, and imagine the mercy He may bestow amongst those who take full advantage of the first ten days and how the mercy will manifest itself on Judgment Day and in the Hereafter.

The act of fasting as one of the Pillars of Islam is in itself an act of mercy. Through fasting, Muslims experience a healthy detox from food that does not benefit them. They become spiritually recharged and become more aware of leaving distractions that also do not benefit them. Muslims appreciate the little they have and think of those who have even less – families with children in war-torn countries, Muslims and non-Muslims living without food on a daily basis – those who fast without an opportunity to break their fast. All these amount to mercy in their own way, Muslims will have an opportunity to feel more merciful towards themselves, towards those who may have more, and to those who are less fortunate. Mercy manifests itself in humility in many, many ways. And all this can be achieved through a Ramadan that is filled with remembrance of God, reflection on abstinence, and spending the early nights deep in prayer. 

But God promises something even more. He says: {O you who believe! Observing al-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the pious.}(Al-Baqarah 2: 183). 

Imagine being recognized as amongst the most pious Muslims, this is probably the most merciful appellation and gift that God can give His servant. And this can be attained by observing Ramadan with full servitude.The beauty of the first ten days of mercy is that it is a blessing within a blessing. While Muslims are actively striving to please Him, God adds a gift to the special month by creating this season of mercy. His mercy is showered upon those who engage in good deeds and the merits for them are multiplied, while those with a streak of bad deeds even are forgiven – provided that they are sincere in their repentance and strive to please God alone. 

It is during this time – through God’s mercy – that the status of pious servants are raised, and the more mercy that is compounded upon them, helps cleanse their hearts and turns them towards the correct direction in worshiping God.
What a great reminder for Muslims to bask in God’s mercy during the first third of Ramadan. Not only is fasting piling up merits and blessings, but the mercy of God continues to wash over everyone who engages in worship. Allah has created His slaves to worship Him, as He says in the Quran: 
{And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except that they should worship Me (Alone).} (Adh-Dhariyat 51: 56). 

The virtues of fasting are great indeed, and one of the virtues is that God chose fasting for Himself. Prophet Muhammad said: "(Allah said): Every good deed of Adam's son is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.' Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk." (Al-Bukhari). Thus, the rewards without measure will manifest itself throughout the days of Ramadan for those who sincerely repent and engage in good deeds for only God alone. 

All this mercy spills over throughout Ramadan and through a believer’s life up until the Day of Judgment where the fasting person may be recognized as amongst the pious, by God’s merciful decision. So, we should seek Allah's Mercy in these days.

"Rab-bigh-fir war-ham wa Anta Khair-ur-Raahimeen." (Surah Al Muminun:118).  Meaning: My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the Best of those who show mercy!

" Ya Rabb, Allahumma arhamni Ya Arham-mar-Rahimeen."

"Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyumu Birahmatika asta-ghee-thu."

Forgiveness is for the Second Ten Days of Ramadhan. 

Ramadan is the month to seek Forgiveness and repentance. The middle Ashra of Ramadan is the time for His Maghfirah (His Forgiveness).  In this second Ashra (ten days) is the time when Allah’s forgiveness is at its peak, and it is best to ask Allah to forgive our sins. So, we should seek Allah's forgiveness and repent for sins in those days.

"Allahum-magh-fir-li dhunoobi Ya Rabbal Alameen."

"Rabbana Fagh-fir-lana dhunoobana wa kaf-fir-'anna sayyi-aatina wa ta-waf-fana ma-'al abraar." (Surah Al-Imran:193) Meaning: Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die in the state of righteousness along with Al-Abrâr (those who are obedient to Allâh and follow strictly His Orders).
The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said: “Do repent in this month to Allah for your sins, and supplicate with raised hands at the time of prayer as these are the best times, during which Allah Al-Mighty looks at his servants with mercy. Allah answers if they supplicate, responds if they call, grants if He is asked, and accepts if they entreat. O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allah for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate (sajda) yourself before Allah, for long intervals, and make this load lighter.”

So, these are some acts we should spend more times in the days of forgiveness:
  1. Ask Allah for forgiveness in these days the most than any other days. Also make sure that do not repeat your sins once you have done Tauba.
  2. Do Tauba many times as Allah loves Tauba, and especially during this Ashra Allah loves to forgive and loves that person who seeks forgiveness.
  3. Forgive your beloved one in these days of forgiveness as Allah loves Maghfirah.
Deliverance from Hellfire is for the Last/Third Ten Days of Ramadhan. 

In the end Ramadhan is about seeking Refuge in Almighty Allah from Hellfire. And everyone must pray that “O Almighty Allah, save me from the fire of Hell”.

Allahumma Ajirna min-an-naar.
Meaning: O Allah, protect us from the fire.
The last ten days of Ramadhan are third Ashra and are very superior and important as the Lailatul Qadar also falls in the last Ashra.  Most of the Muslims also practice Ihtikaf in the lst ten days. A Muslim must not waste the last ten nights of Ashra and work hard in worshipping Almighty Allah. The best way for practicing Itekaf is one on which a person stays in the mosque and seeks pardon from Almighty Allah for all his sins.
Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
The three stages of the days in Ramadhan are based by Islamic Scholars from the Sayings of the Noble Prophet of Islam qouted below.

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "This is a month, the first part of which bringsAllah's Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah's forgiveness, and the last part of which brings emancipation from the hellfire." [Bukhari].

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