My sister Umme Maryam translated and transcribed this lecture by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed (db) from Urdu- I have condensed it for readability.
It is written in the Maktoobat of Imam Rabbani Mujaddid Alf Thani that the night of 15th Shabaan is the budget night of the Islamic calendar year. A simple example is that every nation prepares a budget for the upcoming year, a sort of “to-do list” which determines what tasks need to be undertaken. Once prepared, the (national) organizations work according to the outlined policies.
Allah’s system is similar, a to-do list is prepared in which all the tasks to be undertaken in the upcoming year are finalized. The children to be born, the individuals written to die, the sustenance (rizq) one gets, the accidents, the diseases, the honors bestowed, the humiliations destined. All the activities of the next year are drawn up.
That is why the Holy Prophet said, “I prefer to be in a state of fasting the day the next year’s list of dead is drawn. “ We do not know whose name will be in that list. No one knows when one will die.
If we ponder, all the problems facing human beings are related to this (list of) sustenance in one way or the other. A woman is unable to bear children, a man cannot get married (his attaining a wife is also related to rizq), a person is unsuccessful in getting a job, getting a job is included in rizq. So if you look closely, the majority of our problems are sustenance-related. i.e. somewhere, a daughter does not get a proposal, a wife does not get her husband’s love, a husband does not get his wife’s loyalty. Someone’s business fails, another is crushed under debt, one works tough hours but cannot pay for his children’s education.
Since the majority of our problems are related to rizq, and this is the special time the list of rizq allocation is being prepared, then it makes sense that this is the time one should beseech Allah the most.
15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan- Time to Ask
When this list starts being prepared, Allah grants a special mercy to the people, He gives the people a true chance and a lengthy time to ask. This time extends from 15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan. The decisions are finalized on the 27th of Ramadan and then the list is forwarded to the angels for execution. In other words, had the Lord wanted, then the decision would have been made in one night alone and the deed would be done. But no, the slaves are granted a chance to ask for a longer time. Ask for shifa for diseases, protection from difficulties; ask whatever you may, the doors of Allah’s treasures are open.
That is why Ramadan is such an important month. It is a month of blessings and mercy. Allah says,
‘O My slaves, remain hungry and thirsty, you will get reward, you heart will attain Nur, divert your attention to Me, ask Me, and I will give you.’
Because Allah wants to forgive his slaves, He gives us more than a month to ask. So instead of being pushed around by and spreading our hands in front of the created, why not ask the Creator? He wants to Give, then why not ask the One who loves to Give. Ajeeb, Allah is happy when He gives and man is happy when he gets. Ask Allah.
That is why the days and nights of Ramadan are very important. We should not pass them in negligence. We should ask. We have time until Ramadan 27. The more we ask, the better Allah will destine for us. This is the time to ask, to be Mutawajih illallah (attentive towards Allah).
Another Ajeeb bounty of Allah is that He has informed us; the faster’s dua is accepted by Allah at Iftar time. So, present your needs haajah in front of Allah and ask for Allah’s mercy.
Kullu yaumin wa laylatin daawatun mustajaabah.
Ramzan sharif ke har din aur har raat mein usski dua qubul hoti hai.
A person’s dua is accepted in every night and day of Ramadan.
Preview Of the Coming Year
How one spends Ramadan, that is how the coming year will be spent. For example, if one is not regular in praying tahajjud, and he strives to pray Tahajjud all of Ramadan, then you will witness that it will become easy for him to pray tahajjud in the upcoming year. If a man who cannot protect his gaze (from looking at non-mahram women), strives to protect it completely during Ramadan, then the next year he will be cured of this disease. So those individuals who say we cannot do muraqabah, dhikr or tasbeehat regularly should try to do it in Ramadan
Be particular for one month, and you will see the rest of the 11 months you will receive help from Allah. Therefore, we have to create the specimen, and Allah will give us the ability, the tawfiq (to do that particular kind of ibadah) for the rest of the 11 months according to that specimen. We never asked the tawfiq for tahajjud, we never asked protection from falsehood, takabbur (arrogance), hasad (jealousy), and keenah (malice). Swhy complain? That is why we should spend Ramadan the way we want to spend the rest of our lives. Make a schedule.
Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalvi did not speak to anyone unnecessarily during Ramadan. Once his friend said to him, Ramadan comes to us as well but it does not come like a fever like it has come upon you. In reality, Ramadan should come upon one like a fever so you are gripped in the fever.
If we do not protect ourselves from lying, backbiting, unnecessary gazing in the month of Ramadan, then how do we expect to protect ourselves during the rest of the year?
Can’t Blame The Devil
We find proof in hadith that before Ramadan, Jibrail (AS) comes down and handcuffs the (major) devils (shayateen,) so that they may not ruin the fasts of the ummah of the Holy Prophet .
Now if the big devils are chained, then why does one still commit sins in Ramadan? There are two answers to this: Either the little devils are enough to entice a person to sin, to seduce, to cause him to slip, so the person doesn’t need the big devils to commit sins as the small ones are enough.
Or, other ulema say, that just like a piece of iron is still hot when taken out of the furnace (it remains severely hot you cannot touch it for a good half hour), similarly, the nafs (self/ego/soul) which was soldering in the furnace of sins all year long, even when removed from the furnace of sins in the month of Ramadan, will still emanate the heat of the sins it committed. The ones who are drowned in sins all year long will feel the evil of the nafs in Ramadan.
The sins committed in the month of Ramadan are not due to major shayateen, but due to the human nafs itself. Thus, (Ramadan) is a ‘litmus test’ of our spiritual diseases. Whoever wants to check his spirituality, then do this easy test in Ramadan. If your spirituality is sound, you will remain protected from sins in Ramadan. And if your spirituality is unsound, then you will commit sins in Ramadan just like you used to commit outside of Ramadan. This is because the soul is weak. The sins of Ramadan are very harmful, because they are due to the mischief and evil of the nafs. You can’t blame the devil.
There are so many blessings of Ramadan that if one pays even a little bit of attention, the Lord forgives. Nabi mentioned a tribe at the outskirts of Madina, Bani Kalb, which was renowned for their possession of sheep. Each family of the tribe had hundreds of sheep, so much that when the sheep came out for grazing they used to fill a huge valley between two mountains. Nabi said that during each night of Ramadan, the amount of dwellers of Hell, equivalent to the hair on the sheep of Bani Kalb, are freed from the hellfire. Now if the sheep used to fill a whole valley, imagine how much hair (wool) would the sheep have?
When the River of Mercy is flowing, then isn’t the one who does not reap its benefits (by seeking forgiveness) the most unfortunate? See, the love a mother has for her child is so deep that if someone curses her child, she leaps like a lioness to defend him. ‘Who are you to curse him?’ she will exclaim unable to stand the abuse. Thus, love does not allow one to say even one word. But when a mother’s heart is hopeless, pained, broken by her own child, then even if someone curses him she says Ameen. The same situation is described in the following hadith.
Jibrail (AS) came and made dua. “May the one who finds the month of Ramadan and does not get himself forgiven be destroyed.” And when the Holy Prophet heard this, he said Ameen. So this means the one who does not spend the time of Ramadan in worship pains the heart of the Holy Prophet . How can one be heedless in this month of mercy?
Ramadan to Hajj- An award ceremony
Allah’s slaves worship and pray during this time. The tradition is every worker gets compensated for the work he performs. And when someone does some unique work, he gets recognized by special honors. Some get awarded medals, some get Presidential honors etc. Allah’s tradition is that he rewards his slaves for their ibadah in Ramadan by calling him to His house after Ramadan. Hajj is, in essence, a convocation, an award ceremony of sorts for the work performed in Ramadan. Worldwide, whoever spends Ramadan enjoyably, Allah calls him to His house to distribute rewards.
Our Shuyookh say, Ramadan is the month of work and Zulhijja is the month of reward. Allah gives a period of two months in between (the work and reward). This is because if Hajj was on 1st of Shawwal how would people be able to reach His house from the world over? They are humans. Preparations have to be made; some travel by air, car, some by boat, and some by foot.
Ya’teena min kulli fajjin ameeq.They will come to Us from deep and distant highways.
His slaves needed time, so Allah gave them time to travel in Shawwal and Zulqaddah to reach His house. From the 1st Zulhajj, Layalin ashr (the ten Holy Nights) start. These nights are so wondrous that Allah has sworn by them in the Holy Quran,
Wal Fajr. Wa Layaalin Ashr.By the dawn. And by the 10 nights.
Allah is so happy that all His admirers of the world are sitting in His house just like the hosts of a wedding function are so happy when all the guests arrive. That is why He swears by those ten days.
Just think, Hajj is not about praying salah. You do not go to Hajj and pray two rakat salah to complete Hajj, because the main purpose of Hajj is not performing salah. Hajj is whoever reaches the grounds of Arafat on the 9th Zilhajj between Zuhr (noon prayer) until Maghrib (sunset). This is rukn e azam (the greatest obligation) of Hajj. If salah was a requisite for Hajj, then everyone would be in need of wudhu; and weak people like us would be running to do ablution. And the many women who traveled from so far would come and be unable to pray salah (due to menstruation). Allah is so merciful. Even if a sick or unconscious person reaches Arafah, then his wuquf (stay) is complete.
Hence Nabi mentioned, I never saw shaytan so humiliated as I did on the Day of Arafah. The only other day he was as humiliated was on the Day of Badr. He screams, shouts, and pours dust over his head, “My effort of years has been wasted!”
And Allah forgives His slaves. Not only the ones who reach Hajj are forgiven., look at how Nabi favored his ummah in this amazing dua.
‘Oh Allah, forgive the pilgrim (Haaji), and forgive the one the haaji prays for.’
This dua shades the duas of pilgrims until Qiyamah. Allah forgives the pilgrims as well as the one the pilgrim prays for. If we were to depend on our duas alone, our false tongues would take us nowhere. But now, our duas are shaded by this great dua of the Holy Prophet himself. Our duas get accepted.
When Allah’s guests arrive at Arafah, Allah bestows them with an unusual honor. He says, ‘Ask whatever you want, I will give according to your wish! ‘ He gives the choice to His slaves.
After Arafah, our Lord calls us to Mina for a few days. He wants us to express freedom from our two enemies: Nafs and Shaytan. First, we sacrifice an animal (Qurbani) and symbolically pass a knife over our ego. Second, we throw stones at Shaytan to express our hatred towards him (Rami). The reward for throwing stones at Shaytan yields great rewards. The jurists write, a pilgrim throws a total of 70 stones at shaytan during his Hajj. Every stone expiates such a major sin that if that sin were not forgiven, it most definitely would have dragged that person into hellfire. So 70 kabirah (major) sins are forgiven after Rami. Subhanallah!
Then the slave says, ‘Oh, Allah we have expressed freedom from shaytan, and have sacrificed an animal – we have slit our desires with a knife’. Now Allah says, “You are mine! Now come to My House!” Now is the time of meeting and visitation (deedar and mulaqat). Because of this reason, this tawaf is also named Tawaf e Ziarah (The Circumambulation of Visit).
So, this Tawaf e Ziayarah is reward of Ramadan. Then after Tawaf e Ziyarah, live there as many days you wish, do Tawaf e Wida (Farewell Circumambulation) and return to your homes. Subhanallah! Ramadan is the month of effort and Zulhijjah is the month of reward.
Don’t Waste Ramadan
This was the reason that Allah’s Habeeb used to wait for Ramadan and make dua two months before it came.
Allahumma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’baan wa ballighna Ramadan.
Oh Allah bless us in Rajab and Shaban and make us reach Ramadan.
He knew the importance of this month that is why he made dua two months before it came. We need to strive in Ramadan. It is one month. How hard is it to leave sins for one month? When our salaf (pious predecessors) wanted to extoll the virtue of a person, they used to coin it this way, ‘He has passed 45 Ramadans of his life.’ The witnessing of a Ramadan was considered a standard of nobility and savance i.e He has passed 45 Ramadans therefore he has had so much time for worship.
That is why for six months our elders made dua for Ramadan to come. And after Ramadan, for six months they made dua for their Ramadan to be accepted. All year round, duas for Ramadan were made.
There are no words to describe the blessings of Ramadan. Hazrat Ali (RA) used to say, “Allah does not want to punish the ummah of His Habib Rasoolullah ”. When someone asked, what is the daleel? He answered, “Had Allah wanted to punish the ummah of Rasoolullah , He would not have gifted Ramadan to them.”
The purpose of gifting Ramadan is that no one remains unforgiven, everybody may be forgiven.
Ulema write that Yusuf (AS) had 11 brothers .
Ahada ashara kawkabaEleven stars…
.. and the 12th was Yusuf (AS). So they were 12 in total. Eleven committed a mistake but were forgiven due to the twelfth one. So Ramadan is like Yusuf (AS). If the ones who commit sins for 11 months, spend Ramadan the correct way, then Allah will forgive the sins of those 11 months due to this holy month of Ramadan.
May Allah grant us the tawfiq to value this time. Let’s prepare now. Preparing for Ramadan is not merely buying grocery and foodstuffs and arranging for delicious meals and drinks. This is a need. Need is separate from purpose. True preparation is to leave sins now, do taubah now, and get busy in ibadat (worship), nafl (involuntary prayers), zikr (remembrance), tasbeeh, tilawat (recitation), start this routine now! We still have a few days left.
Imam Mujaddid Alf Thani gives an example, that when day breaks, then 11/2 to 2 hours before sunrise is called subah sadiq (true morning). The day breaks in the black darkness of the night. And the morning light starts emanating and increasing until 15 minutes before sunrise it is as bright as it is after the sun rises. Experience tells us that if a person wakes up late for Fajr, he looks up at the sky 15 min before sunrise and assumes that his salah has become qaza. But when he looks at the chart, he realizes he still has ten minutes to pray Fajr. However the light is so bright it seems the sun has risen.
What this means is that the subh sadiq of barakah starts on the the 15th of Shabaan and each day the nur increases until the 29th of Ramadan the anwarat are as much as they would be in Ramadan. That is why in these days, even a layman wishes to do more good deeds. And the sahib e batin (those bestowed with the inner eye) see mercies being showered from the sky like rain.
Value this ni’mah. Ask Allah. Our Rabb has given us the chance to be forgiven.
May Allah forgive us and include us in those people. Ameen