The month of
Ramadan is the season of divine blessings. It is the month of purification.
It is meant for annual renovation of the inner spiritual qualities.
It is a golden opportunity for every Muslim to strengthen his ‘iman,
to purify his heart and soul and to remove the evil effects of the sins
committed by him.
This month invites a Muslim to minimize his other mundane involvements
and maximize the acts of worship. One should plan his schedule for this
month, before-hand, so as to spare maximum time for ‘ibadah.
Here is a brief list of the acts which should be carried out in Ramadan
with due care:
1. To offer every prayer with jama’ah in a masjid.
2. To rise up a little earlier than the exact time of suhoor and to
offer the salah of tahajjud. There is no prescribed number of the Tahajuud
prayer. Yet, it is better to pray 8 Rak’at.
3. To offer the nafl prayers of Ishraq (two rak’at after the sunrise)
Duha (Four rak’at which may be performed at anytime after Ishraq
before noon) and Awwabin (six rak’at after maghrib).
4. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an. No specific limit is prescribed.
But one should recite as much of it as he can.
5. Dhikr or Tasbeeh, specially the following recitations:
Apart from reciting these words, one hundred times each, at a particular
time, they may also be continued frequently throughout the day, even
if one is engaged in some light work, when walking and when in bed.
6. Prayers and supplications: No particular prayer is prescribed. One
can pray for everything he needs both in this world and in the Hereafter.
However, the supplications of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are so comprehensive
that they encompass all that a Muslim can need in his life and after
his death. It is, therefore, much advisable to pray Allah Almighty in
the prophetic words used by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
There are several books where these prophetic supplications have been
complied. Here is the name of two books, which should be kept by every
Muslim in his home and be used for praying daily:
(i) Al-hisnul-hasin By ‘Allamah al-jazri.
(ii) Munajat-e-Maqbool By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
7. Sadaqah (charity): Apart from paying zakah, which is obligatory,
one should also pay optional sadaqah in Ramadan according to his best
ability. It is reported in authentic ahadith that the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
used to pay special attention in Ramadan to look after the poor and
to help them financially. Therefore, a Muslim should give as much money
in sadaqah as he can afford.
should be avoided in Ramadan:
missed a fast of Ramadan is liable to compensate it with fasting after
Ramadan. This fast if called ‘the fast of Qada’.
Fast of qada’ may be observed any day during the year except for
the following days:
(a) First of Shawwal (Eidul-fitr)
(b) Tenth of Zulhijjah (Eidul-adha)
(c) Eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth of Zulhijjah.
On these days fasting is strictly prohibited. So the fast of qada’
cannot be observed on these days.
Fast of Qada’ should be observed as soon as possible after one
has missed a fast of Ramadan. Delaying the performance of qada’
without a valid reason is not desirable. If some one has missed more
than one fast, he can perform qada’ for all of them continuously,
or with intervals. But the fasts of kaffarah should necessarily be continuous
without any interval. Any interval makes the previous fasts nullified
for the purpose of kaffarah, and one has to begin the fasts all over
Unlike the fast of Ramadan and optional (Nafl) fasts, in the fast of
Qada’ it is necessary to make niyyah before the dawn.
If a person has an obligation to keep a large number of the fasts of
qada’ he should write down the exact number of the fasts due on
him. He should also make a will that if he could not fast in his life
time, his heirs should pay fidyah (redemption from obligation not carried
out) from his left over property. The amount of fidyah for one fast
is one kilo and six hundered sixty two grams of wheat or its price.
If the amount of fidyah can be paid from one-third property of a deceased
person who has made a will to pay fidyah, the heirs are bound to pay
it from his left over property. But if the deceased made no will to
pay fidyah, the heirs are not bound to pay it from his property. Similarly,
if the amount of fidyah exceeds one-third of the property left by the
deceased, the heirs are not liable to pay the excess, unless they wish
to do so by their free will.
Another important feature of the month of Ramadan is Tarawih. It is
a special Salah (prayer) consisting of 20 rak’at which is performed
immediately after the ‘Isha’ prayer. This Salah is Sunnah
mu’akkaddah (repeatedly emphasized), and should not be missed.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said,
“Allah has made fasting in Ramadan obligatory,
and I have made the special prayer of Ramadan
(i.e. the Tarawih) a Sunnah.”
It is a Sunnah Mu’akkadah’ ‘alal-kifayah to perform
Tarawih in jama’ah. It means that it is a Sunnah mu’akkadah
for the people of every mosque to arrange for the jama’at of the
Tarawih. If a person after being sure that the jama’ah of Tarawih
is being held in his mosque, performs the Tarawih in his home without
jama’ah, the sunnah of the Tarawih is discharged, but he will
be deprived of the great thawab (reward) of praying with jama’ah.
So, one should perform the Tarawih in the mosque as far as possible.
It is also a Sunnah to complete the recitation of the whole Quran in
Tarawih in Ramadan. It is thus advisable to request a hafiz (one who
has memorized the Holy Quran by heart) to lead the prayer of Tarawih.
However, paying any fee to the hafiz for this purpose is not allowed.
If no such hafiz is available, the Tarawih should be led by any Imam,
and he can recite in it whatever Surahs of the Holy Qur’an he
As a general practice, the Holy Qur’an is completed in most of
the mosques a few days before the end of Ramadan, on the 27th night
or even earlier. In such a case, Tarawih should be continues till the
last night of Ramadan with recitation of different surahs. Those who
leave Tarawih after the completion of the Holy Qur’an are not
correct, because Sunnah of the Tarawih remains unchanged unto the last
The time of Tarawih begins after the performance of the obligatory (Fard)
prayer of ‘Isha. Therefore, the one who has not performed the
Fard prayer of ‘Isha cannot join the prayer of Tarawih. He should
perform the Fard of ‘Isha first, then join the Tarawih. If he
missed some rak’at of Tarawih, he can complete it after the Witr.
For example, a person came to the mosque when the Imam has performed
four rak’at of Tarawih, he should perform the Fard of ‘Isha
first, then join the jama’ah for Tarawih. If he has missed 4 or
6 rak’at of Tarawih, he should also perform the Witr prayer with
the Imam, then pray the four or six rak’at he has missed on his
of the most meritorious aspects of the month of Ramadan is that it contains
Laylatulqadr, the most blessed night of the year. It is the night, which
Allah Almighty chose to reveal the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an
has mentioned that this night is better than one thousand month. It
means that the worship performed in this night brings more reward than
the worship performed in one thousand months. The authentic Traditions
of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) mention that, in this night, Allah Almighty
directs His special mercy towards the people of the earth, accepts the
supplications made by His slaves and forgives a large number of people
who repent and pray.
Laylatulqadr falls in one of the last five odd nights of Ramadan i.e.
21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th. According to authentic sources, Laylatulqadr
falls in any one of these nights alternately. The purpose of this Alternation
is that one should spend all the five nights in worship and prayers,
so that he may find Layalatuqadr with certainty.
No special form of worship is prescribed for Laylatulqadr. The night
should be spent by offering as much nafl prayers as one can offer, in
recitation of the Holy Qur’an, in dhikr and Tasbeeh, in supplication
and in making sadaqah (charity.)It is not advisable in this night to
hold ceremonies or meetings or delivering long lectures or illumination
the mosque. This is a night meant for developing a special connection
with one’s Creator, for offering acts of worship in solitude and
seclusion, for having constant and exclusive contact with his Lord who
is the Lord of the universe, for minimizing the diversity of thoughts
and actions and for devoting oneself to Allah Almighty with his heart
This purpose can seldom be achieved in congregations and assemblies.
That is why the Holy Prophet (PBUH) never tended to celebrate this night
by lectures, meetings, and illumination or even by offering prayers
in jama’ah. Instead, he used to perform acts of worship individually,
and in solitude.
Sayyidah ‘Aishsh (R.) once asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as to
what du’a (supplication) she should recite in the Laylatulqadr.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) taught her following du’a:Allah, You are
surely most forgiving and You like forgiving, so forgive me.
The best way to benefit from the blessings of this night is to keep
awake for the whole night and spend it in worship and prayers. But people
who cannot do so for any reason should spare at least a considerable
part of the night for acts of worship. At least 8 rak’at should
be prayed after midnight as Tahajjud, some part form the Holy Qur’an
should be recited and the supplications of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) should
be offered. Any Dhikr or Tasbeeh should be constantly recited, specially
the following Dhikr has numerous merits: Even when one is not in the
state of wudu, the Dhikr and Tasbeeh may be recited. Similarly, the
dhikr may also be performed during other states, when walking or in
Another unique form of worship in this month is “i’tikaf”
in which a person gives up all his activities, abandons his attachments,
associations and routines and enters the mosque for a specific period.
Islam does not approve monasticism which is based on the concept that
Allah’s pleasure cannot be attained without abandoning all worldly
activities forever. The Holy Qru’an has expressly condemned this
concept. Islam has, instead, emphasized on earning one’s livelihood
through permissible means, on one’s mingling with his family members
and on discharging all the obligations toward his wife, children, relatives,
neighbours and other acquaintants. But the same time, as explained earlier
in more detail, sometimes one’s deep involvement in these activities
slows down his spiritual progress. In order to repair this loss, a Muslim
is required to spare a time in which he separates himself from the normal
routine of worldly activities and to sit in seclusion, devoting his
heart and soul for pure spiritual acts. I’tikaf is a beautiful
way to carry out this objective. In I’tikaf one leaves his home
and family and undertakes to remain in the mosque for a limited period.
This unique mode of worship can be done any time in the year. However,
it has been declared as a ‘sunnah mu’akkadah’ in the
last ten days of Ramadan, because Ramadan is the most suitable time
to carry out this worship. Moreover, the last ten days of Ramadan are
the days in which ‘Lailat-ul-Qadr’ normally occurs and as
explained earlier, its definite time is unknown. It may occur in any
of the odd nights of these days. When one is in the state of I’tikaf
for the last ten days of Ramadan, he can surely benefit from its infinite
merits, because even if he is sleeping in the ‘Lailat-ul-Qadr’,
while he is in the State of I’tikaf, it will be credited to his
account as ‘worship’ in the ‘Lailatul-Qadr’,
because each and every second in the state of I’tikaf is ‘ibadah,
even if one is eating, drinking or sleeping. This extraordinary privilege
cannot be attained in one’s home. That is why the Holy Prophet
(PBUH) used to perform I’tikaf every year in Ramadan.
The detailed injunctions and regulations of I’tikaf are explained
in my book ‘The Rules of I’tikaf ’ and it is not proper
to reproduce all of them here. However, some fundamental rules of I’tikaf
are summarized here:
Rules of I’tikaf
1. I’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan is sunnah ‘alal
kifaya. It means that in each mosque, at last one person should sit
in I’tikaf. If he does so, the requirement of Sunnah is fulfilled
for the whole locality. However, if no person performs I’tikaf,
the whole locality is responsible for not observing the Sunnah. Therefore,
the residents of locality should make sure that some person is performing
I’tikaf in their mosque. If no such person is available, they
should prepare someone to do so.
2. The time of this I’tikaf commences immediately after the sunset
of the twentieth day of Ramadan. Therefore, a person who wants to sit
in I’tikaf, must enter the mosque before sunset on that day, so
that sunset takes place while he is in the mosque.
3. The main requirement for a valid I’tikaf is that one remains
in the limits of the mosque throughout the period of I’tikaf and
never comes out of it, except for the necessities like easing oneself
by attending the call of nature.
4. The “limits of the mosque” for the purpose of I’tikaf
are restricted to the places meant for offering salah and determined
as such by the founders of the mosque or by its administration. Therefore,
the places like the place of ablution, toilets etc., are not included
in the “limites of a mosque” for the purpose of I’tikaf.
Therefore, if a person enters these places without the aforesaid necessity,
his I’tikaf shall terminate.
5. One can go out of the mosque during I’tikaf only for the following
(i) To answer the call of nature.
(ii) To make obligatory ghusl, i.e. in the state of impurity (janabah)
(It should be remembered that it is not allowed during I’tikaf
to go out of the mosque for having a non-obligatory bath, like the bath
of Friday etc.)
(iii) To bring food where no other person is available to bring it.
In this case it is allowed either to bring food to the mosque or to
have food elsewhere outside the mosque.
(iv) To offer the jum’ah prayer, if no jum’ah prayer is
offered in the same mosque in which he is sitting in I’tikaf.
(v) To move to another mosque in the event of a serious danger to one’s
life or property.
6. It is advisable that a person performing I’tikaf avoid all
unnecessary activities and spends the most of his time in the acts of
worship, like salah, recitation of the Holy Qur’an or making dhikr
or tasbeeh. However, it is makruh to remain silent totally.
7. The following acts result in terminating the I’tikaf:
(i) To leave the mosque even for a moment without the aforesaid needs.
(ii) To remain outside the mosque after fulfilling the aforesaid needs.
(iii) To have sexual intercourse, or emission through some other intentional
acts like kissing, cuddling etc., which are totally prohibited in I’tikaf.
(iv) Any act which breaks one’s fast, like eating, drinking etc.
(Since fasting is pre-condition for a valid masnun I’tikaf, the
I’tikaf is automatically terminated by breaking of the fast).
8. If the I’tikaf is terminated for any reason, it becomes obligatory
on the relevant person that he makes qada’ of the I’tikaf
for one day only (He needs not to perform I’tikaf for ten days.).
For example, started a masunu I’tikaf on 21st night of Ramadan
with intention to sit in I’tikaf for ten days, but on 25th of
Ramadan he came out of the mosque mistakenly or unconsciously, his I’tikaf
is thus terminated. Now, he has to make qada’ of one day only.
He needs not to repeat the I’tikaf for ten days, nor for five
days. He is required to make qada’ only for one day. Therefore,
he can discharge this obligation by starting I’tikaf for one day,
either in the same Ramadan, or after Ramadan by keeping a nafl fast,
or in the next Ramadan. If he elects to perform qada’ in the same
Ramadan, he can sit in I’tikaf before the sunset of 25th Ramadan
(in which his I’tikaf was terminated) and observed I’tikaf
up to the sunset of 26th. His obligation will be discharged. Then, he
is at liberty either to go home or to continue his I’tikaf as
nafl (and not as a sunnah or wajib.)