We are nearly half way through the blessed month of Ramadān and many of us are unfortunately still only warming up in our worship and righteous acts. A common excuse for this is that due to the long hours of fasting in the heat, coupled with having to go to work and look after one’s family, it is difficult to strive towards supplementary voluntary acts of worship beyond the tarāwīh prayers. The mantra of ‘I am tired’ is probably the most frequent form of dhikr on the tongues of many Muslims today.
As a way of motivating us to hasten towards ihsān (excellence) in our worship so that we get the best out of Ramadān, rather than the bare minimum, it is worth pondering on the following hadīth.
It was narrated that Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) said:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) ascended the minbar and said: “Āmīn, āmīn, āmīn.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allāh, you ascended the minbar and said, ‘Āmīn, āmīn, āmīn’.” He said: “Jibrīl (peace be upon him) came to me and said: “If Ramadān comes and a person is not forgiven, he will enter Hell and Allāh will cast him far away. Say Āmīn.” So I said Āmīn. He said: “O Muhammad, if both or one of a person’s parents are alive and he does not honour them and he dies, he will enter Hell and Allāh will cast him far away. Say Āmīn.” So I said Āmīn. He said: “If you are mentioned in a person’s presence and he does not send blessings upon you and he dies, he will enter Hell and Allāh will cast him far away. Say Āmīn.” So I said Āmīn.”
Although there are three supplications being made in this hadīth it is only the first which is the focus of this article. Before studying the content of the supplication itself, let us examine the circumstances surrounding the supplication.
Firstly, who is making the supplication? None other than the Archangel Jibrīl (peace be upon him), the greatest, most virtuous and most honourable of all the angels, who has a high rank with Allāh and the one whom Allāh chose to entrust with revelation revealed to His Prophets.
Secondly, who is saying āmīn? The Noble Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) – the last Prophet, the Imām of the Messengers, and the one who will intercede with Allāh on the Day of Resurrection. In short, the best of creation.
Thirdly, what is ‘āmīn’? It itself is a supplication calling upon Allāh to answer what has been requested.
Fourthly, where is the supplication being made? On the minbar of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in his mosque in Madīnah, the next holiest place in the world after Makkah.
In light of the above four points, it is clear that whatever supplication is being made here is of significant importance. How powerful a supplication must it be if it is uttered by Jibrīl (peace be upon him) on the minbar of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who is himself asking Allāh to accept the supplication? Knowing the above, we would be foolish to ignore a supplication of such magnitude.
In this hadīth, Jibrīl (peace be upon him) is essentially supplicating against someone who witnesses Ramadān but is not forgiven in it. So severe is such a failing according to Jibrīl (peace be upon him) that such a person should be thrown into the Hellfire and distanced from Allāh’s infinite mercy. Note that the du’ā does not mention the sins of this individual, but speaks of them in a general sense such that it is applicable to all – those with many major sins as well as those with few minor ones. Yet, the du’ā is mercilessly calling for such a person to be thrown into the Hellfire and distanced from Allāh’s mercy which envelopes all things.
The reason for this is that anyone who fails to be forgiven in the month of Ramadān must indeed be a wretched individual. For this is the month in which the shayātīn are chained up, and the month in which the gates of Paradise are flung open and people emancipated from the Fire nightly. It is a month therefore in which Allāh facilitates us to do good deeds and to avoid committing sins. If this is not enough, Allāh motivates us further by promising to multiply the reward for our deeds.
On the last day of Sha’bān, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and said,
“O people! A great and blessed month has approached you, a month containing a night better than a thousand months. Allāh has made fasting in its days an obligation and prayer in its nights a (recommended) voluntary act. Anyone who seeks nearness to Allāh in this month through any virtuous act will be like one who carried out an obligatory act at another time (outside of Ramadān), and whoever performs an obligatory act in this month will be like one who performed seventy such acts at another time. It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is the month of equality, the month in which the wealth of the believer is increased.”
It is a time when the mosques are overflowing with worshippers, when entire families who may not offer prayers during the rest of the year, pray obligatory and voluntary prayers in the mosque, when all around you, believers are completing a recitation of the Qur’ān, when purses are being emptied to give charity in the way of Allāh, and when the tongues are restrained. Indeed it is a time when the believers are united in worshipping Allāh. If in such a month someone is unable to obtain Allāh’s forgiveness, then wretched indeed is he, and thus, deserving of Allāh’s punishment as supplicated for by Jibrīl (peace be upon him) and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
We must not be complacent and think that just because we are fasting, we will be forgiven. Only the foolish would remain content with their actions and gamble with their destiny in such a fashion. Instead, we must remember the du’ā of Jibrīl (peace be upon him) and use these precious days which remain of this blessed month to hasten to good deeds and righteous actions and actively strive for Allāh’s forgiveness and mercy so that we can abide in the Gardens of Paradise forever.