Making the Most of your Nights and Days in the Last Ten Nights of Ramadan

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr during the Noor ‘Alaa al-Darb program:

س ـ كيف يستطيع الإنسان في العشر الأواخر أن يجمع بين إحياء الليل كله بالطاعة والعبادة، وبين استغلال وقت الصيام بالقراءة والخير والعمل الصالح، مع حاجة جسمه إلى النوم والراحة في النهار؛ للتقوي على قيام الليل؟

Question: In the last ten nights of Ramadan, how can a person both be engaged in acts of obedience and worship throughout the entire night and take advantage of his time while fasting to recite, do good and perform good deeds since his body still needs to sleep and rest during the day in order to enable him to stand during the night? Continue reading

Reading Books of Tafsir During Ramadan: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

During the Q&A program Noor ‘Alaa al-Darb, sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr was asked and responded to the following question:

س ـ قراءة التفسير في رمضان هل هي من العلم الذي كان السلف يتركونه في رمضان، أم هي من الاهتمام بالقرآن وتدبُّره؟

Question: Does reading a book of tafsir during Ramadan fall under the type of knowledge that the salaf would leave off during Ramadan, or is that part of giving attention to the Qur’an and contemplating it?

ج ـ من التفاسير ما هو مطوَّل، وكثير من مباحثه تَخرج من الإعانة على التدبر، وهناك مختصرات في التفسير تعين طالب العلم على الفهم وتعينه على التدبر ولا تعوقه عن كثرة المقروء، فالقراءة في المختصرات أو في غريب القرآن أو ما أشبه ذلك لا مانع منها في رمضان؛ لأنها تعين على الفهم والتدبر، أما القراءة في المطولات التي يمكن أن ينتهي رمضان وهو لم يقرأ إلا نصف التفسير منها أو ربعه فهذه تُترك إلى ما بعد رمضان، وهو من العلم الذي كان يُترك في رمضان للتفرغ للتلاوة.ـ

Response: There are some books of tafsir which are long, containing many discussions which do not contribute to helping one contemplate the Qur’an. Continue reading

“Whoever is Not Able to Stand at ‘Arafah …”: Ibn Rajab

In part of his final comments on Hajj in his book on the events of the Islamic calendar, al-haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following beautiful words:

من لم يستطيع الوقوف بعرفه فليقف عند حدود الله الذي عرفه ومن لم يستطيع المبيت في مزدلفه فليبت عزمه علئ طاعه الله ليقربه ويزدلفه ومن لم يقدر على نحر هديه بمنى فليذبح هواهه هنا ليبلغ به المنى ومن لم يستطع الوصول للبيت لانه منه بعيد فليقصد رب البيت فانه اقرب اليه من حبل الوريد . ـ

Whoever is not able to stand at ‘Arafah, then let him come to a standstill at the limits that Allah has set for him!

Whoever is not able to stay the night at Muzdhalifah, then let him stay in a state of obedience to Allah, seeking closeness and nearness to Him!

Whoever is not able to slaughter his sacrificial animal at Mina, then let him slaughter his own lusts and desires so that might achieve that higher aim! Continue reading

Hajj is During Well-Known Months: Tafsir al-Sa’di

While discussing some of the rulings related to Hajj in surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us that:

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Hajj is during well-known months. So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein, there is no rafath and no fusooq and no jidal during Hajj. And whatever you do of good good – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is taqwa. So have taqwa, O you of understanding. [2:197]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di explained this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

يخبر تعالى أن { الْحَجَّ } واقع في { أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ } عند المخاطبين, مشهورات, بحيث لا تحتاج إلى تخصيص، كما احتاج الصيام إلى تعيين شهره, وكما بين تعالى أوقات الصلوات الخمس. وأما الحج فقد كان من ملة إبراهيم, التي لم تزل مستمرة في ذريته معروفة بينهم. والمراد بالأشهر المعلومات عند جمهور العلماء: شوال, وذو القعدة, وعشر من ذي الحجة, فهي التي يقع فيها الإحرام بالحج غالبا.ـ

Allah informs us that

الْحَجَّ

Hajj …

takes place during

أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ

… well-known months

i.e. well-known to those to whom this revelation was originally addressed. Well-known such that there was no need to specify it as had been the case which explicitly naming the month of fasting or how Allah had clarified the times of the five daily prayers. But the Hajj had been part of the religion of Ibrahim which had continued to be practiced among his descendants and was known to them. According to the majority of scholars, the intended meaning of the well-known months is Shawwaal, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, and Dhu’l-Hijjah because these are the months in which people enter in a state of ihram for Hajj for the most part.

ـ { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } أي: أحرم به, لأن الشروع فيه يصيره فرضا, ولو كان نفلا. واستدل بهذه الآية الشافعي ومن تابعه, على أنه لا يجوز الإحرام بالحج قبل أشهره، قلت لو قيل: إن فيها دلالة لقول الجمهور, بصحة الإحرام [بالحج] قبل أشهره لكان قريبا، فإن قوله: { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } دليل على أن الفرض قد يقع في الأشهر المذكورة وقد لا يقع فيها, وإلا لم يقيده. ـ

فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ

So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein … Continue reading

Hajj is ‘Arafah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kaathir mentioned the following points regarding the Day of ‘Arafah in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah:

وعرفة : موضع الموقف في الحج ، وهي عمدة أفعال الحج ; ولهذا روى الإمام أحمد ، وأهل السنن ، بإسناد صحيح ، عن الثوري ، عن بكير بن عطاء ، عن عبد الرحمن بن يعمر الديلي ، [ ص: 552 ] قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ” الحج عرفات – ثلاثا – فمن أدرك عرفة قبل أن يطلع الفجر ، فقد أدرك . وأيام منى ثلاثة ، فمن تعجل في يومين فلا إثم عليه ، ومن تأخر فلا إثم عليه ” . ـ

‘Arafah is a place of standing during the Hajj, and it is one of the pillars of the rituals of the Hajj. In support of this is the hadeeth with a sound chain of narration that was conveyed by Imam Ahmad and authors of the Sunan collections on the authority of al-Thawri, on the authority on Bukayr ibn ‘Ataa’, on the authority of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Y’amar al-Dayli who said:

I heard Allah’s Messenger say, “Hajj is ‘Arafah” – three times – “so whoever catches ‘Arafah before the rising of dawn, then he has caught the Hajj. And the days of Mina are three, but whoever hastens to leave after two days, then there is no sin upon, and whoever waits, then there is no sin upon him.” Continue reading

Purifying the Ka’bah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Hajj, Allah informs us of his command to Ibrahim to purify the Ka’bah:

 وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And when We designated for Ibrahim the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate. [22:26]

al-haafidh ibn Kathir commented on this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

( وطهر بيتي ) قال مجاهد وقتادة : من الشرك ، ( للطائفين والقائمين والركع السجود ) أي : اجعله خالصا لهؤلاء الذين يعبدون الله وحده لا شريك له . فالطائف به معروف ، وهو أخص العبادات عند البيت ، فإنه لا يفعل ببقعة من الأرض سواها ، ( والقائمين ) أي : في الصلاة; ولهذا قال : ( والركع السجود ) فقرن الطواف بالصلاة; لأنهما لا يشرعان إلا مختصين بالبيت ، فالطواف عنده ، والصلاة إليه في غالب الأحوال ، إلا ما استثني من الصلاة عند اشتباه القبلة وفي الحرب ، وفي النافلة في السفر ، والله أعلم .ـ

وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ

And purify My House …

Mujahid and Qatadah said this means: purify it from al-Shirk.

لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

… for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate.

meaning: make this House exclusively for those who worship Allah alone without associating any partners with Him. Continue reading

Zakah al-Fitr in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Baghawi

In the midst of surah al-‘Aalaa, Allah informs us:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ * وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّىٰ

He has certainly succeeded – he who tazakkaa * and mentions the name of his Lord and prays [87:14-15]

The word tazakkaa refers to purification, either purification of one’s self (such as in the related term tazkiyyah al-nafs) or purification of one’s wealth (such as in the related term zakah). In his commentary on these ayaat, the famous mufassir Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( قد أفلح من تزكى ) تطهر من الشرك وقال : لا إله إلا الله . هذا قول عطاء وعكرمة ، ورواية الوالبي وسعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس وقال الحسن : من كان عمله زاكيا . ـ

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ

He has certainly succeeded – he who tazakkaa

who purifies himself from al-shirk and says laa ilaaha illallaah – there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. This was the explanation of ‘Ataa’ and ‘Ikrimah, as well as being relayed from ibn ‘Abbaas by way of al-Waalibi and Sa’eed ibn Jubayr.

al-Hasan al-Basri explained it by saying, “Whoever’s actions are pure.”

وقال آخرون : هو صدقة الفطر ، روي عن أبي سعيد الخدري في قوله : ” قد أفلح من تزكى ” قال : أعطى صدقة الفطر . ـ

Meanwhile others say that this is referring to the zakah al-fitr. It is relayed from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri regarding this ayah that he explained it by saying, “[He has certainly succeeded – he who] gives the zakah al-fitr.” Continue reading

Khutbah at the Beginning of Shawwaal: Imam al-Sa’di

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored the following khutbah for the beginning of the month of Shawwaal, immediately following the month of Ramadan:

الخطبة الأولى لشوال
Khutbah at the Beginning of Shawwaal

الحمد لله الذي افتتح أشهر الحج بشهر شوال ، وجعله متجرا لنيل الفضائل والإفضال ، فسبحانه من إله عظيم متفرد بصفات الكمال والجلال ، عالم بالسرائر والبواطن وجميع الأحوال . ـ

Allah praise is due to Allah, the One who has opened the months of the Hajj with the month of Shawwaal and has made it a marketplace to obtain virtue and goodness. So exalted is He, the Magnificent deity beyond compare in His perfect and sublime characteristics, the One who knows the secret matters, the concealed affairs, and all things.

نحمده على فضله وكرمه ، ونشكره على أياديه ونعمه ـ

We praise Him for His bounty and generosity, and we thank Him for His blessings and favors.

ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له الكبير المتعال ، شهادة تنفي الشرك وتنافي الضلال ، نرجو أن يختم بها حياتنا ويؤَمّننا بها من المخاوف والأهوال . ـ

We testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone, with no partners, the Great and Most Exalted. This is a testimony that negates al-shirk and opposes misguidance. We hope to conclude our lives with this testimony, and it gives us peace in the face of fear and fright. Continue reading

Preparing for Ramadan in Sha’baan: ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

al-Haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali concluded his discussion of fasting during the month of Sha’baan (the eighth month of the Islamic calendar, immediately preceding Ramadan) with the following notes:

وقد قيل: في صوم شعبان معنى آخر: أن صيامه كالتمرين على صيام رمضان لئلا يدخل في صوم رمضان على مشقة وكلفة بل قد تمرن على. الصيام واعتاده ووجد بصيام شعبان قبله حلاوة الصيام ولذته فيدخل في صيام رمضان بقوة ونشاط. ـ

Some have said that one of the effects of fasting during Sha’baan is that it acts like a training for the fast of Ramadan, in order that one can enter into Ramadan in good shape, being prepared for it and accustomed to fasting. And through fasting during Sha’baan, one will find and savor the sweetness of the fast, and so he will enter into Ramadan with vigor and determination.

ولما كان شعبان كالمقدمة لرمضان شرع فيه ما يشرع في رمضان من الصيام وقراءة القرآن ليحصل التأهب لتلقي رمضان وترتاض النفوس بذلك على طاعة الرحمن ـ

Sha’baan is like a precursor to Ramadan. The things which are legislated in Ramadan – such as fasting and reciting the Qur’an – are also legislated in Sha’baan so that one can be prepared to meet Ramadan and accustom himself to obeying al-Rahman. Continue reading

The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan

Allah opens surah al-Dukkhaan (44) by mentioning “a blessed night” during which He sent down the Qur’an. The majority of the salaf and prominent interpreters of the Qur’an have indicated that this blessed night is Laylah al-Qadr, while a minority have claimed that it is referring to the night of the middle of the month of Sha’baan. What follows are three detailed clarifications of why the first position is correct and the second opinion is not supported by the textual evidences.

○ Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following clarification at the beginning of his tafsir of surah al-Dhukhaan. al-Shinqitee’s tafsir was focused on the theme of explaining the Qur’an first and foremost by means of the Qur’an itself, and he follows this approach in this explanation as well:

قوله – تعالى – : إنا أنزلناه في ليلة مباركة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ

Indeed, We sent it [the Qur’an] down during a blessed night [44:3]

أبهم – تعالى – هذه الليلة المباركة هنا ، ولكنه بين أنها هي ليلة القدر في قوله – تعالى – : إنا أنزلناه في ليلة القدر [ 97 \ 1 ] وبين كونها ( مباركة ) المذكورة هنا في قوله – تعالى – : ليلة القدر خير من ألف شهر [ 97 \ 3 ] إلى آخر السورة . ـ

Allah left this blessed night ambiguous here, however He made it clear that it refers to Laylah al-Qadr elsewhere in His statement:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

Indeed, We sent it down during Laylah al-Qadr [97:1]

And He clarified its aforementioned quality of “blessedness” in His statement: Continue reading