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The Ramadan Of The Early Muslims I Sh Suleiman Hani


Early muslims

What if you believed with conviction that Ramadan was a life-changing month of opportunities, blessings, and forgiveness, and that this Ramadan would be your last?

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed, and a month Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) chose as one of increased forgiveness, mercy, accepted prayers, and multiplied rewards. Some people learn about Ramadan practices from their parents, communities, scholars, and friends, but sometimes end up missing some foundational elements in their practices during Ramadan. 

How do we know what the best practices are during the month of Ramadan? 

The Prophet ﷺ reportedly said, “The best of generations is my generation, then those which follow them, then those which follow them.” [Muslim]

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Therefore, the most reasonable route would be to learn about the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) practice during Ramadan, and that of the early generations of believers.

Stage I: The Preparation for Ramadan

The month before Ramadan, Sha’bān, is the month of preparation for those who want to maximize their potential in Ramadan. Sha’bān is a proof for the one who wishes to get closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) during Ramadan. Sha’ban is a proof for the one who’s sincerely passionate about living to another Ramadan, and hoping and praying that their previous Ramadan was accepted. Sha’ban is the month for the conscientious who plan to properly set the foundations for the month of Ramadan. Sha’ban is the month referred to as the month of reciters, for the companions increased their recitations of the Qur’an in order to maintain momentum throughout Ramadan.

Aishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fasting for an entire month except in Ramadhan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’ban.” [Muslim]

Usāmah ibn Zayd raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’ban.’ He ﷺ said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadhan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.’”

Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) says: ‘When Sha’ban would commence, the Muslims would dedicate themselves to the recital of the Quran.” [Latā’if al-Ma’ārif]

Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) writes: “Since Sha’bān is a prelude to Ramadan, Islām encourages certain deeds in this month, that are usually done in Ramadan, such as fasting and Quran recitation; this prepares the soul to welcome Ramadan, when it arrives, with open arms.” [Latā’if al-Ma’ārif]

Stage II: Ramadan arrives

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said:

‏إِذَا دَخَلَ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ فُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَسُلْسِلَتِ الشَّيَاطِين‏

“When the month of Ramadan begins, the gates of the heaven are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained.” [Bukhārī]

Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saw the crescent moon, he would say:

اللَّهُمَّ أَهْلِلْهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْيُمْنِ وَالْإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلَامَةِ وَالْإِسْلَامِ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ

“O Allah, bring it over us with blessings and faith, safety and Islam. My Lord and your Lord is Allah” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī]

Why Ramadan? 

How rewarding can your next 720 hours be if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) decrees for you life to the end of Ramadan? It helps the believer to know the rewards and blessings of the month of Ramadan in order to be strongly motivated and consistent throughout and beyond. 

The great companion Talha bin ‘Ubaidullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that two men came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and became Muslim together. After accepting Islam one of them would strive harder than the other. The one who used to strive harder went out to fight in the way of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and was martyred. The other man who accepted Islam at the same time as the martyr lived a year longer, then he also passed away.

Later Talha raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that he saw in a dream that he was at the gate of Paradise and he saw those two men that had died. Then through the gates of Paradise someone came out and admitted the one who had died last into Jannah, then he came out again and admitted the one who died first as a martyr. Then he came back to Talha raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and said: ‘Go back, for your time has not yet come.’”

The next morning, Talha raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) told the people of the dream and they were amazed. News of that reached the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and they told him the story. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Why are you so amazed at that?” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, the first one was the one who strove harder, and he died a martyr in the cause of Allah, but the other man (who didn’t strive as hard and was not a martyr) was admitted to Paradise before him?” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Did he (the second man) not live for another year?” They said: “Yes.” The Prophet ﷺ asked: “And did not Ramadan come and he fasted, and he offered such and such prayers during that year?” They said: “Yes.” 

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The difference between them is greater than the difference between the heaven and the earth.” [Ibn Mājah]

If you’re blessed with just one more Ramadan, take advantage of the opportunity Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given you, for the departed would wish to come back for such a blessed opportunity. 

Anas ibn Malik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said when the month of Ramadan began: 

إِنَّ هَذَا الشَّهْرَ قَدْ حَضَرَكُمْ وَفِيهِ لَيْلَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَهَا فَقَدْ حُرِمَ الْخَيْرَ كُلَّهُ وَلَا يُحْرَمُ خَيْرَهَا إِلَّا مَحْرُومٌ

“Verily, this month has presented itself to you. There is a night within it that is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it has been deprived of all good. None is deprived of its good but that he is truly deprived.” [Sunan Ibn Mājah]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  also said:

إِنَّ لِلَّهِ عُتَقَاءَ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ يعني في رمضان لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ مِنْهُمْ دَعْوَةٌ مُسْتَجَابَةٌ

“Verily, Allah has people He redeems in every day and night of Ramadan. Every servant among them has a supplication that will be answered.” [Musnad Aḥmad]

Allah ﷻ tells us:

“O you who believe, fasting has been obligated upon you as it has been obligated upon those before you so that you may gain taqwa.” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:183]

One of the greatest objectives and focus points of Ramadan is that of purification of the soul. Ramadan is a great opportunity to become a stronger believer, to purify oneself of ill vices, to strengthen one’s self-discipline and perseverance, and to fulfill one’s potential. 

Every year, we see this remarkable phenomenon around the world of 2 billion Muslims, where believers who were not reciting any Quran the entire year are suddenly reciting for hours throughout Ramadan. Believers who thought voluntary prayers were beyond their capacity are now praying qiyām every night, sometimes for several hours. Believers who neglected calling upon Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) are now making du’a passionately and sincerely. Believers who never fasted a single day all year are now fasting the entire month of Ramadan. This phenomenon of Ramadan is a proof to all believers – and all human beings – that change is possible. If you can improve even slightly during Ramadan and gain increased taqwa, you can certainly change any time of the year. The Lord of Ramadan is the Lord of the entire year, the Lord of time, and the Lord of the universe. 

The Station of Qur’an Recitation

The month of Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, in terms of its revelation as well as its increased recitation and study. The Muslim must therefore recite the Qur’an a great deal and pay particular attention to its meanings and pondering upon its miraculous nature. The angel Jibril used to recite the Qur’an with the Prophet ﷺ during Ramadan. It was reported that Uthmān b. Affān raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) used to complete reciting the Qur’an once each day in Ramadan. Some of the predecessors also completed the Quran in their night prayers every three nights, or every seven nights, or every ten nights. Others completed it every seven days, while some others completed it every ten nights, and this was accomplished both during prayer and at other times of the day and night. During Ramadan, Imam Al-Shāfi’i used to complete reciting the Qur’an once every day and once every night. AI-Aswad used to complete reciting the Qur’an every two nights. Qatādah completed the Quran every three nights of Ramadan, but in the last ten days of Ramadan, he completed it every night.

Ibn Rajab says in Laṭā`if Al-Ma’ārif:

The prohibition of reciting the Quran in less than three days [found in some ahadith] refers to doing so regularly [throughout the year]. As for virtuous times, like Ramadan – especially the nights in which it is hoped Laylatu Al-Qadr will occur – or virtuous places, like Makkah – for those who enter it and are not residents there, then it is recommended to increase in reciting the Quran, making the most of the time and the place. This is the position of [Imam] Aḥmad, Isḥāq and other Imams, and the practice of others [from the Salaf] indicates [they held the same position].

When Ramadan came, Al-Zuhri discontinued the study of hadith and he concentrated on reciting the Qur’an. Similarly, Sufyan Al-Thawri left all other voluntary forms of beneficial knowledge and concentrated on the Qur’an. It was reported that Imam Mālik would teach the people (year-round), then when the month of Ramaḍān would come, he would free up his time to fast and to recite the Qur’an.

This Qur’an is an Inspiration, a light, a healing, and a guidance, as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has described it:

“And thus We have sent to you Ruhan (an Inspiration, and a Mercy) of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you are indeed guiding (mankind) to the Straight Path.” [Surah al-Shūra 42:52]

“O humanity! Indeed, there has come to you a warning from your Lord, a cure for what is in the hearts, a guide, and a mercy for the believers.” [Sūrat Yunus, 10:57]

The Station of Weeping with the Quran’s Recitation

During this month in particular, focus on pondering the meanings of the Quran and not limiting yourself to reciting quickly on the tongue. The Qur’an was revealed as guidance, for reflection (tadabbur), and if you come across a verse that impacts you in a particular manner, then pause and reflect, repeat it as many times as necessary, and let it enter your heart with humility. 

It was narrated that Abdullāh b. Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to me: “Recite the Quran to me.” I said: “O Messenger of Allah, shall I recite it to you when it was revealed to you?” He said: “I like to hear it from someone else.” So I recited Surat al-Nisā’ to him, and when I reached this verse – “How (will it be) then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these people?” [4:41] – he said: “That is enough for now.” I turned to him and saw his eyes streaming with tears. [Bukhārī]

It was related from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet ﷺ said, “When the verse of the Qur’an that says  ‘Do you then wonder at this recital (the Qur’an) and you laugh at it and weep not.’ [Qur’an 53:59-60] was revealed, the Companions residing in the Suffah, (in the Prophet’s mosque) wept until tears began to trickle down their cheeks.” When the Prophet ﷺ heard their weeping, he wept with them and his weeping made us weep. The Messenger of Allah said, “The person who weeps in humility to Allah will not enter Hell.” [al-Bayhaqi] 

One day, Abdullah b. Umar read surah Al-Mutaffifin until he reached

“…the Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds…” [Surah Al-Mutaffifin 83:6].

He wept to such an extent that he fell to the ground and could not move on to the next verses. 

Furthermore, Muzahim Ibn Zafar reported, “Sufyan Al-Thawri lead us in maghrib prayer, and when he reached:

“You (Alone) do we worship and You (Alone) do we ask for help.” [Surah Al-Fathiha 1:5]

He began to weep until his recitation was disrupted. Thereafter, he started from the beginning (Alhamdulillahi…) again.

One of the righteous people used to weep night and day, and something was said to him about that. He said: “I am afraid that Allah will see me committing sin and will say: ‘Go away from Me for I am angry with you.’” Hence Sufyan used to weep and say: “I am afraid that my faith will be taken away at the moment of death.”

The Station of Qiyam Prayer in Ramadan

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab used to pray at night what he wished, until it was in the middle of the night, when he would wake up his family to pray; then he would say to them “al-salah, al-salah (prayer… prayer)”, and would recite this āyah:

“Bid your people to pray, and be diligent in ˹observing˺ it. We do not ask you to provide. It is We Who provide for you. And the ultimate outcome is ˹only˺ for ˹the people of˺ righteousness.” [Surah Taha 20:132]

Abdullah b. Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) used to recite,

“Are they better˺ or those who worship ˹their Lord˺ devoutly in the hours of the night, prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of their Lord? Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” None will be mindful ˹of this˺ except people of reason.” [Surah Az-Zumar 39:9]

Abdullah said that was referring to Uthmān Ibn Affān (may Allah be pleased with him). Ibn Abi Hatim said Ibn Umar said that it was due to the length of the prayer of Uthman at night.

Global dua

During Ramadan, it is encouraged for one to pray qiyām after the Ishā prayer, such as with eight units of prayer (2 by 2) and then witr prayer (in odd units of 1, 3, 5, etc.). This night prayer in Ramadan is known as the tarawih prayer, and there’s a particular reward for praying it in congregation. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever stays with his imam until he completes the prayer, will have the night written for him as one who performed qiyām al-layl, (i.e. one who stood the night in prayer).” [At-Tirmidhi] It is not an obligation for women to pray this prayer at the mosque for the reward mentioned in the hadith, or for the man who’s excused for valid reasons. 

The Station of Generosity

The Prophet ﷺ was the most generous of people, and he was even more generous during Ramadan.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best charity is one given during Ramadan.” [al-Tirmidhi]

Zayd Ibn Aslam narrated from his father as saying, “I heard Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) say, ‘The Messenger of Allah ﷺ commanded us to donate to charity, so I gave some of my wealth. Then I said, ‘Today I will compete with Abu Bakr if I can ever do so.’ Then I donated half of my wealth. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked me, ‘What did you leave for your family?’ He said, ‘I said the same as what I gave out.’ But Abu Bakr brought all of his wealth and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked him, ‘What did you leave for your family?’ He replied, ‘I left them with Allah and His Messenger,’ I said, ‘I will never compete with you for anything again.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward equal to that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.” [Ahmad]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ also said: “The likeness [i.e. in terms of rewards] of the one who comes to [the aid of] a widow and [the aid of] a destitute is like that of a Mujahid (striver) in the cause of Allah or that of someone who spends the night in prayers and the day in fasting.” [Al-Mishkāt]

The Station of Productivity

Remember throughout Ramadan the importance of pairing one’s internal purification with external deeds of worship. Oftentimes, people focus so much on external deeds – sometimes in a robotic fashion – that they forget to cultivate sincerity and ihsān within. 

We find great examples in our predecessors of their sincerity and their attempt to hide their good deeds, such as with the famous tābi’i (generation succeeding the companions), Ayyub al-Sakhtiyani, about whom Hamad b. Zayd said: “Sometimes, when studying hadith, Ayyub would be so moved and he would turn away to blow his nose. Then he would say, ‘How severe this cold is!’ and would pretend to be having a cold to hide his weeping.”

Sufyan Al-Thawri said, “The servant of Allah would do his deeds secretly, and the devil would persist in tempting him until he convinces him to do it openly. The devil would then continue to insist until the person wants to be thanked for the deed. So, it will be converted from a deed done openly to one done for showing off.”

If you are a busy Muslim with a significant amount of responsibilities, what should you do during Ramadan to maximize the opportunity? Among other strategies, consider the following: 

 – WHAT do you want to accomplish? Be specific about your goals.

 – WHY do you want to accomplish them? What is your intention and motivation? 

 – HOW do you plan to accomplish them? What is your strategy to do it and to measure it daily?

If you analyze your schedule properly, you’ll realize time is being wasted and isn’t as productive as you think. Being busy is not equal to being productive. 

  1. Track your schedule to find wasted time or efficiency gaps.
  2. Use a count-down timer frequently, and know that the hours of Ramadan are limited.
  3. Remove distractions when focusing on tasks and especially during Ramadan.

Additionally, be sincere in looking for every opportunity to decrease your responsibilities within Ramadan, such as work projects, extracurricular activities, voluntary matters, and educational goals, until after Ramadan. Obviously, one cannot literally postpone all responsibilities in Ramadan nor are we expected to; the companions at times would not only reach new heights in Ramadan with acts of worship, but at times they were attacked and had to engage in numerous battles in the history of Ramadan. Whatever can wait until Ramadan, try to postpone it of worldly matters, and whatever cannot, consider the previous advice.

Finally, consider incorporating supplications, dhikr (remembrance), and Qur’an throughout your day and night in your worldly activities. One brother remarked on how this one piece of advice helped him to complete the recitation of the entire Quran for the first time in his life, despite not decreasing his worldly responsibilities. He recited Quran between tasks, even if it was a few minutes at a time, or made du’ā and dhikr, and found it to be spiritually transformative while juggling worldly responsibilities.

If this is your final Ramadan, make it your best, for all who departed before you have died before completing another Ramadan.



[Podcast] Man 2 Man: Beast Mode – Spiritual Preparation For Ramadan

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Imam Suleiman Hani is the Director of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib Institute, a research scholar for Yaqeen Institute, and a resident scholar in Michigan. At the age of 14, Suleiman completed a 10-month Qur’an memorization program and began his intensive studies under numerous scholars, earning dozens of traditional religious certifications in the process. He later earned a master’s degree from the University of Jordan’s College of Shari’ah, ranking first in his class, and a master’s degree from Harvard University, where he studied religions, philosophy, political science, and psychology. Over the past decade, he has served as an Imam and community leader in Michigan, lectured in dozens of countries, published a number of books and articles, and was featured on the largest Islamic TV stations worldwide. His recent hobbies include mixed martial arts, archery, and skydiving.

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