Come, close your eyes and think of the word RAMADAN with me. What do you see?
I see a hint of the crescent moon shyly lighting up the blue-black sky amidst the twinkling of decorative fairy lights and fanoos; I smell samosas and chaat, dahi bade and phirni; I hear the doorbell peal suddenly to announce the addition of a neighbor’s traditional and special Iftar dish to our table; I revel in the joy of family togetherness at the Iftar table. I sense the happy rush in the air to join the special nightly prayers, souls hungering to hear the melodious recitations of the noble Qur’an reverberating from the mosques scattered across our cities. And as I wrap up Iftar and hurry to the neighbourhood mosque, I marvel at the crowds around me doing the same, to partake in the heart-rending Taraweeh du’aas that resound in the night air, begging the Almighty to forgive us all and grant us increase in His favour.
But today, in the midst of this global Corona Crisis, just thinking about the word Ramadan makes me feel sad. This year too, In Sha Allah, the crescent moon will smile shyly and usher the month in and we will likely enjoy delicious Iftars with our families chatting around the table but how dearly will we miss the communal Iftars and then the gathering and praying at the mosques, with the aim of listening to one or more complete recitations of the Qur’an with the Ummah uniting in the offering of special du’aas!
Already much of the Muslim world is in a stupor, with the closure of the majority of mosques including the 2 holiest on the Earth – Masjidul Haram & Masjid ul Nabawi – since the past 5 weeks or more. Daily and weekly Jumu’ah prayers have been suspended and now we are having to contend with a Ramadan without Taraweeh, Qiyaam ul Layl and perhaps even Eid prayers, with the Mu’athin calling out each prayer, “Assalatu Fi Buyootikum”(Pray in your homes)!!
While the reasons for the shortened Athan, no Iqamah and cancellation of the daily/weekly community prayers that are being enforced today worldwide are completely legitimate and required in this situation, it’s the actual and indefinite closure of the mosques worldwide that’s disturbing. In effect, here’s what we are actually missing each time we miss out on a prayer at the mosque (Hadith and dua references at the end of the article):
* The chance to erase our sins by walking to the mosque in a state of wudu (Hadith 1)
* The reward of walking to the mosque in a state of ablution (wudu) and gaining a’jr for every step we take (Hadith 1)
* The opportunity to make dua’a to bring light upon ourselves, to have the doors of His mercy opened to us and to ask for His abundant blessings upon us while walking to and entering/exiting His house (Dua 1 & 2)
* The chance to make accepted dua’as between the Athan and the Iqamah (Hadith 2)
* The chance to pray Nafl prayers in the masjid after the Athan and before the Iqamah
* The rewards of the Jam’aah prayers – 25 to 27 times more reward than individual prayers prayed at home or in the marketplace! (Hadith 3)
* The chance and reward to personally exchange face-to-face salams with our neighbours
* The weekly opportunity to meet our brothers and sisters from the Ummah at large
* The chance and reward to meet and greet many neighbours and friends as is common in Ramadan, as we only see many of them yearly during the Taraweeh prayers!
* The chance to engage in congregational dua’a and istighfar
* The chance to be in the blessed company of angels while gaining knowledge in the after-Salah halaqas (Hadith 4)
* The chance to have the angels pray for us as we wait in the mosque (Hadith 5)
As it is rightly said, “We only realize the value of a thing when it is lost.” Brothers and Sisters, have we ever thought how many rewards we gain when we attend just a single jama’ah prayer? And now how many of these free-for-all rewards are at stake with the complete suspension of these prayers??!! We are all aware of the ajr and barakah in attending regular prayers at the mosque but keeping in mind the multiple-fold reward for every good deed in Ramadan, it breaks the heart to know what we might be missing! L
Sadness mounted in me until I came across this Hadith, “Worship in a time of turmoil is as if he had emigrated to me.” (Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2948). What a fantastic thought to keep being motivated to perform acts of worship during difficult days!
Therefore, here’s what I researched and came up with to avoid missing out on the above rewards (wherever possible/required, detailed references have been included at the end of the write-up):
- Start a family Halaqah – Family halaqahs are a great way to involve all ages including the elderly and the very young in a circle of learning. Now with Ramadan upon us, a whole month of seeking knowledge, acting upon what we learnt and fasting correctly with the right intention to be abundantly rewarded is enough motivation to get together and start the daily Halaqahs! And what better way to have the angels lower their wings upon us as seekers of knowledge and pray for us!
- Institute congregational prayers on time with our families – Praying on time is one of the best deeds that we can do. Scholars maintain that the smallest number that counts for prayer in congregation, apart from Jumu’ah prayer, is two: the Imam and the person who is praying behind him, who should stand to his right. Even the Jumu’ah is valid if there are 3 or more people praying in congregation. (Source: Islamqa.info)
- Pray the Ramadan Taraweeh prayers (if possible, in congregation) – This is a fantastic time to introduce our families to a Sunnah prayer that was done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) individually and in congregation and to remind ourselves that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that whoever prays the night prayer in Ramadan, out of sincerity and seeking its reward will be forgiven for all his previous sins.
In fact, it is a mercy upon us that he (peace be upon him) did not obligate these prayers to be prayed in the masjid. By praying together behind one who knows the most Qur’an in the family, we can all still listen to the Qur’anic recitation and partake in communal du’aa as in the mosque. (Hadith 6)
- Make a lot of dua’a together as a family – This is another great way to have the angels make dua’a for us to be blessed with the same things that we make dua’a for, for the entire Ummah. Remember to use the most powerful dua’as and dhikr for maximum reward and effect (refer the book Hisnul Muslim)! While this can be done throughout the year and at different times of the day, the best time would be just before breaking the fast as the du’aa of the fasting person is never rejected! (Hadith 7 & 8)
- Use Quarantine is actually Qur’an-Time – Just as this phrase is trending these days, let us turn to reading/memorizing/perfecting the recitation our Noble Book, an act that we always increase multiple-folds in Ramadan. This year, let us use this quarantine to reflect upon its golden words and actively seek to apply its timeless wisdom and teachings whilst getting rewarded 10 times over for every letter recited. (Hadith 9)
- Increase the sending of Salawat on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – One salat on the Prophet (pbuh) is 10 blessings upon ourselves and through this simple act, we can also expect increase of reward and erasure of sins as mentioned in the Hadith. Also, our salam reaches him wherever we may send it from, and we will be rewarded for it always. What a great way to gain ajr! (Hadith 10)
- Connect creatively – The coronavirus pandemic has socially and severely distanced us. What better time than to refresh those friendships/relationships online and drop a line to ask after others! We could also use other non-contact ways to connect with neighbours and friends by phoning/chatting with them on social media and once in a while, surprising them with a delicious Iftar dish on their doorstep!
Finally, it pays to remember the Sahih Hadith that states that acts of worship during times of difficulty/illness/travels are rewarded similarly as when done at home in times of good health and ease. We can also hope that Allah (SWT) in His infinite mercy and generosity will continue to fully reward the people who regularly attended the daily prayers in the masjid prior to these trying times in the same way. Therefore, let us set good intentions and act upon them by doing good deeds as much and whenever we can in our good times, so as to continue reaping the rewards during our difficult days.
Let us use this ‘Solitary Ramadan’ to focus on perfecting our fasting and implement its lessons and blessings throughout our lives in the years to come. Let us remind ourselves that Islam is a smart and modern way of life that takes into account every situation and circumstance that may affect mankind, with a solution to tackle it effectively. May Allah (SWT) guide us, forgive us and keep us all steadfast on His Deen, Aameen!
- 1 – Allah’s Apostle said, “The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty-five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one’s house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah’s Blessings and Allah’s forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.’ And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 620)
- 2 – The Prophet said: “Supplications (dua’as) offered in between the (two) calls for prayer (i.e. Athan and Iqamah) will never be rejected.” – Abu Dawud
- 3 – The Prophet also said: “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-five times more superior (in reward) to his prayer in his house or market – and this is because he performs ablution and perfects it and goes to the mosque with the sole purpose of performing the prayer. He does not take a step without being raised a degree and having one of his sins erased. When he prays, as long as he does not lose his ablution, the angels keep on supplicating [for him] ‘O Allah, bless him. O Allah, have mercy upon him.’ And he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
- 4 – “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy for him, and indeed, the angels lower their wings for the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does…” – As narrated by Abud-Darda (RA) and quoted in Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi
- 5 – Allah’s Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking for Allah’s Blessing and Forgiveness for anyone of you as long as he is at his Musalla (praying place) and does not do Hadath (passes wind). The angels say, ‘O Allah! Forgive him and be Merciful to him.’ Each one of you is in the prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and nothing, but the prayer detains him from going to his family.” – Narrated by Abu Huraira (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 628)
- 6 – It is proven in al-Saheehayn that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led his companions in prayer (Taraweeh) for several nights, then on the third or fourth night he did not come out to them. When morning came, he said: “Nothing prevented me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.” – Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1129
- 7 – The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three whose du’aa’ is not rejected: a just ruler, the fasting person when he breaks his fast and the prayer of the oppressed person. It rises above the clouds and the gates of heaven are opened for it, and the Lord, may He be glorified, says, ‘By My Glory I will answer you even if it is after a while.’” – Abu Hurayrah said this, as narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2525; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2050
- 8 – The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “At every breaking of the fast Allaah has people whom He redeems from the Fire, and that happens every night.” Jaabir said, as narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1643; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah, 1332
- 9 – Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will receive one good deed as ten good deeds like it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is one letter, but rather Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter, and Mim is a letter. – Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2910
- 10 – “Whoever supplicates Allah (SWT) to exalt my mention (i.e., send salah) Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salah) 10 times and remove from him 10 sins and raise him 10 degrees.” – As quoted in Sahih Muslim
- 1 – Dua when going to the masjid: https://hisnmuslim.com/i/en/12
- 2 – Dua when entering the masjid: https://hisnmuslim.com/i/en/13
Mrs. Lisha Azad