Ramadan – In the Footsteps of a Great Generation
Imam Malik, a great Muslim scholar, in fact, the Imam of one of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, would seek permission to be excused following each of his lectures which were attended by hundreds of students to spend an hour of his time with the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (S). As many of you may already know, the last surviving Companion (R) died many years before Imam Malik was born. However, this great scholar, a genius of his times, would dedicate at least an hour of his time delving into the books authored by the Sahabah (R) and would read their biographies. He was both inspired and intrigued by their lives.
Although the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (S) lived humble lives, their generation’s accomplishments have yet to be recreated by another generation since the history of Islam, if not humanity. For this reason, I beseech you and myself to take this opportunity to walk in the lives of the Companions and their righteous followers to gain a picture of how they welcomed the blessed month of Ramadan. Through learning from them we may enjoy the beautiful scent which springs from their experiences and gain direction on our path towards righteousness.
It has been narrated that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (S) would engage in dua’a, (sincere prayer), six months prior to the arrival of Ramadan seeking Allah’s permission to witness the month. They would also pray for the six months which followed seeking Allah’s acceptance of their works during the month. Yahya ibn Abi Kathir narrates that they prayed, “Oh Allah preserve me until the arrival of Ramadan, make the month easy for me, and accept it from me.”
So worried were they that Al-Motahir (the purifier), as they referred to the month, would not arrive to their homes each year, they would say, “Welcome O purifier of sins.” There could not be a more generous guest than Ramadan which brings with it great mercy and blessings. In fact, the Sahabah would not ask for forgiveness in any other month more than they would during Ramadan. Abdullah bin Umar (R), a great companion and the son of a great companion, used to say upon breaking his fast, “Oh Allah I ask from Your mercy which has encompassed everything to forgive me.” He could have asked for absolutely anything, but chose this opportune time to seek Allah’s forgiveness.
The Quran would receive special attention during the month of Ramadan by the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (S), especially during the night, when they had finished their laboring and hearts were ready for contemplation. Uthman ibn Affan (R) took advantage of this and recited the Quran from beginning to end daily, while other Companions would complete the Quran every seven nights during Taraweeh prayers.
Not only did they recite the Quran, they were sincere in their recitation and devout in their concentration. Albayhaqi narrates, when the Companions recited the verses from Surat al-Najm, “Do you, perchance, find this tiding strange? And you laugh instead of weeping?” (59-61) they would begin to cry. When asked why they would cry every time they read these verses, they would reply that they witnessed Prophet Muhammad (S) crying when he recited these very verses. And so was their devotion to every verse of the Quran, knowing its time of revelation, its linguistic beauty, meaning and relevance. They even were keen on knowing the emotions of the beloved Messenger of Allah when he recited each verse. How perfect was their faith, a true inspiration.
During Ramadan, the Companions occupied themselves with worship. Al-Saeb bin Yazeed narrates that Omar bin al-Khattab (R) ordered Obay bin Ka’b and Tamim al-Dari (R) to lead the Muslims in Taraweeh prayers. He explains that they used to recite Quran and prolong the prayer until the people had no choice but to lean on canes. Qiyam would not end until salat al-Fajr was but moments away.
The Messenger of Allah (S) and his Companions (R) were the most generous during Ramadan. Ibn Abbas (R) narrates, “The Messenger of Allah (S) was the most generous person amongst us, and he was the most generous during Ramadan.”
During the last ten days of Ramadan, the Companions (R) could be seen making ghusul and perfuming themselves constantly to welcome the most holy of days. Aisheh (R), the beloved wife of the Messenger of Allah (S), narrates that during the last days of Ramadan the Messenger (S) would tighten his belt signaling a time of devotion.
May Allah (SWT) allow us to learn from our dear Prophet (S)’s example and the great example of his beloved Companions (R). I pray that we are blessed with the opportunity to welcome this Ramadan in a manner befitting of this holy month and in the footsteps of the great generation of Sahabah (R).
By Sh. Jamal Said