Ramadan – In the Footsteps of a Great Generation
Imam Malik, 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 ﷺ. As many of you may already know, the last surviving Companion died many years before Imam Malik was born. However, this great scholar, a genius of his time, would dedicate at least an hour of his day delving into the books authored by the Sahabah and read their biographies. He was both inspired and intrigued by their lives.
Although the Companions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ 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 implore 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. We may enjoy the beautiful scent that springs from their experiences and gain direction on our path toward righteousness through learning from them.
It is narrated that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would engage in dua’a, (sincere prayer), six months before 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 in their homes each year, they would say, “Welcome O purifier of sins.” There could not be a more generous guest than Ramadan, which brings great mercy and blessings. The Sahabah would not ask for forgiveness in any other month more than they would during Ramadan. Abdullah bin Umar, 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 ﷺ, especially during the night, when they had finished their laboring and hearts were ready for contemplation. Uthman ibn Affan 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, but they were also 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?” (Quran 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 ﷺ 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 were keen on learning 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 ordered Obay bin Ka’b and Tamim al-Dari to lead Muslims in Taraweeh prayers. He explains that they recited the Quran and prolonged 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 ﷺ and his Companions were the most generous during Ramadan. Ibn Abbas narrates, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was the most generous person amongst us, and he was the most generous during Ramadan.”
During the last ten days of Ramadan, the Companions made ghusl and perfumed themselves constantly to welcome the holiest of days. Aisheh, the beloved wife of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, narrates that during the last days of Ramadan the Messenger ﷺ would tighten his belt, signaling a time of devotion.
May Allah ﷻ allow us to learn from our dear Prophet’s example and the excellent examples of his beloved Companions. I pray that we are blessed with the opportunity to experience this Ramadan in a manner befitting in the footsteps of the great generation of Sahabah.
By Sh. Jamal Said