Friday, Ramadan 22, 1441 AH (15/05/2020)

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger, his family, his Companions and those who follow him till the Hour is established.

Dear brothers and sisters, the last ten nights of Ramadan are believed to be the most important opportunities for worship during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar (Ramadan).

It is believed that the first revelation of the Noble Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) during the final ten nights of Ramadan in 610 AD. The exact night of the revelation isn’t known, but it is most commonly believed to be on 27th night. This is called ‘Lailatul-Qadr’ or the ‘Night of Power.’

Muslims all over the world follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), by spending the last ten nights of Ramadan awake late into the night, worshipping Allah by praying and reading the Qur’an, whether at home or in their Mosque.

As Muslims, we believe that Lailatul-Qadr is the best time to ask for forgiveness, although staying up late and worshiping during the other nine final nights of Ramadan is understood to bring immense spiritual rewards.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever stays up and prays on Lailatul-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”

Respected servants of Allah, I have put together some practical tips for the last ten nights, to ensure that our Muslim brothers and sisters receive great blessings during this great time.

If you don’t feel as though you have given your best so far in Ramadan, don’t despair! The last ten nights are still your opportunity to receive forgiveness, mercy and greater spiritual rewards. Approach this time with commitment and positivity.

Put the effort in throughout each of the ten final nights of Ramadan. Don’t wait until the 27th night to give it your all!

Du’a is a prayer of supplication, where Muslims have the opportunity to ask Allah for the things they need. Why not prepare a short Du’a list so you know exactly what you want to ask for, not just for yourself and your family, but for people around the world who are experiencing suffering and hardship, especially due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Please imitate our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), get your family involved. For the late nights of prayers, don’t forget to wake up your partner and parents to remind them to take part. Even children can stay up a little later on the last ten nights.

Stay well-rested during the day. Taking short naps is a great idea as it will leave you energised for the nights of worship.

Worship Allah looking your best. How we present ourselves has a significant psychological effect, so wear something you feel smart and confident in.

Prepare the place where you intend to pray, whether at the Mosque or in your home, to ensure that you have everything you need with you. Distractions can easily break your concentration.

Mix it up! If you find yourself becoming tired, why not vary your acts to worship? If you’re reading the Qur’an, instead present a Du’a to Allah or listen to a lecture from an Islamic scholar.

These nights of worship aren’t the time to be updating your social media accounts and telling your friends how spiritual you feel. This noble experience is between you and Allah, so turn off your phone and laptop if you can!

Although the last ten days of Ramadan might be tiring, try to stay focussed. Renew your intentions, remember how great the blessings and spiritual rewards are on these ten noble nights, and think of the forgiveness you will receive on Lailatul-Qadr (the Night of Power). Trust Allah and don’t let any doubt or selfish thought sully your mind during your worship.

Don’t forget to recite the Du’a of Lailatul-Qadr. It’s the best Du’a of the final ten nights of Ramadan:

“Allahummah innaka afuwwun, tuhibbul-afwa, fa’fu anni.” Meaning: O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me.” [At-Tirmidhi]

While it’s depressing to think that Ramadan will be over in less than one week, the blessed month’s last ten days offer us a final push to do as much good as we can. We cannot let our enthusiasm wane like the moon that marks this special time‘s end.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan in a way that he did not strive at any other times. [Sahih Muslim]

Some of the things we can do in Ramadan’s last ten blessed days as follows:

1. Pay Zakah

Many Muslims plan to pay this obligatory pillar of Islam yearly at some point in Ramadan, to benefit from the greater spiritual reward attached to charity during the month. If you haven’t already, do so this month, keeping in mind needy relatives, neighbours, as well as current hot spots of suffering.

2. Pay Zakatul-Fitr

Zakatul-Fitr allows needy families to enjoy the Eid holiday. Pay this to your Mosque or an organisation of your choice well before Eid-ul-Fitr in these last ten days of Ramadan.

3. Up Your Giving

With news of a possible double-digit recession and a roller coaster stock market, due to the covid-19 pandemic restrictions, it’s tempting to withhold or limit our giving this year. But don’t let that stop you from being generous. Remember that Allah is Al-Razzaq, the Provider, and that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) reminded us that “charity does not decrease wealth.” [Sahih Muslim]

4. Pray Tarawih More Than You Have All Month

If you haven’t been able to attend Tarawih prayers most of the month of Ramadan due to work or other commitments, make a special effort to go in these last ten days (or at home with your family because of lockdowns). Even if you decide to pray only eight units of prayer in a Mosque that normally offers twenty, you will benefit from the sense of community and the blessings of congregational prayer.

To be able to stay awake for Tarawih, try your best to take a short nap after coming home from work or during your lunch hour. Also, try not to overeat during Iftar, making it more likely you will be sluggish and sleepy come Tarawih time.

• Praying Tarawih At Home Due To COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions

Dear brothers and sisters, this year’s Ramadan (1441 AH/2020 CE) where the majority of Muslims are in lockdown in their homes (under the COVID-19 restrictions) and the Mosques are closed―the men should gather their families together at home every night after Isha’ and lead them in the Tarawih/Tahajjud prayer (in Jama’ah) and not lose out on this tremendous reward. If there are no men in the household, then the women can gather together where one woman leads the rest in prayer by standing in the middle of the first row, with the women standing next to her on either side as was the practice of Aisha (RA). [Reported by Abdur-razak and Ibn Abi Shaibah in their Al-Musannafs]

Dear brothers and sisters, a Muslim rejoices in having a long life because he is able to increase in acts of obedience to Allah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) mentioned the story of three men from a previous nation who were striving in the worship of Allah and they would compete with each other in acts of obedience and piety. Two of them were eventually martyred in the cause of Allah whilst the third remained alive until he reached the month of Ramadan. So he fasted the days and prayed in the nights, and then he passed away after the month had finished. Due to this, he was foremost in Paradise preceding his two companions. The Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were surprised at this revelation. How is it possible that the one who died in his own bed can excel those who were martyred in the cause of Allah knowing the great reward of the martyrs in Paradise? So the Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered:

“Did he not live after them for a period of time?” They said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He continued: “Did he not perform prayers after them for a period of time?” They said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Did he not reach the month of Ramadan and so he fasted in the days and prayed in the nights?” They responded: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” So he said: “By the One in whose Hand is my soul, the difference between them is like the difference between the sky and the earth.” [Reported by Ibn Majah, and declared authentic by Sheikh Al-Albani]

This narration proves to us that having a long life wherein one busies himself with obedience to Allah is a reason for joy and happiness and increase in rank on the Day of Resurrection. Amazing is the affair of the believer, all of his affairs are good and we praise Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.

5. Connect To Lailatul-Qadr With More Qur’an Reading

Muslims are encouraged to seek the night of Lailatul-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. This is the night that is described as better than a thousand months (Qur’an 97:3), and it is the one on which the Qur’an’s revelation began.

Apart from seeking to do more good than usual, in specific, push yourself to finish reading at least a couple of parts of the Qur’an. Cut or drastically reduce television, Facebook, and socialising time to accomplish this goal.

6. Call Your Relatives To Make Eid Plans

Islam puts a premium on maintaining family ties. If you haven’t been able to keep in touch with relatives, use these last ten days to call or shoot them an email or text about getting together for Eid-ul-Fitr.

7. Shop and Give

As you shop for Eid or back to school items for yourself or your kids, pick up a few extra clothes or supplies and drop them off at various sites collecting these things for the poor, orphans and those in need.

8. Make Your Last Fasts Really Count

If you’ve caught yourself succumbing to un-Ramadan-like habits while fasting, make an extra special effort in these last days of the month to become conscious of these behaviours and stop them before they start. These can range from swearing, backbiting, talking about frivolous things, watching television shows or movies with sexual innuendo or jokes, etc.

9. Set Your Alarm For Tahajjud

It’s hard getting up for Suhur, so why make the effort for Tahajjud? This blessed time is one in which Allah is very close, answering prayers and offering forgiveness, in particular [Sahih Bukhari]. Multiply that by the fact that it’s Ramadan and you’ve got an exceptional opportunity to really connect with Allah and ask for all that you need or want.

10. Du’a, Du’a, Du’a

Use as many of Ramadan’s last minutes to make plenty of Du’a. These include not only the standard supplications recommended for everyday use (e.g. before and after eating, dressing, entering and leaving the home, etc.), and those seeking Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Truly pour your heart out, asking from the One Who already knows your needs and wants and faces no barriers to fulfilling them. Don’t forget to ask for not only the big things (e.g. Paradise, job security, good family life) but even the smaller ones.

Dear brothers and sisters, the last ten days of Ramadan carry with them very special circumstances and specific benefits for Muslims, all of which are essential for our journey of pleasing Allah Almighty. Not only do one of the odd days in the last ten days hold the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr), the most auspicious night in the year, but they also give us the opportunity to benefit from replicating the specific activities that can allow us to be better, more responsible, and more aware Muslims.

Generally speaking, the last ten days are also seen as times when Muslims try to avoid unislamic and dangerous worldly affairs, and spend more time in prayer. Know that Allah Almighty’s doors are always open, and even if we have spent the previous twenty days of Ramadan aloof from His blessings, He is ever-ready to bestow upon us His most prized blessings if we make efforts during the last ten days.

It is even more important to understand that this parting of Ramadan, and the repeated declarations asking Muslims to seek the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr) in the last ten days, is actually asking Muslims to be more cognisant of Allah Almighty and His blessings and continue to strive to receive them. Perhaps the very fact that the Night of Power is not explicitly disclosed is an opportunity for us Muslims to keep trying; all in hope of benefiting from the auspicious night. It surely is an attempt to show the Allah Almighty that we are desperate for His mercy and forgiveness. We should try not to miss any prayer this Ramadan and offer Nafilahs as much as we can to add up to our good deeds.

May Allah Almighty bless us all and forgive our sins. May we all become better humans and practice religion better than we did before. Not only is Ramadan the best time to do maximum Zikr and seek for forgiveness, and mercy; but also for giving out Zakah and Sadaqah for the ones who are worthy and needy.

Beloved brothers and sisters, our Centre, Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Centre in Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria is currently working to provide food and clothes in this Ramadan and Eid to thousands of deserving people. We urge you all to take some money out of your pockets and contribute your share for Allah’s sake! Donate now and make someone’s Ramadan and Eid special in this year of global covid-19 pandemic. Send your donations through the following bank details:

• Account number: 0048647196

• Account Name: Murtala Muhammed

• GTBank

Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Centre is here to serve the needs of the Ummah – now and in the future In Shaa Allah.

I encourage you all to donate a certain amount as Sadaqah to Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Centre so we can continue to print and distribute free leaflets and booklets to aid the da’awah of Islam in Nigeria and across the world.

Your support keeps us going. Make the last ten days of Ramadan the best ten.

Donate now, please.

May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala reward you all as you generously donate towards this noble cause. Ameen.

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.