Understanding Islam: Ramadhan Month of Change

Understanding Islam by Muhajid Navarra

During Ramadhan, for a Muslim at least, there is a noticeable change in everything. Something that no words could explain. But the tangible change could be seen is in people when you see the mosques almost getting overfilled with worshippers when they are usually not filled with people during prayer times. You would also see a noticeable change in behavior in most Muslims whom we may not consider pious and yet they appear more refined and more devout in this religion.

You’d find them going out less and yet you’d also find them in the mosques not only for the obligatory prayers but also for voluntary prayers, remembering Allah, attending lectures and reading Quran. Ramadhan must be so blessed to cause this much change in people’s behavior even without a system of tangible rewards and punishment. Ramadhan must be so blessed that Muslims become better in this month somehow in their manners and the performance of acts of worship. Some of these people may even truly repent to Allah during this month and remain pious for the rest of their lives while some would only go back and forth between sinning the whole year and being pious during Ramadhan only.

The first reason to which we could attribute this change is that Muslims are really trying hard this month of Ramadhan to gain rewards and make the most out of it. The rewards of fasting and praying voluntary prayers during the month of Ramadhan is the forgiveness of sins and Muslims are really trying to make up for any sin that they may have committed the whole year. It may be silly to hear but even the most sinning Muslim could be found among those who are hopeful of Allah’s forgiveness, rewards, and blessings. Every Muslim know that all kinds of good deeds in Ramadhan are magnified in their greatness and rewards.

Another thing that causes this drastic change in Ramadhan is because it is a month that restricts the desires of the Muslims that make them dedicate more time and effort in doing acts of worship. During the day, the Muslim avoids food, drinks, and sexual intercourse, three of the main desires of human beings. If a Muslim knowingly eats, drinks or have sexual intercourse during the day of the month of Ramadhan, his fasting is invalidated.

Other sins too such as false speech and other bad manners may also invalidate fasting depending on the gravity of the sin. Prophet  Muhammad said, “Whoever does not leave false speech and acts upon it and other acts of ignorance, Allah does not have any need for his abandonment of food and drink.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari.

A Muslim’s abandonment of all these desires for food, drinks, sexual desires, and others weaken him physically while strengthening his spirituality – leading to all the observable changes that we could see in the Muslims. His voluntarily puts himself into a weakened state for the pleasure of Allah. This realization of his own weakness makes him realize the greatness of Allah even more. He realizes the greatness of Allah and all the favors that He bestowed him all the while realizing the greatness of the One that he disobeys whenever he sins.

Another wonderful thing about Ramadhan is that it is a month of sincerity. Every Muslim understands that is it Allah Himself Who shall reward fasting because it is only Allah Who truly knows who among His servants are indeed fasting. This increased level of sincerity increases the level of faith of every Muslim making them more aware of God, that He is watching and knowledgeable of everything that they say and do. Prophet Muhammad narrated that Allah said, “Every good deed of the son of Adam shall have a reward like it up to 700 times. Except fasting, because indeed it is Mine and I shall reward it Myself.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari and  Imam Muslim.

Another reason that we may attribute this change to is the changes that happen beyond the Muslim psyche. Prophet Muhammad said, “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” Narrated by Imam Al Bukhari.

Islamic scholar Ibnu Taymiyah said about this narration, “That is only because in the month of Ramadan, people are motivated to do good and righteous deeds, through which and because of which the gates of Paradise are opened, and they are discouraged from doing evil, because of which the gates of Hell are opened. The devils are chained up, so they are not able to do what they usually do when people are not fasting, for the one who is chained up is restricted, and they are only able to gain control over the sons of Adam because of whims and desires, so if people refrain from whims and desires, the devils are chained up.”

He also said, “Hence the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up.” The channel through which the devils flow, which is the bloodstream, is restricted, and when it is restricted, people are motivated to do good deeds, because of which the gates of Paradise are opened, and they are motivated to refrain from evil deeds, because of which the gates of Hell are opened. The devils are chained up, and their strength and influence are weakened as a result of their being chained up, so they are not able to do during the month of Ramadan what they do at other times. He did not say that they are killed or that they die; rather he said that they are chained up, and the devil who is chained up can still do harm, but it is less and weaker than it may be at times other than Ramadan. It depends on how perfect or otherwise the fast is; if a person’s fast is perfect, then the devil is warded off in a manner that does not happen in the case of an imperfect fast.”