Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mistakes to Avoid in the Month of Ramadan

Published on http://www.islamtoday.com

Mistakes to Avoid in the Month of Ramadan | Sheikh Salman al-Oadah|

Muslims make a number of mistakes during this auspicious month. These
mistakes vary from country to country and from culture to culture, and
there are many reasons why they happen. Sometimes they can be
attributed to local customs and traditions. Sometimes they occur
because of a misapplication of Islamic Law. At other times, the reason
for the mistake is the desire to express happiness and joy during this
blessed month. At other times, simple ignorance is to blame. Whatever
the reason, the outcome is the same: a violation of Islamic teachings
in a matter of worship. This is serious, since matters of worship in
Islam are established and defined by the sacred texts.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever introduces something
new into this matter of ours will have it rejected." [Sahîh al-Bukhar
(2550) and Sahîh Muslim (1718)]

Some of the mistakes people make in Ramadan are serious enough to be
violations of Islamic Law. Some mistakes are innovations. Other
mistakes are less serious, causing the person who errs to act in a way
that is undesirable. These mistakes can relate to the fast itself or
to other customs and practices associated with it.

We will now turn our attention to some of these mistakes:

Neglecting Congregational Prayer

Many people increase their worship in Ramadan and frequent the mosques
more that usual. However, some people fall short during this month of
their observance of congregational prayer and neglect the mosque. This
is a mistake, for there is a hadîth that reads: "Whoever hears the
call to prayer but does not hearken to it, then he has no
prayer." [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (217)]

`Alî b. Abî Tâlib said: "There is no prayer for the neighbor of the
mosque except in the mosque." [Musannaf `Abd al-Razzâq (1915) and
Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah (3469)]

No doubt, neglect congregational prayer is something serious. It is
even more serious to neglect prayer altogether. A hadîth reads: "The
covenant between us and them is prayer. Whoever abandons it has
disbelieved." [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2621)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever abandons the `Asr
prayer, his deeds are lost." [Sahîh al-Bukharî (528)]

There are numerous other hadîth that stress the importance of prayer.
May Allah protect us from neglecting our prayers.

A Muslim should safeguard his worship and be steadfast in prayer.
Ramadan should be an opportunity for us to change for the better and
habituate ourselves to doing good deeds.

Backbiting & Rumor-Mongering

Speaking badly about other people is a way to seriously compromise
one's fasting. The Prophet (peace be upon him) defined backbiting in
the following way:

He said: “Do you know what backbiting is?”

They said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It is to mention about your brother something that he would
dislike having mentioned about him.” [Sahîh Muslim (2589)]

Someone enquired: “O Messenger of Allah! How do you see it if what I
said about him is true?”

He replied: “If what you said about him is true, then you have
backbitten him. If what you said about him is false, then you have
slandered him.” [Sahîh Muslim (2589)]

Another evil is to spread what people say about each other in order to
bring about problems. This rumor-mongering also includes divulging
secrets and exposing people's faults.

Hudhayfah heard about a man who was spreading rumors and he said: "I
heard Allah-s Messenger say: 'A rumor-monger will not enter
Paradise." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6056) and Sahîh Muslim (105)]

Vulgar Speech and Bad Manners

Abû Hurayrah relates that the prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting falsely, then Allah
has no need of his abandoning food and drink." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Fasting is a shield, so the one
who fasts should avoid obscene speech and ignorant behavior. If
someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by
saying: 'I am fasting. I am fasting'." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî

Ibn Hajar writes in Fath al-Bârî (4/105)]:

The hadîth means that the fasting person should not respond to the
one who abuses him with the same kind of behavior. He should restrain
himself by saying: "I am fasting."

Laziness and Listlessness
Some people take the Ramadan fast as an excuse for laziness. In this,
they behave in stark contrast to the ways of our Pious Predecessors,
who had no qualms with working hard in Ramadan and even rallying to
the defense of the faith. They definitely did not become lax in their
regular, daily worship. Indeed, they would increase their religious
observances in this month.

Some people justify their laziness with the weak hadîth that reads:
"The sleep of the fasting person is worship." If, for the sake of
argument, we assume that the hadîth is authentic, it does not justify
laziness. It certainly does not pardon the practice of those who sleep
all day in Ramadan and then spend the nights in feasting and
merriment. The hadîth refers to the normal sleeping habits of the
person, like the person's usual daily nap. This normal sleep helps
invigorate the person for further acts of worship.

It is necessary for a person to capitalize on the opportunity for
blessings that the month of Ramadan has to offer. A Muslim should
strive to the utmost to earn Allah's reward during this month, keeping
in mind that there is no guarantee of his living to see another

Excessive Eating and Drinking

Some people spend their nights in Ramadan filling their stomachs with
all types of food and drink, sometimes indulging in delicacies that
they do not ever eat outside of Ramadan. This practice, without doubt,
contradicts the very essence of Ramadan and the wisdom behind our

It is related from al-Miqdâm b. Ma`di Yakrib that the Prophet (peace
be upon him) said: "The human being does not fill up any vessel worse
than his stomach. It is sufficient for a person to eat just enough to
keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then he can fill a third
with food, a third with drink, and leave a third for air." [Sunan al-
Tirmidhî (2380)]

How can a person learn to subdue his base impulses and desires through
fasting, when he makes up for it all by indulging his every whim at
night, eating even more during Ramadan than he does during the rest of
the year? In some places, people have a custom of storing food and
reserving it for Ramadan, so that they consume in Ramadan the quantity
of food that would usually take them months to eat.

We all know that the purpose of fasting is to rein in our passions and
break our desires in order to grow in piety. If we allow our hunger to
build in strength from dawn to dinner time only to then indulge our
hunger with greater gusto, this merely magnifies the pleasure of
eating. It strengthens our passions more than if we had been left to
our normal eating patterns.

Getting Angry

Some people seem to think that their bad tempers are excused because
they are fasting. They allow their anger its full spectrum of
expression, saying the most horrible things and doing the most
preposterous deeds.

A fasting person needs to adorn his fast with magnanimity and good
manners. He should remind himself that the Prophet (peace be upon him)
said: "The strong person is not the one who can wrestle someone else
down. The strong person is the one who can control himself when he is
angry." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5763) and Sahîh Muslim (2609)]

Abandoning Fasting Without an Excuse

Abandoning a Ramadan fast without a valid excuse is a major sin. A
person who falls into this sin must repent sincerely and earnestly to
his Lord. He must also make up the days that he missed later. He must
also provide a meal for a poor person for each day that he missed if
he is financially able to do so.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of the religion of Islam. A person
who openly abandons the Ramadan fast should be rebuked for doing so
and not left to be a bad example for others.

Women Putting on Perfume to Go to the Mosque

Some women put on attractive perfumes to when they go to the mosque at
night in Ramadan. This is a mistake.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Any woman who dons perfume
should refrain from attending the `Ishâ' congregation with us."
Muslim (444)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: "Any woman who puts on
perfume and then walks by people so they can get a whiff of her
perfume is a wanton woman." [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2786) and Sunan al-
Nasâ'î (5126)]

Staying Up Late

This is a mistake if it leads to bed consequences. Some people stay up
late at nightand then sleep through the Fajr prayer. Some even sleep
through the Zuhr and `Asr prayers. If they forces themselves to get up
during the day, they can suffer extreme fatigue on account of it. If
they are employees, their performance at work suffers.

Such people need to keep cognizant of the blessings of this month that
they lose out on because of these consequences.

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