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As Ramadan draws the curtain

By sunset today, Muslims in Nigeria would have had 27 days of Ramadan fast for the Islamic year 1445AH. Given its transcendent worth, it should…

By sunset today, Muslims in Nigeria would have had 27 days of Ramadan fast for the Islamic year 1445AH. Given its transcendent worth, it should give us some concern that this virtuous month is already bidding us farewell. Only Allah knows who would live to witness the next Ramadan. It’s only those who probably failed to take advantage of the spiritual benefits offered by Ramadan that would not have started missing this holy season. 

Once Ramadan draws its curtains on us, all the unique events that are exclusive to it would cease. The Satan (devil) who had been in chains for the past four weeks would be let loose; the observance of Taraweeh and Tahajjud prayers that bring Muslims together more often than outside of Ramadan would be discontinued; many of the several tafsir sessions that increase us in faith and in our knowledge of Islam would come to a close; and above all, we shall have to wait for the next 12 months to experience another ‘Laylat ul-Qadr’ night. Yes, different people miss Ramadan for different reasons. Even greengrocers would miss it because the high demand for fruits during Ramadan would recede.

Anas bn Malik (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “The Ramadan fast of believing servants of Allah would hang between the heavens and the earth until Zakat ul-Fitr is paid. When it is given out, Allah would grant it two wings to fly to the seventh sky where it would remain until the owner comes for it”. Zakat ul-Fitr is a Sunnah that is compulsory on every Muslim, big and small, male and female, free-born as well as slave. This is how Ramadan fast is tied to the significance of paying Zakat ul-Fitr.

The Zakat ul-Fitr of every Muslim is to be given out by the person responsible for his/her sustenance and upkeep. A man would give the Zakat ul-Fitr of his wives, children, and every other person under his care. Zakat ul-Fitr is to be given out from the staple food item in one’s community. It could be rice, maize, millet, wheat, or similar grains or cereals. It could also be beans or groundnut where such is the staple food of the people. 

The quantity to be given out as Zakat ul-Fitr per head is four measures of the food item (in grains or cereals) using the Sa’a (cubic measure) of the Prophet (SAW). Where the latter (i.e Sa’a) is not practically available, the two palms of a man put together and filled with grains or cereals would be equivalent to a full measure of the Prophetic Sa’a. It is Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) to pay Zakat ul-Fitr after daybreak of the day of Eid ul-Fitr; before going for the Eid prayers. Imam Malik (RA) relates that the people of knowledge used to pay the Zakat ul-Fitr after dawn had broken on the day of the Eid ul-Fitr before they went out for the Eid prayer. However, there’s no harm if it is paid a day or even two days before the day of Eid ul-fitr. It is reported that Abdullahi bn Umar (RA) used to pay the Zakat ul-Fitr two or three days before the day of Eid ul-Fitr. If a Muslim were unable to pay the Zakat ul-Fitr before leaving his house for the Eid prayer due to indigence, it would still be paid when resources for paying it are available. Zakat ul-Fitr has no waiver or substitute. It is obligatory on all Muslims. 

The sighting of the crescent of Shawwal (tenth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) marks the end of Ramadan. Receiving the news that confirms the sighting of the crescent of Shawwal (tenth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) through the radio, television, mobile phones, e-mails, and similar modern means of communication from genuine and reliable sources brings the Ramadan to an end. It is expected, therefore, that every Muslim who fasted during Ramadan should break the fast by eating or drinking in the morning before leaving the house or the mosque (in respect of those in I’tikaf) for the Eid praying ground. Refusing to eat or drink after daybreak on the Eid ul-Fitr day does not make one more pious than others. Extending the Ramadan beyond and against Allah’s will is rather a contradiction of the provisions of Shari’ah. 

The end of Ramadan fast should not be an end to all the good deeds by which we stood in the last one month. Let us resolve to continue with all the virtuous deeds we kept observing during Ramadan. Let us also vow to continue to eschew all unrighteous acts we avoided during Ramadan. Eid ul-Fitr is not an occasion for us to go back to our old sinful life of dishonesty, telling lies, envy, mischief, betrayal, backbiting, cheating, forgery, etc. Resuming this kind of unholy life only makes us hypocrites. Similarly, let us resolve to live with Ramadan after Ramadan by carrying on with all the virtuous deeds we struggled to keep during the holy season including constant recitations of the Holy Qur’an, observing Tahajjud prayers at night, and devoting time to listening to preaching from scholars. 

We encourage believers, after they might have taken some rest from the sleepless nights they spent in devotion especially during the last lap of the Ramadan, to observe six days of voluntary fast in the Islamic lunar month Shawwal. While this is not compulsory, the Prophet (SAW) exhorts Muslims to observe it. The six days of voluntary fast (otherwise called ‘Sittah Shawwal’ in Islamic literature) can be observed consecutively or intermittently, as may be convenient for an individual. However, those who missed some days during Ramadan cannot observe the Sittah Shawwal until after they have fasted for the number of days they couldn’t fast during Ramadan. 

Imam Muslim (RA) reports on the authority of Abu Ayyub that the Prophet (SAW) said “…Whoever follows Ramadan (fast) with six days (of fasting) in Shawwal would be as if he had fasted a whole life time.” Nonetheless, one’s inability or failure to observe the ‘Sittah Shawwal’ does no harm to his or her Ramadan fast. May Allah  accept our Ramadan fast and all the acts of worship we put forth in this holy month of Ramadan, amin. Happy Eid ul-Fitr in advance! We say, Kullu Aamin Wa Antum Bi-Khayrin!


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