The beginning of the Blessed Month of
Ramadan; we pray that this blessed month is a time of spiritual renewal for all of you, a time when you are able to fully benefit from the many Divine Gifts that have been offered to the worshipper during this most special season. Those who have failed to take advantage of the months of Rajab and
Sha'ban to prepare for the blessed month of Ramadan should be especially careful to take full advantage of the latter month. Reflect on the
Harken! O you who was not content to sin throughout
His rebellion against his Lord had to continue the duration of
The month of fasting has now come to shade and shelter
Do not transform it also into a month of
Recite the Qur'an and glorify [God], with diligent assertion.
Indeed! It is a month for glorification and the
Deny your bodily appetites, seeking your
Eventually, the earth will consume the
How many deceased people have you known who
Amongst your family, neighbors, and
Death has erased them, leaving you
Get serious [about your religion], for the living are quite close to the
You take delight in the 'Eid outfits being cut out now for the
But soon they will be your burial
How long will the person be happy with his worldly
Knowing that his ultimate home is the grave.
We pray that this month is a means for our spiritual ascension. When our spirits are ascendant, and our carnal lusts retreat, we will be able to engage in the type of fast described by one of our righteous forebears when he advised: Fast your entire lifetime. Make death your
'Eid! Life itself is a fast for the righteous. Their fast is from all forbidden lusts. When death comes to them their fast has ended. At that time they find the new moon of
'Eid.  We encourage all of the believers to try to adhere to all of the Sunans of Ramadan. Even though the days are still relatively short and cool, everyone should attempt to take the pre-dawn meal (Sahur), no matter how small, and hasten to break the fast, once the sunset has been confirmed. The purpose of the month is to grow in obedience to the Lawgiver. This is facilitated by scrupulously adhering to all of the rulings related to the fast. O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those who preceded you; that perhaps you will be mindful of God.
Al-Qur'an 2:183 We encourage everyone to be especially generous during this blessed month. Our beloved Prophet , was normally exceedingly generous. In Ramadan, he was even more
benevolent. Ibn 'Abbas, May Allah be pleased with him and his father, relates: "The Prophet , was the most generous of people. He was even more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel would meet him and review the
Qur'an with him. Gabriel would come to him every night of Ramadan to review the
Qur'an. During these times, the Messenger of Allah , was more generous than the freely blowing
wind." Al-Bukhari and Muslim We encourage everyone to read through the Qur'an at least once. Those who can read the Arabic script should do so in Arabic, even if they do not fully understand what they are reading. They should also try to read through the English translation. Those who are unable to read Arabic, should try to read through the entire English translation. Ramadan is, among other things, a celebration of the
Qur'an. We should join the celebration by reading the Book of God much during this blessed month. Our Imams, Abu
Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafi'i, and others, May God have Mercy on them all, would cease teaching Hadith and Jurisprudence during Ramadan and devote themselves exclusively to the
Qur'an. God says, concerning His Majestic Book: The Month of Ramadan in which the
Qur'an was revealed, a guidance for mankind, [containing] clear proofs of guidance, and the criterion of distinguishing right from wrong.
Al-Qur'an 2:185We encourage everyone to refrain from all of the ruinations of the tongue during Ramadan. In his seminal work,"Quickening the Religious
Sciences," Imam al-Ghazali mentions them as the following:
Speaking in matters that do not concern one.
Speaking about sinful matters.
Disputation and contestation.
Lewd, insulting, or crude speech.
Invoking the Curse of God on someone.
Singing indecent songs, or relating immoral
Sarcasm and ridicule.
Lying and false oaths.
Backbiting and slander.
Instigating tense relations between
Praising someone who is either undeserving, or unable to remain humble when
Speaking about involved subjects and ideas one lacks the necessary knowledge or eloquence to adequately
Ordinary folk speaking in subjects that are the domain of
May God spare us from these ruinations both during and after Ramadan. The Prophet, Peace and Blessing of Almighty God be upon Him, said:
"Whoever fails to leave off ruinous speech, and acting on it [during Ramadan], God does not need him to leave off eating and
drinking." Al-Bukahri We encourage everyone to avoid all arguments, disputes, and unnecessary worldly entanglements during this blessed month. This is a time for deep devotion and dedication to Allah. We encourage everyone to work to restore any severed relations or kinship ties they may be experiencing. This is a time when the gentle breezes of Divine Facilitation are blowing. Any good we endeavor during this blessed month will come to bear its proper fruits, Insha
Allah. We encourage everyone to eat simply during this month. One should try to make a vow to give up unnecessary, and generally unhealthy fare during this blessed month. Pizza, ice cream, fast food, pastries, and soda should all go. We should make our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in other lands real, and not something confined to speeches and
pamphlets. If one is in the habit of watching television, or listening to commercial music, one should also try to give these things up for Ramadan. They are things that divert us from the remembrance of God in any case. During this special month when every letter we recite from the Majestic
Qur'an is tremendously rewarded, we should busy ourselves with recitation, and drop frivolous
pastimes. Married couples should encourage each other to engage in spiritual pursuits during this month, i.e. reciting the
Qur'an, attending Tarawih, etc. Those in the habit of hosting extravagant dinners in Ramadan should try to avoid doing so, especially if they involve burdening cooks with long hours in the kitchen at a time when everyone should be increasing acts of worship. Usually, the womenfolk are disadvantageously affected in this regard. While it is certainly virtuous to provide the wherewithal for the believers to break their fast, dates, water, and simple, easily prepared dishes
suffice. Everyone should endeavor to pray the Tarawih Prayers. This is practice that should not be left without an excuse. The Prophet , mentioned,
"Whosoever stands for prayer during the nights of Ramadan will have his/her prior sins
expiated." Al-Bukhari and Muslim The prayer is the symbol of our devotional life. Ramadan is a great time to rediscover the power of the prayer, and to renew our commitment to our Lord through the
prayer. These are some of the things we wanted to convey to you. Hopefully, they will prove of benefit. Please take this message in the spirit with which we have conveyed it, as sincere advice. Again, we wish you a very successful Ramadan and would like to thank all of you for past, present, and future support.
Your Brother in Islam,
Imam Zaid Shakir
Imam Zaid Shakir
is amongst the most respected and influential Muslim scholars in the West. Born
in Berkeley, California, the second of seven children he accepted Islam in 1977
while serving in the United States Air Force.