By Maria Zain at OnIslam.net
Ramadan is known to be broken down into thirds. The first ten days of Ramadan are known as the “Ten Days of Mercy.” Muslims are aware that Ramadan is a month of spiritual opportunities, but what does “mercy” really mean to Muslims?
One of Allah’s names is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, and Muslims call upon Allah using this name in nearly everything they do. Thus, there is no surprise that Mercy manifests itself in the month that Allah created for Himself.
In the sacred hadith below, Allah says:
يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنَّكَ مَا دَعَوْتَنِي وَرَجَوْتَنِي غَفَرْتُ لَكَ عَلَى مَا كَانَ فِيكَ وَلَا أُبَالِي يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ لَوْ بَلَغَتْ ذُنُوبُكَ عَنَانَ السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ اسْتَغْفَرْتَنِي غَفَرْتُ لَكَ وَلَا أُبَالِي يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنَّكَ لَوْ أَتَيْتَنِي بِقُرَابِ الْأَرْضِ خَطَايَا ثُمَّ لَقِيتَنِي لَا تُشْرِكُ بِي شَيْئًا لَأَتَيْتُكَ بِقُرَابِهَا مَغْفِرَةً
O son of Adam! However much you call upon Me and place your hopes in Me, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam! If you have sins piling up to the clouds and then ask My forgiveness, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam! If you come to me with enough mistakes to fill the Earth, and meet Me without associating anything as a partner with Me, I will come to you with enough forgiveness to fill the Earth.
[Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book 45, Number 3540, Hasan]
Imagine entering Ramadan in full reflection of wrong doings. Many believers worry of the sins that they incurred along the way – the ones that were committed conscientiously and without realizing it. Yet Allah promises forgiveness. There is no similar attribute to anyone or anything in this world, hence the reminder to remove idolatry from one’s beliefs.
Through this hadith alone, Allah reminds that He is Ar-Rahman, the Most Compassionate, and Ar-Raheem, the Most Merciful. Basking in Allah’s Mercy – and finitely – the Mercy of Paradise – is something that every believing Muslim prays for. And with this fear of Allah’s punishment that is close to the heart of the believer, Allah says:
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
Say: O My servants who have transgressed against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.
[Surah Az-Zumar 39:53]
Supplication and Remembrance Are Keys to Allah’s Mercy
A great way for Muslims to worship for the first ten days of mercy is to recite Du’a(supplications) and Dhikr (remembrance) invoking Allah’s mercy. With the doors of Paradise swung open and the doors of Hellfire shut, Allah never goes back on His Promise and with that, this is the perfect time to beg for Allah to shower His servants with Mercy. A recognized Quranic supplication, that can be recited as a remembrance is:
وَقُل رَّبِّ اغْفِرْ وَارْحَمْ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
O My Lord, forgive me and have mercy upon me for You are the best of the merciful.
[Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:118]
Allah also says:
فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ
So, Remember Me, and I will remember you.
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:152]
This is the best reminder to continuously ask from Allah, to continuously invoke blessings from Allah, to continuously prostrate and beg Allah for His Mercy – no matter how low, no matter how tired, no matter how riddled Muslims are with difficulties. Believers must never give up on Allah’s Mercy.
Another hadith talks about Allah’s mercy in the world – the world that Muslims live in, the days they scamper through. Although Muslims see a lot of destruction, they also see plenty of love: from a husband to a wife; from a mother to her suckling baby; from a teacher to his students; from children to animals; and even from animals to their young. Mercy surrounds the world, yet Allah says He divided His mercy into a hundred parts, and only one of those hundred parts manifest itself in this world. The rest of the mercy belongs to Allah alone. Imagine Allah’s mercy during the first ten days of Ramadan, and imagine the mercy may bestow amongst those who take full advantage of the first ten days and how the mercy will manifest itself on Judgment Day and in the Hereafter.
Fasting Itself Is Mercy
The act of fasting, as one of the Pillars of Islam, is in itself an act of mercy. Through fasting, Muslims experience a healthy detox from food that does not benefit them. They become spiritually recharged and become more aware of leaving distractions that also do not benefit them. Muslims appreciate the little they have and think of those who have even less – families with children in war-torn countries, Muslims and non-Muslims living without food on a daily basis – those who fast without an opportunity to break their fast.
All of these amount to mercy in their own way, Muslims will have an opportunity to feel more merciful towards themselves, towards those who may have more, and to those who are less fortunate. Mercy manifests itself in humility in many, many ways. And all this can be achieved through a Ramadan that is filled with remembrance of Allah, reflection on abstinence, and spending the early nights deep in prayer.
But Allah promises something even more. He says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 183]
Imagine being recognized as amongst the most pious Muslims, this is probably the most merciful appellation and gift that Allah can give His servant. And this can be attained by observing Ramadan with full servitude.
Fast and Ask in the Season of Mercy
The beauty of the first ten days of mercy is that it is a blessing within a blessing. While Muslims are actively striving to please Him, Allah adds a gift to the special month by creating this season of mercy. His mercy is showered upon those who engage in good deeds and the merits for them are multiplied, while those with a streak of bad deeds even are forgiven – provided that they are sincere in their repentance and strive to please Allah alone. It is during this time – through Allah’s mercy – that the status of pious servants are raised, and the more mercy that is compounded upon them, helps cleanse their hearts and turns them towards the correct direction in worshiping Allah.
What a great reminder for Muslims to bask in Allah’s mercy during the first third of Ramadan. Not only is fasting piling up merits and blessings, but the mercy of Allah continues to wash over everyone who engages in worship. Allah has created His servants to worship Him, as He says in the Quran:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.
[Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:56]
The virtues of fasting are great indeed, and one of the virtues is that Allah chose fasting for Himself. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
قَالَ اللَّهُ كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ لَهُ إِلاَّ الصِّيَامَ، فَإِنَّهُ لِي، وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ.
Allah Almighty said: All the deeds of the children of Adam are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.
The Prophet said further:
. وَالصِّيَامُ جُنَّةٌ، وَإِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ صَوْمِ أَحَدِكُمْ، فَلاَ يَرْفُثْ وَلاَ يَصْخَبْ، فَإِنْ سَابَّهُ أَحَدٌ، أَوْ قَاتَلَهُ فَلْيَقُلْ إِنِّي امْرُؤٌ صَائِمٌ. وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لَخُلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ أَطْيَبُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ، لِلصَّائِمِ فَرْحَتَانِ يَفْرَحُهُمَا إِذَا أَفْطَرَ فَرِحَ، وَإِذَا لَقِيَ رَبَّهُ فَرِحَ بِصَوْمِهِ
Fasting is a shield from the fire and from sin. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relations with his wife and arguments. If somebody should fight or argue with him, he should say: I am fasting. By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, the unpleasant smell coming from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast and the other when he meets his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.
[Sahih Bukhari, Book 31, Number 128]
Thus the rewards without measure will manifest itself throughout the days of Ramadan for those who sincerely repent and engage in good deeds for only Allah alone. All this mercy spills over throughout Ramadan and through a believer’s life up until the Day of Judgment where the fasting person may be recognized as amongst the pious, by Allah’s merciful decision.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.
(www.faithinallah.org / 19.07.2012)