Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong)…” (Q 2:183). The month of Ramadan is one of the most beloved and blessed months in the Islamic calendar. The rewards that a Muslim can reap are manifold and the chance to commit a sin decreased – because no barriers can exist between man and his Lord. The blessings of this month are countless and it is divided into three parts i.e. Ashra (of ten days each). The three ashra of Ramadan each comes with its own sanctions and recompense: the first ashra is Rehmat which entails “Mercy of Allah”, the second is Maghfirah which involves the “Forgiveness of Allah“ and the third one is that of Najat meaning “Salvation”.
Rehmat: The month of Ramadan begins with the ashra that reflects abundance and blessings. It is indeed a beautiful start to this holy month.
For this ashra a prayer that one must always say abundantly is:
In this ashra, one must seek mercy from the Lord, Who wants nothing more than to bless His Ummah with the glories of life and the Hereafter. A great way to enter the spirit of Ramadan is to extend the same kindness to other fellow Muslim brothers and sisters that Allah extends to us all.
The second phase of Ramadan is all about asking for forgiveness and peace from the Almighty Allah. Apologize to Him for the past mistakes, alter your deeds and forgive anyone who has wronged you. If Allah can forgive us for our sins and wrongdoings, then we too can extend this courtesy to our brethren who may have wronged us knowingly or unknowingly. A muslim should invoke God’s mercy and forgiveness throughout the second ashra via this dua:
ASTAGHFIRULLAHA RAB-BI MIN KULLI ZAMBIYON WA-ATOOBUILAIYH “I ask forgiveness of my sins from Allah who is my Lord and I turn towards Him.”
Regarding the last ashra of the holy month, Hell fireUthman bin Abi Al’As has narrated that the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah said in a hadith: “Fasting is a shield against the Hell Fire, same like the shield of any one of you in battle”. (Sunan Nasai 311:1). When God has presented us Muslims with the opportunity to seek refuge Hellfire and wrath that we will have to face in the Hereafter, then it should be a privilege for us to accept this opportunity and do justice with it.
A prayer that should be said incessantly during this third and final ashra is:
In addition to this, one of the most significant nights of the Islamic year is also hidden in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. It is the “Night of Power”, known as Laila tul Qadr, the night on which the Quran was revealed and which marked the beginning of the journey of the Prophet (PBUH) as a guide to the Muslim ummah. “We sent it (Quran) down on a blessed Night. Verily, We are ever warning. Therein (in that Night) is decreed every matter of ordainment. Amran (i.e. a command or this Quran or His Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messenger) (As) a Mercy from your Lord” (Quran 44: 3-6). Not only does the last ashra protect us from the fires of hell, but it also offers an opportunity to start over. Another act to be done in this ashra is sitting on Itikaf and observe Nafl and pray to the Lord while distancing yourself from the worldly affairs and seek sanctuary from all that is evil, waiting for us in the hereafter. So utilize the opportunity this month brings with itself and create a stronger bond with Allah Almighty who is All-Merciful, All-Forgiving and Majestic.
(The author is a student at Aligarh Muslim University. Views are his own firstname.lastname@example.org)