The End of Ramadan

 We thank Allah for the blessing of Ramadan and for all that He has enabled us to do in this blessed month. Ahead of us is the last of the odd nights, the 29th night, in which Laylat al-Qadr is sought. It may also be the last night of Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah e said that on the final night of the month everyone would be forgiven.[1] His Companions asked if this night was Laylat al-Qadr.

He replied: “No, do you not see that when workers finish their work they are paid their wages in full?”[2] Every night in Ramadan Allah decrees the safety of 600,000 people from the Fire (in some narrations one million). Then on the last night he decrees the safety of the same number of people that he decreed on every night of the month.

We ask Allah for the best of endings as “actions are judged by their endings.”[3] While using whatever is left of the month to perform good actions we should also spend some time seeking forgiveness (istighfar). As some of the early scholars said this patches up any “holes” that we may have made in our fasting and is like a seal on our actions.

We must also pay our Zakat al-Fitr if it is compulsory upon us to do so. The Messenger of Allah made Zakat al-Fitr compulsory as purification for the fasting person from vain and coarse speech and to provide food for the needy.[4] It is thus a means of purification for the fasting person and a means of assisting the poor at a time of celebration which Allah wishes for all to take part in. It has also been narrated that our fasting is suspended between the heavens and the earth and not accepted by Allah until we pay our Zakat al-Fitr.[5] One of the early scholars said that Zakat al-Fitr is to fasting what the prostration of forgetfulness (sajdat al-sahwu) is to the prayer. We should refer to the scholars in our locality for details on how it should be paid and distributed.

The Night of Eid

Allah says that He wants you to finish the prescribed period and to glorify Him for the fact that He has guided you, perhaps you shall be grateful.[6] “Finishing the prescribed period” means completing the fast of Ramadan. One of the means of “glorifying Him” is in makingtakbir, which is an expression of our gratitude to Allah for His guidance and enabling grace (tawfiq). We should fill the night before Eid with takbirfrom Maghrib up until the Eid prayer in the morning. The takbir is not limited to a specific time or place but rather it should be made at all times in our houses and mosques and in the streets (without causing disturbance). We should read it with our hearts filled with the greatness of Allah so that we are not merely repeating words without experiencing their meaning.

It is a Sunnah of the Prophet e to give life to the night before Eid, meaning spending whatever time we are able to during that night in worship and remembrance such that the night comes alive. The least we should do is to pray Maghrib, Isha and Fajr in congregation and then devote whatever time we are able to Allah. The mosques of Tarim fill in the the second half of the night with people reading the Qur’an in groups, praying and makingtakbir together at intervals. At the end of the night everyone comes together for a khatm and du`a.

It is mentioned in the hadith that whoever gives life to the nights before the two Eids Allah will give life to his heart on the day when hearts die.[7]What is primarily meant is safety on the Day of Judgement but even in this life the majority of people’s hearts are dead, starved of the remembrance of Allah and heedless of the return to Him. Remembering Allah on nights such as these, however, when most people are busy with other things, will give life and tranquility to our hearts.

Eid then will be a true celebration, an expression of our gratitude to Allah for the ability to worship and remember Him in the previous days and nights.

There are different forms of the takbir. Here is one of them:

اللهُ أَكبرُ اللهُ أَكبرُ اللهُ أَكبر , لا إله إلا الله , الله أكبر الله أكبر ولِلَّهِ الحَمْد (three times)

الله أكبرُ كَبيرا والحمدُ لله كثيرا وسُبْحانَ اللهِ بُكْرَةً وأَصيلاَ

لا إله إلا الله لا نَعْبُدُ إلا إِيَّاهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الكافِرون

لا إله إلا الله  وَحْدَه صَدَقَ وَعْدَه ونَصَرَ عَبْدَه  وأَعَزَّ جُنْدَه وهَزَمَ الأَحْزَابَ وَحْدَه

لا إله إلا الله واللهُ أكبرْ ولِلَّهِ الحَمْد

“Allah is most great, there is no god but Him, all praise belongs to Him.

“There is no god but Him and we worship none but Him in complete sincerity even if the disbelievers dislike it.”

“There is no god but Him alone. He fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His slave, made mighty His forces and He alone destroyed the Confederates. Allah is most great, there is no god but Him, all praise belongs to Him.”

The scholars say that whenever it is recommended to remember Allah it is also recommended to mention His Messenger e. Had it not been for him there would be no Ramadan or Eid or takbir. For this reason we should add, in honour of our Messenger, his Companions, wives and progeny:

اللهُمَّ صلِّ على سَيِّدِنا محمد

وعلى آلِ سَيِّدِنا محمد

وعلى أَصْحابِ سَيِّدِنا محمد                                                  

وعلى أَنْصَارِ سَيِّدِنا محمد

وعلى أَزْواجِ سَيِّدِنا محمد

وعلى ذُرِّيِّةِ سَيِّدِنا محمد

وسلِّمْ تَسْليماً كثيراً

We should do what we are able to implement the other sunnahs of the Eid which can be found in the books of fiqh. Among them are taking a bath whether or not one is attending the Eid prayer and wearing one’s best clothes and best perfume. One should eat an odd number of dates before the Eid prayer and walk to the prayer, taking a longer route on the way there and returning by a different route. One should shake hands with one’s brethren, congratulate them on the Eid and ask that their actions be accepted by Allah. One should be especially generous to one’s family, display one’s happiness on the occasion and try to visit one’s relatives and friends.

The Six Days of Shawwal

The Messenger of Allah e said that whoever fasts Ramadan and then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal has fasted the whole year,[8] since each good deed is multiplied by ten. Thus the thirty days of Ramadan equal three hundred days and the six days equal sixty which together make up the whole year of three hundred and sixty days.[9] He also said that whoever does this is as free from sins as a new born baby.[10] It is thus recommended to fast any six days of Shawwal. It is better that they be fasted consecutively and this is one of the reasons why the people of Tarim generally fast the six days from the second of Shawwal, immediately after Eid. The Ramadan schedule and atmosphere thus continue for another six days. It is also easier on the self (nafs) to continue doing what it has become accustomed to, whereas if fasting these six days were left to the end of the month it would be much harder to achieve. The people of Tarim then celebrate Eid a second time once they have fasted the six days and they have attained the promised reward.

Note: the rulings mentioned are based on the Shafi`i school. Other schools may differ slightly.

[1] Except the categories mentioned in the other ahadith: the one who disobeys his parents, cuts kinship ties, uses intoxicants or harbours hatred for his fellow believers

[2] Narrated by al-Bayhaqi

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari

[4] Narrated by Abu Daud and Ibn Majah

[5] Narrated by Abu Hafs bin Shahin. Hafiz Ibn al-Mundhiri said that its chain of narration was good.

[6] Al-Baqarah 2.185

[7] Narrated by al-Tabarani

[8] Narrated by Muslim

[9] Narrated by al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Ibn Khuzaymah

[10] Narrated by al-Tabarani