By Allah’s infinite mercy and favour, this year’s Ramadan is about bidding us farewell as the most precious part of the month, which covers the last ten days of Ramadan, is winding up. Now is the time to be at the peak of worship in Ramadan. The more we approach the end of Ramadan fast, the more we are encouraged to further and further intensify our acts of worship. It is time we devote more time to worshipping Allah through diverse acts of ibadah and less for non-religious activities.
We seize this opportunity to; once again, remind readers of our religious obligations at the close of Ramadan. They include giving out Zakat ul-Fitr and observing Eid ul-Fitr prayer. Anas bn Malik (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The Ramadan fast of a believing servant of Allah (SWT) would hang between the heavens and the earth until he pays the Zakat ul-Fitr. When he gives it out, Allah (SWT) would grant it two wings to fly to the seventh sky where it would remain until the owner comes for it”. This gives testimony to the significance of Zakat ul-Fitr to Muslims. Zakat ul-Fitr is a Sunnah that is compulsory on every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free-born as well as slave. The Zakat ul-Fitr of every Muslim is to be given out by the person responsible for his/her sustenance.
A man would give the Zakat ul-Fitr of his wives, children, and every other person under his care. Abdullahi bn Umar (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) fixed the Sa’a of dates or Sa’a of barley as the quantity to be given as Zakat ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan fast. In other words, it is to be given from the staple food item of one’s community. It could be rice, maize, millet, wheat, or similar grains or cereals. It could also be beans or ground-nut where such is the staple food. Malik relates that Abdullahi bn Umar (RA) would always pay the Zakat ul-Fitr in dates, except once, when he paid it in barley.
The quantity to be given out, as Zakat ul-Fitr per head is four Sa’a (cubic) measures of the food item (grains or cereals) using the Sa’a of the Prophet (SAW). The two palms of a man put together and filled with grains or cereals is presumed as equal to a full measure of the Prophetic Sa’a where the latter is not practically available. It is Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) to pay Zakat ul-Fitr before going for the Eid prayers. However, there’s no harm if it is paid a day or two 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 Fitr (final breaking of Ramadan fast). If a Muslim were unable to pay the Zakat ul-Fitr before leaving his house for the Eid prayers due to penury, he/she would still pay it when available or affordable. Zakat ul-Fitr has no waiver or substitute. It is obligatory on every Muslim.
Apart from paying the Zakat ul-Fitr before going for the Eid prayers, every Muslim is enjoined to break his fast in the morning of the Eid day. The sighting of the crescent of the lunar month of Shawwal marks the end of Ramadan. It is expected that every Muslim that fasted during Ramadan should break the fast by eating or drinking before leaving the house for the Eid prayer; or before leaving the mosque in respect of those who took part in I’tikaf (religious seclusion) for the Eid praying ground. Refusing to eat or drink after daybreak on the Eid day is not only a contradiction of prophetic practice but also an attempt to extend the Ramadan beyond and against Allah’s will.
Muslims who have no cause for restitution are encouraged to follow up the Ramadan fast with six days of voluntary fast in the month of Shawwal. In order to avert any possible threat to one’s health, intending Muslims are advised to take some few days of rest after Ramadan before embarking on the six days of voluntary fast. 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. 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 (considered) as if he had fasted a whole life time”. Those who lost some days of fasting in Ramadan which require restitution are not required to embark on the Sittah Shawwal voluntary fast recommended by the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) until they have fasted for the number of days they missed from Ramadan fast.
Let us strive to be sincere Muslims in our practice of Islam. The spiritual life we are going to live after Ramadan should not be different from the one we displayed during the holy month. Aside of Ramadan fast and pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) which have specific months in which they are to be observed or performed, acts of worship in Islam are generally not restricted to any particular period. The entire period of a man’s lifetime is apt for worshipping Allah (SWT). The end of Ramadan shouldn’t be an end to our being righteous or pious. Continuity in worship should be every Muslim’s catchphrase. Keeping to every act that brings us closer to Allah (SWT) should permeate our life after Ramadan. This, indeed, is how we can live with Ramadan; yet, after Ramadan.
We must avoid anything that will make us lose the relative closeness we were able to establish with Allah (SWT) in the past one of Ramadan fast. Let us resolve never to return to our pre-Ramadan way of life. To keep the memories of Ramadan alive, observing the prophetic voluntary fast every Monday and Thursday is strongly recommended. May Allah (SWT) accept all our acts of devotion, forgive our sins, and guide us to remain righteous Muslims during and after Ramadan, amin. As you prepare to celebrate Sallah, we say: Kullu Aamin Wa Antum Bi-Khayrin! Happy Sallah in advance!!