Monday, 27 August 2007

Virtues of Ramadhan - Hadith 07

Abdullah ibn Umar RA relates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Verily Allah and His Malaa'ikah (Angels) send Mercy upon those who eat Sahur."


How great is Allah's favour upon us that even the partaking of food before dawn for fasting is so greatly rewarded. There are many Ahadith in which the virtues of Sahur are expounded and the rewards mentioned.

Allaamah Ain RA, a commentator of Sahih Bukhari has quoted the virtues of Sahur from seventeen different Sahabah RA and all the Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah are agreed on it being Mustahab (desirable).

Many people are deprived of the great reward granted for partaking in Sahur because of their own laziness. Some even go so far as to finish Taraweeh, and then eat (what they were actually suppose to partake for Sahur!) and go to bed. What great blessings do they lose!

Sahur actually means partaking of food shortly before dawn. Some Ulama say that the time for Sahur commences only after half the night has passed (Mirquat). Certain Ulama have divided the night into six portions, stating that the last one of these is the time of Sahur, so that, when the night (from sunset till dawn) extends over twelve hours, then only the last two hours would be the correct time for Sahur.

Thus, it must be remembered that to eat at the latest possible time is better and greater in reward than eating earlier, subject to the condition that no doubt remains as to whether Sahur had been eaten before the time of dawn. The Ahaadith are full of the virtues of Sahur.

Rasulullah SAW said:

"The difference between our fasting and that of the Ahl-ul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) lies in our partaking of food at Sahur which they do not."

The Prophet Muhammad SAW has also said:

"Eat Sahur, because in it lie great blessings."

Another narration attrbuted to the Prophet SAW affirms:

"In three things, are the great blessings:

(1) in Jama'ah (company),

(2) in eating Thareed, and

(3) in Sahur."

In the above Hadith, the use of the word Jama'ah is general, wherefrom we deduce that it includes Solat with congregation and all those righteous deeds done in company, because Allah's help comes to them.

As with regards to Thareed, this is a tasty preparation, in which baked bread is cooked with meat.

The third thing mentioned in this Hadith is Sahur. Whenever Rasulullah SAW used to invite any of his Companions RA to eat Sahur with him, he (SAW) used to say:

"Come and partake of blessed food with me."

One Hadith mentions that Rasulullah SAW says:

"Eat Sahur and strengthen yourself for the fast. And sleep in the afternoon (siesta), so as to gain assistance in waking up in the latter portion of the night (for Ibadah)."

Abdullah bin Haarith RA reports that one of the Sahabah RA said:

"I once visited Rasulullah (SAW) at a time when he was busy in partaking of Sahur.

Rasulullah (SAW) then said:

"This is a thing full of blessings, which Allah has granted you. Do not give it up." "

Rasulullah SAW in urging us repeatedly for the partaking of Sahur has said:

"Even though there be no food, then one date should be eaten or a drink of water taken."

Thus, when there are definitely great advantages and reward in Sahur, Muslims should endeavour to observe this practice as much as possible.

As always - as in all things, moderation is important, and going beyond the bounds of moderation is harmful. Thus, neither should so little be eaten that one feels weak throughout the period of fasting, nor should so much be eaten that it causes discomfort. Repeatedly, we have been prohibited from filling the stomach excessively.

Ibn Hajar RA, in his commentary on Sahih Bukhari - has mentioned various reasons for the blessedness of Sahur:

1. Because in it - the Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW is followed.

2. Through Sahur, we differentiate ourselves from the ways of the Ahl-ul-Kitaab, which we are at all times called upon to do.

3. It provides strength for Ibadah.

4. It promotes greater sincerity in Ibadah.

5. It aids in elimination of bad temper, which normally comes about as result of hunger.

6. Sahur is the time when prayers are accepted.

7. At the time of Sahur, one gets the opportunity to remember Allah, make Zikr and lift up the hand to Allah SWT in supplication.

The above are a few of the major reasons. There are many others as well.

Our pious scholars have given us a grand advice with regards to the eating during Sahur. Thus - the amount to be eaten varies according to different persons and their activities. Foe example, for those students who are busy seeking knowledge of Deen, too little food at Sahur as well as Iftaar will be harmful, and hence for them it is better not to have too little, because they seek Deeni knowledge, which is very important for the preservation and spread of Islam. Similar is the case of those who are busy with Zikr and other Deeni activities. On the other hand, other people who have no such hard work to do should eat little at Sahur, to obtain the spiritual benefit of fasting.

Once Rasulullah SAW announced to those proceeding for Jihad:

"There is no virtue in fasting while travelling."

To explain - this incident occurred during the month of Ramadhan, when some of the Sahabah RA were fasting.

Allamah Sha'raani RA have explained with regards to this:

"A covenant was made with us that we shall not fill our stomachs (completely) when eating, especially in the nights of Ramadhan."

It is better that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadhan than on other nights. After all, what is the use of fasting after having filled oneself at Sahur and at Iftar?

Sharah Ihya Ulumuddin mentions the experiences of some saints, such as Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari RA, who used to eat only once every fifteen days, and while in Ramadhan he ate only one morsel; but in order to follow the Sunnah, he used to have a drink of water daily for Sahur and Iftar.

Shaykh Junayd RA always used to fast throughout the year. However, when his noble friends would visit him occasionally, he used to break his fast and eat with them, saying:

"The virtue of breaking fast and eating with (such noble) friends is not less than that of "Nafl" fasting."

Similarly, we can mention the experiences of numerous saints who through eating less used to discipline their inner-selves. However, let us bear in mind that it should not be carried to such extremes that the religious activities and responsibilities are neglected, as a result of weakness of the body.

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