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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ramadan in History

Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick

The Message, Canada
January 1997


All praises to Allah, Lord of the worlds. He who revealed in His
Glorious Qur'an, "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as
it was prescribed for those who came before you that you may keep
your duty to your Lord (having taqwa)," (2:185). And may blessings
and peace of Allah be upon His last Messenger Muhammad ibn Abdullah,
forever.

O you who believe, Ramadan is a sacred month wherein Almighty Allah
is constantly testing His creation and giving humanity the
opportunity to achieve infinite, endless Bliss. Fasting is a
complete purification and a means to developing the consciousness of
Allah's presence. The consciousness of Allah (Taqwa) is a protection
against the schemes of Shaitan, and the suffering of this world.
Allah has informed us that, "Whoever keeps his duty to Allah (has
taqwa), He ordains a way out for him and gives him sustenance from
where he imagines not. And whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient
for him. Surely Allah attains His purpose. Allah has appointed a
measure for everything." (65:2)

Many Muslims today have a misconception about fasting and the
activities of a fasting person. They go into a state of semi-
hibernation, spending most of their daylight hours in bad. If they
fear Allah, they wake up for prayer, but then return to sleep
immediately. This unnatural sleep makes them become lazy, dull-
witted and often cranky.

Ramadan is actually a time of increased activity wherein the
believer, now lightened of the burdens of constant eating and
drinking, should be more willing to strive and struggle for Allah.
The Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, passed through
approximately nine Ramadans after the Hijrah. They were filled with
decisive events and left us a shining example of sacrifice and
submission to Allah.

In the first year after the Hijrah, the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi
wa sallam, sent Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib with thirty Muslim riders to
Saif al Bahr to investigate three hundred riders from Quraish who had
camped suspiciously in that area. The Muslims were about to engage
the disbelievers, but they were separated byMajdy ibn Umar al-
Juhany. The Hypocrites of Madinah, hoping to oppose the unity of the
Muslims, built their own masjid (called Masjid ad-Dirar). The
Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, ordered this masjid to be
destroyed in Ramadan.

On the seventeenth of Ramadan, 3 A.H., Almighty Allah separated truth
from falsehood at the Great Battle of Badr. The Prophet, sallallahu
`alaihi wa sallam, and 313 of his companions set out to intercept a
caravan of their own goods that had been left in Makkah. It was led
by Abu Sufyan himself, and estimated at 50,000 dinars. They were
met, instead, by a well-equipped army of the nobility of Quraish,
intend on putting out the light of Islam. Despite being outnumbered
three to one and appearing weak and unseasoned, the Muslims defended
their faith with a burning desire to protect the Prophet and meet
their Lord through martyrdom. Allah gave them a decisive victory on
this day of Ramadan, that would never be forgotten.

In 6 A.H., Zaid ibn Haritha was sent to Wadi al-Qura at the head of a
detachment to confront Fatimah bint Rabiah, the queen of that area.
Fatimah had previously attacked a caravan led by Zaid and had
succeeded in plundering its wealth. She was known to be the most
protected woman in Arabia, as she hung fifty swords of her close
relatives in her home. Fatimah was equally renowned for showing open
hostility to Islam. She was killed in a battle against these Muslims
in the month of Ramadan.

By Ramadan of 8 A.H., the treaty of Hudaibiyya had been broken and
the Muslim armies had engaged the Byzantines in the North. Muhammad,
sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, felt the need to strike a fatal blow to
disbelief in the Arabian Peninsula and conquer the city of Mecca.
Allah has declared His Sanctuary a place of peace, security and
religious sanctity. Now the time had come to purify the Ka`bah of
nakedness and abomination. The Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam
set out with an army having more armed men than al-Madinah had ever
seen before. People were swelling the army's ranks as it moved
toward Makkah. The determination of the believers, guided by the
Will of Allah, became so awesome that the city of Makkah was
conquered without a battle, on 20 Ramadan. This was one of the most
important dates in Islamic history for after it, Islam was firmly
entrenched in the Arabian Peninsula. During the same month and year,
after smashing the idols of Makkah, detachments were sent to the
other major centers of polytheism and al-Lat, Manat and Suwa, some of
the greatest idols of Arabia, were destroyed.

Such was the month of Ramadan in the time of the Prophet, sallallahu
`alaihi wa sallam. It was a time of purification, enjoining the
good, forbidding the evil, and striving hard with one's life and
wealth. After the death of the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa
sallam, Muslims carried on this tradition and Allah used the true
believers to affect the course of history. Ramadan continued to be a
time of great trials and crucial events.

Ninety-two years after the Hijrah, Islam had spread across North
Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. Spain was under the
tyrannical rule of King Roderic of the Visigoths. Roderic had forced
his six millions serfs and persecuted Jews to seek the aid of the
Muslims of North Africa in order to be delivered. Musa ibn Husair,
the Umayyad governor of North Africa, responded by sending his
courageous general Tariq ibn Ziyad at the head of 12,000 Berber and
Arab troops. In Ramadan of that year, they were confronted with a
combined Visigoth army of 90,000 Christians led by Roderic himself,
who was seated on a throne of ivory, silver, and precious gems and
drawn by white mules. After burning his boats, Tariq preached to the
Muslims warning them that victory and Paradise lay ahead of them and
defeat and the sea lay to the rear. They burst forth with great
enthusiasm and Allah manifested a clear victory over the forces of
disbelief. Not only was Roderic killed and his forces completely
annihilated, but also Tariq and Musa succeeded in liberating the
whole of Spain, Sicily and parts of France. This was the beginning
of the Golden Age of Al-Andalus where Muslims ruled for over 700
years.

In the year 582 A.H., Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi, after battling with the
Crusaders for years, finally drove them out of Syria and the whole of
their occupied lands in the month of Ramadan. The Muslim world was
then destined to meet one of its most frightening challenges.

In the seventh century A.H. the Mongols were sweeping across Asia
destroying everything that lay in their path. Genghis Khan called
himself "the scourge of God sent to punish humanity for their sins".
In 617 A.H., Samarkand, Ray and Hamdan were put to the sword causing
more than 700,000 people to be killed or made captive. In 656 A.H.,
Hulagu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, continued this destruction.
Even Baghdad, the leading city of the Muslim world, was sacked. Some
estimates say that as many as 1,800,000 Muslims were killed in this
awesome carnage. The Christians were asked to eat pork and drink
wine openly while the surviving Muslims were forced to participate in
drinking bouts. Wine was sprinkled in the masjids and no Azan (call
to prayer) was allowed. In the wake of such a horrible disaster and
with the threat of the whole Muslim world and then Europe being
subjected to the same fate, Allah raised up from the Mamluks of
Egypt, Saifuddin Qutz, who united the Muslim army and met the Mongols
at Ain Jalut on 25th of Ramadan, 458 A.H. Although they were under
great pressure, the Muslims with the help of Allah, cunning strategy
and unflinching bravery crushed the Mongol army and reversed this
tidal wave of horror. The whole of the civilized world sighed in
relief and stood in awe at the remarkable achievement of these noble
sons of Islam.

This was the spirit of Ramadan that enabled our righteous forefathers
to face seemingly impossible challenges. It was a time of intense
activity, spending the day in the saddle and the night in prayer
while calling upon Allah for His mercy and forgiveness.

Today, the Muslim world is faced with drought, military aggression,
widespread corruption and tempting materialism. Surely we are in
need or believers who can walk in the footsteps of our beloved
Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam, the illustrious Sahabah, Tariq
ibn Ziyad, Qutuz, Salahuddin and the countless heroes of Islam.
Surely we are in need of believers who are unafraid of the threats of
the disbelievers, yet kind and humble to the believing people;
Muslims whose fast is complete and not just a source of hunger and
thirst.

May Allah raise up a generation of Muslims who can carry Islam to all
corners of the globe in a manner that befits our age, and may He give
us the strength and the success to lay the proper foundations for
them. May Allah make us of those who carry out our Islam during
Ramadan and after it, and may He not make us of those who say what
they do not do. Surely Allah and His Angels invoke blessings and
peace upon our Prophet Muhammad. O you who believe, send blessings
and peace to him forever

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