Ramadan then, victories; Ramadan now, sleep
The month of Ramadan is here. The air seems to have started giving out vibes of sloth and inactivity. That’s how, unfortunately, most of the Muslims perceive this month to be. They foresee this month to be a tiring and an exhausting one. With the pledge of completing the count of days, their minds give tacit approval to measures like adding some extra hours of daytime sleep to their daily to-do list or avoiding normal physical work as much as possible.
In this piece, I will try to highlight some facts which have either been ignored or have hitherto, unfortunately, remained unbeknownst to many of us.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic word ‘ramd’, meaning to be extremely hot. Thus, it is a month which is sui generis in its hotness, at least in most parts of the globe. As the month brings with it the obligations of abstaining from all bodily pleasures from dawn to dusk, people tend to believe that they are thus exempted from all the other deeds that they would otherwise perform. Sleeping during the daytime thus becomes a norm. Nonetheless, it is this false notion that this piece intends to do away with.
What would our pious predecessors do in this month besides abstaining from food and water or praying the night prayers ( al-Taraweeh)? Would they also confine the blessings of this month to these two acts alone? Nay! Had their attitude been so, this world and its geography and demography might not have been the same as we find it today.
Ramadan, in the entire Muslim history, has been a month of immense importance. It might come as a surprise to many of you, but the entire ramadanian history is replete with a plethora of geopolitical happenings that have had a colossal impact on the whole of humanity.
The first major battle in the Islamic History was fought on the 17th of Ramadan in 2. H (624 C.E). The Muslims were less than one-third of their opponents. They did not have even a half of their camels or a fourth of their horses. They lagged way behind their opponents in terms of material strength. Nonetheless, the forces met and as the divine will intend, the handful of Muslims emerged victoriously. It was a decisive victory which set the Muslims on the course of an entirely new journey – a journey of expansion and the rise of Islam. That day, as termed by the Creator in his speech, is till this day known as ‘”Yawm al-Furqaan’ – the day that truth and falsehood were separated from one another.”
The conquest of Makkah, which was uncontestedly the most important event towards the culmination of the Prophethood of Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (S), took place in 8 Hijrah (630 C.E). Is it a coincidence that the month it took place it happened to be the blessed month of Ramadan? Nay! This is but, yet another manifestation of the blessings and mercy of this glorious month. The era of the Prophethood of Muhammad (S) begins and ends with two of his greatest victories being situated in this Mubarak month.
After the demise of the Prophet (S), the Muslims took forward the caravan of Islam. In 14-15 Hijrah (636 C.E), a few days before the month of Ramadan, Muslims took on the then superpower – The Giant Sassanid Empire. It was one of the mightiest empires of that epoch. Romans, for over 400 years, had been at odds with them and yet no decisive victor could ever emerge. Nonetheless, this time it was the Muslims who confronted this mighty empire. They had a very minimal and a meager material strength at their disposal and yet they fought tooth and nail. Allah SWT blessed the Muslim forces with ‘izzah and they were successful in breaking into the Sassanid lands. The Muslims went on to conquer its regions, one after the other, with most of those conquests taking place in this blessed month of Ramadan.
A few years later, in 16 Hijrah, under the Caliphate of Umar bin Khattab (R), the Muslims took on another significant power. This time it was the port city of Alexandria which was conquered. This decisive victory came after a long series of battles in 19th of Hijrah. It is by the virtue of this victory that Egypt in today’s date is counted among the Muslim countries of the world. This victory, yet again, did not occur but in the blessed month of Ramadan.
A few decades later, around the same timeframe, the Umayyads sent out armies across the globe. Of the most significant conquests that took place in that time was the conquest of Spain (al-Andalus). In 93 Hijrah (711 C.E), under the leadership of Tariq bin Ziyaad, the Muslim forces triumphed over the forces of Visigothic Empire. Many historians opine that had this battle been lost, Spain might never have been conquered by the Muslims. Such formidable was this victory and it, yet again, came in the month of Ramadan. Spain remained under the Muslim rule for a period of 750 glorious years and history bears witness that it produced a civilization which was unprecedented in the entire human world. That was the era of real ‘Enlightenment’ which manifested unbelievable advances in the fields of science, literature, history, art, philosophy and what not.
Under the same dynasty, another prominent battle was fought between the Muslims and the Hindus of the then India. The Muslim army under the leadership of a seventeen-year-old, Muhammad bin Qasim, defeated the Indian forces, paving a way for Islam to spread throughout the Indian sub-continent. This victory was given to the Muslims in the Ramadan of 94 Hijrah.
In 587 H (1187 C.E), Muslims under the leadership of the legendary commander, Salah al-Deen al-Ayyubi, took on the vicious Christians who had subjugated and desecrated the blessed land of Jerusalem. As the divine will intend, it was the month of Ramadan. The night before the battle, Muslims across the globe were praying qiyaam and tahajjud and praying for Salah al-Deen’s victory. On the day of battle, the Muslim forces fought with an indomitable will and, as a result, the Christian forces were devastatingly defeated. The blessed land was yet again brought under the Muslim rule and the month happened to be the blessed month of Ramadan!
The list goes on and on, many are the victories and conquests that the Muslims have been blessed with in this Mubarak month of Ramadan. Owing to the limitations of time and space, it is not possible to trace down all the events and happenings of dynamism of the Muslim history which occurred during this blessed month. These historical victories bear witness to the fact that this month is unparalleled in its status and its blessed nature. The shayateen are chained up. The gates of Hellfire are closed. Mercy surrounds the heavens and it envelopes the terrains of this earth. Our pious predecessors (R) did not reduce this month to mere ritualistic abstinence from food or praying some extra odd rakyat. They exhausted their energies, pushed their limits, only to make an impact on the entire humanity that shall, as Muslims, make us proud for an eternity. They defeated the mightiest empires, laid down their lives and whatever of the wealth they possessed without an iota of stinginess. They observed and respected this month as it ought to be; thereby deriving from it the best of the results.
Thus, the essence of this month transcends beyond the abstinence from food and other bodily pleasures. They are one of the means to achieve an end which is uniquely noble in and of itself. Its essence lies in the spirit that exhorts us to conquer each and every impediment, material or immaterial, that hinders human growth and their moral development. This month is about defeating the enemies, within and without – of truth, justice, and, of humanity at large. Our predecessors strived to conquer the impediments and defeat the enemies that stood in-between the humanity and its liberation. During the night they would fight the enemies and demons which reside within, and during the day, under the scorching heat of the sun, they would fight the enemies of humanity in the real battlefields. Ramadan, therefore, entails a philosophy of a balance and epitomizing of human efforts. It’s this philosophy that we as Muslims need to revive and confront the vile and wild desires that have enslaved us in today’s clime and time.
It was the month of Ramadan that witnessed their massive revolutionary victories, and it can, by the Nusrah of Allah, be a month which sees the revival of the same spirit, and brings about beneficial changes in our lives and in the lives of those who surround us, leaving a formidable mark on this timeline as we pass by it.
All in all, the raison d’être of this month is, therefore, to bring about a ‘change’ coupled with a commitment to sustaining the same through all the other months of the year.
May Allah accept our efforts and make this month a witness for, and not against us.
The author is a student of Political Science at Aligarh Muslim University, India and he can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.