Many Muslims today look at Ramadhan as a time of decreased activity. They go into an unnatural state of hibernation, spending much time sleeping or doing nothing which results in them becoming dull brained, lazy and moody.
However, if we look into the lives of Rasulullah (saw), the Sahaabah (ra) and those who follow in his (saw) path, we see that out of all the months in the year, Ramadhan is the time when Islamic activity increased and the Muslims gained tremendous results by the leave of Allah Azzawajal. Between Ramadhan and jihad, there exists a very important relationship and this requires contemplation. Upon study, we find that the blessed month of Ramadhan is more than just a month of abstinence from food, drink and sexual relations.
In the nine Ramadhans after his Hijrah which were filled with crucial events, Rasulullah (saw) left us with an immaculate example of sacrifice for Allah Ta’ala:
Rasulullah (saw) and 313 Sahaabah (ra) set out to intercept a caravan of their own goods which were being led back from Syria by Abu Sufyan. However the Muslims were met by a 1000 strong army of the best of Quraish, intent on completely wiping out Islam and its followers. Despite being outnumbered three to one and appearing weak, the Sahaabah defended Islam with a burning desire to protect Rasulullah (saw) and meet Allah Azzawajal through martyrdom. Allah Ta’ala gave them a decisive victory on the 17th Ramadhan 2AH at the great Battle of Badr, referred to in the Qur’an as Yawm al-Furqan – the Day that Allah Ta’ala distinguished truth from falsehood.
By Ramadhan 8AH, the treaty of Hudaibiyyah had been broken by the kuffaar of Makkah. Thus the time had come to purify the Ka’bah from shirk. Rasulullah (saw) left Madinah with 10,000 mujahideen, moving towards Makkah. The determination of the believers, guided by the Will of Allah Azzawajal, became so overwhelming that Makkah was conquered without bloodshed on 20th Ramadhan 8AH. Islam was henceforth firmly entrenched in the Hijaz.
In Ramadhan 9AH, Rasulullah (saw) returned victorious from the crucial Battle of Tabuk against the Byzantines. The 50-day expedition started in Rajab and firmly pushed back the Byzantines from the borders of the Hijaz (Arabian Peninsula).
After the death of Rasulullah (saw), the Muslims carried on this tradition and Allah Ta’ala used the true believers to affect the course of history:
Under orders of Khalifah Abu Bakr (ra), Khalid bin Walid (ra) led a 3000 strong army to the tribe of Taâ€™iy, whose leader Tulayhah Al-Asdi laid claims to prophethood. At the beginning of Ramadhan 11AH, the Muslims fought against and defeated the false prophet and his followers.
Persian princes mobilized troops to meet the Muslims, under the command of Muthanna Ibn Harithah, in battle at Al Buwayb in Iraq in Ramadhan 13AH. In a grand defeat, it was recorded that around 100,000 fire-worshipping Persians were killed. The good news was well received by Amir ul Mu’mineen Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra).
Andalus (Spain) was under the tyrannical rule of King Roderick of the Visigoths. His people sought the aid of the Muslims of North Africa. Musa ibn Nusair, the governor, responded by despatching his general Tariq ibn Ziyad at the head of 12,000 mujahideen. Upon reaching the shores of Andalus, Tariq had all the boats of the Muslim army burnt. He reminded the Muslims that Paradise lay ahead of them and defeat and the sea to the rear. On 28th Ramadhan 92AH, Roderick and his 90,000 strong army were completely annihilated. Thereafter Tariq and Musa succeeded in liberating all of Spain, Sicily and France, marking the beginning of Islamic rule in Andalus.
After battling with the Crusaders for years, Salahuddin al-Ayyubi finally drove them out of Syria and the whole of their occupied lands in Ramadhan 682 AH.
The brutal Mongol armies of Genghis Khan were sweeping across Europe and Asia destroying everything in their path. In 656 AH Hulagu, grandson of Genghis Khan, continued this barbaric destruction by sacking Baghdad, the leading city of the Muslim world. As many as 1,800,000 Muslims were killed in this slaughter. In the middle of this, Allah Azzawajal raised up Saifuddin Qutuz, who united the divided Muslim armies and with the help of Allah Ta’ala and crushed the Mongols at ‘Ain Jalut on 26th Ramadhan 468 AH. The whole world sighed in relief and stood in admiration at the remarkable achievement of these noble sons of Islam.
This pattern of courage and pure sacrifice continues today:
Since the US invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), each Ramadhan has seen a marked increase in resistance attacks on the occupying soldiers. The first US attempt to invade the City of Mosques, Fallujah in Iraq (2004) saw similar ratios to those at Badr, some 1420 years before, where the enemy was three times greater in number than the Muslims. And despite this, the assistance of Allah Azzawajal once again proved to be the decisive factor as the murderous Crusaders were forced to leave Fallujah in Ramadhan 1424 AH, defeated and frustrated at not having been able to break the will of the local Muslims. This defeat proved to be the first of a series of severe setbacks that has begun the downfall of the proud, haughty and seemingly invincible American Empire.
Acknowledging the upsurge in attacks against his crusading soldiers in Iraq, George Bush told a White House press conference in October 2006: â€œThe situation is difficult in Iraq, no question about it. Attacks (on us) and (our) casualties have risen during the Ramadhan period. A rise in violence has occurred every Ramadhan period in the last three years.â€
In order to appreciate this relationship between Ramadhan and jihad, we must first understand that the essence of jihad is the actualization of the belief that nothing is more beloved to the Muslim than Allah Azzawajal, Rasulullah (saw) and striving for His sake – a sign that the Muslim truly worships and serves none besides Allah:
â€œSay: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decisionâ€ (TMQ – Surah At Tawbah: 24)
For us to realise that we are not slaves to our work, spouses, families, wealth or other aspects of our worldly life, we need to gain taqwa (consciousness of Allah Ta’ala). One of the ways of attaining taqwa is through fasting:
â€œO you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may gain taqwa (Allah consciousness)â€ (TMQ – Surah Al Baqarah:183)
When one performs the ibadah of fasting properly, it helps increase one’s awareness of Allah Azzawajal, it trains the soul, strengthens the willpower, helps control one’s ego, increases one’s sabr (patience) in refraining from haraam and instills ikhlaas (sincerity).
Unlike the one who takes his/her fast as a ritual and/or custom, the sincere Muslim realises that he/she is more than an animal that just eats, drinks and fulfils its sexual desires and that he/she has greater abilities and a much more important role in life.
The believer realises the joy of sacrifice purely for Allah Ta’ala and the displeasure with himself when failing to sacrifice for Allah Azzawajal. Ultimately, he reaches the peak – where his taqwa increases to the point that he is willing to sacrifice anything for Allah Subhaanahu wa ta’ala, including his own life. And it is this pinnacle that we should all be reaching for.
This Ramadhan presents us with our best opportunity yet!