Thereupon we said: 'O Messenger of Allah, not all of us possess the means whereby we can provide enough for a fasting person to break his fast" The Messenger of Allah replied: "Allah grants this same reward to him who gives a fasting person a single date or a drink of water or a sip of milk to break the fast. This is a month, the first part of which brings Allah's mercy, the middle of which brings His forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from the fire of 'Jahannum' (Hell). Whosoever lessens the burden of his servants (bondsmen) in this month, Allah will forgive him and free him from the fire of 'Jahannam."
"And in this month, four things you should endeavour to perform in great number. two of which shall be to please your Lord, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot make do. Those which shall be to please your Lord, are that you should in great quantity recite the 'Kalima Tayyibah'; Laa ilaaha illalLah' and make much 'Istighfaar' (beg Allah's forgiveness with Astaghfirullah). And as for those two without which You cannot make do, you should be Allah for entry into paradise and seek refuge with Him from the fire of Jahannam."
"And whoever gave a person who fasted, water to drink, Allah shall grant him a drink from my fountain such a drink whereafter he shall never again feel thirsty until he enters 'Jannah."' (Reported by 'Ibn Khuzaimah' in his 'Sahih')
All the points to which this Hadith draws attention have been further emphasised in numerous other Ahaadith on the great virtues of Ramadhan. Quite a number of important points are brought to our notice in this Hadith.
First it should be noted that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) delivered this sermon at the end of the month of Sha'baan, the obvious reason being that he intended to put into our minds the great importance of (the forthcoming) Ramadhan, so that we on our side could remember and not allow even a moment to go by without giving it the true importance it deserves. After describing the virtues of this month, attention is specifically drawn to several important items. First the "Laylatul Qadr' which is indeed a most valuable night. Thereafter, it is brought out in the above Hadith that fasting during day has been made obligatory by Allah, Who also made the 'Taraweeh' salaat during night a 'Sunnah' to please Allah. From this Hadith it is noted that the command for 'Taraweeh' prayers too comes from Allah Himself, and the other Ahaadith from the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) are really confirmatory. All the authorities are agreed on 'Taraweeh' being a 'Sunnah'. Maulana Shah Abdul-Haq Dehlavi wrote in his book "Maa Thabata Bis Sunnah" that should the people of any town fail to perform 'Taraweeh' prayers, the Muslim ruler should compel them to do so by force.
Here one point should be noted: Many are of the opinion that one may merely listen to the Qur'an being recited during 'Taraweeh' in eight or ten days in a certain 'Masjid' whereby the virtue of the 'Sunnah' shall have been attained. This is wrong because there are two distinct things: first, it is 'Sunnah' to hear the full Qur'an being recited in 'Taraweeh' during Ramadhan; secondly, it is 'Sunnah' to perform 'Taraweeh salaat' throughout Ramadhan. Both these should be performed with due care.
As for those who are on a journey and unable to perform both 'Sunan', because of not knowing where they might be (at different places); for them it is advisable that in the first few days of Ramadhan they should have the full Qur'an recited in 'Taraweeh', so that it does not remain incomplete. Then they should join in 'Taraweeh' wherever they find the opportunity.
Another point that is brought to our notice in the above Hadith is that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) informed us that any 'Nafl' (non-obligatory) act in 'Ramadhan' is rewarded as much as a 'Fardh' (obligatory) in normal times, whereas. a 'Fardh' in Ramadhan carries the reward of seventy 'Faraaidh' of other times.
At this point, we should ponder over religious performance, how much importance do we attach to obligatory observances in Ramadhan and how much 'Nafl' do we perform? As for 'Fardh' observances we find numerous people who, after having eaten "Sehri" (food before dawn), go back to bed, with the result that 'Fajr' salaat is not performed. Many perform it, but not with Jama'at. It creates the impression that we give poor 'thanks' to Allah for the food we had eaten at "Sehri" by either not performing the most important 'Fardh', or by performing it without "Jama'at" (congregation). Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said that: "There is no salaat for those living near a masjid except in the mosque."
In the book 'Mazaahire Haq' we find that when a person, without any valid excuse; performs salaat without 'Jama'at (congregation) the 'Fardh' is taken as performed, but the full reward for the 'Salaat' is not received. Similarly, in numerous cases at the 'Iftaar' (breaking the fast) the "Maghrib Salaat' is missed, and many who do come to the mosque miss the 'Takbeer' at the beginning or even miss the first 'Rakaat'.
Many people, because of the long 'Taraweeh' salaat, even perform 'Eshaa' salaat before its proper time! That is the sad way we look after our 'Ibaadat' in 'Ramadhan! In order to perform one "Fardh", three are neglected. How often do we see even 'Zuhr Salaat' being ignored because we are asleep (in siesta), while 'Asr' goes by because we are too busy in buying, sewing and cooking in preparation for Iftaar."
If such is the case with the 'Faraa'id,' then we can imagine how much less importance is given to the 'Nafl' observances. One finds that, because of sleep, the time of 'Salaatul Ishraq' (after sunrise) and 'Salaatud-Duha' (before noon) go by unattended. Then look at 'Salaatul Awwaabeen' (just after Maghrib'); Here we find ourselves busy with "Iftaar" and frightened by the prospect of 'Taraweeh' after an hour; so this 'Salaat' too is ignored. Further we find that for 'Salaatut Tahajud' (the time is the same as that for "Sehri"), with the result that this too goes by default. One may make a thou- sand excuses for not finding time for these 'Nawaafil', yet we see that there are many who do find the time to perform all these 'Ibaadahs' during these precious days.
I personally had observed my teacher Maulana Khalil Ahmad, during many Ramadhans. He was a weak, sickly person of advanced years but, in spite of that, he used to recite one and a quarter 'Juz' (Part) of the Qur'an in 'Nafl Namaaz' after 'Maghrib.' Thereafter, he used to spend about half an hour in eating, and other necessities in preparation for 'Taraweeh' salaat. He used to stand in Taraweeh for about two and half hours when in India and for three hours while residing in Madina Munawwarah. Thereafter, he would sleep for two or three hours (according to the season). Then again he used to recite the Qur'aan in 'Tahajjud' salaat, until half an hour before 'Fajr', when he ate his "Sehri". From then until Fajr', he remained busy with reading the Qur'an or reciting his 'Wazifas.' With the break of dawn, he performed 'Fajr' Salaat, whereafter he remained in meditation (Muraaqabah) until 'Ishraaq'. Having performed 'Ishraaq' prayers, he used to write a part of his famous commentary 'Bazlul Majhood', commentary on 'Abu Dawood" until midday; then he normally attended to his letters and dictated replies. He then rested until 'Zuhr' prayers and read the Qur'an from 'Zuhr' to 'Asr'. From 'Asr' until Maghrib', he would be busy with 'Tasbeeh' and in conversation with those who visited him. When he had completed 'Bazlul Majhood', he used to be busy studying some religious works. This was his daily programme throughout the year. In Ramadhan, however, he used to spend a bit more time in his 'Ibaadat', making the Rakats longer. Our other great saintly men used to take the same care of Ramadhan, and even more, so that it is not easy to emulate them. Shaikhul-Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hassan Rahmatullah alaihi) used to remain in 'Nafl salaat' from after 'Taraweeh' until 'Fajr', and would listen to the Qur'aan recited by the various 'Huffaaz' one after the other. Maulana Shah Abdurrahim Rajpuri remained busy with 'Tilaawat' (recitation) of the 'Qur'an' day and night throughout Ramadhan. There would be no time left for attending to correspondence or meeting visitors. Only his very special intimates were allowed to visit