The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation), and then after them, there will come people whose witness will precede their oaths, and whose oaths will precede their witness.” [Bukhari]
Who better to learn from than those declared to be among the best people by the Prophet ﷺ? Each year, as we near Ramadan, we hear about how the sahaba prepared for Ramadan six months before its arrival and made dua for its acceptance for six months afterwards. With this level of steadfastness, one can already imagine how they actually spent the blessed month. They did not view it as a month to stop their normal routine or activities; there were instances when they went to war while fasting. Rather, they spent more time in worship, sacrificing sleep and spending their time solely on what matters.
In the post, we share hadiths and narrations showing how the sahaba occupied their time in Ramadan and strove to excel in all acts of worship including: prayer, Qur’an recitation, charity, and much more.
The ability to witness Ramadan, a month in which Allah gives us a chance to revive our hearts and renew our souls, is a blessing the sahaba never took for granted.
It’s narrated that Ibn Umar (RA) used to say when Ramadhan started, ‘Welcome oh the month that purifies us from the sins.’
Yahya ibn Abi Kathir, may Allah have mercy on him, would supplicate when the month of Ramdan arrived, “O Allah, secure me for Ramadan, secure Ramadan for me, and receive my deeds with acceptance.” [Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’ 3/69]
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise his voice; rather if anyone reviles him or quarrels with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The above hadith influenced how the sahaba lived their lives. They filled their day with supplications, guarded their tongues and continued to remind one another long after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ about this essential element of fasting.
Ali (RA) would deliver a sermon, after Fajr and Asr prayers, reminding people that fasting is “not merely from food and drink, but rather from lying, falsehood, and vain talk.” [al-Sunan al-Kubrá lil-Bayhaqī 7955]
Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) also said, “If you fast, then guard your ears, eyes and tongue against lies and evil deeds; do not abuse your servants; be tranquil and dignified on the day you observe fasting; do not let the day when you do not fast and the day when you fast be the same.” [ibn abi Shayba]
This is a reminder to us, as well, to remain steadfast in protecting our fasts. Think before you respond to that message, reply to that tweet in anger or engage in unbeneficial conversation. In this age of fake news, spreading false information has become much easier, even though it’s akin to lying. It’s essential to verify whatever we choose to share, and refrain from sharing if we’re unsure of the source.
As Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, the sahaba increased in recitation. Uthman ibn Affan (RA) was said to complete the recitation of the Qur’an once everyday, some sahaba completed it once every three nights, some in every seven nights and so on. They recited it during their prayers and at other times.
However, not only did they recite more, they also contemplated on its meanings and messages:
Once when ibn Umar was reciting Surah Mutaffifin and reached the verse “a Day when everyone will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?” he cried so hard that he was overwhelmed and couldn’t carry on reading.
Reciting the Qur’an is highly rewarding especially in this blessed month, but we should also strive to understand and implement some of what we recite. In the Qur’an, Allah emphasises the importance of acting on the knowledge we gain, therefore it is paramount that we seek to learn what Allah has laid out for us in His Book.
What can you do this Ramadan, however little, to improve your understanding of the message of the Qur’an?
Here are some sources to help you get started!
Aisha (RA) said, “Do not abandon qiyam al-layl, for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ never left it. If he was not well or he felt heavy, he prayed sitting.”
Such is the importance of the night prayer that Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) used to pray at night for a lengthy period of time, and when it was in the middle of the night, he would wake up his family to pray too. Then he would recite the verse, “And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.” [Qur’an 20:132]
Also, during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA), he would instruct Ubay ibn Ka’b and Tameem ad-Daari to lead taraweeh salah. Although they prayed eleven rak’ahs, they recited long surahs to the extent that some people had to use a staff to support themselves while standing.
Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RA), also narrated that when they finished their qiyam, they had to hurry to eat their food for fear of Fajr beginning. [Muwata of Imam Malik]
Ibn Umar (RA) used to pray in his house during Ramadan, and when people departed from the mosque, he would go there with a flask of water [to pray] and wouldn’t leave until after Fajr.
We know from the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ that Allah descends to the seventh heaven in the last third of the night asking, “Is there anyone who invokes Me (demand anything from Me), that I may respond to his invocation; Is there anyone who asks Me for something that I may give (it to) him; Is there anyone who asks My forgiveness that I may forgive him?” [Bukhari]. Ramadan is the perfect time to make the most of this opportunity. Even if you can’t stand in prayer for the entire night, sleep for a few hours and set your alarm to wake up at least thirty minutes before Fajr to catch the blessing of the night.
Besides the obvious blessings, Tahajjud also offers so many benefits to us, which you can learn more about here.
Ibn Abbas (RA) said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was the most generous person, and he would be even more so in the month of Ramadan because Jibreel would meet him every night in the month of Ramadan till it elapsed. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ would recite the Qur’an for him. When Jibreel met him, he would be more generous than the blowing wind in doing good.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The sahaba always strove to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet ﷺ, hence were distinctly generous in the month of Ramadan seeking every avenue to earn the pleasure and reward of Allah.
When the time of iftar came, they would race to feed the poor. Ibn Umar (RA) used to break his fast with poor people and if a poor person came to him asking for food while he was eating, he used to give him his portion.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.” [Tirmidhi]
The Prophet ﷺ and his companions were also generous with their duas. They never failed to seek forgiveness for themselves, others, loved ones, ummah etc.
Charity can come in different forms through spending your wealth, giving your time, donating your skills or other resources. In Islam, we’re taught that a smile is charity, saying a good word is charity, as is spreading salam and so many more easy to do deeds.
Several platforms have made it possible to automate our donations, and if you don’t have the financial capacity, you can commit to other activities such as helping out around the house or sharing food with your neighbours. Remember to set the right intentions before embarking on any action.
Also, when crafting your dua list, how can you make it as inclusive as possible? Remember, the Prophet ﷺ said, “No Muslim servant supplicates for his brother behind his back but that the angel says: And for you the same.” [Muslim]
Aisha (RA) said, “When the last ten days of Ramadan arrived, the Prophet ﷺ would tighten his belt, spend the night in worship, and awaken his family.” [Bukhari]
The last ten nights of Ramadan is one we all look forward to, and so did the companions. They took great care in how they presented themselves to their Lord, by taking a bath and applying perfume every night. They also maximised hours of the night and after, by staying in the mosque after Fajr prayer until sunrise [Muslim].
Aisha reported, “The Prophet ﷺ would seek spiritual retreat in the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan, until Allah Almighty caused him to pass away. His wives continued to perform the retreat after him.” [Bukhari]
Zakat al-Fitr is an obligation, and ibn Abbas (RA) shares that, “The Prophet ﷺ obligated charity at the end of Ramadan as purification of the fasting person from vain talk and misbehaviour, as food for the poor. Whoever pays it before the Eid prayer, it is accepted as Zakat. Whoever pays it after the Eid prayer, it is part of voluntary charity.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 1609]
Waki’ ibn al-Jarrah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Zakat al-Fitr is to the month of Ramadan like the prostration of forgetfulness is to prayer. It makes up for deficiencies in fasting just as the prostration makes up for deficiencies in prayer.” [al-Majmū’ Sharḥ al-Muhadhab 6/140]
When Ramadan came to an end, the companions didn’t stop these good deeds or habits. They strove to continue even after the month has passed. As you go through this month, choose one habit you want to be consistent with and ask Allah to aid you in going through with it.
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 6464]
Suad Kamardeen is a British-Nigerian Muslim writer, editor, engineering graduate and a Creative Writing Masters student at the University of Oxford. She is also a founding editor at WAYF journal. She recently launched Qalb Writers Collective, a platform and community dedicated to helping Black and/or Muslim women finish their novel manuscripts and get ahead in the publishing world. She is committed to documenting histories and cultures, as well as impacting people’s lives positively through storytelling. Her young adult novel, Never Enough, won the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2022, and her adult novel was shortlisted for the Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021. Her writing has also appeared in Bad Form Review, Sapelo Square and The Unheard Stories anthology. You can find her on Twitter/IG: @suadkamardeen