By Imam al-Haddad
(a translation of a section of his Nasâih al-Dîniyâh)
Imam al-Haddad, may Allah shower him with mercy, said:
Know! O gathering of brothers, may Allah ease us and you towards ease and
distance us from difficulty and forgive us in the next world and the first one,
that Ramadân is a month of mighty status and rank with Allah and His
Messenger. It is the master of all months. Allah made fasting compulsory for
the Muslims and prescribed it for them. The Exalted said:
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those
before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint,-
Allah sent His Book down in it and made the Night of Power, which is better
than a thousand months, among its nights. A thousand months is more
than eighty years. Count and contemplate what this Night of Power is – a
night that Allah has made greater than this long period. And Allah, The
Exalted has said:
Ramadhân is the (month) in which the Qurân was sent down, as a guide to
mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and
And He also said:
We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is?
The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every
Peace! This until the rise of morn!
He, the Transcendent, made us aware that the Qurân was descended in the
month of Ramadhân and then that He specifically sent it down on the Night
of Power. The ‘descending’ was in one go from the Sacred Tablet (al-Lahw al-
Mahfûz) to The House of Power ( bayt al-‘Izza ) which is in the lowest sky and
then it was revealed in portions by Jibrîl (Gabriel) by Allah’s command to His
messenger, upon both of them be peace, over a period of twenty-three years.
That is the period of Allah’s revelation to His Messenger, upon him be peace,
as Allah revealed the Qurân when he was forty years old and he, upon him
be peace and salutations, passed away when he was sixty-three years old.
That is what the critical scholars from the early and later generations have
The blessings of Ramdhân
The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace, said regarding Ramadhân:
‘Ramadhân to Ramadhân, Friday prayer to Friday prayer and compulsory
prayer to compulsory prayer cover up what is between them if one avoids the
And he, upon him be peace and salutations, said, ‘it is the month of
steadfastness (sabr) and the reward of steadfastness is the Garden.’ And he
said of it, ‘its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness and its ending is
freedom from the Fire.’
Allah, the Exalted, looks to the Muslims on its first night and He will not
punish the one He has looked to and He forgives them on its last night.
Jibril (Gabriel) said to the Messenger of Allah, upon both of them be peace,
‘whoever reaches Ramadhân and is not forgiven in it, may Allah distant him,
say “amin”.’ The messenger said, ‘amin’. This is because the means of
forgiveness in Ramadhân are greater than in other months. Therefore the
only one who is prevented from forgiveness has been prevented through the
iniquity of his rebellion against Allah and the enormity of his insolence
towards Allah and he by this he causes distance and rejection from Allah’s
door. We ask Allah for safety from His anger, His punishment and all His
It has been related that the doors of the skies and all the doors of the
Garden are opened during Ramadhân. The doors of the fire are locked and
the minions of Shaytân are banished to the seas so that they cannot spoil
the fast and the standing in prayer of the Muslims. A caller calls on each
night of Ramadhân ‘O desirer of good, come forward! O desirer of evil, go
It has also been related that ‘whoever seeks proximity to Allah through a
compulsory act will have the reward of seventy compulsory acts. Whoever
seeks proximity to Allah through a superogotory act will have the reward of a
compulsory act.’ The superogotory acts in Ramadhân are of the status of
compulsory acts in other months in terms of reward. The compulsory reward
are increased seventy times above those of other months.
And He upon whom be peace and blessings said, ‘whoever fasts the month of
Ramadhân and prays the voluntary night prayer (al-qiyâm) with faith and
sincerity will have his prior sins forgiven. Imân here means believing and
ihtisâb means ‘with sincerity’. And Allah knows best.
The fast has etiquettes without which it will not be perfected.
The etiquettes of fasting
Among the most important is to protect one’s tongue from lies, backbiting
and falling into that which does not concern you and protecting your eyes
and ears from looking at or listening to that which is not permitted and that
which is superfluous.
Likewise, one should protect one’s stomach from consuming anything
prohibited or doubtful, especially when breaking one’s fast. One should
make special effort to only break one’s fast with the permitted. Some of the
righteous predecessors have said, ‘if you fast, take care about what you
break your fast with and with whom you break your fast.’ This indicates the
importance of assiduousness and scrupulousness about one what breaks
one’s fast with.
Likewise, the fasting person should preserve his limbs from situations
associated with sin and from excess. By this, the fast will be perfected and
purified. How many people fast, tiring themselves with hunger and thirst yet
allow their limbs to transgress and thereby spoil their fast and waste that
effort? As has been mentioned by he upon whom be peace, ‘how many fast
and attain nothing from the fast but hunger and thirst?’
Avoidance of disobedience is compulsory upon the one who is fasting and
also on the one who is not, but it is even more important for the fasting
person to take care. Its obligation is of even great magnitude, so understand!
The Messenger, upon him be salutations and peace, said, ‘fasting is a shield
and so if one of you is fasting one should not swear or abuse or do any of the
acts of ignorance. If someone comes to abuse or fight you say ‘I am fasting’.
From the etiquettes of fasting is not to sleep much during the day or eat
much at night but to be balanced so that one feels the hunger and thirst and
trains one’s self (nafs), weakens one’s desires and enlightens one’s heart for
that is the secret and purpose of one’s fast. The fasting person should avoid
lavishness1 in following one’s desires and tastes as previously mentioned.
The minimum level should be to have the same level of luxury as one is used
to outside of Ramadân, but self discipline and avoidance of the desires of the
self (nafs) will have a great impact on the enlightenment of the heart. This is
what is required in Ramadân. Those who accustom themselves to greater
luxury during Ramadân than at other times are in a state of deception
inspired by the devil’s jealousy as he wishes to bar them from the blessings
of the fast. He does not want them to be manifest the effects of the fast
which include lights and unveilings, humility and meekness before Him,
tasting the pleasure of His intimate discourse and the reading of His Book
The norm of our righteous predecessors, may Allah show them mercy, was to
reduce their customs and passions and increase their good actions and
righteous actions in Ramadân. These characteristics are well known about
them throughout their lives but even more so in Ramadân.
1 For example, eating ‘special’ foods or bigger meals during Ramadan (translator’s note).
Among the etiquettes of fasting is to not busy oneself with worldly affairs
during the month of Ramadân. One should free oneself from them and
concentrate on worshipping Allah and his remembrance as much as
possible. One should not enter into worldly preoccupations except what is
absolutely necessary to fulfil one’s duties or the rights of one’s family and
dependents and such like. This is because the month of Ramadân has the
same status among the calendar months as Friday has among the days of
the week. One should make one’s Friday and Ramadân specifically for one’s
It is from the tradition of the Prophet, upon him be peace, to break one’s fast
with dates and if you are unable to, then with water. He, upon him be peace,
used to break his fast before praying the Maghrib prayer. He used to say,
‘my nation will always be in a good state as long as they hasten with the
breaking of the fast and delay the pre-dawn meal. Delaying the pre-dawn
meal is also from his tradition.
It is appropriate for the fasting person not to eat much. This is so that the
effects of the fast can manifest themselves and that he may take a portion of
the secret and purpose of the fast, which is the training of one’s self (nafs)
and the weakening of desire. For surely fasting and emptiness of the
stomach has a great effect in illumination of the heart and the energising of
the limbs for worship. Satiety is the origin of hardness of the heart,
negligence and laziness in worship. The Messenger, upon him be peace,
said, ‘the son of Adam has not filled a vessel worse than his stomach. A few
morsels would suffice for him to be able to stand straight but if he is unable
to make do with that, then a third for his food, a third for his drink and a
third for air. Some have said, ‘if the stomach is satiated, the other limbs go
hungry, if the stomach is hungry the limbs will be satiated’.
I say that the hunger of the limbs suggests their seeking of and concern for
passion. The tongue desires speech, the eye wishes to gaze, the ear to hear
and likewise the rest of the ‘limbs’. The seeking of excess is a result of
fullness of the stomach. One finds tranquillity in its emptiness. Its calmness
is what is implied by ‘satiety of the limbs’. This has been witnessed and
Allah knows best.
From the highly recommended acts is the feeding of fasting people at the
time of their breaking of fast even if it is only by providing dates or a drink of
water. He, upon whom be peace, said, ‘who ever provides for a fasting person
to break his fast will receive the reward of the fasting person without
diminishing anything from the reward of the fasting person.’ This reward is
only achieved by providing the actual food he breaks his fast with even if it is
only a date or a drink of water. As for one provides him with a full meal later
in his home or somewhere else, he will not receive this reward, however, he
will receive the reward of feeding someone, which is itself a mighty reward.
(Translated from al-Nasaih al-Diniyyah by Abdul Aziz Ahmed Sha’bân 1527)