All praise is due to Allah. May He bestow His peace and blessings upon His Prophet, his relatives, companions and those who are loyal to him.
Ibn al Qayim mentioned that: ‘Among the guidance of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم in the month of Ramadan was his engagement in many forms of worship. The angel Gabriel used to teach him the Quran in this month. Whenever Gabriel met him he was more generous than a guided breeze. He was, ordinarily, the most charitable person, and yet when Ramadan arrived he became even more generous. He gave much charity and engaged in kind acts, recitation of the Quran, prayers, remembrance and retreat during this month.’
He used to apportion to Ramadan a degree of worship that was not set aside to any other month. Sometimes he actually used to continue into the night. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم , however, forbade his companions from doing so. When they pointed out to him that he continued he responded saying: ‘My body is not like yours, I dwell with my Lord, He feeds me and gives me drink’ (Bukhari and Muslim). Accordingly, Allah Almighty used to nourish His Prophet during those periods of extended fasts with subtle knowledge, and abounding wisdom and light of the message. Of course, it was not food and drink in the literal sense, for if this were so the Prophet would not be consid ered fasting.
When the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم became satisfied from the worship of his creator, and his heart opened up to his aim, and his mind rested with the remembrance of his Master, and his condition improved by his closeness to His Lord, he forgot all food and drink. As it was said: spiritual power is in the essence of souls, it is not dependent on food or drink. Nothing can harm you, if you have attained the knowledge of your Lord.
The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم was the best of those who remembered and worshipped Allah. As for the month of Ramadan, it was made to be a season of worship and a time for remembrance and recitation. His nights were spent in supplication and humiliation unto his Lord, seeking His help, support, victory and guidance. He read long chapters of the Quran and stayed for long periods bowing (in ruku’) and prostrating himself before Him. Such was the desire that was never satisfied with worship, making his standing in the night a source of sustenance and supply as well as power and energy. Allah Almighty says: ‘O Thou enwrapped one! Keep awake [in prayer] at night, all but a small part’ (73:1).
‘And rise from thy sleep and pray during part of the night [as well], as a free offering from thee, and thy Sustainer may well raise thee to a glorious station [in the life to come]’ (17:79).
During the days of the fasting month, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم spent his time in propagating the Islamic call, engaging in jihad, providing advice and training, and reminding his companions. Among his practices was that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم never commenced the fast of Ramadan except with a vision of what was to be achieved. He used to encourage his companions to partake of a meal before daybreak. Indeed, it was confirmed that he said:
‘Have the meal before daybreak, because there is blessing in it.’ The period before daybreak is considered blessed because it is in the last third of the night, the time of divine descent and forgiveness. Allah says: ‘And in the hours of early dawn, they were found praying for forgiveness’ (51:18).
He also says: ‘Those who show patience, firmness and self control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend in the way of Allah; and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning’ (3:17).
Still besides, the meal before daybreak helps the individual in his fast and worship. It is, therefore, a payment for the bounty of worship that Allah has bestowed upon us.
It was also established that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم used to hasten to have a meal after the setting of the sun. He, likewise, ordered his companions to do the same. Usually he had dates or water because something sweet was most agreeable for an empty stomach. Several sources have narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: ‘Verily the fasting person has a prayer that will never be rejected.’ Thus, he used to pray for the good of this world and the hereafter. He broke his fast before praying Salaat ul Maghreb (the evening prayer). In one authentic hadith he said: ‘If the night enters from here and slips away from there, then the faster should end his fast.’
The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم travelled during Ramadan, fasting and then breaking his fast. In this regard, he gave the companions the choice of fasting or not while travelling. During battle, however, he ordered them to break their fasts, to enable them to fight. Here it would be recalled that the Great Battle of Badr was fought during the month of Ramadan. Then, Allah gave the Muslims a victory that has known no parallel since. Yet, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم broke his fast in two of his battles according to narrations by Umar ibn al Khattab and collected by AI Tirmidhi and Ahmad . The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم did not, however, specify the distance after which the fast should be broken. There are in fact no authentic accounts to prove this.
There were, observedly, times when the morning prayer, al Fajr, came and the Prophet was still in a state of impurity following sexual intercourse. He would, in those circumstances, perform the ritual bath and thereafter fast. In a related matter, he used to kiss some of his wives while he was fasting in Ramadan. He compared the kiss of the fasting person to the washing of the mouth.
On another level, the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم ruled that the person who broke his fast through a genuine act of forgetfulness was not required to make up that day’s fast. He pointed out that it was Allah Almighty who had fed and given drink to that person. We have learnt from the prophetic traditions also that the things which invalidate one’s fast are: eating, drinking, cupping, and vomiting. The Noble Quran explains that sexual intercourse nullifies fasting in the same way that eating and drinking does.
Among his practices also was that of retreat and seclusion during the last ten days of Ramadan. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم did this in order to attune his heart ever more with Allah and to free his mind from the concerns of the world. The gaze of his heart thus became entirely focused in the heavens.
During this time, he limited his contacts with people and intensified his supplication and prayers to Allah, the Lord of all Majesty and Glory. His heart, therefore, indulged purely in the contemplation of Allah’s attributes and qualities. It reflected upon His clear signs in the universe and of Allah’s creation in the heavens and the earth. With all this in mind, it would be very difficult to determine how much knowledge Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم acquired, or how much light was revealed to him, or how many realities were exposed to him. He was, without doubt, the most knowledgeable person about Allah, the most fearful of Him, and the one who trusted and depended upon Him the most. Indeed, he was the most pious of all men and sacrificed himself the most for the sake of Allah! May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.