Ramadān: Virtues of a long life, reaching times of goodness and performing righteous deeds

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All praise is due to Allah who makes for His servants these seasons of goodness wherein their sins are expiated, and their ranks raised – so we must glorify Him and thank Him, seek His aid and His forgiveness, and turn to Him in repentance. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except for Allah alone without partners in His Lordship, His worship or in His beautiful Names and lofty Attributes – and I bear witness that Muhammad is slave and messenger, the one who preceded us in all good, may Allah praise him in the company of His Angels and grant him peace and security – and likewise for his companions who would spend their time in worship and obedience.

A Muslim is happy when he is given a long life due to the fact that he keeps coming upon these tremendous moments of opportunity which have in them goodness that keeps returning daily, weekly and yearly. So the five daily prayers which come about every day and night, and the jumu’ah prayer which returns each week, and the fasting in Ramadan and the performance of Hajj to the sacred House of Allah which comes about every year. Regarding these events Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The five daily prayers, one Friday till the next Friday, one Ramadān till the next Ramadān: are all an expiation for whatever takes place between them, so long as one keeps away from the major sins.” (Muslim, no. 233; Tirmidhī, no. 214) He also stated: “The righteous and true Hajj has no reward lesser than Paradise.” (Reported by Tabarānī from Ibn Abbās.

So these are mighty periods that keep returning to a Muslim so that he may take advantage of them in benefitting himself before Allah, the Most High. There is not a time, even between these events except that a Muslim can take advantage and increase in goodness with obedience to Allāh. The entire life of a Muslim: hours, days, weeks, months and years are all good for a Muslim if he benefits from them in obedience to Allāh. The Most High said to His Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “And worship your Lord up until certain death reaches you.” (Al-Hijr 99) There is no empty moment in the life of a Muslim so long as a person is granted success by Allah to take advantage of every given opportunity. So the truly happy one is the one who is given a long life alongside righteous deeds, whereas the truly wretched is the one who’s life is long yet filled with disobedience and evil deeds. Allāh’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The best of you are those with long lives and righteous deeds.” (Al-Hākim from Jābir).

A Muslim rejoices in having a long life because he is able to increase in acts of obedience to Allāh. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned the story of three men from a previous nation who were striving in the worship of Allāh and they would compete with each other in acts of obedience and piety. Two of them were eventually martyred in the cause of Allah whilst the third remained alive until he reached the month of Ramadān. So he fasted and prayed in the nights, and then he passed away after the month had finished. Due to this he was foremost in Paradise preceding his two companions. The Prophet’s Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were surprised at this revelation. How is it possible that the one who died in his own bed can excel those who were martyred in the cause of Allāh knowing the great reward of the martyrs in Paradise? So the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) answered: “Did he not live after them for a period of time?” They said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allāh.” He continued: “Did he not perform prayers after them for a period of time?” They said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allāh.” He said: “Did he not reach the month of Ramadān and so he fasted and prayed in the nights?” They responded: “Yes, O Messenger of Allāh.” So he finished by saying: “By the One in whose Hand is my soul, the difference between them is like the difference between the sky and the earth.” (Ibn Mājah, 3925; declared authentic by Al-Albānī. So this narration proves to us that having a long life wherein one busies himself with obedience to Allāh is a reason for joy and happiness and increase in rank on the Day of Resurrection.

Ref: Khutub al-Minbariyyah, vol. 5. pp. 255-256

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