By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
The holy month of Ramadan is a time of sacrifice, purification, worship, charity and forgiveness, all to bring us closer to our Creator.
There are so many blessings and benefits to fasting in Ramadan. Some are physical, some are spiritual, and some relate purely to our aakhirah.
Among these blessings is the right to enter through Bab Ar-Rayyaan:
Narrated Sahl (ra) : The Prophet (sws – peace be upon him) said,
“Indeed, there is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Rayaan. On the Day of Resurrection, those who fasted will enter it and none except them will enter. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to fast?’ They will arise and none except them will enter it. After their entry, the gate will be closed and none will enter it.”
[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 120]
Many Muslims have heard this hadith, but most don’t know the meaning of this name, “Ar-Rayyaan”. In fact I was at the masjid recently for a Ramadan class and I asked the Imam this question and he did not know. So when I got home I looked it up: the linguistic meaning of Ar-Rayyaan is something that is well-watered, and therefore lush, succulent and beautiful…
Doesn’t it sound lovely? I imagine it surrounded by water, maybe a river, stream, or a waterfall… A tall and shining gate, beautifully decorated, silver or golden… Allah knows best.
I want to walk through that gate, and I want the same for my daughter Salma. At this moment, I want that more than anything else I can imagine… if I achieve that, then I will have succeeded in life.
Fasting is a Key
Why should there be a gateway to Jannah only for those who fast? What is so special about fasting for only month every year, as opposed to praying every day, or making the great effort of Hajj, or giving one’s hard-earned money in charity, or any other important Islamic deed?
Actually we know from various saheeh hadeeth (authentic narrations of the Prophet) that there are many gates to Jannah. Some will reward people who perform specific actions, and according to the Prophet (sws), certain individuals willed be called to all the gates, and may enter from whichever they choose. SubhanAllah. This is a fascinating subject in its own right. However, Bab Ar-Rayyaan has been mentioned quite prominently in the narrations. It is clearly an important and privileged gate.
Why is that?
Fasting is designed to put us into a state of hyper-awareness of Allah. Hasan al-Basri said,
“By Allah, in the last twenty years, I have not said a word or taken something with my hand or refrained to take something with my hand or stepped forth or stepped back, except that I have thought before I have done any action, ‘Does Allah love this action? Is Allah pleased with this action?'”
This is how we should be when fasting. The fast is a highly personal act of worship between the servant and the Creator. It’s an invisible act. When you pray or perform tawaaf, you can be seen by others, so there is always the risk of one’s intention being tainted by the desire to be seen or admired. However, when we are fasting, no one can look at us and know that we are fasting. Even in Ramadan, a person could eat or drink secretly. It is an honor system. That is why Allah said in a hadith qudsi, “Fasting is for Me and I reward it.” (al-Bukhari)
Another truth is that fasting is difficult. It is more arduous than salat, or giving sadaqah. When done properly, fasting can be very hard, especially in summer or in hot climates. For me personally, fasting at the height of summer is the most punishing physical experience I go through, particularly on the days when I have martial arts classes scheduled.
The greatest mistake would be to think that fasting is only about hunger, thirst and abstinence. It seems to me that fasting is a physical experience that opens the doorway to a spiritual state of being. The hardship of fasting is a key that unlocks a tremendous reservoir of strength, and that plunges one into a state of humility, and an extreme awareness of one’s actions before Allah.
That’s ultimately what fasting is about. It is about being conscious of Allah, sacrificing for Him, being humbled before Him, growing closer to Him, and pleasing Him.
Fasting is a key that opens a door. And the door is called Ar-Rayyaan.
May Allah make us among those who enter through Ar-Rayyaan.