In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate --
Salaam everybody, and today on the 18th of Ramadhan as part of our special series we focus on the benefits of offering recommended or supererogatory prayers in this blessed month of fasting.
By the supererogatory or recommended prayers we mean prayers that are not obligatory but whose performance in Ramadhan has manifold benefits and are rewarded by the All-Merciful Lord. However, one should on no account neglect the 5-times-a-day obligatory prayers on their specific timings, such as Fajr, Zohr, Asr, Maghreb, and Isha.
Since we ought to be extra careful during this month regarding our actions, talks and deeds, what better than to observe certain acts of worship that not only rejuvenate our spirit but at which God is pleased and forgives our faults and shortcomings! Let us refer here to a passage from the Prophet's famous sermon on the advent of Ramadhan that we had presented you in detail on the eve of the month of fasting:
"Whoever offers recommended prayers in it, Allah will save him from hell, and whoever observes in it obligatory acts of worship, his reward will be sevenfold for such acts compared to other months."
Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) also said in his famous sermon: Your back is breaking under the heavy load of your sins; so prostrate before Him for long intervals and make it lighter. Do understand fully well that Allah has promised in the Name of His Majesty and Honour that He will not take to task such people who perform the prayer and the prostration, and that He will guard their bodies against the fire of hell on the Day of Judgement.
Thus, in order to seek nearness to God Almighty, we should be diligent in acts of worship and performing your prayers. Here it is worth mentioning that one of the highly recommended prayers that a believer can perform every night after the obligatory Isha Prayer is a two-raka'ah prayer. In both raka'ahs, after reciting Surah al-Hamd we should Surah at-Tawhid three times. Then after the salaam, one should say:
"Glory to Him, the Protector that never neglects; Glory to Him, the Merciful that does not make haste (to punish); Glory to Him, the Sustainer that is never distracted; Glory to Him, the Eternal that does not engage in diversions."
Then, after reciting seven times the fourfold tasbih, that is, Subhan Allah, Wal-Hamdo Lillah, Wa la ilaha Il-Allah, Wa Allaho Akbar, we should say: Glory to You! Glory to You! Glory to You! O Great One, forgive my great sin!
Than we should invoke blessings on the Prophet and his Progeny ten times. It is mentioned that God Almighty forgives 70,000 sins of those who perform this two particular prayer.
It should be known that one of the observances pertaining to the nights of the month of Ramadhan is to offer a thousand raka'ah of supererogatory prayer during the entire month. Eminent scholars have mentioned it in their works on law and worship. The traditions differ concerning the manner of its performance.
According to a report from the Prophet's 5th Infallible Successor, Imam Mohammad al-Jawad (PBUH), 20 raka'ahs are to be offered every night during the first 20 days of the month of Ramadhan, every two of them followed by salaam. Eight of these raka'ahs are performed after the obligatory Magheib
Prayer and 12 after the obligatory Isha Prayer. During the last 10 days, 30 raka'ahs are performed every night with 8 raka'ahs after Maghreb and 22 after the Isha Prayer. This makes a total of 700 raka'ahs. The remaining 300 raka'ahs are offered on the nights of al-Qadr; that is 100 on the 19th night, 100 on the 21st, and another 100 on the 23rd, which in all make 1000 raka'ahs.
If one is unable to perform these prayers, at least, one should try to perform in this month Tahajjud or the late midnight prayer, which has many-fold benefits. It is called the Believer's Honour and could be performed until the call for the Fajr or Morning Prayer. This prayer, as most of our listeners might be knowing is 11-Raka'ah Prayer, with salaam after every 2 raka'ah. Our getting up for the last pre-dawn meal offers us the best opportunity to perform this recommended prayer whose benefits have been described as expiation for past sins, protection against torments of the grave, increase in daily provisions, forgiveness for the parents, peace of mind and etc.
According to Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (PBUH) it was the habit of the Prophet during the last ten nights of Ramadhan to avoid the company of his wives and spend the nights in worship. How bountiful is Divine grace, it affords us the chance to compensate for our neglect of prayers in the past, and to ask mercy for our parents or deceased relatives and friends. Interested listeners are advised to consult local scholars or refer to authentic books which deal with recommended prayers in Ramadhan.
Like the Qur'an, other Heavenly Books were also sent down in this blessed month to the respective Prophets. Imam Ja'far as-Sadeq (AS) says:
"The Torah was sent down (to Moses) on the 6th of Ramadhan, the Evangel (to Jesus) on the 12th, the Book of Psalms (to David) on the 18th, and the Furqan (that is the Qur'an) on the Grand Night."
Before ending today's programme, we present you as food for thought a passage from the late night or Sahr supplication taught to Abu Hamza by the Prophet's 4th Infallible Successor, Imam Zain al-Abedin (PBUH):
"My God, You have fostered me as an infant, with Your blessing and kindness, and called me by my name in grown-up years. O You who have nurtured me in the world with Your kindness, grace and blessings, and apprised me of Your clemency and generosity in the Hereafter! My gnosis, my Master, guides me to You, and my love for You is my mediator with You, and I am confident that my guide will lead me to You, and am assured that my mediator will mediate with You."
"My Master, I call You with a tongue that has been muted by my sins, and I pray to You, my Lord, with a heart ruined by my offences. O my Lord, I invoke You with awe, in eagerness, hope and fear. My Master, when I observe my sins I get frightened; but when I see Your generosity I become hopeful. So, if You pardon me, You are the best of the merciful. And should You punish me, it will not be unjust of You."