The month of Ramadan is one of the essential occasions in the Islamic calendar. It’s the month in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), it’s the month in which the most important nights of the Islamic year, the Qadr nights, or the nights of ordainment, are. It’s the month in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to pray a lot. It’s the month in which practicing Muslims fast, keeping themselves from sins, evil acts, and their worldly desires. But why this month has a significant role in the Islamic calendar, and how does it play a role in the life of Muslims? Here, we are going to discuss this matter.
Fasting is not a thing just belonging to Islam. It’s been in the former religions, and it’s been referred to in other holy books. The Quran refers to the time when Allah ordered Mary not to speak to anyone, as a form of fast:
Eat, drink, and be comforted. Then if you see any human, say, ‘‘Indeed I have vowed a fast to the All-beneficent, so I will not speak to any human today. (19:26)
“Muslims are asked to be fasting in the month of Ramadan: O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God-wary.” (2:183)
Also, Allah promises a great reward for both men and women who fast:
“Indeed, the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women… the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, the men who remember Allah greatly and the women who remember [Allah greatly]—Allah holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward.”(33:35)
As a result, the month of Ramadan is when Muslims begin to have a close relation with Allah and practice preserving themselves from evil acts, temptations, human passions, etc. In response, Allah promises to reward those who do so, with the best rewards.
As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, “The Month of Ramadan starts with mercy, goes on with forgiveness and ends with redemption.”  Therefore, this month is a chance for Muslims to ponder on their deeds, find where they have gone wrong, and ask Allah’s help and forgiveness to fix those mistakes and become a better version of themselves. Allah’s mercy includes everyone, at any time and anywhere. Yet, the month of Ramadan is when He pours down His blessings upon His creatures more than ever and is an excellent opportunity for the ones who are willing to benefit from it.
Qadr Night or the Night of Ordainment is highly sacred in Islam. On 19th, 21st, 23rd or 27th of Ramadan, Allah inspired the holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and it refers to this fact:
Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment. And what will show you what is the Night of Ordainment? The Night of Ordainment is better than a thousand months. In it, the angels and the Spirit descend, by the leave of their Lord, with every command. It is peaceful until the rising of the dawn. (97:1-5)
So, one of the significances of this night is the inspiration of the Holy Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
The other significance of this night, according to the Imams (AS), is being known as the night of destiny. Imam Sadiq (AS) calls it the heart of Ramadan . He also says that in the night of ordainment, everything, from death to life, is predestined. So Muslims usually stay awake during that night, praying to Allah to excuse their sins, and they pray for their earthly and unearthly wishes. That is the night in which Allah has said He does listen to the prayers of His servants. That is the night when one can change his/her fate for better, praying and asking Allah to do so.
The month of Ramadan is a chance for anyone who wants to be closer to Allah, a better person, and a guided human being. There are many divine purposes for this holy month, and especially the ritual of fasting, which will be discussed in another article.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p.342.
- Bihar al Anvaar, vol 58, p 376.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, a month that holds great significance for many Muslims around the world, including Shias and Sunnis. Literally meaning “forbidden, banned or prohibited,” this month is one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is strictly forbidden. But what is that thing that makes this month, particularly the 10th day of it (Ashura), so special for many Muslims and generally a significant number of people throughout the history?!
About fourteen hundred years ago, on the 10th of Muharram, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS) together with his family members and close companions were ruthlessly slain on the plain of Karbala.
Yazid, the son of Muawiyah, was illegally appointed as the leader of the Muslim community by his father. After Muawiyah’s death, Yazid started to take allegiance from the most influential tribal leaders. He also called upon Imam Hussain (AS) to swear the oath of obedience to him and accept him as the rightful leader.
Imam Hussain (AS) refused to do so as Yazid lacked the minimum qualities required for an ordinary Muslim let alone a Muslim leader. Anyhow, Yazid ordered his governors to either take allegiance from Imam Hussain (AS) or make him surrender by any means, even at the cost of taking his life. Imam Hussain (AS), however, did not give away to their unjust request and unkind pressure. So finally he was martyred along with his sincere companions by Yazid’s forces and their wives and children were taken as captives.
Since the 10th of Muharram of 61 A.H., millions of Muslims all over the world hold yearly mourning ceremonies throughout Muharram to commemorate the loss of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH & HP) grandson, Imam Hussain (AS). In their religious gatherings, each year, speeches are given about the life and merits of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, the sufferings they went through and the sacrifices they made. People recall the incident of Karbala many times and try to keep the message and purpose of this greatest martyrdom in the history of humankind alive through their sorrow and tears. Not only that, but lots of people are also engaged in charitable activities like blood donation, giving food to their fellow brothers and sisters, and helping the ones in need to follow their Imam’s lead.
You might wonder what the real cause of this incident was that still evoke great emotions in the hearts of Muslims and generally anyone who gets the opportunity to hear about it, despite the passage of centuries! The most important purpose for which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred was his faith. He fought in an unjust battle to revive his grandfather’s religion, the invaluable merits, and values that had been violated and taken for granted all those years. He, along with his companions suffered great miseries and sacrificed all they had for the sake of the principles of Islam, which they believed to be a lot more precious than anything else even their own lives. They practically showed the humankind of all times that sacrifice and martyrdom are essential when the cause is just.
Now, throughout centuries, in the month of Muharram, Muslims turn over a new leaf in their lives by remembering Imam Hussain (AS) and the incident of Karbala. They answer Imam Hussain’s (AS) call for help by expressing their anger to Yazid and the likes. They follow their Imam’s footsteps in fighting the Yazid within themselves and generally resisting any violent oppression and injustice out there in the social and political levels.
As a result, Muslims fully comprehend the core message of Islam, which is the Quranic principle of Tawhid; that there is no one but Allah, and we all need to be committed to Him; that even ordinary Muslims deserve more than a figure like Yazid, and they should always remain defiant against him and any oppression or injustice. The month of Muharram is an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves of the right belief and the true Islamic teachings that never harmonize with any kind of oppression.
Human beings by nature are social creatures, in need of companions and friends. Most of our lives depend on interactions with others, and man is therefore compelled to live in society and with other individuals. Friendship in Islam is considered one of the Divine blessings through which one overcomes loneliness and solitude.
Islam has placed tremendous importance on sociability and friendship. In the Quran [i], great emphasis has been placed on the concept of friendship because maintaining good company plays a pivotal role in shaping the life of the individual and it influences the path that will be chosen in life. Likewise, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS) on different occasions had clearly stated its importance, criteria for choosing a friend, characteristics of a good friend and the rights of a friend .
Friends are an integral and important part of our social life as they contribute greatly to the development of one’s personality and they affect many aspects of our lives. Islam, in complete harmony with man’s nature, deals extensively both in the Quran and the narrations (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) with the issue of friendship in Islam.
In the Quran, Allah says:
“On that day, friends will be one another’s enemies, except for the Godwary.” (43:67)
The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) while explaining the impact of friends says:
“Man is influenced by the faith of his friends. Therefore, be careful of whom you befriend.”
Similarly, the commander of the faithful; Imam Ali (AS) says:
“Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes” 
Islam attaches great emphasis on the choice of a friend to be selected in life. For this purpose, it is expected that one should employ his/her judgment in a manner free from emotion and try to set aside the criterion for assessing his/her real worth. “One must know his/her inadequacies and weak points, his/her ideas, feelings, dislikes and infirmities. Ultimately, one must discover the human merits and desirable qualities that he/she carries in the depth of his/her spirit so that one may benefit from his/her outstanding virtues.”
Therefore, for the great good or bad influences friends can have on the characters and personality of each other, it is important for every man of reason to choose friends that are characterized by good mannerism and behavior.
Meanwhile, in accordance with the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his Ahl al-Bayt (AS), a Muslim must avoid certain sets of people as friends: transgressor, hypocrites, foolish, liar, sinful, stingy, and disregardful to his/her relatives. Similarly, non-Muslims should not be taken as intimate friends or allies .
However, there is no hindrance for a boy having a girl as a friend or vice versa, so far as the Islamic regulations (such as the Islamic Hijab, avoidance of indiscriminate touching, etc.) are observed and they avoid any sinful act.
In Islam, the followings are some of the characteristics to be looked forward to in a friend:
Uprightness and well mannerism
Following some narrations (Hadiths) , friendship entails certain trusts and duties. The one who observes them is a true friend while one who breach them is unworthy of friendship in Islam. Here are some of the rights of friends:
Respecting them and their personality 
Rendering material supports in the time of need 
Advising them when they need your advice 
Forgiving their shortcomings 
Concealing their lapses and faults from others 
Visiting them when they are sick 
Participating in their funeral when they die
Concisely, friends are integral parts of our social life, and it is important to be selective in the choice of companions and friends. The righteous ones who lead one to righteousness in this world and prosperity in the Hereafter should be considered as friends.
In contrast, hypocrites and ill-mannered individuals who are sources of plights in this world and in the Hereafter should not be taken as friends. Similarly, Islam teaches the Muslims to observe certain matters in friendly relations. This is because immoderation in this regard may lead to deplorable consequences and bring regret and pain.
[i] (9: 71), (25: 27-29), etc.
- Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 177; Mustadrak Wasa’il, Vol. 5, chapter 42
- Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 74, P. 192.
- Mahdi as-Sadr, The Ahlul-Bayt; Ethical role models, P. 290.
- Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Ethics and Spiritual growth, P. 211.
- (3: 28); (4: 144); (5: 51); (9: 23) etc.
- Imam Ali Zayn al-Abideen, Treatise on Rights, Right 33 (The right of the companion)
- Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 198, Hadith No: 8.
- Al-Amidi, Ghurar al-Hikam, P. 775
- Ibid, P. 707
- Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 16, P. 233, Hadith 35
- Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, P. 173.