How long is a month?
I recently read a book named Night train to Lisbon and this is what the author asked. It’s a misleading question because of course a month is 30 days, sometimes 31 (don’t even get me started on the pesky February). It’s even more misleading because it seems that some months fly by seeming very short, while others drag on feeling very long.
I thought about this question in terms of Ramadan. How long was this month? In Ramadan every minute feels like a valuable asset, a moment to be used to worship, remember, practice, and better ourselves. Whether it’s 17 hours of fasting, the breaking of the fast with duas and those 3 dates (#sunnah), or praying 21 rakaats at night; for this month we are always in a state of worship.
Many of us will donate more this month than we do all year, and outside of abstaining from food and drink, will also abstain from the other habits we see to be displeasing to God. We will change our routines, try to create better habits, and in the process come out of this month better than how we went into it. But aside from all the personal and dietary changes, there are rewards within it that make it one of the most valuable months of the year.
- Clean Slate
Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Messenger said : “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]
One month and a good intention to forgive years of sin? One month to rule them all for sure.
2. Reward for fasting is with Him
“Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” [al-Bukhari]
Endless rewards, and you don’t even need to have good smelling breath? Deal.
3. Muslim Math
The Prophet said: “Whosoever tries drawing nearer to Allah by performing any virtuous deed in this month, for him shall be such reward as if he had performed a farḍ (obligatory observance) in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a farḍ for him shall be the reward of seventy farḍ in any other time of the year” [Ibn Khuzaymah & Bayhaqi].
Imagine multiplying your 5 prayers for all 30 days by 70 (Seriously imagine it because I’m totally not calculating that:p)
But wait there’s more!
4. Supplications are answered
`Abdullah Ibn `Amr Ibn al-`Aas also reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him), said: “Indeed there is for the fasting person, when he breaks his fast, a supplication which is not rejected”. [Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and others; Sahih]
Make a wish, any wish 🙂
5. A night better than 1000 months
We know that within this month there is one night within the last 10 nights which is “khayrun ‘min alf shahr.” Better than 1000 months.
“Indeed We have revealed it (Qur’an) in the night of Decree. And what will explain to you what the night of Decree is? The night of Decree is better than than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit (Jibreel) by Allah’s permission, on every errand: (they say) “peace” (continuously) till the rise of Morning!” (97:1-5)
One night, in one month, greater than a 1000 months? One night where each of our good deeds will be as if we did them for 1000 months? I don’t think the author of my book was ready for this.
I’ve barely even touched on some of the bigger rewards of Ramadan but I know enough to say that this month is one of the most important ones of the year. We are already 4 days in and it’s clear that though we thought 17 hours of fasting would be impossible, we are shown that with Him we are capable of much much much more.
So how long is a month Mr. Pascal Mercier (The author of that book)? It seems even he wasn’t sure because he goes on to say that “The question I had wanted to ask was completely different. What does it depend on when we have experienced a month as a fulfilled time, our time, instead of a time that has passed us by, which we only suffered, that ran through our fingers, so that it seems to us like a lost, past time, and we’re not sad because it’s past, but because we couldn’t do anything with it?”
His question was never really about how long a month is, but rather what can you do for yourself within the time of a month? The opportunities available for us all in this month are obvious if we seek them out. I pray that we all continue to use this month to its full potential and reap every single blessing to make sure it’s a fulfilled time, our time, and not one that we just let pass by 🙂 How long will you make this month?