(By Shaykh Yaser Birjas)
Honoring the guest is mandatory in Islam.
Muslims, due to their religious values and duties, are known as the most hospitable people. Guests should be honored the moment they arrive, and they should honored most at the time of their departure. This practice is a polite way of making the guest feel the most welcomed next time he or she comes back. Imagine, for a whole year you have been expecting an honorable guest to come to your place, and then finally he arrives. He is kind, generous, and the most beloved. For twenty-nine or thirty days, you have developed an emotional relation with him that you started becoming worried and anxious over the day when he leaves. Eventually, the time comes and the day of his departure is here, and your beloved and blissful guest, Ramadan, is leaving, and leaving soon. This wonderful guest is so polite that he does not come back very often, so that you always desire his return later. Now that you realize his departure, you do not know if you will ever see him again. He might not come next year, or you may not be there when he comes back. These anxious thoughts of fear and hope provoke your heart to cry and your eyes to shed tears. They make you prepare the best farewell party ever made for a guest who, as he leaves, was the most welcomed, Ramadan.How do you bid farewell your honorable guest?
1. My dear guest, I’m sorry
It’s the last night of the month of Ramadan. His luggage is packed, placed by the door and the place is full with people who came to have a final look at him and enjoy a last moment with the guest. As we watch the guest sipping his final drops of our hospitality, he asks to be excused; we realize now that all the hospitality we offered was not yet enough to meet his status. So we hold his hand tight wish that he would not let go and hope to keep him longer. We become remorseful and ask for forgiveness and say “My dear guest, I’m sorry.”
At the end of this blessed month we say “O Allah, forgive me. My Lord, I could have done more but I did not, so forgive me. My Lord, excuse my shortcomings and blemishes, You are indeed oft -Forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me.”
Istighfaar, or seeking forgiveness, at the end of every good deed, not just bad deeds, is the way of the righteous. We need forgiveness to patch the holes we created in our fasting due to our faults and mistakes, or at least for falling short on fulfilling the full rights of hospitality to the guest. After all, arriving with a batched record is better off than arriving with no records at all.
Omar ibn Abdulaziz, the Umayyad ruler famous for his justice, may Allah have mercy on him, used to send his deputies around the country with the command to summon the deeds of Ramadan with Istighfaar and charity. Let us have a moment of remorse, and excuse ourselves by seeking forgiveness from the Lord of Ramadan.
2. My dear guest, a final token of appreciation
Our guest deserves the best farewell party, the Eid prayer. We decorate our lives and go out of our way for this party. We take a shower, we come early, we dress nicely, we take different routes back and forth to spread the news of his departure and we bring to the party all people. We bring out our families; our wives and children, the old and young even the most shy maidens and women with legal excuses. It is a procession of goodness, which no one can afford to miss. It is a final token of appreciation. It is a way to say to our dear guest, thank you.
In order not to show our departing guest any sign of sadness on that day, we show him deliberate happiness. Therefore, we eat few dates prior to our arrival at the party site, the prayer area. He now knows that we accept his inevitable departure, we just broke our long time fast.
Anas may Allah be pleased with him narrated: “The Messenger of Allah would not leave to Eid-ul-Fitr until he eats few dates, and he used to eat them in odd number.” (Bukhari) It saddens our beloved guest not to follow the example of Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Not breaking the fast until we come back from the Eid prayer is indeed a sign of fake piety.
3. My dear guest, this is your legacy
As we prepare for the party, we make sure that everybody around is happy and satisfied. All should participate in this party and no one should be left behind. That was the reason why our guest had come visiting us for anyways, he came to teach us how to care and share. Our guest should not leave us seeing anyone unhappy or dissatisfied. We feed the hungry and keep Ramadan’s legacy alive. We give Zaka-ul-Fitr.
Ibn Omar may Allah be pleased with him narrated: “The Messenger of Allah obliged the payment of Zakat-ul-Fitr, the amount of Sa’ (four cupped hands) of dates, or barley. This should be paid on behalf every male and female, free or slave and adult or young, from all the Muslims.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
4. My dear guest, allow us to sing for you
Escorting the guest out with chanting and du’a until he is out of sight is an Islamic etiquette of honoring the guest. And there is no guest who deserves it more than our beloved Ramadan. Once the announcement of his departure is delivered, as we sight that gesture at night -the hilal, we start making our du’a and chanting our takbeer until the party next day is over.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him (in takbeer) in that He has guided you, and perchance you shall be grateful.” (al-Baqara 2:185)
Ibn Abbas may Allah be pleased with him says: “It is an incumbent duty on all Muslims, when they see the crescent for the beginning of Shawwal, to start their chanting with takbeer until they are done with their Eid prayer.”
5. My dear guest, I just did what I could, but I’m sorry.
Our guest is leaving and as he slowly walks away, he turns to us and say: “Farewell my dear friends and good companions. Know that I may not see you again after this day.” The shocking reality strikes, we need to make sure that he leaves happy and satisfied and therefore we concern ourselves with the acceptance of whatsoever we offered of hospitality, even if it was little. It is no longer how much we did; it is how much was accepted and approved. We turn to our guest and present our case and say: “Please, accept the little of our hospitality, for what you saw was indeed the utmost we could afford of our generosity.”
Ali bin Abi Talib may Allah be pleased with him once said, “Be concerned more over the acceptance of your deeds than over the deeds themselves for Allah does not accept deeds except from the righteous. Didn’t you read Allah’s statement: ‘Verily, Allah accepts only from the Muttaqeen -Righteous.’ (al-Ma’idah 5:27)”
Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “The pious predecessors used to spend their efforts on completing their deeds perfectly and precisely. They then, concern themselves over their acceptance, fearing it might be rejected. Those are the people about whom Allah says: “And those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear, because they will return to their Lord.” (al-Mu’minoon 23:60)
So here we are in a moment of muhasaba and self reckoning. We remember the days we spent with our guest, how much good did we do? And how much of what we did we can count on as a sincere act of hospitality?
It’s time to prepare our presentation for the angels to see and report to Allah. How professional do you think our presentation will look? This is the time when you need all the skills of du’a and invocation you have learned so far. And if you feel it’s too late to prepare for this presentation, then know that Allah accepts from the deeds their ends. Therefore, make your last deeds the best of all deeds.
We ask Allah to accept from us the little, regardless of how much it was, of what we offered from acts of worship during this blessed month of Ramadan.
6. My dear guest, I’ll keep in touch
Our guest is now taking his ride, and his departure becomes inevitable; we start running after him hoping for one final glance from him. He turns the window down and waves to us gracefully saying with a loud reminder: “Don’t forget about me.” “Never,” we vow, “Keep in touch, and write back,” he says and we answer back, “of course we will.” Then as we start slowing down we reiterate to ourselves the pledge we have just given to our guest, that we will never forget about him and we shall keep in touch, we build loyalty to our guest and our friend, the month of Ramadan.
How can we keep loyal to Ramadan? And how can we stay in touch with him?
Obviously, Ramadan and the reminisces of Ramadan should remain in our hearts. Then we keep loyal to him and in touch with him, by keeping our deeds, which we had established with him, continuous. Because of this blessed guest, we were able to establish a new way of life, a life of regular fasting, night prayers, recitation of the Qur’an and other Ramadan deeds. Moreover, as loyal friends of Ramadan, even long after his departure, we shall keep in touch with him by keeping alive what we have learned from him. We sure love Ramadan.
Aisha may Allah be pleased with her narrated the Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved deeds to Allah, are the continuous ones even if they were little.” Once the Messenger of Allah establishes an act of worship, he used to maintain it continuously. Therefore, follow the example of your beloved Messenger and keep in touch with Ramadan. Continue the good work; continue fasting.
7. My dear guest, thank you for coming
In a final moment of showing our gratitude to our beloved guest and how much we were honored with his presence, we raise our voices with thanks and praises, with shukr and takbeer to Allah. Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala says: “He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him (in takbeer) in that He has guided you, and perchance you shall be grateful.” (al-Baqara 2:185).
Moreover, as our guest leaves, we return to our inner homes, and then in a moment of contemplation, immediately we go and check on him and act as if he was still there. We could not wait long to display our loyalty to him and our love for him, therefore, we followed his example and fasted six days of Shawwal right after Eid day.
Abu Ayyoub al-Ansaari may Allah be pleased with him narrated the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and then followed it with six days of Shawwal, it would be counted for him as if he had fasted the whole year.” (Muslim) We do not want to stop thinking of him and from that point onward, we will keep in touch and join his fans club, club Ar-Rayyan.
8. My dear guest, I’m sorry I forgot
It has been awhile since our guest left, we thought we will never forget about him, unfortunately we were wrong. Soon as he came out of sight, our hearts changed on us and changed on him. We’re no longer entertained by his presence which always worked for us as a frequent reminder. As time passed by, the vow of loyalty we had given him faded away, and life chores took the best of our hearts. We forgot about Ramadan and we forgot the dear lessons of Ramadan. We went back to the old bad habits we had prior to his graceful visit. Naturally, the prolonged separation caused a great damage to our connection with Ramadan. My dear guest, my dear Ramadan, I’m sorry that I forgot.
As Ramadan announces his departure, it is hard to believe that this blessed season has ended. Never lose hope from the mercy of Allah, celebrate the end of Ramadan with another act of worship, with Istighfaar and do not forget to pay your Zakat-ul-Fitr. Make your concluding act with Ramadan perfect, pray Eid on time with perfect, halal style. Celebrate the departure of Ramadan with takbeer, dhikr and du’a, you definitely need your deeds be accepted. Stay in touch with Ramadan, continue the good work and start with the sequel event of the six days of Shawwal. Finally, keep the beautiful memories of Ramadan; they will always come handy and will always be a source of inspiration. Ramadan, my dear guest, may Allah forgive me. For seeing you departing so quickly, I will always be sorry.
The night of 27th of Ramadan 1429 H.
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