Satans Are Shackled In Ramadhan
The Holy Month of Ramadhan is a month through which one who fasts therein and holds on to good deeds becomes righteous according to the Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 184-185 (with Bismillah as verse #1). There are different ways of expressing this same concept of fasting especially in Ramadhan. One of those beautiful ways of expressing it is the Hadith of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that says:
When Ramadhan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and Shayaateen (satans) are put in chains. (Bukhari and Muslim)
However, this hadith is being misconstrued.
It is such an expression that cannot be taken literally and also in isolation without getting to know the concept behind each key word that is used in it and without linking it with other prerequisites in Islam before one becomes a real Muslim. Such words in the Hadith like Paradise, hell and Shayaateen (Satans) therefore require little explanations. If these concepts are well understood, the misunderstanding of the hadith will surely fade away.
Paradise is such a situation, as the name posits, where and when you enjoy parts or all sources of peace and tranquillity. It is not limited to the next world according to the Holy Quran. One can also enjoy it in the present world if he/she works and toils for it. Chapter 55 verse 47-48 of the Holy Quran says:
But for him who is awed by the lofty station of his Lord there are two gardens; both having many branches.
Hell, on the hand, is the complete absence of any or all branches of paradise. Hell is also called fire. Concerning marriage for example, Holy Quran says if a believer fails to marry a believer, it is fire that such believer is inviting into his or her life. This means absence of peace of mind as clearly expressed in Chapter 2 verse 222.
Then we come to the concept of Shaytaan (Plural: Shayaateen). According to standard Arabic Lexicons, Shaytaan has different connotations. It may mean, among others the following:
- The wicked or evil spirit (Shaytaan)
- A being that is far away from truth and also leads others away from truth.
- One who burns or perishes with hate and anger
- Anybody who greatly transgresses the proper limits and excessively proud and rebellious
- Serpent or anyone that has its characteristics
- Any blamable power or faculty or propensity like anger
- It is also used about anything which is harmful and injurious and is likely to cause suffering.
Taking all the above meanings of Shaytaan into consideration, to understand this Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) will not be any problem.
AGAIN: When Ramadhan arrives, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked up and Shayaateen are put in chains. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Firstly, it must be understood that the Hadith is not a free lunch ticket. It is not that either you keep fast or not when Ramadhan enters, paradise is free for all. Nay, it is when believers take the prescription of Allah on fasting and adhere to it, then the benefits is enjoyed. It is like your physician prescribing medication for you, if you take it, you benefit from it, otherwise you will not. However, the above meanings of Shaytaan have to do with physical, moral and spiritual situations.
Let us begin with physical condition. In the Holy Quran Chapter 38 verse 42 Allah says of Prophet Ayyub or Job (pbuh) that:
And remember Our servant Job, when he cried unto his Lord, saying, ‘Shaytaan has afflicted me with toil and torment.’
Some of the commentators of the Holy Quran have ascribed the above verse to refer to the prayer of Prophet Ayyub (pbuh) to Allah to cure him of the skin diseases he suffered from.
In a Hadith it is recorded that the Prophet said,
Fever is from the heat of Hell, so abate fever with water”. (Bukhari)
…and it is not strange to us that Shaytaan is synonymous with Hell. Therefore, any suffering or imperfect health condition can be said to be a Shaytaan.
It is widely known today that fasting has being proven to be a great source of good health. Therefore, when one keeps fasting, one enjoys preservation of good health, if the health condition is however, good before. This is not limited to Muslims; the benefits only accrue more during Ramadhan to Muslims who fast. Hence, the harmful and injurious things (Shayaateen) which often stem from what we consume and thereby cause suffering to our physical body are chained in the month of Ramadhan. And if the lessons on moderate eating and drinking of what is lawful and pure are taken to after Ramadhan, the good health will continue to be enjoyed.
Morally, sticking to the practices of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) by Muslims is also encouraged more in the Month of Ramadhan. For instance, the Prophet said, if someone intends to fight a Muslim, he should declare himself fasting, that he is enjoined to be peaceful, of course at all time, but particularly in the Month of Ramadhan. The meaning of the word ‘Muslim’ itself should not be forgotten in this context.
The Prophet (pbuh) was reported to have said:
A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands others are saved. (Hadith Muslim)
Therefore it is not only in Ramadhan that peaceful living is enjoined but throughout a Muslim’s lifespan. Lexically, the word Muslim also means one who is at peace with himself, with others and with God. Therefore, anyone that is involved either occasionally or always in crime of any kind is not a Muslim in the real sense. S/he is a Shaytaan according to the meanings of Shaytaan above. Hence, it is not correct to say that crime (sins) rate reduces automatically during Ramadhan. Critical look into what is going on around the World, especially in the Middle East where Muslims are in the majority; does Ramadhan automatically stops them from heinous sin of genocide or homicide? The answer is known to every unbiased observer. However, one who has no propensity to commit crime before Ramadhan will not commit it during the month; and if Shaytaan (a transgressing person) wants to push him into it, he already knows how to caution him/herself. The entire society where such Muslims reside is therefore saved from the clutches of Shaytaan. He is chained for them and the society.
Again, the good neighbourliness enjoined in Islam increases immensely during the month of Ramadhan; even those who would hitherto not incline to giving out are propelled to extend widow’s mite to others when they observe good Muslims around them spending well on the needy and the deserving.
It may now be asked: Will the serene environment remains only for just a month and Saytaan will be let loose again?
No. The month of Ramadhan is a training period or camp for all Muslims throughout world. The short course takes a Muslim through physical, moral and spiritual exercise. The result or benefit of the training is not enjoyed only by a sincere Muslim who is steadfast during the period. He benefits from it; he extends it to all his acquaintances without an iota of discrimination- religious or otherwise. And in turn the society at large comes to take the larger share of it. When every individual is at peace, society reaps the benefit.
After the training, a Muslim continues to use all the lessons he has been taught through the next eleven months. It should be remembered that fasting in the month of Ramadhan is not the only aspect of Islam. We have other four pillars that make one a disciplined Muslim. Pillars that make him a being that can represent Allah and his Prophet (pbuh) anywhere, any day! It is when a Muslim takes all the five pillars together and build his house and home upon them that he will be able to live up to expectation of the connotation of the word- Muslim. Therefore the significance of ‘putting Shayaateen in chains’ is NOT just for one month. It is throughout twelve months. It should not be forgotten that the entire worship of Allah is said to earn the sincere worshipper righteousness. Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 22:
O ye Men, worship your Lord Who created you and those who were before you that you may become righteous.
Lastly, the spiritual benefit enshrined in the Hadith is that one who adheres strictly to what Allah enjoins while fasting, the good spiritual standing he has acquired or gained more will make Shaytaan to always run away from him/her. The relationship between him/her and Allah will be like, even more than the relationship between an infant and its mother. Hence for such a believer, Shayaateen are put in chain. Allah says of the benefits of being righteous in different ways in the Holy Quran:
…Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you… (49:14)
…And he who is fear Allah (righteous) – He (Allah) will make for him a way out, and will provide for him from where he expects not…And whose fears Allah (righteous), He will provide facilities for him in his affair…And whose fears Allah (righteous) – He will remove the evil consequences of his deeds and will enlarge his reward. (65:3-6)
It is this righteousness whose benefits are enshrined in the above verse of the Holy Quran that Ramadhan Fasting comes to promote. It for those who endeavor to endure the exercise that paradise’s gate are left opened for; Hell’s gates are put under locks and keys for them; and Shayaateen are put in chains and shackles for them.