In the book “Uyoun Akhbar ar-Reza”, compiled over a thousand years ago by the famous Iranian theologian, Shaikh Sadouq, the Prophet’s 8th Infallible Heir, Imam Reza (AS), relates on the chain of authority of his illustrious forefathers from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), that once on the advent of the blessed month of Ramadhan, the Prophet addressing the people delivered the following sermon.
“O People! The month of Allah has come with its mercies, blessings and forgiveness. Allah has decreed this month the best of all months. Its days are the best of days, its nights are the best of nights and its hours are the best of hours. This is the month in which He has invited you (to fast and to pray). Allah has honoured you in it. Every breath you take in it is has the reward of tasbih (or praise of Allah); your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations answered. Therefore, you must invoke your Lord in right earnest with hearts that are free from sin and evil, and pray that Allah may help you to keep fasts, and to recite the Qur’an. Indeed, miserable is the one who is deprived of Allah’s forgiveness in this great month. While fasting, remember the hunger and thirst on the Day of Judgement. Give alms to the poor and the needy. Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing (i.e. forbidden sights), and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. Be kind to orphans so that if your children were to become orphans they will also be treated with kindness. Do repent to Allah for your sins and supplicate with raised hands at the times of prayer as these are the best of times, during which Almighty Allah Looks at His servants with mercy; (He) Answers if they supplicate; Responds if they call; Grants if they ask; and Accepts if they entreat.”
“O people! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free, by invoking Him for forgiveness. 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.
“O people! If anybody from amongst you arranges for the iftar (i.e. food for ending of fast after sunset) of any believers, then Allah will give him the reward as if he had set free a slave, and He will forgive his previous sins.”
When the companions of the Prophet asked: “But everybody among us does not have the means to do so,” the Prophet replied: “Keep yourself away from the fire of hell, though it may consist of only half a date or even some water if you have nothing else.”
The Prophet in continuation of his sermon, said:
“O people! Anybody who in this month cultivates good manners will walk over the siraat (the bridge leading to Paradise via the rim of hell) on the day when feet will tend to slip. Anybody who in this month may take light work from his servants, Allah will make easy his accounting, and anybody who does not annoy others in it, Allah will keep him safe from His wrath on the Day of Judgement. Whoever respects and treats an orphan with kindness in it, Allah shall look at him with kindness on that Day. Anyone who treats well his kinsmen in it, Allah will bestow His Mercy on him on the Day of Judgement, while anybody who maltreats his kinsmen in it, Allah will keep him away from His Mercy. 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. Whoever repeatedly recites salawat (blessings) on me in it Allah will keep the scales of his good deeds heavy (on Judgement Day), whilst the scales of others will be tending to lightness. In this month, whoever recites an ayah of the Qur’an, his reward will be that of reciting the whole Qur’an in other months. “O people! The gates of Paradise remain open in this month. Do pray to your Lord that they may not be closed for you; while the gates of hell are closed, do pray to your Lord they may never be opened for you. Satans have been handcuffed, so invoke your Lord not to let them dominate you.”
Imam Ali (AS) says: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah, what are the best deeds in this month?” He replied:“O Abu’l-Hasan, the best of deeds in this month is to be far from what Allah has forbidden.”
The Imam seeing the Prophet visibly in grief, said: “O Messenger of Allah what makes you weep?” In reply the Prophet foretold the tragedy that was to befall Imam Ali (AS) decades later in Ramadhan, saying:
“O Ali, I weep for that which will befall you in this month. (visualizing myself) to be in your place when you will be praying to your Lord, and the most wicked person of all times, like the one who chopped off the feet of the camel of (the tribe of) Thamoud (which was proof of Prophet Saleh’s divine mission) will strike you on your head and your beard will be dyed in blood.”
On being informed of his martyrdom, the first thought that occurred to Imam Ali (AS) was not about the life of this mortal world but about his faith, and he asked: “O Messenger of Allah, will my faith be secure?” The Prophet replied: “Yes, your faith will be secure.”
The Prophet went on, as his companions listened, in amazement and disbelief:
“O Ali whoever kills you has (in fact) killed me, whoever annoys you has annoyed me and whoever slanders you has slandered me, because you are to me like my soul. Your spirit is my spirit, and your nature is my nature. Surely, Allah the Praised and the Glorious created me then you; chose me then you; and selected me for Prophethood and selected you for Imamate. Whoever denies your Imamate has (in fact) denied my Prophethood.
“O Ali! You are my legatee and father of my (grand) children, and husband of my daughter, and my Caliph (vicegerent) over my ummah both in my lifetime and after my death. Your bidding is my bidding, and your forbidding is my forbidding. I swear by the Power that granted me Prophethood and made me the most excellent of creation, you are the Hujjat-Allah (that is, Proof of Allah) over His creatures, and His Trustee over mysteries and His Caliph over His creatures.”