“O Allah, bring me this day nearer to Your good pleasure, and keep me away in it from Your displeasure and vengeance. Favour me with the opportunity to recite the verses of Your Scripture, with Your mercy, O Most Merciful.”
The month of mercy and blessing has come, the month in which hearts are more prepared for accepting the words of truth. Ramadhan is the month of God, the month of association with the divine words and the month of the holy Qur’an. The great theologian, Shaykh as-Sadouq cites a tradition stating that with the arrival of the month of Ramadhan Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) would release each and every prisoner. The month of Ramadhan is thus the month of the Lord of the entire universe and it is the noblest of months. It is the month in which the gates of the heavens and the doors of paradise and Divine mercy are open, and the doors of hell are closed. There is a night during this month worship wherein is better than a thousand months of worship. Therefore, we ought to be careful of how we conduct ourself during its days and nights, and restrain our bodily members from sinful actions and from disobeying God. We ought to be careful lest we pass its nights in sleep and its days in neglect of God’s remembrance. It is mentioned in a report that God Almighty releases one million souls from hellfire at the hour of iftar (breaking of the fast) at the end of every day of the month of Ramadhan, and that with nightfall on Friday eve and the day following day He releases every hour a million souls deserving punishment in hell, and that on the last night and day of this month He releases a number equal to that of all those who were released during the entire month. So, dear friends, we ought to be careful lest we should let the entire month of Ramadhan pass while still bearing traces of sin and be a loser, when others receive their reward for fasting.
We ought to seek nearness to God, the Blessed and the Exalted, with recitations of the verses of the holy Qur’an during its nights and days, with prayer, through diligence in worship and performing prayers at their meritorious times, and with supplication and pleading for forgiveness. In the holy Qur’an, God has mentioned certain debates and dialogues. Among these is the dialogue between angels and God on the creation of Adam, as expressed by ayahs 30 to 33 of Surah Baqarah and ayah 69 of Surah Suad. While creating Adam (AS) as progenitor of the human race and as God’s representative on the Planet Earth, the Almighty informed angels of this very important issue. Ayah 30 of Surah Baqarah relates the angels’ response:
“They said: What! Wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness?
The next ayah states: “God said: “Surely I know what you do not know.”
Then we further read in the Qur’an: “And He taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those if you are right.”
The angels could not retell the names and they realized that it is not worship and praise of God alone that makes a creature superior over others, but it is knowledge and the free will to determine right from wrong. Thus as ayah 32 of Surah Baqarah relates of the angels’ admission: “They said: Glory be to Thee! We have no knowledge but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the Knowing, the Wise.”
Actually the reason that man has been called the best of creation and was decreed by God as the focus of prostration for the angels is the humanitarian aspects God bestowed on this creature, which has the essence to strive towards perfection. This was the reason God placed Adam as His representative on earth, and commanded the angels to prostrate to him. As ayahs 71 and 72 of Surah Suad of the holy Qur’an say:
“When your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed I am about to create a human being out of clay.
“So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down in prostration before him.”
Therefore the angels obeyed the divine command to prostrate before Adam, but the genie called Iblis, who as a trial for his constant pleas to God was briefly placed in the company of angels, refused to prostrate, and was thrown away as Satan the outcast, regarding whom we will shed light in our programmes over the next few days.
Like the previous years, this year also the international exhibition of the holy Qur’an has started its work in Tehran on the occasion of Ramadhan. It is in progress at the Imam Khomeini Mosalla (or prayer grounds), and features the various aspects of the heavenly scripture, including its artistic forms, as well as modern Qur’anic software. Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, said while inaugurating the exhibit on the eve of Ramadhan that this year more sections have been added, such as Etrat, on the Ahl al-Bayt or blessed progeny of the Prophet and their dynamic role in the promotion of Islam. Another section is titled New Muslims that presents the exciting experiences of those who after quest and research embraced the truth of Islam. Still another new section is on the supplications and ziyaraat or standard form of salutations for the Prophet and his household. A fourth new section at this year’s International Qur’anic exhibit is the Islamic Awakening sweeping many Arab states, and how it derives inspiration from the ethereal teachings of the holy Qur’an that instill in the conscientious the spirit of resistance against oppression.