Muslim News Fact-Check: Is the first part of Ramadan mercy, second forgiveness and third safety from hell?

The popular saying among Muslims that the first part of Ramadan is mercy, second is forgiveness and the third is emancipation from hell has no strong jurisprudential backing, Muslim News investigations have revealed.

What is however evident, according to authentic narrations, is that all nights and days of Ramadan are of Rahmah (mercy), Maghfirah (forgiveness) and Najaat (safety) from hell.

Muslim News resident scholar, Ustadh Ibn Taofeeq Abdul Azeez faulted this popular claim today, Wednesday, which marks the end of the first part of the 29/30 days of Ramadan, depending on the sighting of the moon.

The Nigerian-born, Middle East-based scholar said there are many ahadith on the merits of Ramadan, but with no specific authentic narrations stating that the first part of Ramadan is blessings, the second part is forgiveness and the third part is Paradise.

“This perception is not correct, because all nights and days of Ramadan are of blessings, forgiveness and freedom from hell.

“However, there is a popular statement attributed to Abu Hurayrah and another one to Hassan Bn Aliy, where they reportedly quoted Prophet Muhammad (SAW) saying, ‘The beginning of Ramadan is mercy. Its middle, forgiveness and its end, emancipation from the fire (of hell)’,” he said.

Fact-finding checks carried out by Muslim News on the isnad (chain of transmission) of this Hadith show that it is a weak narration. The question thus arises, if the chain is said to be weak, is the meaning also weak?

According to Ustadh Ibn Taofeeq, “if what it means is specification, then the meaning is also weak, because we have the belief that all days of Ramadan give forgiveness, blessings and freedom from hell to the righteous worshippers, except the last ten nights, which are more superior than others. In the last 10 nights, a night, which is the Night of Majesty, is the best,” he added.

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There is an exception, however

The Hadith, despite its weakness, can still be used to awaken Muslims’ desires and interest in fasting and Ibadah (worship) during the month of Ramadan.

Ustadh Ibn Taofeeq said, “This is called ‘Targeeb’ in the Shari’iah. If such people are those who are not upright on the Deen (religion) before, we can use the hadith without ascribing it to the Prophet if its meaning is not correct, but if the meaning is correct and does not oppose any fundamental of our religion, we can then ascribe same to the Prophet while declaring the weakness in its chain of transmission.”

Another strong evidence

There is another authentic hadith (saying of the Prophet) on the merits of Ramadan which negates the aforementioned hadith under investigation, Muslim News learnt.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When it is the first night of Ramadan, the evil devils are chained. The gates of Fire are locked – not a single gate is opened, and the gates of Paradise are opened- not a single gate is locked, and a caller calls out:

‘O seeker of good, come forward, and O seeker of evil, withhold’, and there are many whom Allah frees from the Fire – and that is every night.”

This hadeeth is recorded by Imam At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and Ibn Khuzaimah.

The saying: “…and there are many whom Allah frees from the fire – and that is every night” is in opposition to the hadith under investigation, which says the third part of Ramadan is Paradise i.e freedom from hell.

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“This authentic hadith establishes that the freedom from hell happens every night of Ramadan, and not just during its last ten days, even though the last ten days seem to be the best of all nights,” said Ibn Taofeeq, adding that, “notwithstanding, it is permissible to use the hadith being investigated in arousing and awakening of desires and interest for lazy Muslims that find it difficult to stand at night. But the best is to use the authentic hadith to awaken them, because that says freedom from hell happens every night, “ he added.

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