Ramadan and the Story of Joseph
Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah, Muhammed, after whom there is no other messenger, and upon his family, companions and those who follow him until the Day of Resurrection.
The month of Ramadan is one of the 12 months of the Islamic calendar. Allah Almighty says, The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)—so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth. [At-Tauba, 36]
Allah distinguished Ramadan from the rest of the months by revealing the Qura`n in it and prescribing its fast for Muslims. He further bestowed it with certain virtues that are absent in the other months. It is therefore a month when one is to hasten to do good deeds, attain the best of rewards and rectify missed actions and duties. Allah Almighty says, Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur`an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting. [Al-Baqarah, 185]
In the past, the Arabs called the crescent 'shahr' which has also been interpreted as moon. The month of Ramadan was called thus because of the honor and distinction accorded to it. Later, the word came to mean 'month' because the number of the days of a month were determined by the moon and because the crescent signified its beginning and end.
The word 'Ramadan' is derived from 'ramad', meaning intense heat on sun-scorched sand and ground. Al-Layth defined the word as the scorching of oppressive heat from the word 'ramada`'. Ramadan is derived from this meaning because when names were given to months from the old language, they were called after the time of year in which they occurred; Ramadan coincided with a time of intense heat. It has been said that the word 'ramadan' is derived from the sensation of parched thirst of a fasting person or because it scorches sins.
Ramadan is to the other months what Prophet Joseph was to the sons of Jacob.It has been said that the 12 months of the Islamic calender are like the sons of Jacob and that the month of Ramadan is to the other months what Yusuf was to his brothers. Just as Joseph was the most beloved son to Jacob so is Ramadan the most beloved month to Allah.
It is worthy to note that Yusuf was generous and forgiving and these characteristics engulfed his brothers' hostility when he told them,
This day let no reproach be (cast) on you. [Qur`an 12:92]
In the same vein, the month of Ramadan surpasses other months in that it includes mercy, blessings, bounties and good, salvation from Hell-Fire, and forgiveness from the All Powerful.
The brothers of Yusuf relied on him to amend/rectify their troubles and remove hardships after they were sinful and in error. He was most charitable towards them, remedied their circumstances, giving them hope. He gave them food when they were hungry and permitted them to return to their home. He told his servants, And (Joseph) told his servants to put their stock-in-trade (with which they had bartered) into their saddle-bags, so that they should know it only when they returned to their people. [Yusuf, 62]
In this manner, one person (Joseph) rectified the errors of eleven (his brothers). Similarly, Ramadan is but one month among eleven others. But during this month, a person strives to compensate for his shortcomings during the other months.
After Joseph was taken away from him, Jacob had eleven other male children remaining with him. They were right there among him and he knew of their affairs and what was apparent of their actions. In spite of this, his sight did not return to him except when he put Joseph's shirt over his eyes. Likewise, a sinful person who smells the fragrance of Ramadan, and sits among those who make remembrance of Allah and reads the Qur`an, associates with them on the teachings of Islam and faith and forsakes backbiting and slander, by the will of Allah, he shall be forgiven after he was sinful; he will draw close to Allah after he was distant. He will see things with his heart after he was blind. He will delight in his proximity to Allah after he was distant and he will be rewarded with His mercy, forgiveness and pleasure.
O brothers! Take occasion of this bounty during these days and you will be profusely rewarded and awarded an exalted station and everlasting ease. By Allah! This is abundant relief, the enduring station, High Paradise, joyful blessings and a life of good pleasure and satisfaction that cannot be achieved except by reverence for this month which is exalted by Allah and with which Prophet Mohammed was favored.