Ibn Khuzaymah narrated in his Saheeh (1887) that Salmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) addressed us on the last day of Sha‘baan and said: “O people, a great month has come upon you, a blessed month… It is a month the beginning of which is mercy, its middle is forgiveness and its end is ransom from the Fire.”
The entire month of Ramadan is mercy from Allah; the entire month is also forgiveness and ransom from the Fire. None of these blessings is restricted to any one part of the month to the exclusion of any other part, and this is a reflection of the vastness of Allah’s mercy.
Muslim (1079) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are fettered.”
At-Tirmidhi (682) narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and mischievous jinn are chained up, and the gates of Hell are closed, and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist.’ And Allah has people whom He frees (from the Fire), and that happens every day.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.
Based on that, singling out the first third of Ramadan to pray for mercy, the second third to pray for forgiveness and the last third to pray for ransom from Hell is an innovation for which there is no basis in Islamic teachings. There is also no justification for singling out these times for these supplications, because all the days of Ramadan are equal in that regard. Rather the Muslim may pray for whatever he wants of goodness in this world and the hereafter throughout Ramadan; that includes asking Allah for mercy, forgiveness, ransom from the Fire and admission to Paradise.
The Muslim should offer a great deal of du‘aa’, asking for goodness and mercy, especially in this month, making the most of this time of goodness and blessing (barakah), seeking the mercy and forgiveness of their Lord, may He be exalted. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright”
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The fact that Allah, may He be exalted, mentions this verse, which encourages one to offer du‘aa’, in the midst of the verses that speak of the rulings on fasting, indicates that one should strive hard in offering du‘aa’ at the end of the fast and, indeed, every time one breaks the fast.
End quote from Tafseer Ibn Katheer (1/509)
It is good for the one who offers du‘aa’ to follow proper etiquette and to recite many of the du‘aa’s that have been narrated from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and not to overstep the mark in offering du‘aa’. He should observe the etiquette of du‘aa’ and recite often the du‘aa’s that it is recommended to recite a great deal in Ramadan and also at times other than Ramadan. These include the following:
· “Rabbana aatina fi’l-dunya hasanah wa fi’l-aakhirah hasanah wa qina ‘adhaab al-naar (Our Lord, give us that which is good in this world and that which is good in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire),” [al-Baqarah 2:201]
· “Rabbana hab lana min azwaajina wa dhurriyyaatina qurrata a‘yunin waj‘alna lil-muttaqeena imaama (Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqoon (the pious))” [al-Furqaan 25:74].
· “Rabb ij‘alni muqeema as-salaati wa min dhurriyyati Rabbana wa taqabbal du‘aa’. Rabbana ighfir li wa li waalidayya wa lil-mu’mineena yawma yaqoom ul-hisaab (O my Lord! Make me one who performs As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and (also) from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation. Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established)” [Ibraaheem 14:40-41].
· Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibb al-‘afwa fa’affu ‘anni (O Allaah, You are forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me).
· Allaahumma inni as’aluka min al-khayri kullihi ‘aajilihi wa aajilihi, ma ‘alimtu minhu wa ma lam a‘lam, wa a‘oodhu bika min ash-sharri kullihi ‘aajilihi wa aajilihi, ma ‘alimtu minhu wa ma lam a‘lam. Allahumma inni as’aluka min khayri ma sa’alaka ‘abduka wa nabiyyuka, wa a‘oodhu bika min sharri ma ‘aadha minhu ‘abduka wa nabiyyuka. Allahumma inni as’aluka al-jannata wa ma qarraba ilayha min qawlin aw ‘amal, wa a‘oodhu bika min an-naari wa ma qarraba ilayha min qawlin aw ‘amal, wa as’aluka an taj‘ala kulla qada’in qadaytahu li khayran (O Allah, verily I ask you for all that is good in this world and the hereafter, what I know of it and what I do not know, and I seek refuge with You from all that is evil in this world and the hereafter, what I know of it and what I do not know. O Allah, verily I ask You for the good of that which Your slave and Prophet asked of You, and I seek refuge with You from the evil of that from which Your slave and Prophet sought refuge with You. O Allah, verily I ask you for Paradise and that which will bring me nearer to it of words and deeds, and I seek refuge with You from Hell and that which would bring me nearer to it of words and deeds. I ask You to make everything You decree for me good).
· Allahumma inni as’aluka al-‘aafiyata fi’d-dunya wa’l-aakhirah. Allahumma inni as’aluka al-‘afwa wa’l-‘aafiyata fi deeni wa dunyaaya wa ahli wa maali. Allahumma astur ‘awraati wa aamin raw‘aati. Allahumma ihfazni min bayna yadayya wa min khalfi wa ‘an yameeni wa ‘an shimaali, wa min fawqi, wa a‘oodhu bi ‘azamatika an ughtaala min tahti (O Allah, I ask You for pardon and well-being in my religious and worldly affairs, my family and my wealth. O Allah, conceal my faults and protect me from that which causes me to worry. O Allah, protect me from before me and from behind me, from my right and from my left, and from above me, and I seek refuge in Your greatness lest I be destroyed from beneath me).
Similarly, it is recommended to recite general du‘aa’s from the Qur’an and Sunnah, any du‘aa’ is good in which the individual strives hard, beseeching his Lord. None of that is limited to Ramadan only.
It is also mustahabb to say after breaking the fast: “Dhahaba al-zama’ wa abtalat al-‘urooq wa thabata al-ajr in sha Allah (Thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is certain if Allah wills).”
One should strive hard in du‘aa’ in the last third of the night in particular, every night.
During the last ten days, one should recite a great deal the words: “Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwan tuhibb ul-‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni (O Allaah, You are forgiving and love forgiveness, so forgive me).”
And Allah knows best.