Over the years I have written many articles relating to Ramadhan; its virtues, benefits, reaping the rewards from this month and so forth.
However, for many people, Ramadhan seems to commence without any spiritual preparation having been made for it. The habits of the eleven months leading to Ramadhan have set the baseline pattern upon which an individual continues during the month of Ramadhan. The difference being that one fasts in this month and makes every effort to fulfil this obligation.
One cannot deny or reject the importance of fasting in the month of Ramadhan. It is from amongst the five pillars of Islam and an obligation upon every mature, able Muslim to fast during this month.
Nevertheless, the month of Ramadhan has much more to offer individuals than just the long fasts. Yet our lack of preparation leaves us lost to some extent when this month arrives.
There are a few key points which are mentioned over and over again and these key points are vital as they form the foundation of one’s worship and the basis of instilling Taqwa (piety), the purpose of Ramadhan.
It is imperative that we go above and beyond the minimum requirements but at the same time, we cannot risk falling short of even the minimum requirements of this month.
Though Shaytan is locked away during this month, the Nafs (Self) plays a great part in deceiving us. The Nafs plays a great part in consoling us and justifying to us our lack of commitment within this month.
We hear many comments relating to the number of Rakaats in Taraweeh and how it is better to pray something instead of praying nothing at all. We hear that a Muslim should fear and worship Allah سبحانه و تعالى during all months and just reading the Jumu’ah (Friday prayer) or Eid Salaah or worshiping in Ramadhan is really futile and to some point hypocrisy. We console ourselves in saying that at least we’re refraining from sins, that is the most important, we should do more, but this is the main thing we need to do.
These are all excuses our malnourished soul feeds to us. It is exactly what we have taught it over the remaining eleven months and it is the exact sustenance we have provided it.
Whilst the above comments have their foundation of correctness, it should be remembered that the month of Ramadhan should be a changing point for us. It should be the month in which we make a first resolution to Allah سبحانه و تعالى that we will work extremely hard in this month so that whatever little we continue after this month does not fall short of the Islamic guidelines (Shari’ah).
Our efforts should be exert all energy in strengthening our Imaan (belief) and connection with Allah سبحانه و تعالى. To ensure that we pay attention to our soul in this month to make up for all the neglect in the preceding months. To make firm resolution that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that we are from amongst those who will come out better after at the end of the month than we did when going into it.
And by doing so, we acquire the blessings of this month, the forgiveness of Allah سبحانه و تعالى and a clearly focus towards our true goal, the Hereafter.
So yes, though the basics are:
Refrain From All Sins
During the month of Ramadhan we forsake and make Haraam (forbidden) upon us things which are generally permissible (eating, drinking etc.). This is to increase our focus on refraining from both major and minor sins. We cannot allow sins to poison even the little worship that we carry out this month.
Be Punctual In Salaah & Other Faraidh
Although this is covered in the above category, fulfilling our Faraidh (obligations) warrants a specific mention. We need to ensure that not only do we read our Salaah on time but that we also place the care, effort and concentration whilst fulfilling this duty. At the same time, each individual will have other obligations which cannot be overlooked in this month. In the same manner, preserve the sanctity of your fast by refraining from disliked and Haraam things.
Etiquettes and Manners (Akhlaq & Aadaab)
Be conscious of your behaviour towards others and observe patience in all matters. Let us not allow the fast to be blamed for our negative behaviour towards others. The one who leaves argumentation, even when he is in the right, receives rewards two-fold.
But at the same time we need to go above and beyond these requirements; ones which are not just for the month of Ramadhan but applicable to all months. Therefore, we need to ensure that the month of Ramadhan is greeted, treated, respected and observed like no other month. We need to:
Increase our recitation of the Qur’an
If one is ‘on the go’ and cannot recite Qur’an then become busy in the recitation of Durood (صلوة على النبي) or other supplications.
We need to ensure that whatever we do In this month we do it with consistency. Whilst passion and enthusiasm are encouraged, the most beloved deed to Allah سبحانه و تعالى is the one which is done in consistency, even if it be in small amounts.
Choose the Right Company
Increase the company of the pious and listen attentively to their talks. This will help us to reignite the sparks of Imaan within our hearts with the flames of Imaan that they contain.
Don’t Waste Time
Refrain from idle talk, procrastinating tasks or becoming busy in tasks which are not important. Rather use the time wisely for some Adhkar (supplications). At the same time the usage of the internet, mobile phones and other gadgets should be reduced to necessities.
Seek Islamic Knowledge
Become busied in seeking knowledge. This doesn’t necessitate joining an institute or a course. Rather, sit in the company of the pious, read a book, re-visit the daily Du’as (supplications) that we should be reciting in our daily lives but have forgotten to do so.
Imitate the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم
Make effort to implement the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم during this month. We may not be able to carry all these habits forward out of Ramadhan, but even a few, like the recitation of Du’as on a daily basis, the using of the right hand/feet or starting from the right in certain actions etc. will become a form of reformation and reward out of Ramadhan.
Give regularly in charity, even in small amounts. If we give on a daily basis it may be that one of these days are ليلة القدر (Night of Power) which carries rewards of more than a thousand months. At the same time safeguards one from the anger and wrath of Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
Make time for supplicating. Whether this be the moments prior to breaking one’s fast or during the entire day, especially during one’s fast. Never forget our dependency upon Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Ask for even the smallest of things with complete trust and faith in Allah سبحانه و تعالى and remember your family, friends, colleagues, the Ummah and everyone else in your Du’as. One of the most powerful weapon of a Muslim is supplication.
Make Right Your Wrongs
Start making right your wrongs. Whether it be حقوق الله (rights of Allah), such as missed prayers, fasts or Zakat or whether it be حقوق العباد (rights of people), such as money owed, back-biting about someone etc. Start to make amends for these actions. Those who commence a good act with an intention of completing it, Allah سبحانه و تعالى remains forever in their support.
Increase Istigfaar (Seeking Forgiveness)
Our sins are countless, but they fall short in comparison to the mercy and forgiving nature of Allah سبحانه و تعالى. In this month don’t forget to ask for His forgiveness. Allah سبحانه و تعالى descends from skies asking if there is anyone who is seeking forgiveness so that Allah سبحانه و تعالى can forgive him.
Keep Your Intention At the Forefront
The correct intention is critical as it can render the highest of worship reward less. However, at the same time, the same intention can make a daily
My writing of this article was first and foremost as a reminder to myself. We fail to truly prepare for this blessed month and therefore fail to reap its true benefits and rewards.
May Allah سبحانه و تعالى give us all the inclination and strength to worship Him to the best of our ability. May the beginning of this month be a means of His mercy upon us, the middle of it be a means of forgiveness and its final portion be confirmation of our freedom from the Hell fire. May Allah سبحانه و تعالى accept our worship and efforts by bringing a positive change in our lives even after the month of Ramadhan. May our fasts be accepted and the reward of which Allah سبحانه و تعالى recompenses Himself. Aameen.
A humble request to remember me in your Du’as during this blessed month.