بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Iftaar parties, food and extra sleep. More often than not, we think these words when we think Ramadan.
Taqwa, forgiveness and good deeds;seldom do we realize that these words are what Ramadan is really all about.
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has beautifully placed purpose in everything a Muslim is commanded to do in their life. Hence, it goes without saying that one of the core pillars which Islam stands upon would have rich purpose and meaning to it. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) reveals the purpose of fasting in Ramadan in the following ayah:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”
[Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-Baqarah: 183]
Our Creator tells us that this is what we need to achieve by the end of 30 whole days of training in Ramadan. This is why, at the threshold of Ramadan, each of us needs to take a moment to assess the level of taqwa within us today, and where we want it to be at the end of Ramadan.
Let’s each peek into our own bags. Let’s think of how many sins we have accumulated and how many we continue to carry each day. Is He not truly a Merciful Lord to give us free chances of forgiveness throughout our lives, the best one being the ability to live through the month of Ramadan each year?
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) cursed the one who has the opportunity to see the month of Ramadan, yet it comes to an end without his securing pardon for himself.
[Tirmidhi, Hadith 927]
We all have a mental list of good deeds we want to accomplish one fine day – that day being far far off in the future. There is no better time in a believer’s life to do away with bad habits and adorn oneself with good ones, than the blessed month of Ramadan.
Together, let’s go over a few things that each of us should keep in mind, in hopes that this Ramadan will catapult us to higher levels of taqwa, forgiveness and good deeds.
It takes months of preparation to kick-start an important project. Ramadan is a major project in a Muslim’s life, and thus requires much preparation. Use Sha’baan to get into the mode of fasting. It was the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)’s sunnah to fast in Sha’baan in preparation of Ramadan.
Prepare as much as you can for the iftaars that are to come, before even Ramadan starts. Chop up the onions, freeze away the spring rolls – you want to make sure you don’t want to waste away your Ramadan in the kitchen, while still being able to feed your family iftaar!
Stock up on Islamic lectures and good Islamic books that you want to listen to or read during Ramadan.
Also, use this time to finish your Eid shopping.
Qur’an in the spotlight
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion (between right and wrong).”
[Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 185]
What better month to tighten your hold on the “rope of Allah”, than the month in which it was revealed? Spend most of your time with your copy of the Qur’an. Set a goal of how much you want to recite each day, and distribute your recitation throughout the day.
Every day, keep up with what is being recited in taraweeh by reading the translation of the ayahs the imam will recite each day, ahead of time.
Read or listen to the tafaseer of the Qur’an – there is no better way to connect yourself to the Word of your Creator than to learn and reflect on the meanings of His kalaam (Words).
Shed off old skin
Research indicates that it takes 21 days for a new habit to develop. You have thirty. Use this month to shed off old, bad habits – and develop good ones. Replace oversleeping, overeating, and wasting time in front of the TV, with staying up after Fajr, not eating to your fill, and using your time to do productive things. This is a Muslim’s time to make resolutions and live up to them.
Plan out an entire schedule for this fruitful month. Each one of us has different goals that we want to achieve this month, so make your schedule according to what you aim to achieve by the end of Ramadan. Go traditional with a handwritten schedule, or have a digital one – whatever works for you! The idea is to waste minimal time during this precious month, while using each minute towards achieving your goals.
Morning: Your new friend
The early hours of the day are the most beautiful and refreshing hours to connect yourself with your Creator. Use this blessed time for ibadah – pray, have conversations with your Lord, increase your duaa, and recite portions of the Qur’an. Staying up after Fajr to read the Qur’an and do dhikr will help keep you spiritually uplifted throughout the day, insha Allah.
Every minute counts
Try to use each moment to increase in reward. Use time spent on the road or while cooking in the kitchen to do dhikr (remembrance of Allah) or to listen to good Islamic lectures. The time spent preparing suhoor and iftaar in the kitchen is conveniently timed to recite your morning and evening duaas!
Spread the love
It is an incomparable sight when one sees masjids overflowing with people during taraweeh, smiles and “as-salamu-alaikum”s everywhere, and people breaking their fasts together. Ramadan is a time when one can truly see the Muslim ummah come together. With the accursed Shaytan being chained up, individual as well as communal spirits are on an imaan high. Use this time wisely for da’wah (calling to Islam). Help friends that don’t usually take any interest in Islamic talks and lectures, by taking them along to attend some. Offer to take friends and neighbors to the masjid for taraweeh. Use the absence of the Shayateen and the presence of an extraordinary atmosphere of imaan to do da’wah to friends, family and neighbors!
Channelize your energies
Take part in organizing lectures and halaqas, help teach children in the neighborhood a thing or two that they may use in Ramadan, or teach a friend a duaa to recite in prayer.
More importantly, start with the family – sit with them for a daily halaqa to discuss Islamic stories, verses of the Qur’an, or just about anything that connects all of you to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)!
Watch your tongue
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting).”[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 127]
Don’t waste your efforts during Ramadan. Say things that benefit and spread goodness.
Women have the tendency to experience a low during Ramadan when their menses begin. With the absence of fasts and prayers, Ramadan begins to feel hollow. But Ramadan is blessed all the way through, for everyone. Try to utilize this time-period to do those acts of ibadah (worship) that are permissible in such a state – boost your duaas, listen to lectures, attend halaqas, and read beneficial Islamic books.
What’s more, use this time to do some extra work in the kitchen for the coming iftaars, or do your schoolwork ahead of time – so that once your periods end, you can get back on track with more time for ibadah!
Boost the Sunnah in your life
Often we know
of about certain acts of Sunnah (the way of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)) that we should integrate into our daily lives, yet we continue neglecting them. Ramadan is the best time to work on integrating these sunnahs into your daily routine. Integrate it into your sleep routine by avoiding sleeping late and doing qailoola (siesta) during the noon. Integrate it into your eating by breaking the fast with masnoon duaas and dates or water, as well as keeping your meals light. Start basic, and then begin integrating the Sunnah into more complex areas of life. With 30 days of training, these sunnahs are, then inshaAllah, sure to stay with you permanently!
In all the hustle-bustle of iftaars, suhoors and taraweehs, we should not forget that underlying all these acts is the idea of connecting oneself to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Look for times to reflect and ponder, whether in the early hours of the day or when going to bed at night.
Let’s each pray for a Ramadan which cleanses us of sins, blesses us with His Mercy and saves us from the fire of Hell. Ameen.
About the Author
Sundus Naeem, was born in Pakistan and currently reside in Sharjah, UAE. A graduate from Tafheem-e-Deen uae first batch. She was doing her bachelors degree in International Relations alongside her studies at Tafheem-e-Deen and she says that it has been an enriching experience that taught her how to view the world from the lens of the Qur’an. She take exceptional interest in studying Islamic history and getting involved with Da’wah projects.
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