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Preparing the Mind, Body & Soul for the Month of Ramadhan

In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

The following is the text of an Islamic Circle delivered last year in Rochdale on the preparation for Ramadhan

The blessed month of Ramadhan is just around the corner as we all await eagerly for this blessed guest to illuminate our lives once again.

This is the month of opportunity, the month for change, the month for addressing ourselves, the month of charity, the month of generosity, the month of looking at the state of affairs of the Ummah and making change and the month of evaluating our relationship with Allah (swt) and with what his final and beloved messenger, Muhammad al-Mustafa (saw) bought- The final revelation and the Furqan.

However, we can only reap the true benefits of Ramadhan if we truly understand our sole purpose of existence. Only by addressing this fundamental question can we truly appreciate what Ramadhan is, our relationship with this month and the benefits and consequences of fulfilling or not fulfilling its due.
In many ayaats of the Quran, Allah (swt) addresses mankind with remembering the meaning of life.

أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ

“Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (Al-Mumenoon, Chapter 23, Verse 115)

وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ ۖ وَلَلدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Will you not then understand?” (Al-Anaam, Chapter 6, Verse 32)

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَتَوَفَّاكُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا جَرَحْتُم بِالنَّهَارِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُكُمْ فِيهِ لِيُقْضَىٰ أَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“It is He Who takes your souls by night (when you are asleep), and has knowledge of all that you have done by day, then He raises (wakes) you up again that a term appointed (your life period) be fulfilled, then (in the end) unto Him will be your return. Then He will inform you of that which you used to do”. (Al-Anaam, Chapter 6, Verse 60)

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ فَمَنْ زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception”. (Aal-e-Imran, Chapter 3, Verse 185)

The person who is able to truly appreciate his role on life will be the successful one who has prepared his mind, body and soul for the blessed month of Ramadhan.

The Opportunity

If someone said that for next month, your internet service provider will be providing free internet at 50Mb download speeds, everyone would be busy maximising the number of downloads for the month, day and night, hour after hour, minute by minute to ensure that they don’t lose out on the benefits.

If someone said that if you visited such and such a place you will given free gold prizes, wouldn’t you jump for the opportunity of a lifetime?

If someone informed you that for the next month, your local post office is giving away cash prizes of £100 daily. All you have to do is queue up for an hour and the moneys yours. Wouldn’t it be worth the wait to be patience?

So how about being greedy to reap the rewards in the month of Ramadhan?

Valuing Ramadhan

These are some ways in which we can quantify what Ramadhan can bring for us, only if can see the value of it.

The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said “For everything there is a door, and the door of worship is fasting”. [Ibn al-Mubarak]

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Ramadhan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the mighty, the exalted.” [Tabarani]

The Prophet (saw) said: “When the first night of Ramadhan comes, the devils and demons are chained up, and the gates of Hell are closed and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller calls out: “O seeker of good, come to Allah; O seeker of evil, desist.” Allah will have ransomed some people from the Fire, and that happens every night.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah with a hasan isnaad).

The Prophet (saw) said “The reward of every good deed is multiplied ten up to seven-hundred times, except that of the Fasting; it is usually done in sincerity and will be multiplied by as many times as Allah wills.“

Abu Said al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah, said: “No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the hellfire seventy years further away from his face.” [This is related by "the group," except for Abu Dawud]

Hence we need to seize this opportunity and reap the benefits of this month and not consider fasting as a burden or as a motion that one needs to go through.

Focusing on the purpose of Ramadhan

Sometimes when asked about why Muslims fast we are presented with a whole range of reasons to explain the purpose of fasting. From we want to feel how the poor feel, this is equivalent to the Christian lent but more concentrated or it’s good to balance the diet for the body, none of these address the objective of Ramadhan. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness” [TMQ Al- Baqarah: 183].

Hence we need to achieve Taqwa in this month and ensure this is what we strive for.

Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) once looked at those praying and said, “The great number of times any of you raises and lowers his head does not deceive me. The [real] deen is being cautious and meticulous in the deen of Allah, and refraining from what Allah has forbidden, and acting according to what Allah permits and forbids.”

The son of ‘Ali (ra), Al-Hasan (ra) once said, “The people who have taqwa (al-muttaqoon) are the people who avoided whatever Allah (swt) has prohibited and have done whatever Allah (swt) has ordained.”

Understanding the nature of the fast

Imam al-Ghazali in his Book of Forty Principles from the Foundations of Religion explains that Fasting has been singled out for two main reasons:

1. Its essence is that it is a personal abstinence, and such is a hidden action that no one but God can see, unlike the prayer, the zakah, or other (acts of worship).

2. It is a grief for, and subdual of, the enemy of God. Shaytan is the enemy, and the enemy cannot gain strength except through the medium of the passions. Hunger breaks all the passions that are the tool of Shaytan. For this reason, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Verily Shaytan runs in the Son of Adam like blood. Therefore, constrain the passageways of Shaytan with hunger” [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Realising the Change

We need to make a reasoned change. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Whosoever does not stop saying and acting upon falsehood, Allah is in no need for them to abandon their food.” [Bukhari]

We need to set ourselves goals that are we can manage in Ramadhan

Perform the Good Deeds promptly

The Messenger of Allah (saw) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying,

“Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the fire of hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaimah]

Increase your Ibadat

Abu Hurairah said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, ‘the one who does qiyam (staying up the night in remembrance of Allah) in Ramadhan with faith and sincerity, all his sins will be forgiven.’“

“Verily! We have sent it down in the night of Alqadr. And what will make you know what the night of Al-qadr is. The night of Al-qadr is better than a thousand months” [TMQ: Al- Qadr: 1-3]

Balance your Actions

Imam As-Shafee, once said, ‘It is beloved to me to see one increasing his acts of generosity during the month of Ramadhan, following the example of Allah’s Messenger (saw), and for one’s own good. There are many who become over-occupied with fasting and Prayers, forgetting the other benefits of the month of Ramadhan ‘ (Lataa’if-ul Ma’aarif)

Make Dua for forgiveness

Repent to Allah (swt) by reciting the Prophetic du’a, conveyed to us by the Mother of the Believers, Umm al-Mumineen Aaisha (ra): “Allahumma innaka ’afuwan karimun tuhibbul ’afuwa fa-’af’anni”

“O Allah! Thou art, indeed, the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful, and to forgive is most pleasing to Thee; so, forgive me my sins” [Musnad Imam Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]

Value Ramadhan

Talha ibn ‘Ubaydallah (radhiallahu `anhu) reported that two men came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) who had accepted Islam at the same time. One of them used to partake in Jihad more-so than the other, and so (one day) he fought in a battle and was martyred therein. The other remained behind him for another year, and then he passed away.

Talha said, ‘I saw in my dream that I was at the door of Paradise when behold, I was with both of them (the two men). Someone came out of Paradise and allowed the man who passed away later to enter first. Then he came out again and allowed the martyred one to enter. Then he returned and said to me, ‘Go back, for your time has not come yet.’

Talha woke up and began to inform others about this and they were all surprised. This reached the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and when they informed him of it, he said:

He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘What are you surprised about?’ They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Out of them both, this one strove harder (in Jihad) then he was martyred but this other one was entered into Paradise before him.’ The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Did he not remain behind him for one year?’ They said, ‘Yes (he did).’ He said, ‘Did he not reach Ramadan, fast and pray with such and such number of prostrations in the year?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘So the difference between them is greater than what is between the heavens and the earth.’

Final words

If we understand the reasons for our existence then we will be on track to value Ramadhan time, reap it s rewards and benefits, adhere to the Shariah, re-connect with Allah (swt) and will be willing to work for the cause of Islam with passion and diligence and modelling ourselves on that praised generation who lived. Allah (swt) says

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds”

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1 comment:

  1. So how about being greedy to reap the rewards in the month of Ramadhan?

    Wow. I love that line. Truly, we should be reaping rewards this month of Ramadhan. We should be thankful that we are still here to witness another Ramadhan and to start anew if we haven't been so good.


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