Ramadan – Are You Ready?
Part 1 – How to get the best out of Ramadan
By Br Masood Chowdhury
The following are ‘brief’ notes taken from the lecture above, there may be some spelling/grammer mistakes, or in-complete sentences…may Allah forgive our shortcomings,ameen.
We are standing at the doors of Ramadan.
We need to prepare, and go into Ramadan with preparation (just like we prepare for everything else), we must know what is Ramadan and what to do in Ramadan.
Many Muslims do not get to see the next Ramadan.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) and his companions used to make duaa “O Allah, make it such that we arrive to Ramadan” – Hadith
The early Muslims would anxiously wait for Ramadan, why? Because we were made to worship Allah
And I (Allâh) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). The Noble Qur’an – Az-Zaariyaat 51:56
It clear that the true purpose of our duniya is to worship Allah,and we should rush to do good deeds until we meet Him.
“Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord, and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heaven and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He is pleased with. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty”. (57:21)
Allah has made some times more profitable than other times, and some times more important than other times. Ramadan is the best of ALL MONTHS, a time where we can gather more deeds, the same deed outside of Ramadan we can get more reward when doing it in Ramadan.
Some of the things we can do in Ramadan, inshaAllah will list 10 practical things:
1) Ikhlas – this is the most important thing in the whole religion of Islam
“And they have been commanded no more than to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion.” (Al-Qur’an, 98:5)
All worship is to be done for Allah alone.
The Commander of the Faithful, `Umar b. al-Khattâb, relates that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) say: “Actions are but by intentions and every man will have only what he intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated to attain something of this world or to marry a woman, then his emigration was for whatever reason he emigrated.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
We should not be fasting because we are Pakistani, or Arab, or to fast to loose weight. This is not the real intention, the intention should be that we are worshipping Allah alone, siyaam is an act of worship.
The Ulamah wrote a lot of Ikhlas, and say every action in Islam has 2 pillars without exception, first being it must be done solely for Allah (ikhlas) and second that the Prophet Muhammad (s) must be followed.
Before Ramadan we must ask ourselves why are fasting Ramadan? Are fasting merely because our forefathers did?
2) Knowledge – everything in Islam is founded on knowledge
Just like in the duniya there are rules and regulations, similarly there are many forms of worship in Islam that have rules and regulations, we must be aware of them. Many people make mistakes during Ramadan, and say “Allah will forgive me”, Islam is not based on “Allah will forgive me” or “I think we should do this and that” rather Islam is based on pure knowledge.
Every Muslim must learn the rulings of Ramadan, and familiarise our self with knowledge and make effort.
3) The Qur’aan
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days.
Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” (2: 185).
Does this mean that a book came flying out of the sky and landed in the hands of the Prophet Muhammad (s)?! The whole Quran was not revealed in this month, the Quran was revealed over a period of 23 years. There is much wisdom behind this, however the most important point is that it was revealed in this month, meaning it came from the Preserved Tablet to the lower Heavens.
To appreciate the Quran: we must understand that Ramadan is the best of all months and once we have understood this point, to know the best of days of Ramadan are the last 10 days, and then to know from these 10 days the best night is Laylatul Qadr and the Quran was lowered from the Preserved Tablet to the Lower Heavens; a night which is worth 1,000 months. If we understand this, we would realise how great this book is.
On the day of judgment, people will be given their book of deeds, some in their right hand, some in their left and some from behind their back.
“As for him who is given his book in his right hand, he shall surely receive an easy reckoning and he will return to his family rejoicing. But as for him who is given his book behind his back, he shall call for destruction on himself and will burn in a blazing fire” (84:7-12)
Many of us have placed the Quran behind our backs, and have lost our connection with it.
The Messenger (s) said: “And the Qur’an is a proof for you or against you.” [Muslim]
Many of Muslims treat the Quran, as a book of blessings with in no doubt it is full of blessings.
“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter.” [At-Tirmithee]
However, the Quran did not come just for blessings, it came for guidance.
“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (cf. Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
There is no excuse not to grasp the general meaning of the Quran, there are many sources available online, publishing houses to get a Quran with Translation of the Meaning.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Muhammad, (verse 24), what can be translated as, “Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding)?”
When was the last time, when we picked up the Quran, read the verses and pondered over the words. Many say “We follow the Quran and Sunnah”, but they have no connection with the Quran? How can we say we follow it (the Quran) and know nothing about it? We have to go back to the basics, back to the beginning, which is the Quran.
We should try and make the Quran a part of our every day life, just like how we have made brushing our teeth a part of our daily life and we would never forget to brush our teeth, how about waking up and reading the Quran? Reading even a little is better than not reading it at all.
“Whoever’s got something, it is better than getting nothing!”
We should set a target to read half a page and read it everyday, and build a connection with the Quran.
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, “The best actions are continuous ones even if little…” [Muslim]
4) Prayer – this is just as equally important
“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” [Recorded by al-Tabarani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503.
Those who become religious in Ramadan, and then on the 29th or 30th day they stop praying etc. This is a very bad sign, that your Ramadan was most likely not accepted.
The Ulamah from the past and present, have said for the one who does not pray the 5 daily prayers knowing he must pray and says he does not have to is not considered a Muslim.
“When have finished performing the Salah, remember Allah standing, sitting, and reclining, but when you are free from danger, perform the Salah. Surely, Salah is enjoined on the believers at fixed times.” (4:103)
We must not only pray our 5 daily prayers, but pray them on time. Just like we go to work arrive at 9am and leave at 5pm, we take our lunch break 12pm – 1pm, as for prayer we pray whenever we like. We must go back to the basics, and establish the pray on time.
In Ramadan, the night pray has a special virtue and value (although can be prayed any time of the year).
The Prophet Muhammad (s) in Ramadan would lead the people for night prayer after salatul Ishaa for a few days, and then he stopped in fear that this pray would become an obligation upon the Muslims. However, it is from the Sunnah to pray the night prayer in Ramadan to increase in our Ibadah, as we do not know if we will be here next Ramadan.
How many units of prayer do we pray?
The issue is simple and easy, but people have made it difficult and confusing. The people in the past used to pray 41, some 39, some 29, some 13 and 19, and 11 units of pray (i.e. different units).
The Prophet (s) said “The night prayer is offered as two Rakat followed by two Rakat and so on” [Bukharee]
Technically speaking the night prayer has no limit. However, the hadeeth of ‘Aisha: The Prophet -salalahu alaahe wa saleem- never increased in Ramadan, nor outside of Ramadan, more than 11 raka’ats (i.e. 8 of night prayer, and 3 of witr). [Bukharee]
One can say “this is the closest to the Sunnah”; but if people pray 20 like those in Makkah there is nothing wrong with this either (as many Ulamah have said).
What is the history of this?
When Umar revived the Sunnah and re-established praying Tarawih in congregation, at that time they used to pray 100’s of verses, but they were strong in worshipping Allah and kept persevering. Then later on in time, they started praying 23, because he found the people were weak and increased the units of prayer (more units, more movements in pray).
So whether you pray 8 or 20, it is ok. Although 8 is closer to the Sunnah, but if someone prayers more you do not make a big deal out of this.
5) Making Suhoor and Iftar
Part take in a meal before Fajr.
“The difference between our observance of the fast and that of the People of the Book is eating of breakfast” (Muslim)
O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint. Qur’an 2:183-185 Surah Al-Baqarah
We are not the first nation to fast, many before us did too.
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree said that the Messenger (S) said: “Eating the Sahoor is blessed. Do not neglect it even if you take a gulp of water, because Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who partake in the pre-dawn meal.” [Ahmad] This will give us energy to worship Allah during the day.
Iftar should be taken straight away, not to delay it.
You should break your fast with dates, if you can’t find dates, to drink water. If you have no food, you should break it by making the intention you have broken your fast then it has.
You find much extravagance in Ramadan
Not only is this is bad from an Islamic point of view, but it makes the women busy with making food, what about their ibadah?
6) Giving Zakaat and Charity
What is the connection between Zakaat and Ramadan? In essence, there is no connection, Zakat can be given any time in the year. Many Muslims give Zakat in Ramadan due to the rewards.
“If every Muslim paid their Zakat, there would be no poverty in the world”
Not paying Zakat, is a major sin in Islam.
Abu Bakr waged war on all Muslims who did not pay Zakat.
The Prophet (s) was the most generous person, and was even more so in Ramadan; and would give and give.
In charity in Islam has a wider meaning, than the meaning of just giving money.
One day, the Prophet (s) gathered the companions and asked
“Who began this day fasting?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.” The Prophet (s) said: “Who participated in a funeral procession today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did” Prophet (s) said: “Who fed a needy person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did” He (s) said: “Who visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did” Then, the Prophet (s) said: “These things cannot all meet in a single person but that they will enter Paradise.” [Saheeh Muslim]
Charity is not just being rich, and giving thousands of money, charity is smiling at your brother, helping others,etc.
“Whoever Allah has given tawfique to, they will never find any shortage of doing good”
7) Encouraging your children to fast
Obligations in Islam, like Siyam, Prayer and Hajj are only obligated upon them when they become puberty. Before this age, if they miss their Siyam or Prayer they will not be sinful, but if they are not encouraged before they become puberty how will they be able to fast and prayer, it is a form of training. Responsibility and burden is on the parents to teach your children, if you don’t teach them early then when they grow up they will ask why do I need to fast, why do I need to pray no one else does at school etc. In Muslim countries the children love Ramadan, we should make Ramadan fun for them, take them to Islamic gathering, gatherings with other children, and not to overload them but at the same time ensure we train them.
8 ) Feeding a fasting person
Greatest way of worshipping Allah, to help somebody else.
“The one who shows somebody good, is like the one who does it” Hadith
The Prophet – sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam – said, “Whoever gives a fasting person (food) to break his or her fast, he (the one feeding) will get the reward equivalent to the (fasting persons) reward – without diminishing anything from the reward of the (fasting person).” Hadith
“Wealth is never decreased by giving.”
9) Making Umrah in Ramadan
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Umrah is an expiation for the time between it and the previous ‘Umrah’ and an accepted Hajj has no less a reward than Paradise”. (Narrated by al-Bukhari 1683, Muslim 1349).
“Umrah performed in Ramadan, is the reward of Hajj” Hadith
10) Making Dawah
Because we are living in a Kafir Land, when we are fasting people at work ask do you want a tea and coffee; this is an opportunity for da’wah. Somebody asks “Why do you fast?” or if they don’t ask you, you can say you are fasting.
- This is a pillar of Islam
- We as Muslims we worship Allah in many ways; this is another way we worship Him.
- There are many unfortunate than us; it is a time to remember us.
- It is prescribed to those before us, and it is prescribed for us; all religions came with fasting.
- When they talk about worldy stuff, you can say “do you know something amazing; right now 1 billion people on this earth are fasting today!”
These are 10 amazing things, mentioned because they are so important, a sister died last night and did not make it for Ramadan, so we must not waste this month if we make it to it.
Before Ramadan the companions would make duaa “O Allah, make it such that we arrive to Ramadan” and when the companions made it to Ramadan, they would then start making duaa “O Allah please accept from us our Ramadan”
1 ) You must have Ikhlas
2 ) You must have Knowledge
3 ) Renew your link with the Quran, read it
4 ) First establish the 5 daily prayers, the Sunnah prayers, and Tarawih
5 ) Take Sahoor and Iftar (make duaa before the Iftar)
6 ) Give your Zakat, and give general charity
7 ) Encourage your children to fast, start slowly and when they grow older they will understand
8 ) Feed a fasting person
9 ) Make Umrah, go with the intention to earn the reward
10 ) Make Dawah, speak to people, Fasting is not a secret
There are many more things we can do in Ramadan, above are just 10.