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Faith

The Key to a Productive Ramadan

The Prophet (ﷺ) also said: “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it” [Sahih Bukhari 5027]. Therefore, we should take this seriously and divert all our attention and effort to fulfilling the rights of Al Quran. May Allah increase our love and bonding with His Book.

The month of Ramadan is the month of the Quran. This is the month that is loved by Muslims in general. This is the month when every Muslim tries to take this religion of Allah seriously. This is also the month of forgiveness.

Many Muslims look upon this month and put their best endeavor to please Allah. They start this month with great zeal, enthusiasm, and energy but unfortunately, the great majority cannot end Ramadan with the same tone as they started. This article is all about how to spend the entire month of Ramadan in the best productive manner.

Recently I read a book titled “Productive Ramadan” written by Muhammad Faris and Ali Hammuda. It is an amazing book, and may Allah bless them with ample reward. I strongly recommend everyone to read this book. This article, therefore, is mostly a summary of that Book.

Let’s start by talking about the preparation for Ramadan. It can be categorized in three ways namely: (i) preparation of Allah, (ii) preparation of those who are only focused on the worldly life, and (iii) preparation of a true believer.  

Firstly, let’s say few things about the preparation of Allah. Our Prophet () said: “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained” [Sahih Al Bukhari: 1899]. In this month Allah forgives His slaves in multitudes.

It is also narrated that “whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven” [Sahih Al Bukhari 1901].

On top of that Allah has blessed us with the Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr) which is better than a thousand nights [Al Quran 97:03] i.e. equivalent to 83 years. If one person can catch the Night of Power then in that very one night he can earn blessings equivalent to 83 years. Apart from that, Allah has also allocated special moments, like just before breaking the fast, when duas will be answered. 

Secondly, I will shed some light on the preparation of the people who are engrossed in the love of the worldly life. These people actually do not take any active preparation and rather they become unhappy to see Ramadan approaching. Once Ramadan starts they just wait for it to end. The good thing they find in Ramadan is the iftar feast. They plan to sleep as much as possible. They do not even hesitate to pass their time in sinful acts like backbiting, watching movies, and listening to music etc. They find it very difficult to fast and pray all the prayers – especially the Taraweeh (Qiam-ul-Lail).

Allah rightly said: “…. and truly it (Salat) is extremely heavy and hard except for al-khashi’un (i.e. the true believers in Allah) [Al Quran 2:45].

Allah further warned them by saying: “that is because they detest what Allah has revealed, so He has rendered their deeds void” [Al Quran 47:9]. 

In contrast, the preparations in the tent of the believers are totally different. The Companions of the Prophet () used to take preparation for Ramadan six months beforehand. Our pious predecessors had an amazing view towards welcoming Ramadan. One of the earlier scholars narrated that “we used to fear welcoming Ramadan with the slightest jealousy in our heart regarding another believer”.

Therefore, we should take a pause and jettison every grudge or grievance from our hearts and embrace Ramadan with a heart full of love for every Muslim. Before the commencement of Ramadan, a believer should start making sincere and emotional duas to Allah so that this month can be spent in ibadaah and devotion.

As Muslims, we must start developing a relationship with the Quran this month. We need to start acquiring knowledge about various fiqhs (rulings) of Ramadan. Sincere Muslims should ponder about their individual spirituality and activities. If anyone is involved in any sort of evil action like neglecting Salah, backbiting, smoking, watching movies, ill-treating spouse, disrespecting parents etc. then they should make an oath to Allah and stop such evil acts immediately. It is important to keep in mind that, a person engrossed in sinful acts never gets the sweetness of Ibadaah. Lastly a practical and strategic action plan is to be set for the entire month of Ramadan. 

There are some reasons for which one cannot give his/her best in Ramadan. Most common among them are (i) lack of planning, (ii) not being in a habit of fasting throughout the year, (iii) paucity of knowledge, (iv) lack of support from the community, (v) lack of training, and (vi) not having enough self-control. 

Now let me share some ideas as to how Ramadan can be observed in the best productive manner. Everyone should begin by setting a specific and pragmatic plan about various acts of Ibadah for the entire month. Firstly, one should set goals relating to Salah. For example, deciding to pray every Salah at Mashjeed or congregation. Not to miss any sunnah prayer. Try to pray Trarawee at Masheed where the recitation is slow and melodious. Try to learn the meaning of the Surahs which we often read in our regular prayers etc.

We have to understand that due to the outbreak of the 2nd wave of COVID19 and being in a pandemic, we may have to offer the Salah at home but in that case, our sincerity should remain the same. We can pray in a congregation at home with family members.

Secondly, a specific plan should also be made with regard to Al Quran. Since Ramadan is the month of the Quran, every one of us should build a relationship with Quran. This relationship with the Quran should not last till the end of Ramadan, rather it should be a bonding throughout life.

The Quran has four rights upon a believer such as (i) one should know how to recite the Quran properly, (ii) trying to learn the meaning of the verses, (iii) implementing the commandants of Quran and (iv) make dawah about the message of Quran. We have to keep in mind that our Prophet () said: “This Quran will intercede on the Day of Judgment” [Sahih Muslim 804].

The Prophet () also said: “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it” [Sahih Bukhari 5027]. Therefore, we should take this seriously and divert all our attention and effort to fulfilling the rights of Al Quran. May Allah increase our love and bonding with His Book.

Another valuable act of Ibadaah is making dua. Our Prophet () said dua is worship.

“Then he recited the verse ‘And your Lord says: Call upon Me; I will respond to you. Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.’” [Al Quran 40:60]. [Musnad-e-Ahmad 18352 and Sahih Al-Bukhaari (in al-Adab al-Mufrad) 714].

Therefore, we must increase our dua drastically in the month of Ramadan. One should try to utilize the specific moments when duas are answered like (i) just before breaking the fast, (ii) between the azan and ikamah (iii) on Friday, and (iv) during the last one third of the night. The recommended ways of making dua should also be followed. For example, one should start dua by praising Allah, then sending blessings upon the Prophet, then seeking forgiveness for the sins and protection from hell fire and entrance to jannah, then dua relating to specific need and lastly praying for the betterment of the Muslim Ummah.

Making a lot of charity is also another important act of ibadah to be performed during the entire month of Ramadan. It is reported that the Prophet () was the most generous of all the people and he used to become more generous in Ramadan [Sahih Al Bukhari 3554]. Charity is a type of Ibadah that can bring us ultimate success in the hereafter.

Allah says: “Those who in charity spend of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” [Al Quran 2:274].

If we look at the Muslim world today, we can clearly see how our brothers and sisters around the globe are suffering immensely. Many of us have been blessed with wealth and earnings and we should not hoard all of them for ourselves only. We have to remember that Allah says in the Quran: “Then you will be asked about the pleasures (you enjoyed in the world)” [Al Quran 102:8].

Therefore, we must try our best to give charity as much as possible in order to relieve people from distress. The Messenger of Allah () said: “Whoever relieves a Muslim of some worldly distress, Allah will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection” [Sunan Ibn Majah 225]. 

In the above paragraphs, I have mentioned all the beautiful things about Ramadan. Yes, it is true that it is a month of blessing, forgiveness, Quran, prayers and so many other benefits. However, there is a big warning as well.

One day the Prophet () was standing in the Mimber at his Mashjid and he said Ameen. The companions asked Ya Rasool Allah to what did you say Ameen? He then replied, “Jibril came to me and said may he be disgraced, the person who lives to see the Ramadan and lives through the days of Ramadan and finishes Ramadan but does not have his sins forgiven by Allah, so I said Ameen” [reported as Sahih at At Tirmidhi]. We must take this Hadith seriously.

On one hand, this month brings ample opportunity and opens the door to success in the hereafter, and on the other hand, it warns of severe consequences if we fail to grab those opportunities.

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