One of my teachers would ask me every Ramadan “How many ramadan have you seen in your life? Are you that number of times better as a person?” Often times we focus on increasing our efforts in Ramadan on a real high only to fall into a trough almost immediately after Ramadan – middle of Ramadan masajid are quieter but the end is in sight – end well.
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. … It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Set goals – you can only manage what you measure.
- Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks. Salah, Saqaqah, Dhikr, Lowering gaze, Night prayer, Character, Avoid distractions such as the mobile phone and social media – use digital balance (Android) to monitor your screen time and activities.
- The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline. Set your own and share with others to commit.
- Quit multitasking: focus is key. Make a habit of committing to a single task, even if its small, before moving on to your next project.
- Squeeze out time e.g. your commute, exercise time or walk to the masjid a time
- Minimise interruptions – masjid, your salaah room, place for reading Qur’an, let family know and involve them where possible
- Link your goals to healthy rewards
- Eat your frog early
Hadhrat Ali (radiy Allahu ‘anhu) defined Taqwā as fearing the Majestic (meaning Allāh) and acting upon revelation (following the Qur’ān and Sunnah), being satisfied with a little, being a person of contentment and preparing yourself for the day when you return to Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā).
Taqwa is spotting the camera as you speed down the motorway. It’s how mesmerised you are watching the football or movie and how even the moment where you cant see the screen causes anguish.
A fan(-atic) supporter typically exhibits key characteristics including:
- Being totally transfixed and focused on matches, either in person or on TV.
This is taqwa – complete mindfulness and focus on the object of devotion.
- Constantly learning and reciting scores, updates and stories related to the game.
This is qiraa’ah and tilaawah – reading and beautifying the message.
Constantly talking about football at every opportunity and bringing it up in conversation.
This is da’wah – spreading the message through love and a desire to see others recognise its greatness.
Have I improved since last Ramadan?
Get back to basics – ABC – Allah, Bank wisely, Character:
Hows your relationship with Allah(SWT)?
How well do you know Him(SWT)? You can only have a relationship with someone you know and like. How do we expect to build a strong relationship with someone we barely know?
The Messenger of Allah(SAW) mentioned a man from the people of the past. and told his story saying: “Allah had given him wealth and children. When his death approached, he said to his sons, “What kind of father have I been to you?” They replied, “You have been a good father.” He told them that (asrafa ‘alaa nafsihi) he had not presented any good deed before Allah and had indulged his desires only, and if Allah should get hold of him He would punish him in such a way as he has not punished anyone else.’ So he commanded them “When I die, burn me, and when I turn into coal, crush me, and when there comes a windy day, scatter my ashes in the wind.” The Prophet added, “Then by Allah, he took a firm promise from his children to do so, and they did so. (They burnt him after his death) and threw his ashes on a windy day.
Then Allah commanded to his ashes. “Be,” and behold! He became a man standing! Allah said, “O My slave! What made you do what you did?” The man said: [Khashyatuka yaa Rubb] Fear and awe of you, O Lord. Thus, Allah forgave him due to that.” [Bukhārī 7067, Muslim 2756] Ibn Battal al-Maliki wrote, “Allah forgave him due to the intensity of his fear of Him. The easiest way to draw nearer to Allah is with fear.”
How much do you love Him(SWT)?
Hadhrat Ali(RA) which states “There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the worship of traders; while there are some who worship Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, this is the worship of slaves; a few who obey Him out’ of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is the worship of free and noble men.”
– Listening to every word, internalising it and repeating it.Reading the Holy Qur’an with understanding. The Holy Qur’an is a book of guidance, so we must not only read its verses, but comprehend what we read, contemplate on the meanings, and implement what we read.
– Quality time: Performing voluntary prayers.
– Take time out to pray in jamaat and stay with the Imam until he finishes. The Prophet(SAW) also said “Whoever prays with the imam until he finishes, Allaah will record for him as if he spent the whole night in prayer” [Ṣaḥīḥ by al-Tirmidhi (806)]
– Cant stop thinking about them: Remembrance of Allah
– Be selfless: This means giving up what you want for the sake of another
– Spend on them: Just as we would buy the best gifts for our beloved
– Doting on them, day or night (qiyam)
– Being grateful for their company and presence
Make dua for His love.
It is indeed a sign of his love for you that you are witnessing this month. Take advantage of it and do not let it go to waste.
Ramadan is not a temporary increase of religious practice, it is a glimpse of what you are capable of doing everyday.
What are you sending forward? Sulayman ibn Abdul Malik asked Abu Hazim: “O Abu Hazim, why do we hate death?”.
Abu Hazim said, “Because you have built up your Dunya, and you have neglected and ruined your hereafter, therefore you hate to leave that for which you built up to go to that which you have ruined”
It is said one of the hardest things for the nafs is sincerity because there’s no immediate benefit for the nafs.
Allah will build house in Jannah for whoever is diligent in observing 12 Sunnah rakat [Tirmidhi]
Imam Ghazali mentions in Ihya, the ranks of the fasting:
- The fast of the ordinary person: It consists of abstaining from food and drink and sexual gratification.
- The fast of the select few: It consists of keeping the ears, eyes, tongue, hands, feet and all other organs free of sin. “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 al-Bukhari 1903
- The fast of the elite: It consists of the abstention of the heart from worldly thoughts and worries or preoccupation with anything other than God Almighty.
How do I manage my time around work, family, studies?
Dont feel bad about having kids or someone to care about. Or your work or study. Perhaps that’s where you’re forgiveness is and your ibaadah. Ramadan isnt the time for cutting off from the world’s responsibilities. A brief glance at the Seerah reveals the activties continued in Ramadan, whether the Battle of Badr on the 17th Ramadan in 2 AH and, of course, the conquest of Makkah in Ramaḍān of 8 AH. The Saḥābah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhum) marched for Makkah on the 10th Ramaḍān whilst fasting and reached on the 19th, with the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) instructing them to break their fasts on the outskirts of Makkah in preparation for battle. Khālid b. al-Walīd was despatched to destroy the idol al-Uzza, in the al-Nakhlah region, with five days left of Ramaḍān remaining in the same year. Nothing worth having, comes easy.
How can I better engage with Qur’an?
Don’t finish reading the Qu’ran without it transforming you. Dont feed your body of suhoor but starve your heart of qiyam. Dont get lost in sweets, lavish iftars and ramadan trends.
- – Intention
- – Recite, Reflect (Tilaawah is operationalising the message), Listen to the Qur’an – Qur’an pen, cube etc.
- – Memorise,
- – Really read the translation. Study it like you would your exam book, your shopping wish list, .
- – Sense the Greatness of the Words
- – Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “There is no goodness in an act of worship that is void of understanding, nor in recitation that lacks contemplation.”
- – Share it
- – Live it
- – Dua – make Qur’an spring of my heart
“Ibn Abbas (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) reported: The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was the ajwad un naas and he was even more generous in Ramaḍān when Gabriel would meet him. He would meet him every night of Ramaḍān to study the Qur’ān. Thus, the Prophet would be more generous than a swift wind.” [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1803, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2308]
The key description used in this narration is “ajwad al-nās” which is often translated as “generous”. It is important to appreciate that this generosity, of course, includes giving charity but, according to the context, it is more comprehensive and includes all acts of kindness. People should notice that our interactions with them improve in this month.
This narration contains the secret of unlocking the full potential of Ramaḍān – strengthen your connection to the Qur’ān. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was, throughout the year, the best of people in his worship and character, but in Ramaḍān he would excel further due to his company with Jibrīl (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and their mutual study of the Qur’ān. What a remarkable sight that must have been – the best of mankind and the best of angels studying the best of revelation.
The Tarāwīh prayer is the culmination of the fast when we stand in awe to admire and be transformed by the words of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā).
One of the signs of an accepted good deed are istiqaama (steadfastness) on it. Find a good act, even if its small, which you can begin this Ramadan and repeat on a daily basis for the remainder of your life. It may be a short dua, an orphan sponsorship, a dhikr in salaah, a daily conversation with Allah(SWT), reading a page more of Qur’an etc.
Ramadan is derived from the word ramada which linguistically means extreme heat/burning sensation. When the arabs would say Ramada saa’im, they were referring to when the throat would burn from thirst as a result of their fasting. Some scholars said the sins are burned through the actions of righteousness.
And what about the word Sawm? This has the meaning of holding yourself back from something. Sawm is holding back your impulses – food, drink and sexual activities – the core impulses (everything else is easy in comparison). Imam Qurtubi said “It was named Ramadan because it burns the sins of people with ritghtous deeds.
You’re probably thinking this is going to be hard but Allah(SWT) tells us that He wants ease for us, not difficulty. Challenge does not mean hardship. What do you learn in the gym? How to be comfortable with discomfort and endure. Similarly, when we explore the feeling of hunger and why you give in to impulses, you develop your endurance and consciousness of Allah(SWT) for whom you’re fasting.
In fact the purpose of Ramadan isnt to go hungry – the objective is to develop mindulness of Allah(SWT) – taqwa. A good analogy for taqwa is when you’re speeding down the motorway and you come round a bend and see a police car on the hard shoulder or a speed camera. How do you respond? You slam on the brakes for the fear of getting points or a fine. You keep to the limits of the law for fear of punishment in that case, but more importantly because its unsafe and puts our lives and wellbeings at risk. The one who has lost someone in an accident, knows how much better it is for them to have speed limits. The aim is forgiveness and achieving Allahs Pleasure.
Busying our selves with work, sleep or Netflix bingeing throughout the night till suhoor are the opposite of being mindful of Allah(SWT) which requires time and focus. Rather than searching for the shortest taraweeh prayer or using the limited masjid capacity at the masjid as an excuse, take time to read the personal message Allah(SWT) has sent you in the Qur’an.
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim said, “There is not a punishment in existence that is worse than one’s heart being turned hard and feeling distant from Allāh.”
Do we all need to experience punishment or hurt to know something is good for us? No, especially when it comes from the One who knows our programming, our psyche, our desires, our intention – Allah(SWT) – the One who created all of us. The purpose of Allahs law (the Sharia) is to make our lives better. To appreciate this, you need to understand it and live it.
Be true in your repentance: Yahya b. Muʿāth “Whoever repents verbally whilst his heart is still insistent upon sin, and his intention is to return back to it after Ramaḍān, then his fasting has been rejected and the door of acceptance has been closed in his face.” [Lataiful Maʿārif]
JAW ZINDAGEE GUZAARE GAA RAMZAN KEE TARA
MOWT AAYE GEE US KOW EID KEE CHAND KEE TARAA
THE ONE WHO TURNS RAMADAN INTO HIS ENTIRE LIFE FOR THAT PERSON ALLAH(SWT) WILL GIVE HIM EID ON THE DAY HE PASSES AWAY
Ramadan is like a car battery which charges the alternator. It is a training ground before a marathon of the coming 11 months. Ramadan is a workshop for Taqwa to be seen out of Ramadan.
Increase your generosity
Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, counted ten levels of generosity, and they are as follows:
- Being cheerful with others: Abu Tharr, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said:“Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your Muslim brother with a cheerful face”.[Muslim] This is one of the heaviest deeds on the scale.
- Utilising one’s position: This is the second best rank as in this case generosity makes a person favour fulfilling the needs of others over his personal interest and status.
- Utilising one’s prestige: This is by interceding to people and facilitating their affairs with those in charge.
- Offering one’s knowledge: This is one of the noblest ranks of generosity, and it is better than sacrificing ones wealth because knowledge is more honorable than wealth. Never will a stingy person be able to benefit from any knowledge if he possessed any, and it is from the wisdom of Allah that He only grants this knowledge to generous people who will be willing to offer it to others and benefit them with it. Generosity in this field is to teach the one who asks you what you know and to answer people’s queries.
- Being patient: This is another honorable rank that benefits the person more than sacrificing his wealth. This rank grants the person support from Allah and leads to others holding him in high esteem, as only selected people are able to endure patiently when others harm them.
- Sacrificing comfort: A generous person exhausts himself and sacrifices his comfort and sleep for others.
- Sacrificing physically: Abu Tharr, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said:“When you get up in the morning, charity is due from every one of your joints. There is charity in every ascription of glory to Allah (i.e. by uttering SubhaanAllah); there is charity in every declaration of His Greatness (i.e. by uttering Allahu Akbar); there is charity in every utterance of praise of Him (i.e. by uttering Al-Hamdulillaah); there is charity in every declaration that none is worthy of worship except Allah (i.e. by uttering Laa ilaaha IllAllah); there is charity in enjoining good; there is charity in forbidding evil. Two Rak’ah of Dhuhaa (Forenoon prayer) is equal to all this (in reward)”. [Muslim]
- Sacrificing one’s honour: This is by forgiving someone for badmouthing and backbiting you. This reflects ones purity in the heart and grants peace of mind and serenity.
- Sacrificing one’s soul: Getting killed for the sake of Allah is the most paramount rank.
- Not longing to possess what others have: This is the best type that reflects ones contentment with the decrees of Allah and imposes ones respect on others.