Preparation for Ramadan
The month of Ramadhan is fast approaching and before we even realise it, it will have dawned upon us.
Generally, we have two types of acts; one that needs no preparation and another that needs preparation. For the acts that don’t need preparation, we can confidently say that greater benefit can be derived from those acts if preparation was made; and acts for which preparation is necessary a loss will be usually be endured if preparation is not made, and benefit will not be derived.
For example, for cooking we can say that preparation is not essential; but if someone makes the necessary preparations and even marinates the food in advance we can say that the taste will be better and the task easier. Similarly, for someone embarking on a journey it is essential that he makes necessary arrangements, such as clothing, hotels, money etc. If these preparations are not made then it is quite clear that a great calamity will befall the person.
Similarly, to derive maximum benefit from the month of Ramadhan it is necessary that one makes preparation for it in advance. This month needs no introduction; it is an immensely valuable and blessed month and thus wasting a single moment of its precious time would lead to a loss that one may not be able to recover. It is therefore vital that we begin to prepare for this month of Ramadhan in order to derive maximum benefit from it.
In order to achieve the entire blessings of this month it is crucial that one understands its purpose and what is to be achieved from this month. The objective of this month is to reform and guide us in such a manner that the blessings and guidance continue in the eleven months to come. But in order to achieve this objective, it is essential that we make use of every second of this month, for in reality, we are preparing to better ourselves in a span of one month and we anticipate it to last us for the remaining eleven months.
In a lengthy Hadeeth, the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم mentions that the month of Ramadhan is the month of Sabr (patience), and the reward of this Sabr is Jannah (Paradise).
و هو شهر الصبر، والصبر ثوابه الجنة
“And it (Ramadhan) is the month of Sabr (Patience). And Sabr, its reward is Jannah (Paradise)”
Our beloved Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم has mentioned that the month of Ramadhan is the month of patience. However, we have been taught to be patient regardless of the month. So what then could the meaning of this sentence be?
The meaning of this portion of the Hadeeth is that the month of Ramadhan is a month in which extreme patience is required. It is a month in which the patience of a man will be tested time and again, for the change of lifestyle always reduces a man’s level of patience and thus making him more impatient than he would be in other months.
Similarly, the month of Ramadhan is a month of worship and prayer, we have the extra night prayer of Taraweeh in the month of Ramadhan and we are encouraged to recite the blessed Qur’an at least once in this month. Additionally, we are encouraged to spend more time in worship than we normally do. This continuous pattern of worship is something that the soul and body are not used to due to normally being engrossed in the materialistic world and therefore patience is also required in carrying out these acts of worship in this month.
As a result, it is vital that each and every person concentrates on his level of patience in this holy month so that through this patience he is able to refrain from committing sins and at the same time he can concentrate and exercise patience on fulfilling those acts of worship that he would not normally do.
The Hadeeth further states the reward for exercising patience in this month is “Jannah” (Paradise) and therefore we can see how vital this act of patience is. We, our entire lives, have strived to acquire this Jannah, and here the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم is telling us that if we exercise patience in this month we will be rewarded with Jannah.
Therefore, in reality we are attempting to acquire the reward of Jannah itself in the span of one month. As the month of Ramadhan is blessed and holds a great status, one should not think this act is impossible nor should one think that he is not capable of achieving this reward.
However, in order to be successful in the month of Ramadhan we have to prepare for it and ensure that we do not miss even one vital moment of this month; it is necessary that we begin to exercise patience from today and that we develop it to such a level by the beginning of Ramadhan that we do not need to exhaust our effort in this act whilst leaving the other rewarding acts in this month.
In short, we need to realise the urgency and the shortage of time that we have and what we are trying to achieve in the period of one month.
Following are just few points that one should keep in mind and start practising from this day. However, individuals will be more aware of their weaknesses and should concentrate on those weaknesses before the dawning of Ramadhan. For example, if someone is in the habit if swearing / losing his patience etc then he should make an effort on these matters.
The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has said, “The seeking of knowledge is Fardh (obligatory) upon every Believer”
The meaning of this Hadeeth is that we are obliged to seek the knowledge that we need in order to execute the commands of our religion, and therefore it is vital that each and every person, during this period between Ramadhan, that we seek the necessary knowledge regarding the Masaa’ils of Ramadhan, i.e. the Fiqh (rulings) regarding the fast and other matters regarding this month.
Insha Allah these will be covered in the following posts.
It should be remembered that what we practice is what we will take into the month of Ramdhan. It cannot be denied that the blessed month of Ramadhan will indeed encourage a person to worship Allah Ta’ala in greater amounts than in the other months, but it should be also noted that our habits will continue with us through the month of Ramadhan. Therefore, one should pay extra attention towards their daily habits and try to minimise the habits of sinning and increase the habit of the Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah and worshipping Him.
It is during this month that we should exercise a greater level of patience and gratitude. We should increase the level of perseverance and determination in gaining His pleasure so that when the month of Ramadhan dawns upon us we are in the habit of devoting ourselves to His service.
It is during the month of Ramadhan that Allah Ta’ala chains the Shaytaan and aids us in controlling our Nafs (Self Desire). It is therefore during this time that we can concentrate on our desires and try to control them and bring them in accordance to the pleasure of Allah.
Allaamah Busairi رحمه الله says in his Qasida-e-Burdah (Poem of the Scarf) that “Your self (desires) is like a child…” The meaning of this is that a child will desire to do something but like the self desire it will give up if its desire is procrastinated and prolonged.
Therefore, from now on, we should make an intention that whenever we have a desire to commit a sinful act, we will delay that act until our desire retreats and it is thus that we can bring our self desire under control in time for the auspicious month of Ramadhan.
Direct Worship and In-direct worship
Islam, though classed as a religion, in reality, is a lifestyle for a believer. Keeping this in mind, Allah Ta’ala has made each of our daily activities something from which we can gain reward. Therefore, Allah Ta’ala has instructed us to worship Him throughout the year; eleven months which is dominated by indirect worship and one month which is dominated by direct worship.
Therefore, it is necessary that we pay extra attention towards this month as it is the only month in which we are asked to increase the level of direct worship.
It should be remembered that when we disobey Allah it is at His discretion to forgive us, but if we cause any discomfort or difficulty to one of His servants then Allah has informed us that He shall not forgive us until that person does not forgive us and He has commanded us to seek forgiveness from that person.
The month of Ramadhan is a month in which the direct worship an individual believer does increases significantly. It is therefore a time where each person will be in a greater contact with other Muslim brothers. Hence, we should take extra care in ensuring that this does not result in us being involved in sins whilst not even realising it.
It is seen that in Ramadhan people make a greater effort to go to the Masjid to offer their Salaah. Alhumdulillah, this is a great act of worship and may Allah reward us all for making the extra effort. However, how many of us take other people into consideration? We bring our cars, block other people’s vehicles and remain in the Masjid to offer our Nawaafils (optional acts). Yet, we fail to realise that we have caused another person difficulty and therefore all our prayers are washed away.
Keeping a Log
Although not necessary, it is advised that a person keep a personal log on everything he does from today till until after Ramadhan.
The method that can be used is that a book be kept, on one side all the positive points can be noted and on the other side all the negative points should be noted. If this log is started in Sha’baan and continued even after Ramadhan, then one will be able to see what deeds he has been doing and what sins have also been committed. It will also allow us to see whether during the month of Ramadhan our deeds increased and our sins decreased. Thereafter, Insha Allah, we can concentrate on our actions and achieve the purpose of Ramadhan, to change for the better.
The scholars have mentioned that the sign of acceptance of acts is to see the change in a person after the act; the sign of acceptance for one’s Salaah is to see if he offers the following Salaah; the acceptance of one’s Ramadhan, in the same way, will be determined whether the deeds of a person increase after Ramadhan and his sins decrease.
May Allah Ta’ala make out efforts for this month successful and may He grant us the rewards that He has promised His pious servants. Aameen.