Originally published at http://www.theidealmuslimah.com/my-beloved-ramadan-mini-ramadan-guide/
It is summer and Mashallah many of us have guests visiting from overseas or from out of state. If it is somebody we are fond of, we wait impatiently for their arrival. We count down the days and then the hours and, if they are late we stand by the window and watch the cars go by. As soon as they arrive we run outside to greet them. This is an expression of our affection and respect and the honorable place that they hold in our hearts.
Ramadan is almost here. Allah in His infinite Mercy has made some times more sacred than others. Like bonus points on a test and, because we are weak and unable to sustain our worship on a continuous level, Allah gives us these sacred opportunities to excel. Many scholars have referred to Ramadan as an honored quest. Are you waiting for this honored guest breathlessly as you wait for someone you love: your mother, your spouse, your favorite aunt…and most importantly have you prepared for it?
How would you feel if someone whose opinion you valued came to your home and you were not prepared? Wouldn’t you be ashamed and disappointed? The light of the moon of Ramadan is about to shine into our homes and into our hearts. Are our homes ready? Are our hearts ready? Or are we to be humiliated in front of our noble guest?
Ramadan was beloved to the sahabah. They understood its true value and treasured it when it arrived. The sahabah waited for this month for six months and mourned its leaving for five. We seem to bump into Ramadan on our path of life and when we have failed to appreciate the infinite bounties of this month, we mourn regretfully that it passed away too quickly. As the smell of samosas and bakhlavas recedes from our homes and the masajid no longer tremble at the recitation of the Quran, in the emptiness we weep that we failed to appreciate Ramadan. Let us make an intention today, here and now, that we will make this Ramadan different. We will, inshallah, be inspired this Ramadan and inspire those around us. But in order to host Ramadan, as it deserves to be hosted, preparation is critical.
Some people say that is it hypocritical to pretend to be pious in Ramadan. Is it hypocritical to prepare for when guests arrive to your home? No. It is an expression of your honor and affection for them that you prepare and take out the best dishes and the best linen. It is an expression of love. Honor Ramadan by being the best Muslim that you can possibly be. Wherever you are in your level of Eeman, Ramadan is the time to aim for the sky.
The Messenger of Allah salallahu alihi wasullum 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 Khuzaymah)
The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasullum described Ramadan as ‘mubarakun’ meaning full of blessing. You must have heard people say that time no longer has any ‘barakah.’ We seem to rush around from one task to the next and seem to get nothing done. That might be true for the other 11 months of the year but it is not true of Ramadan. It is Allah’s special mercy that it is possible to do in the month of Ramadan what seems impossible to do out of it. When this noble guest arrives, you will be able to pray Tahujjud, read Fajr on time and probably in congregation. The Isha salah that is usually performed in a semi-comatose state will be prayed with gusto and with the extended qiyam of Taraweeh. We are aware that we should give charity but we rarely give as we should. In the month of Ramadan, we recall that the Prophet salallahu alihi wasullum became more charitable than the wind and we give more sadaqah as well. It is the month of kindness, generosity and ihsaan. And Allah subhanawa tala has imbued every good deed performed in this month with special barakah.
Ramadan is an honored guest that comes bearing the most precious gifts of mercy and forgivness:
The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Whoever fasts in Ramadhaan with Eemaan and seeking reward (from Allah) his past sins will be forgiven”. (al‐Bukhari and Muslim)
Has any guest ever knocked on your door bearing anything more valuable than forgiveness from Allah and the reward of Paradise? The question is, are we ready to receive the gifts? Have we made ourselves deserving of it? It is important to have a target this Ramadan. As you strive to improve the quantity and quality of your worship do not forget that the aim of Ramadan is to attain Taqwa (God consciousness).
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” – (Surah Al Baqarah 2:183)
What is taqwa? Once ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu asked a companion, “Describe for me taqwa.” The companion responded, “If you were to walk through a thorny pathway with a flowing robe, how would you walk?” Umar answered, “I would gather my garments, squeezing them tight, and walk carefully.” The companion responded, “That is taqwa.” Taqwa is to protect oneself from the displeasure of Allah by treading carefully on the straight path and avoiding the haram.
When guests arrive not only do we beautify our homes and our appearance we also cleanse our speech. Even those that are normally in the habit of cursing and foul mouthing others will out of deference to their guest speak more politely. Sadly, not just our homes but our masajid are polluted by curse words, backbiting and slander. This Ramadan enjoy the halal, pure food that your friends and family prepare for you but abstain completely from eating the flesh of your dead brother. Totally swear off of backbiting. Do not dishonor Ramadan and waste your ibadah by indulging in acts that will render your hard earned good deeds void.
The Prophet salallahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Whoever does not abandon false words and deeds Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink”. (Bukhari)
Starvation is not the aim of fasting. The aim of fasting is to develop the moral fiber of your soul. As the physical needs are contained and the soul aspires to the pleasure of the Creator great courage is needed to abstain from anything that will displease Him.
Jabir (ra) said, “When you fast let your hearing sight and tongue abstain from lying and haraam. Leave harming the neighbor. You should be calm and collected the day of your fast. Don’t make the day you fast the same as the day as you don’t”.
Abu Hurayrah radhiallahu anhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger salallahu alayhi wa sallam said that Allah said, “All the actions of the son of Adam is for him except fasting it is for me and I reward it. As‐Siyam is a shield. On the day that one of you is fasting he must not speak badly and he must not become angry. If someone abuses him or fights him let him say I am fasting, I am fasting. By the one in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad the smell from the mouth of one fasting, with Allah, is better than the smell of musk. One fasting has two joys when he opens his fast he rejoices and when he meets his lord he will rejoice with his fast.“ (al‐Bukhari)
What if the smell from the mouth of the fasting person is expelled with curse words? Is that befitting of a believer in the blessed month of Ramadan? Do you think he would receive the two joys that have been promised in this hadith?
Ramadan is the month of the Quran:
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:185)
Just as a pious visitor mends relationships, the month of Ramadan mends our relationship with the Quran. It comes as a teacher and we need to become its students. Use the blessed visit of Ramadan to renew and revitalize your relationship with the Book of Allah. Recite it, reflect on its meaning, listen to its recitation in the salaah, and let your heart beat to its rhythm. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasullum used to recite the Qur’an before angel Jibril once every Ramadan, but he recited it twice (in the same order we have today) in the last Ramadan before his death.
Some people come into your life and then leave. They never call or ask after your well being. It is as if they had never come. Ramadan is a very special guest. We forget Ramadan after it passes but Ramadan does not forget us.
Sahl radhiallahu `anhu said that the Prophet salallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “In Paradise there is a gate called al‐Rayyaan, through which those who used to fast will enter on the Day of Resurrection, and no one but they will enter it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who fasted?’ They will get up, and none will enter it but them. When they have entered, it will be locked, and no one else will enter.” (al‐Bukhaari, 1763; Muslim, 1947).
The Prophet salallahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Siyam and Qur’an will intercede for the servant on the Day of Judgment. Fasting will say my Lord I stopped him from his food and pleasures in the day. The Qur’an will say I stopped him from sleep at night. Let me intercede for him. They will be allowed to intercede.”(Ahmad)
This Ramadan surrender your soul to the Quran and have it guaranteed that it will be your companion in the darkness of your grave, and a light for you on the siraat and an intercession for you on the Day of Judgment.
But do not become like the category of people described in the Quran:
“And among them are unlettered ones who do not know the Scripture except in wishful thinking, but they are only assuming.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:78)
Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah says, ‘Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu `anhu and Qatadah rahimahullah interpreted the meaning of the ayah ‘ummiyyoon’(unlettered) as meaning, ‘they do not understand the meaning of the book. They learn it, they memorize it, and they recite it without understanding it and do not know what is being talked about. Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said the meaning of ‘illiterate’ in this verse does not mean that they cannot read or write. They read it, memorize it and teach it yet they don’t understand what the book is talking about. They are satisfied by only reciting it.’
Imagine someone is visiting your house for a few days. Would you not make a plan for their trip: places to see, where and what you would eat, who you would visit? Have you planned for the most noble guest who is just around the corner? Is your daily schedule in place? Are you planning on praying Tahujjud? Fajr and Taraweeh in the masjid? Hosting a fastathon in your community? How much will you give in charity? How much Quran will you be reciting each day? How much Tafseer each day? Is your book of duas ready? Are you taking the last few days off from work? Have you calculated your zakat? Ideally Eid shopping should be completed before Ramadan even begins.
There are some people who are not happy when others visit their homes. They complain, and are unkind to them. They receive no reward even though the reward is within their reach. This Ramadan do not mention the heat. Do not mention how long the fasts are. Do not whine about how difficult it is to wake up for suhoor. Just be grateful that you are alive to receive the blessings of Ramadan when so many others are not. If Bilal radi allahu anha could lie in the scorching heat of the Meccan sun and cry, “Ahad, Ahad” with a boulder on top of him than the least we can do is sit in our air-conditioned homes, and our air conditioned cars and not complain about how difficult the fast is.
Instead this Ramadan grow in taqwa, in sabr and in gratitude till you reach the last ten nights of Ramadan and you can do justice to them. As one scholar described it, in Ramadan we are supposed to grow in momentum like someone running towards the finish line. And just as in any race it is the last lap that is the most important. Finish strong and you can celebrate.
Once the Prophet salallahu alaihi wa sallam said to the sahabah radhiallahu anhum, “Ramadhaan has come, a blessed month, Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast, the doors of the Heavens are opened up the door of hell are closed the rebellious shayateen are tied up, in it is a night that belongs to Allah is better than a thousand months one who is deprived its goodness is truly deprived” (an‐Nasai and al‐Baihaqi)
The Prophets alallahu alaihi wa sallam would strive in Ramadan more than he would in any other month and more so in the last ten days. (Muslim)
There are people that we meet who transform our lives. Let us make our meeting with this Ramadan a life changing experience. The ayaat about Ramadan are followed by this most beautiful ayah:
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. (Surah Al Baqarah 2:186)
Ask now and keep asking because the beloved guest of Ramadan will soon be here to visit. May Allah permit us to reach the month of Ramadan in good health and Eman and grant us the strength to fast through its days and pray through its nights and attain forgiveness and Janatul Firdaus. Please remember me and my family in your prayers this Ramadan.