With the blessed month around the corner, it’s vital that we start preparing for it and get ourselves in the right frame of mind. Here are seven valuable tips that can help you to take full benefit of this spring of righteousness. It will provide guidance on avoiding common mistakes we make in this holy month and therefore fail to achieve the full blessings.
- Ramadhan is a time to be spiritually active:
Simply observing the outward rulings of fasting and practices of Ramadhan without paying attention to their meaning and purpose will turn it into a mere ritual. An outward show of piety. We can lose the spirit and the essence of fasting altogether. What is the essence of Ramadhan? The blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that Ramadhan is; a time of patience, sympathy with fellow humans, seeking the nearness of Allah Almighty, praying day and night, reciting The Majestic Quran and listening to it. Therefore, he described Ramadhan as an intercessor for us on the day of judgement and the means of atonement for our sins. One way of making fasting a ritual is to regard it as dieting – fasting is for pleasing our benevolent Lord and following in the footsteps of the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him). Fasting the sunnah way leads to losing weight anyway, so don’t make the mistake of fasting with the intention to diet, it’s an act of worship.
- Be careful with food intake:
Fasting is a great spiritual exercise that helps us on our journey to the Lord, however, giving up food sometimes makes us think more about it. This is evident at iftar time; the dinner table becomes a sumptuous banquet. Someone will have spent hours shopping, cooking and laying out the table, instead of concentrating on Salah, Quran and other acts of worship, we are missing the very purpose of fasting, to control our desires and delights. Yet Islam teaches moderation; “…eat and drink, but don’t squander; He dislikes the squanderers” [al-Araf: 31].
- Less sleep and more devotion:
In Ramadhan, our sleeping pattern changes because we get up early for suhoor (breakfast) and go to bed late because of the Tarawih prayer. So, some people end up spending more time in bed. The month of Ramadhan is too precious to be wasted like this. The Quran reminds us about the precious nature of Ramadhan by saying; “these are limited few days”. Before we know it this month of forgiveness will be over, every moment of it should be spent in the worship of Allah. Try to give up TV, Netflix, playing on the games console and listening to music. The blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “if people knew the value of Ramadhan, they would wish the whole year to be Ramadhan”.
- Suhoor, breakfast is full of blessings, don’t miss it:
Due to late night Tarawih prayer, some people don’t get up for the suhoor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Eat suhoor it has blessings’ (Bukhari). Make sure you get up for suhoor and eat something healthy that will keep you going for the whole day. I usually have a bowl of porridge and some dates and alhamdulillah it keeps me going for most of the day.
- Ramadhan is a time of dua, your heartfelt prayers:
Dua or prayer is a believer’s powerful tool against the attacks of shaitan and the ego. It is an expression of humility towards our creator and submission of dependency on the Almighty Lord. The prayer of the fasting person is accepted at the time of breaking fast. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Three prayers are not rejected: the parent’s prayer for children, the fasting person, and the traveller’ (al-Bayhaqi). This is a time to pray. We must all be careful, so we can pray rather than be busy working, cooking or doing something else.
- Practising the Shariah becomes easy in Ramadhan:
The Quran describes the purpose of fasting; “Believers, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you become mindful” [al-Baqarah: 183]. Fasting trains us to obey the teachings of Islam, it motivates and spurs us to follow the shariah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and ignorance, Allah has no need of him giving up his food and drink’ (Bukhari). So, praying, giving Zakat and doing good is part of Ramadhan, anyone who neglects these is depriving themself of the great benefits of Ramadhan.
- Ramadhan is time to share:
Here are three wonderful activities in Ramadhan that no one cannot afford to miss:
a) Iftar parties – Inviting others for breaking fast is sunnah, however, be careful not to make it lavish. Giving sumptuous banquets in this month goes against the spirit of simplicity and frugality, the core of moral teachings, it defeats the objective of spirituality.
b) I’tikaf – Spiritual retreat, when the fasting person stays in the Masjid or for women to stay in their rooms at home. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “the Messenger used to retreat during the last ten days of Ramadhan, he did this regularly and after him I do it”.
c) The night of power – It’s better than a thousand months of worship. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Seek Lailat ul-Qadr, the night of power among the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadhan’ (Bukhari). Spending this night in worship, seeking forgiveness and Divine nearness marks the climax of Ramadhan.