The countdown has already begun for Ramadan. Are you overwhelmed? Are you nervous about the countdown to Ramadan? Is this your first time fasting during the Holy Month? How can I get ready?
Fasting means withholding food and drink from sunrise to sunset. That means I won’t have meals during the day, and when I’m thirsty, I won’t drink either – up until it’s time to break my fast.
I’ll break my fast with dates, because that’s the sunnah – dates and plain water. Then I’ll have a meal. Hmm, should I cook? Should I buy out?
Should I go to the mosque? What about Taraweeh (night prayers)? Maybe I should go to the mosque, which means, I should get a copy of the Qur’an that’s just the right size. Maybe one that can fit into my bag. Gee, will I be tired by the end of the day? Especially when I’m working the whole day.
When will I cook? What should I cook? How about suhoor (late night meal), what type of meal should I have then? If I’m occupied the whole day, when should I read the Qur’an? Am I supposed to take advantage of the month and brush up on my Prayers as well? What about my recitations? All this, for about thirty days? Could I really do this? I think I’m overwhelmed.
The Countdown… Get Prepared
Have you felt the countdown for Ramadan? Is this your first time fasting during the Holy Month?
Ramadan, despite its spiritual goodness, can be daunting for first-timers. Doing something they have never done before and doing it for a month, maybe alone, is a feat to be reckoned with. But with this Pillar of Islam, comes ease – it just takes a little planning and preparation, and anyone, with the best of intentions can make their First Ramadan, a Ramadan to remember.
Make Du’aa’ and Intention for a Meaningful Ramadan
Du`aa’ and intention are the first steps for anything when it comes to being a Muslim. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that du`aa’ and intentions are only worthy when they are enveloped by God. Thus it is important for everyone who makes intention for a meaningful Ramadan to have the right intention to please God first.
Cultivating the Good, Breaking the Bad
After intention, there has to be action; a lot of action. And one of the benefits of Ramadan is that it sets the tone for change. Perhaps this is best to be kept simple, as little changes do add up.
Setting too many goals may be overwhelming for some, so it’s important to stay realistic with the goals you want to achieve. The best deeds are those that are consistent.
If this is your first Ramadan, think about what you would like to get out of it. Take a look at yourself and think about the new habits you want to cultivate and those that you want to break, as a new Muslim. Write them down and again, make intention to work through Ramadan in plight of these goals and objectives. If you can pull this off with a positive mindset, you will surely reap the spiritual upgrade that Ramadan has to offer.
Set a Schedule Pre-Ramadan
A practice run-up to Ramadan is a good idea. If there is still time, try fasting on Monday and Thursday as per the sunnah as a simple warm up. A whole month of a new regiment could cause a slight shock to one’s body, so a practice schedule may help.
Otherwise, try waking up a little earlier for breakfast and being a little more disciplined about food intake. Try cutting down on snacks, and taking a rest in the mid-morning. This will help with Taraweeh Prayers that come later at night. This is also a good time to start cultivating good sleeping habits and to curb staying up late unnecessarily.
Pick Up a Copy of the Qur’an
Having a copy of the Qur’an as accompaniment is a great way to spend Ramadan. A small copy of the Qur’an would be just nice to carry to classes or even to work, even if it’s the translation of the meaning of the Qur’an.
There’s nothing more meaningful than reading a few verses every day as there are blessings in every letter of the glorious Qur’an.
Get in Touch with the Muslim Community
Ramadan is a great time to cultivate ties between the Ummah, but beforehand, seek out good friends and relatives (if any) who will act as companions throughout the month. Fasting together, enjoying iftar together, attending Islamic talks together, and praying together are amongst the blessings of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a good time for self reflection.
Having good company keeps our focus on the virtues of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that we shall follow the religion of our friends, so do choose good companions to help you through the month.
Commit to Helping a Charity
As we all know, Ramadan is a good time for self reflection, and especially reflecting on what we are grateful for. It’s also a great reminder to help those in need. Get in touch with a charity beforehand and see how you can help out during the month. It could be something simple as sponsoring some iftar meals, or visiting a few times a week to help tidy up. This would actually help in keeping determined on the fast as it helps remind us of the hardship of others and the importance of extending a hand of aid.
Start Planning Meals
You have stocked up on dates, honey and raisins… and all the other good foods in the Qur’an, but now it’s time to start planning your meals. It may sound simple to start planning meals, so do it for the entire Ramadan. Meal preparation is the last thing you want to think about and so is running around the kitchen preparing food. Get a meal plan started now with your favorite, easy-to-make dishes on the menu, and even better, those that can double up as meals for suhoor.
If you aren’t able to plan for the month, consider planning out a week’s worth of meals and repeating them through the week. Also, be smart with ingredients, as this is the perfect time to eat healthily, especially when it is important to stay actively and alert throughout the daylight hours.
It sounds like you have a plan. Smile and brace Ramadan positively. Read up on Ramadan and learn of the virtues, how it helps us with ourselves, how it helps us help others, how it helps us strengthen our relation with God. Again make du`aa’ over and over again for an enlightening Ramadan and to walk away with a full fledge spiritual upgrade.
Say: “This is going to be my first Ramadan. It gives me an opportunity to learn about my faith. It gives me an opportunity to learn about myself. I will have the opportunity to help others, to break my bad habits and to cultivate new ones.
Ramadan instills discipline, good health, and new friendships. I look forward to suhoor. I look forward to iftar. I look forward to Taraweeh. And I surely look forward to having the Qur’an as my companion. This is my first Ramadan and insha’ Allah, I will make it the Ramadan to remember.
Ramadan is the season of goodness, blessings; a time in which rewards are multiplied and heart is purified of all spiritual diseases and the body of burdens and worldly desires.
Ramadan is a month of spiritual renewal and elevation that we all should work to make best use of and get ready for.
Watch the video below to know from Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem how to prepare yourself for the blessed month of Ramadan in order to make the best of it.
By Editorial Staff
Ramadan is the season of goodness, blessings; a time in which rewards are multiplied and the heart is purified from all spiritual diseases and the body is purified from the burdens and worldly desires.
Learn about the virtuous month , its goodness, and unmatched blessings from the Prophet’s Sunnah and make the best use of it and get ready for the Holly Month…
Fourth Pillar of Islam
Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “(The structure of) Islam is built on five (pillars): Testifying of ‘La ilaha illa Allah’ (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), that Muhammad is his slave and Messenger, the establishment of Salah, the payment of Zakah, the pilgrimage to the House of Allah (Ka`bah), and sawm (fasting) during the month of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
A man questioned the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said, “Do you think that if I perform the obligatory prayers, fast in Ramadan, treat as lawful that which is halal, and treat as forbidden that which is haram, and do not increase upon that (in voluntary good deeds), then I shall enter Paradise?” He (peace be upon him) replied, “Yes.” (Muslim)
Virtues of Fasting
It was narrated from Az-Zuhri from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:
“When Ramadan begins, the gates of mercy are opened and the gates of Hall are closed, and the devils are chained up.” (An-Nasa’i)
Also, narrated Abu Hurairah:
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ”When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.” (Al-Bukhari)
Abu Hurairah reported:
Verily the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The five (daily) prayers and from one Friday Prayer to the (next) Friday Prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins.” (Muslim)
Narrated Abu Bakrah:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: The two months of `Eid (festival), Ramadan and Dhul-Hijjah, are not defective. (Abu Dawud)
Reward for Fasting
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
From one Ramadan to the next are an expiation for whatever (sins) come in between, so long as one avoids major sins:
Narrated Abu Ayyub:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: If anyone fasts during Ramadan, then follows it with six days in Shawwal, it will be like a perpetual fast. (Abu Dawud, authenticated by Al-Albani)
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and the hope of reward will be forgiven his previous sins.” (Ibn Majah)
The Month of Patience
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “The month of patience ( Ramadan) and three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime.” (An-Nasa’i)
`Amr ibn Al-`Ass (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “The difference between our observance of Sawm (fasting) and that of the people of the Scriptures is Sahur (predawn meal in Ramadan).” (Muslim)
Narrated Al-Irbad ibn Sariyyah:
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) invited me to a meal shortly before dawn in Ramadan saying: Come to the blessed morning meal. (Abu Dawud)
`Umrah during Ramadan
Ibn `Abbas told us:
“The Messenger of Allah said to a woman from among the Ansar: ‘When it is Ramadan, perform `Umrah then, for `Umrah during it is equivalent to Hajj.” (An-Nasa’i)
Umm Ma`qil narrated that:
“The Prophet said: “`Umrah during Ramadan is equal to Hajj.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Charity in Ramadan
Anas narrated that:
The Prophet was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said: “Sha`ban in honor of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He (peace be upon him) said: “Charity in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Ibn `Abbas said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the most generous of people in giving charity. He was even more generous in Ramadan when Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) used to meet him. Every night of Ramadan Jibreel used to come to him and the Messenger of Allah would read the Qur’an to him. When Jibreel came to him, the Messenger of Allah was more generous in giving charity than the blowing wind.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)
Tasbeeh in Ramadan
Tasbeeh is glorifying and praising Allah.
“A tasbihah in Ramadan is better than a thousand tasbihah in other that it.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Ramadan’s Last Ten Days
`A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said:
“With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) would pray all the night, and would keep his family awake for the prayers. He tied his lower garment (i.e., avoided sleeping with his wives) and devoted himself entirely to prayer and supplication.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet’s Last Advice
Abu Umamah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
I heard Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) during the sermon of the Farewell Pilgrimage saying, “Be mindful of your duty to Allah; perform your five daily Salah, observe sawm (fasting) during the month (of Ramadan) , pay the Zakah on your properties and obey your leaders; (if you do so) you will enter the Jannah of your Lord”. (At-Tirmidhi)
Living with your non-Muslim family as a new Muslim poses many different challenges and in my experience, Ramadan is one of the biggest challenges.
The challenges of course vary from family to family, but can be particularly challenging if they aren’t open to your new-found faith or to certain aspects of it.
As in any household, there are always compromises to be made, but when the family members have different beliefs and ways of life, the balance is a very fine one that can easily be tipped one way or the other. It sometimes feels as if you are walking on a bit of a tightrope trying to please everyone, and yet keep true to Islam.
During most of the year, minor adjustments and compromises can be made, as a new Muslim tries to keep within the bounds set by God, but still maintaining the family ties. The timing of activities, such as praying can be adjusted to fit into the family routine, Islamic activities can happen outside the house and friends not invited round to avoid arguments and clashes.
But when it comes to Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, it’s not as easy to make compromises, as the timings for fasting are strictly prescribed and the prohibitions are absolute (other than due to the lawful exceptions). And God’s commands have to take priority over family wishes:
But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness… (Luqman 31: 15)
So how can you manage to do that in Ramadan? It’s impossible to give one standard answer to that question, but the following are some ideas that I have tried while living with my family or that others have tried.
Show Understanding for Their Point of View
It can be very easy in the early flushes of your new faith to be so enthusiastic about it that you forget how strange some of the rituals of Islam seem to other people. They don’t have the same belief as you and therefore find it very difficult to understand why you have to fast for a whole month and be so strict about it. They can’t understand your motivation for doing it and everything about fasting may seem to clash with their own understandings of life and how it should be lived.
If you are facing this type of challenge, one of the best ways to explain about Ramadan I have found is to research the health benefits of fasting. Although this is not our main motivation for fasting, explaining it from a scientific perspective may help your family to accept it better. Booklets like the “Ramadan Health Guide” produced by the National Health Service can be a great help with this, as it’s produced by a trusted scientific organization.
Being Gently Firm
Some of my biggest challenges with my family have been when they have tried to tell me what God does or doesn’t want from me or when they have tried to impose their interpretation on me of how I should practice my faith.
Looking back, I can see how my practice of Islam may have been confusing, as over the years, when I have learned more and grown into Islam, I have gradually adopted slightly different practices. This may have made it seem as if it is possible to pick and choose what I practice and make it seem as if I could be persuaded to change what I had planned. But in the end, as I will be the one standing in front of God accounting for my life; I will be the one who has to justify my actions based on my best understanding of my faith. So I have therefore had to gently stand firm for what I have understood to be the best thing for me to do and used the “broken record” technique; simply repeating my position and not succumbing to persuasion.
This hasn’t always been easy to do at the time and has resulted in some emotional conversations, but in the end, when it became clear that I was standing firm, it was accepted, even though that may have been done grudgingly. And maybe I gained some respect for holding onto my beliefs along the way, even though they weren’t necessarily agreed with.
Drink Plenty and Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
One of the things that non-Muslims find most difficult to understand is the fact that not only we do not eat during the daylight hours in Ramadan, but we also don’t drink anything. Contemporary medical advice encourages people to drink water regularly to keep hydrated, so when your parents see you not drinking, they naturally get worried that you are harming yourself.
So make sure that you do drink plenty during the night, and let them know that you are. Also make sure to eat a healthy balanced diet and take a short nap if you need to, to show them that you are being responsible about your fasting.
Spend Quality Time with Your Family
If your family normally eats together, it will be strange for them to know that you are in the house and not eating with them. It may be even more uncomfortable for you to sit with them but not eat. The ideal would of course be if they would be willing to change their mealtimes to eat with you, but if that doesn’t happen, there are several things you could do.
You could try to make up for missing mealtimes by finding as much quality time to spend with them at other times during the day as you can. You could help to prepare the dinner and clear away after it or better still, cook meals for them! Look out for other ways that you could show your appreciation for this being a difficult time for them.
Make It Easy for Your Parents
My father used to find Ramadan so stressful that he once suggested that I should move out for the month, so they didn’t have to deal with it. It didn’t actually come to that, but instead I try to make it easier and more natural by taking as many opportunities as I can to go out and have Iftar with friends; this makes me not eating with them on those days seem more normal. When I bring back food for them, it also lets them know that I was thinking of them while I was out. If you are able to go away for some time in Ramadan, it may also help to relieve some of the stress and maybe going to I`tikaf (retreat) might benefit you all!
Whatever you decide to do, you will need to do it with respect, as you are living in parents’ house and this can be a powerful tool for daw’ah.
May Allah help you to find the best way to please Him and also your family!
Taken from: OnIslam.net.
By Amal Stapley
The last ten days of Ramadan are here. How do you find yourself, your heart and worship so far? How’s Ramadan going for you?”
It’s the perennial question on everybody’s lips at this time of Ramadan, and how are you answering it?
Insha’Allah you’re able to say that it’s going well for you and you’re achieving your targets and gaining the benefit from this blessed month. But don’t worry if you can’t say that fully yet, as the best has been saved for last!
We’re now on the final run down to `Eid, having passed through the ten days of asking for mercy and the ten days of asking for forgiveness, and now we’re into the ten days of asking for protection from the Fire. These last ten days are the most precious days of the most precious month.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) “would strive (to do acts of worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time”. (Muslim)
So this is the time to follow his beautiful example and really start to focus on your `ibadah (worship). So how can you, as a new Muslim, do that?
Be Generous in Thoughts…
“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This is the time to be generous in both your thoughts and your deeds.
It’s very easy as a new Muslim to be critical of other people, especially about other Muslim’s practice of Islam. Sometimes we get so carried away with our own striving to please Allah that we forget that Islam for others isn’t something new and exciting. It’s something they have been living with all their lives; they may not have sought knowledge as enthusiastically as you have been doing or they may be experiencing an iman dip.
So instead of criticizing other Muslims, who find it difficult to practice Islam as well as you’d like them to, try to understand them and then try to gently encourage them. The same goes for non-Muslims. Remember back to your pre-Islamic days and how you justified your behavior? Be generous in your thoughts of others and instead of criticizing, find an excuse and also ask Allah to guide them.
“…and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allah, and because of this He sent the bringers of good news and the warners…” (Al-Bukhari)
… and Deeds
Also strive to be generous in your deeds. Look out for any opportunities to do a good turn for your family, neighbors and friends. Use your initiative and show them the best face of Islam that you can. You could even invite them to join you in iftar (breaking fast) or just take some food round to them.
This is also a great time for giving extra in charity, as its reward is increased. Many people choose this time to give their zakat al-mal (obligatory charity on wealth) away to cleanse their wealth and to get the extra benefit. If you don’t personally know someone from the eight categories who is deserving of zakah, look out for charities that support people in your local area or country, and if there is no-one locally in need, seek out those in other countries in need. Many charities have special Ramadan drives to take advantage of this generous time, so choose the most reliable trustworthy ones, as far as you can.
The last ten days of Ramadan is a great time to clear out your cupboards. I make it an annual habit to go through mine and give away all my unwanted and unused items or send them to be recycled. If you have items in the back of your cupboards that you have no use for and that others might benefit from, give them away or find a local charity or charity shop to give them to. If you have clothes that you haven’t worn for a year, especially your old pre-Islamic ones, do you really need to keep them? And don’t just give away the tatty ones; give the good stuff away too:
Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. (Aal `Imran 3:92)
I`tikaf or Qiyam
One of the best ways of really focusing on your worship is to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque; cutting out all worldly cares and just concentrating on getting closer to Allah. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the religion from good practicing Muslims and many mosques hold extra talks and classes at this time. If you’ve been able to plan for this and make arrangements to do this, do make the most of it, and do lots of du`aa’ that the rest of us will be able to do it next year with you!
If you can’t spend all the last ten days in the mosque, try to spend some time at least, even if it’s only over the weekend or maybe at night between Maghrib and Fajr. As long as you make your intention for i`tikaf (retreat in the mosque), your reward will be in accordance with the amount of time you spend there. The same applies to sisters too. If your local mosque has provision for sisters, follow in the steps of the Prophet’s wives and spend some time in i`tikaf too.
If you really can’t get to a mosque, make sure that you increase your efforts to worship at night either at home or with other new (or not-so-new) Muslims in your area. You could maybe organize Qiyam (Night Worship) gatherings, so those who live with their non-Muslim families can come and worship in a relaxed Islamic atmosphere.
Wherever you spend your time, find a quiet place where you can bury yourself in worship of your Creator, away from the internet, TV and family worries. If you have slipped in any of your targets of reading the Qur’an in your language or in Arabic, or memorizing Qur’an or new du’a`, this is the perfect time to catch up. You can get out your du’a` list and use this time to supplicate for everything you want Allah to help you or others with; especially for Him to guide your family to Islam. And you can read inspiring books and articles and make pledges about the changes you’re going to make in your life. And just take time out to contemplate on Allah’s blessings and mercy.
Last Precious Ten Days & Laylat Al-Qadr
“Look for Laylat-Al-Qadr (The Night of Power) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)
This is the most precious night of the precious days of the precious month. Whatever you do, make plans to spend the odd nights of the last ten (i.e. the night before the odd day, as Islamic days start from Maghrib) in deep worship, either in the mosque, with friends or at home. Set aside all other plans so you can get the reward of this night, which is worth that of a thousand months. Imagine one night’s worship being equivalent to worshipping consistently for 83 years and 4 months! How can you afford to miss it?
This is a great night to ask Allah to keep you on the path He has guided you to, to ask Him to strengthen your faith and your wisdom, and to ask Him to help you find the path by which you can best serve Him and His Ummah. And while you’re there, add this du`aa’ as well:
`A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Laylat-Al-Qadr was, what should I say in it?”
“Say: Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee (O Allah! You are the One who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me).”