Short Answer: Islam is both beautiful and sweet. Its message is enough to touch even the hardest of hearts. So prepare your heart, and don’t only focus on the rituals. We need a lifetime to learn the beautiful message and the tender and sweet blessings which we receive from this special month. By preparing well throughout the year, our next Ramadan will change our lives.
Salam Dear Mohammed,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Your question goes right to the heart of many of our good deeds in Ramadan.
Put another way, and forgetting the mention of Arabic. Your question asks how we can truly benefit from many of the traditional practices and forms of worship in Ramadan.
Ramadan is, of course, a really blessed month.
It is a month in which Allah Almighty draws us ever closer to Himself. Or at least, that is what it is supposed to be.
It is supposed to be a time when our hearts and our faith are renewed.
It should be a time, also, when we rethink the way our lives are going. When we try to re-set our goals for the year ahead.
It is an obvious fact that the only thing required of us in Ramadan is that we fast for Allah’s sake. All the other prayers are what might be called extra. If, for some people, these extra prayers are too much, then they will not be punished for not having said them.
All the extra things in Ramadan are supposed to be there to help us. They are not there to burden us. Ramadan is a blessing, not a punishment.
Islam is Beautiful and Sweet
But therein lies the problem.
If people do not really see what is being offered to them during Ramadan, they will not be able to rise to the heights to which they are being called.
Let me put it very bluntly. I spend most of my time writing and travelling all over the world.
In my writing and travels I told people that the message of Islam is both beautiful and sweet. And that its message is enough to touch even the hardest of hearts.
Many who are not Muslim have never heard this before.
They imagine that Islam is very harsh and that Muslims are both violent and uncompromising.
The truth is, brother, that even many Muslims have never heard Islam described in such a way.
It is a sad fact that many Muslims have never learned the real Islam.
They have faithfully observed its rules and regulations all their lives. And they will be rewarded for doing so. But they would never imagine that Islam is something that could bring them great joy.
Understand Islam & Ramadan
Many young Muslims, for example, tell me that they were taught to pray when they were about seven years old. It is then that they started to fulfill the obligations of prayers.
But so many of them tell me that no one really explained why they were doing this. It is just something they learned to copy from their dad. As a consequence, when many young people reach their later teens, they begin to turn away from praying and from Islam.
It is often a beautiful khutbah (sermon) that brings them back to the practice of their faith. There are still others who never hear that beautiful khutbah.
They continue to pray and to fast all of their lives. But somehow they are still missing on what Islam has to offer them here and now, which is great happiness and great fulfillment in life.
It is in this sense, then, that we can begin to understand what is happening in Ramadan.
There is no doubt at all that Allah will reward people for their good deeds if their intention is to please Him.
It is a sad fact, as you rightly point out, that because many people do not really understand what they are doing. They become bored and disheartened. They often fall away from their good intentions as the weeks of Ramadan pass by.
So what can we do?
It is quite unrealistic to expect that Muslims throughout the world will all understand Arabic fully by the time the next Ramadan comes round.
What we can all do, though, is to work hard to understand what Islam can mean for us.
Prepare Your Heart
If we prepare our hearts well, Ramadan can be much more than fasting – although, as we have said, the real purpose of Ramadan is to fast for Allah’s sake.
With hearts prepared to listen to Allah’s call, Ramadan can be for us a special time of prayer.
It can be the month when we get up in the last third of the night to pour out our hearts before the Creator of the heavens and the earth, weeping tears of sorrow for our past sins and tears of joy for the blessings we receive daily from Him.
In such a spirit, Ramadan can be for us a time when we come to love the Quran.
We can spend Ramadan in recitation and just as many hours in reading commentaries and translations in our own mother tongue. This will help us to understand what we are reciting.
In this way, the recitation of the Quran during Taraweeh Prayers can be a time when we truly understand that Allah is speaking to us.
Prepare for Next Ramadan
With hearts open to hear Him, we can also see that we are so blessed in life and that our poor efforts in giving up food and drink during daylight hours is only a fraction of the sacrifice that many in the world have to make as a matter of course.
Many will starve to death each day, with no Adhan sounding to give them food and drink.
Looked at this way, we can be even more generous in helping the poor and the needy during this blessed month.
So you see, brother, we need a lifetime to learn the beautiful message and the tender and sweet blessings which we receive from this special month. By preparing well throughout the year, our next Ramadan will change our lives.
Finally, as the festive season dawns upon us, let us reaffirm to do our duties with discipline and consistency; let us master time and respect the rules; seek and learn; control our emotions; recognize our responsibilities; not waste; realize the rights of the poor and vulnerable; let us come back to the essential.
I hope this answers your question.
Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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