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Rehab Yourself Before Ramadan

The Prophetic Way

Rehab Yourself Before Ramadan
Fasting is meant to act as a spiritual “detox” as well as a physical “detox” program that rejuvenates faith by “burning” off the sins committed during the rest of the year.

Modern day rehabilitation centers, spas, and wellness retreats use multi-faceted programs incorporating strictly regulated diet, sleeping, fitness, and meditation routines to facilitate the recuperation, recovery and cure of participants.

The latter might be affected with a mental condition, substance abuse problems, addiction, or any other physical ailment.

The result of this stint in “rehab” is that the entrant becomes “cleaned up” and “detoxified”, emerging a few weeks or months later with a healthier mind, body and spirit.

Thankfully, God has, in His boundless mercy, already obligated a much better but similarly regimented program once a year for every Muslim. This program is known as “Ramadan”.

The Arabic root of the word “Ramadan” lies in the letters ra-meem-duad, which means, “vehemently heated by the midday heat of the sun” (Lane).

In fact, the fasting of the month of Ramadan is closely associated to the faith that resides in the heart of a Muslim, and is meant to act as a spiritual as well as physical “detox” program that rejuvenates this faith by “burning” off the sins that he or she commits during the rest of the year.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that Prophet Muhammad said:

“Whoever fasts in Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” (An-Nasa’i)

Besides this burning off of sins, the “heat” of the yearly, 30-day long Ramadan fasting routine is also meant to increase a Muslim’s taqwa, or the level of their consciousness of God:

{O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may adopt taqwa.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 183)

Taqwa is embodied or personified by how much a Muslim remembers God, thinks about Him, yearns to please Him, avoids doing anything that displeases Him, and regrets and quickly asks forgiveness for, inadvertently or intentionally doing something wrong that involves His disobedience.

This higher level of taqwa is achieved as a result of the many acts of worship and voluntary good deeds that are ordained during Ramadan, which I have tried to summarily highlight below, in the light of the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Generosity Towards Others, and Review of the Quran

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

“The Prophet was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Archangel Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Quran with him. Allah’s Messenger then used to be more generous than the fast wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

A fast wind distributes provision by acting as the harbinger of beneficial rains, and also by bringing about the pollination and fertilization of plants. The result of a fast wind is usually the distribution of sweet water that brings about the growth of abundant edible provision from fertile land.

This is exactly how the Prophet used to be towards other people during Ramadan – as generous and prosperity-bringing as the wind. He also reviewed the whole Quran that had been revealed to him till then, on a daily basis with Archangel Gabriel during Ramadan.

As the members of his ummah, we should emulate his behavior during Ramadan ourselves: we should review the entire Quran at least once, in an un-rushed, deliberating, pondering manner, either on our own, or at a daily Quran circle (halaqah), and we should become extra charitable during this month.

This can be done by discharging our yearly zakah to the needy among our extended family and local as well as global community, and by donating clothes and other belongings. We should also try to give fresh food for others to break their fast with for iftar during Ramadan.

We should endeavor to ask ourselves: “Am I reviewing the Quran at least once during this whole month? Am I a means for distributing welfare and provision to others around me, akin to a fast wind?”

Praying at Night

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:

“Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (An-Nasa’i)

The Prophet used to pray the late night prayer every night as personal routine throughout the year, but he has especially and highly recommended it for Muslims during Ramadan.

All praise to Allah, all the masajid around the world facilitate Muslims to pray this late night prayer in the form of congregational taraweeh during Ramadan. We should strive to not miss even one taraweeh prayer, and if we do, we should try to make up the loss by praying extra units of prayer at home, especially late at night in the 2 hours or so before Fajr, just before partaking in suhoor, the daily pre-dawn Ramadan meal.

The point is that, every minute of Ramadan is precious, and with the long summer days in which Ramadan is happening upon us this year, we should avail the extremely short nights by praying extra units of supererogatory prayers in them, and asking God for forgiveness for ourselves and guidance for the rest of the year.

Our aim should be to not let even one night of Ramadan pass without us standing in voluntary prayer in it.

Abstaining From Forged Speech

Fasting during the days of Ramadan entails more than just abstaining from food, drink and marital relations. It also involves abstaining from lying, lewd jokes, hurtful words, gossiping, arguing, backbiting, swearing, and speaking any statement which classifies, in Arabic, as “zoor”, according to the Quran and hadith:

The Quran enjoins: {…and shun the word that is false (qaul al-zoor).} (Al-Hajj 22: 30)

The same Arabic words “Qaul Al-Zoor” that are mentioned in the above verse of the Quran, are used by the Prophet to indicate the kind of speech that nullifies Ramadan fasting, and is thus completely prohibited, in the hadith below:

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

“The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech (qaul al-zoor) and evil actions (amala bihi), Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari)

The meaning of the Arabic word “zoor” is “deviation, crookedness, or a lie” (Lane).

The hadith above indicates that we should not just abstain from spoken lies during the Ramadan fasts, but also acting upon these lies in any manner, through our actions. Basically, any kind of dishonesty, in word or deed, is completely disallowed while fasting.

Examples of dishonest actions could be: Students asking others to sign in for them before class, to make it appear as if they came on time; employees availing company benefits by lying on official paperwork; a mother bribing her child to do a chore by promising him or her a treat that she doesn’t intend to give; telling someone that your cell phone battery was dead when they called, as an excuse to avoid talking to them, when the truth is that you had deliberately turned it off.

This prohibition is a very serious one, which we should all be extra careful about, as indulging in it nullifies the fast of Ramadan and renders it no more than a stretch of physical hunger and thirst, and not the sacred act of worship that garners the pleasure of God.

I’tikaf – Temporary Social Isolation

Narrated Aisha (the wife of the Prophet):

“The Prophet used to practice i`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice i`tikaf after him.” (Al-Bukhari)

When the last third of Ramadan commenced, Prophet Muhammad became extra stringent in nightly prayer and daytime worship, secluding himself from not just his companions, but also his own family. The only conversations and social interactions he had during this time period were minimal, only the ones based on need.

It was narrated that Aisha said:

“The Prophet used to strive hard (in worship) in the last ten nights of Ramadan as he never did at any other time.” (Ibn Majah)

The root of the Arabic word “i`tikaf” lies in the letters ain-kaf-fa’, and it means, “to continue intent upon something, constantly or perseveringly” (Lane).

The meaning ties in perfectly with the actions of the Prophet in the last ten days and nights of Ramadan. As the month began its last leg before departing, he seemed to cling to it harder than before, and with even more zeal, maximizing the time he spent in complete devotion to God before it went away for eleven lunar months.

Narrated Aisha:

“With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for prayers.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet remained awake at night engrossed in voluntary prayer, and spent the days fasting in social seclusion. During the last Ramadan of his life, before he passed away, he spent the last twenty days of this month in i`tikaf (instead of ten), and reviewed the entire Quran twice with angel Gabriel.

Ali narrated:

“The Prophet would awaken his family during the last ten (nights) of Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The above hadiths clearly indicate that even the Prophet’s wives and children would join him in observing a more stringent routine of worship during the last ten days of Ramadan, backed by his prodding and encouragement. As his ummah, we should also do the same.

We should focus on reviewing our Quran in such a manner that our study and recitation of it lasts throughout Ramadan, and does not end well before the last few days, which are supposed to be the zenith of our worship, not the rock-bottom.

Instead of trying to “finish” our Quran review before the last week in order to “prepare” for Eid, we should continue reciting Quran and standing in prayer right until the Shawwal moon is sighted.

As Shawwal approaches, we should try not to get distracted by Eid preparations and last minute shopping, which is sadly the case with most Muslims around the globe, whose vigor to travel to join their families living in other countries for Eid celebrations, makes them waste the precious days and nights of the last week of Ramadan shopping for gifts, cooking food, spring-cleaning the house, packing suitcases, and to achieve all this, spending a lot of time in malls and markets at night.

The world and its colorful distractions, as well as our self-imposed social obligations, should be the last thing on our minds as Ramadan draws to a close.

As the Prophet’s sunnah demonstrates practically, we should cling even harder to the blessings of Ramadan as it begins to slip away.

Conclusion

In order to welcome Ramadan, let us transform our state of mind and spirit to one that is eagerly waiting for and craving its many benefits and rewards. Let us take out our wallets/cheque-books/debit cards and loosen our ‘purse strings’ in anticipation of giving heartily to those who are needy. Let us humble our hearts in advance, and beg Allah to open up our chests in order to let the light and guidance of the Quran enter them in the coming month.

And let us train our bodies in preparation of taking on long, hot hours of hunger and thirst – all in order to submit ourselves – heart, body and soul – to our benevolent Creator, who sends us this beautiful month every year as an open “invitation” to go running back to Him in humility and repentance.


About Sadaf Farooqi

Sadaf Farooqi is an author, blogger and freelance writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. To date, Sadaf has authored over 300 original articles, most of which can be accessed on her blog, "Sadaf's Space" (sadaffarooqi.wordpress.com). She has recently started self-publishing her past articles as non-fiction Islamic books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle (www.amazon.com/author/sadaffarooqi)

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