First appeared at Arab News. It is republished with the author’s kind permission.
We are blessed to benefit from yet another holy month in our lifetime. Ramadan is here and we all are spiritually charged and excited to receive unlimited bounties. It is the time of the year when we try to please Allah and are rewarded with the limitless mercies of Allah. If you haven’t felt the thrill yet, then read on.
Listed below are the A to Z of Ramadan, the benefits, wisdoms and lessons one learns from the fasting bonanza.
As-Siyam or fasting means to “abstain from something.” In Ramadan, one should abstain from food, drink, marital relations and other actions that displease Allah, from dawn to dusk with the explicit intention of doing so for the sake of the Almighty.
The blessings and benefits of Ramadan fasting are too many to be listed. Some of these include: The blessed Holy Quran was revealed in this month, the doors of the heaven are opened, while the doors of the hell are closed and the devils are chained.
The benefits of charity to the poor and needy are tremendous. Ibn ‘Abaas said:
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most charitable among the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet said:
“He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, without nothing being reduced from the fasting person’s reward.” (Tirmidhi)
Ramadan is a great time to make du’a (supplication). A du’a list will ensure that you will not miss out on any important dua that you want to make to Allah during this holy month. The Messenger of Allah said:
“The du’a of the fasting person will not be refused.” (Reported by Bayhaqi)
With the sighting of the moon at the end of the month comes the Eid Al-Fitr. It’s like the cherry on top of the cake as it’s a celebratory time that includes buying new clothes, parties, rides for kids and exchanging gifts with family members and friends.
Ramadan is the best time to forgive and be forgiven. The Prophet said:
“Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent.” (Ibn Majah)
Allah provides many opportunities to repent to Him and seek His forgiveness.
The Prophet said:
“Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah has no need that he should leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari)
We must pay attention to the purification of our manners. Backbiting and slandering is forbidden and it is like eating the flesh of one’s dead brother. Therefore stay away from Gheebah to realize the true spirit of fasting.
Fasting overhauls the body during the holy month. It speeds up the metabolism and improves brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It encourages Muslims to take care of their health and to build strong bodies. The Prophet said:
“A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone.” (Muslim)
It means seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. The Prophet would perform I’tikaf for 10 days every Ramadan. In the year that he died, he performed it for 20 days.
It is one of the ultimate goals of all Muslims. Ramadan is essentially a shield from the hell-fire. The Prophet is reported to have said about Ramadan:
“An angel calls out: ‘O you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed. (Ahmad and Nasa’i)
Kibr is when a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. The Prophet said:
“Never can the person who possesses a speck of pride inside his heart enter Paradise.”
One should refrain from pride and self-glorification in Ramadan to please Allah. The act of fasting itself helps us to attain humility and get rid of arrogance.
The Night of Qadr is greater than 1,000 months of continuous worship; that’s over 83 years. Many will be freed from the hell-fire and granted Jannah on this night. Believers should therefore increase their ibadah, especially during its last third part when Allah descends to the lowest heavens asking for those who seek His forgiveness.
Using the miswak is Sunnah when fasting and otherwise. However, a fasting person must be careful not to swallow anything.
One should be extremely mindful of his intention of fasting and do it only for Allah. The Prophet said:
“Whoever fasts one day seeking the pleasure of Allah, if that is the last day of his life, he will enter Paradise.” (Ahmad, 5/391)
The reward of an obligatory deed in Ramadan is multiplied by 70 while a non-obligatory action commands the reward of obligatory action in this blessed month. This is a once-in-a-year opportunity to upgrade our rewards collection, thereby improving ourselves.
Allah legislated fasting for gaining Taqwa (piety). Taqwa in this case means to make a shield between oneself and Allah’s anger and hellfire. The purpose is met when at the end of the fasting day we are able to fear Allah more and as a result are able to protect ourselves from the hellfire.
Numerous Quranic verses and prophetic narrations mention the excellence of the night prayer and the merit of those who perform it regularly. Abu Huraira said:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say:
“The one who does Qiyam in Ramadan with faith and sincerity, all his/her sins will be forgiven.”
There is in Paradise a door called Rayyan. It is for the fasting Muslims. Only those who fasted the month of Ramadan will be able to enjoy the bliss of Paradise inside that area.
Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal taken before the time of Fajr. The Prophet encouraged us to take suhoor by saying:
“Have suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing (barakah).” (Bukhari)
Special prayers after Isha during Ramadan are called Taraweeh. It is strongly recommended that both men and women attend the prayer in congregation as Taraweeh is a means for forgiveness of the sins.
The one who does Umrah in Ramadan will attain a reward equal in amount to that of Haj.
Many young Muslims are clueless about what they should do in Ramadan. It is therefore important to have a vision, not only for the month of Ramadan but after that as well. Goals should be set and a routine that will help you achieve those goals should be followed. Be it feeding 10 people, volunteering for charity work or reading the Holy Quran, list it on paper and start doing it.
By purifying oneself for prayer, a person expiates all of his sins and his prayer is considered an extra reward for him, which in turn is multiplied several times for it being Ramadan. A believer must try to do ablution to remain pure as much as he can in the blessed month. If a person makes wudu’ well, all his sins between two prayers (between the salat he will perform and the subsequent one) will be forgiven. (Bukhari)
X-ray your Life
Ramadan is a good time to introspect whether or not your life is being led according to the Quran and Sunnah. It is an exercise in improving the self and setting goals for the present and the future. This month should make us reflect on the endless bounties that God has bestowed on us and thank Him profusely for the same. It is also time for Tawbah (repentance with a pledge not to repeat) for the past sins.
The number of orphans worldwide has reached an all-time high.
Muslims should follow the example set by the Prophet Muhammad himself who said holding his index and middle fingers together upright:
“I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him will be in paradise like this.”
They should come together to care for, provide for, and support orphans who cannot otherwise help themselves in the holy month of Ramadan.
The Prophet enjoined Zakat Al-Fitr so that those who observed fasting are purified of their bad deeds and thus, are able to perfect their fasting, and so that the poor and the needy are able to arrange for their basic necessities of food and clothing. It should be distributed before the Eid prayer.