We have already started the Islamic month of Rajab. Followed by Sha’ban, before we know it, Ramadan will just be around the corner. What better way to start preparing for this blessed month than to work on our worship?
Let’s do something different this year. How about we go through the 5 pillars of Islam checklist as a Ramadan Preparation? Let’s make sure we understand each one and ponder upon its wisdom.
Worship in Islam isn’t an act of God overburdening us or wanting a favor from us in return for being our Creator. It is for our own well being. A nourishment for our body and soul. We need to teach our kids the importance of this well so they can establish a spiritual connection with the Almighty.
Worship extends physical acts. It needs to touch the heart in order to bring khushoo’ (sincerity). If it stops at being physical such as mere acts of body movement in prayers or recitation that does not go beyond lip movement,etc., it defeats the purpose and thus becomes a burden.
“Beware of the khushoo’ of hypocrisy.” He was asked:
“What is the khushoo’ of hypocrisy?”
“When the body shows khushoo’ but there is no khushoo’ in the heart.”
In order to get out the best of our worship, we need to renew our intention. PUT REAL FOCUS on making it better. When you are writing your resume or an important paper, you do indeed put that effort. A shame, this one is for the Lord and we don’t bother.
The Testimony of Faith
First step to become Muslim is the Shahadah (The Testimony of Faith). Bearing witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of God.
Yes, even if you were born Muslim, you need to renew your Shahadah by delving upon its meaning. Is Allah truly above everything else in your life? Or does your ego rule over you? Are you striving to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or do you find it too arduous?
Five obligatory prayers a day offer tranquility and spiritual nourishment if sincerity is attained. Otherwise, it will be as Fudayl ibn ‘Ayaad said:
“It was disliked for a man to show more khushoo’ than he had in his heart.”
One of them saw a man showing khushoo’ in his shoulders and body, and said:
“O so and so, khushoo’ is here” – and he pointed to his chest, “not here” – and he pointed to his shoulders. (al-Madaarij, 1/521).
After quality prayer, a good Ramadan preparation is moving on to quantity i.e. nawafil. Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said:
Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin. (At Tirmidhi, and others)
In some narrations, there is an addition:
And it repels sickness from the body.
Try praying Sunnah prayers as well. That of Dhuhr, maghrib, and Isha. Preceded by the 2 rakahs of Duha prayer (anytime approximately 20 minutes after sunrise and 20 minutes before Dhuhr).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
In the morning, every single joint of yours must pay a sadaqah (charity). Every Subhan Allah is a sadaqah, every Alhamdulillah is a sadaqah, every La Ilaha Illa Allah is a sadaqah, every Allahu Akbar is a sadaqah, every commanding good is a sadaqah, and every forbidding evil is a sadaqah, and all this is accomplished through two rak’ahs one can pray in Duha [prayer].” (Muslim 720)
As fasting will be the main aspect of Ramadan, it is beneficial to start getting your body ready for fasting prior to the Holy Month. Mondays and Thursdays, as it is a Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
If that is difficult, three days of each lunar month. The reward, if you keep it as a monthly habit, is so much so as if you fasted the whole year! As one good deed is multiplied by ten so three days will be as the reward of 30 days i.e. a month and so on so forth for each month.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
Fasting three days of every month (13th, 14th and 15th) is equal to Fasting the life time. (Declared Hasan by Al-Albani)
By the time you reach Ramadan, fasting will become so much easier. The purpose of fasting is attaining piety. You know you had a successful Ramadan, if Ramadan transforms you into a better person even after it is long over.
Zakat (Almsgiving) and Tazkiyah are derived from the same Arabic root word, meaning purification. Thus, Zakat purifies your money and thus your soul. An obligation of only 2.5% of your annual Nisaab (surplus) liquid assets is given to the needy. An apt way to keep track of it is to confine it to Ramadan when good deeds are multiplied in their reward.
Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah) is a once in a lifetime obligation for any Muslim who has a financial and physical capability. However, as it is so spiritually rejuvenating, Hajj performers yearn to visit again and many do indeed embark on the journey once more or even repeatedly at times.
A series of islamic rites such as circling around the Ka’bah, walking between the mountains of Safa and Marwah seven times, commemorating Hajar, Prophet Ibrahim’s wife, during her search for water for her son Ismail, as well as, the symbolic casting of stones at the devil.
It is a celebration of unity indeed as Muslims of all colors and tongues unite in equality in an inexpensive garment. Indeed, this is an extraordinary experience.
Working on all the aforementioned aspects of worship in Islam, Hajj becomes a natural follow up to Ramadan. The last of the five pillars as well as being performed in the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Dhul Hijjah.