بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous”
[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 183]
Ramadan is approaching fast and to be quite honest, it is the first time I am anticipating it with a feeling of being connected to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) and His Kalam. I passed all the previous months of Ramadan in a state of begrudging obligation or at most mild enthusiasm at the thought of delicious iftari meals (especially fruit chaat!) but now, after resolving to dedicate my next couple of years to studying the Qur’an, Alhamdolillah it is as if I’m seeing Ramadan in a whole new light – a whole new chance for redemption. Just like the surge and ebb of waves on the shore, Ramadan erodes away our past sins and leaves behind a plethora of blessings and virtues. And personally, I can’t wait to take full benefit of this opportunity to cleanse my soul and train myself against the tenacity of my nafs, In Sha’Allah!
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُواْ الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ اللّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”
[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 185]
We prepare so much for any event we wish to celebrate whether it be weddings, graduations, birth of a child, Day of Independence, the list goes on – logic indicates we should at least do as much for one of the most important months in the Islamic calender. As it happens, I won’t be in my home country Pakistan for the first two weeks of Ramadan as I’m traveling to the UK with my family. I was a little anxious at first because I did not want to miss out on the Daurah-e-Qur’an being held daily at different venues. Additionally, there was the irrational fear that being away from a Muslim community meant being away from Qur’an – but soon enough I realized that my connection with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) does not depend on my surroundings, rather on my will and foresight. So I’ve gathered a list of ways we can prepare for this sacred month.
- After Isha, start praying extra nafl namaz from now in order to build up stamina for upcoming taraweeh prayers.
- In the same way, start working on strengthening your connection with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) by reading a bit more of the Qur’an every day, working on your tajweed, or even learning new duas. I’ve downloaded a lot of inspiring talks and tafsir lectures onto my phone which I can listen to while traveling.
- Make a list of things you want to ask Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) for and keep adding to it. Include everything – from your smallest wishes to your most far-fetched aspirations. The list should include everyone and not just yourselves and your loved ones, but also the helpless living in impoverished conditions and even Non-Muslims.
- Give, give, and give again! Recently a friend of mine suggested the use of a “sadaqah box” for the instances when our nafs gets the better of us. Each time your anger slips out of control or you have a foul thought about someone, put some money in the box and give it to the needy. And for all the poor college kids out there who get by on instant noodles for seheri, remember, even smiling at someone is a sadaqah!
- Make it a point to include your family members or friends as you trek on this extremely gratifying journey to increase your taqwa.
- Be organized. Write down your goals for this month and your consequent progress. A great reference is the Productive Ramadan Taskinator by ProductiveMuslim.com.
- Last but not least, try to stay away from negativity and don’t stress yourself by getting too emotionally involved in external circumstances. A rule to practice this Ramadan; forgive and forget, and remember that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is swift with His reckoning and He will definitely reward you for your sabr and niyat – instead spend time reflecting on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)’s numerous blessings and signs. Make sure to jot down your fleeting musings; after all, the tranquility and iman these moments of soothing contemplation evoke is definitely worth treasuring for posterity’s sake.