بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Talk Delivered by Aneela Jameel
Written by Romana Sharjeel
Edited by Hiba Khan & Maha Amin
Most of us are well-aware of the virtues of Ramadan, as we hear about them year after year. One point that is not emphasized enough, though, is that this is the month in which many people will be freed from the Hellfire. People who had already been ‘written’ to enter the Hellfire, are freed from it this month, when they sincerely repent to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) and do acts that please Him. Hence they do not enter the Hellfire in the Hereafter. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) guides them to do the necessary good deeds before they die, so that they can earn Jannah (Paradise) instead.
If we realize the importance of this month, then only we can prepare for it. In the same manner that a wedding in the family is prepared for months in advance, preparation for this blessed month should start early, too. The companions of the Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) used to start preparing for Ramadan six months in advance. We generally start preparing only after the sighting of the Ramadan moon! What a comparison!
If we want to get the most out of this month, then we need to know how to prepare for it. We need to prioritize our Akhirah (Hereafter), and need to work on getting the dunya (worldly life) out of our minds and out of our hearts.
For this, we need to think deeply about what we want from life. Do we want a good education, or a happy marriage? Or a big house? These things are important parts of life, but they should not become our only purpose or focus. They should be the means to the end; not the end itself.
We cry when our child does not get admission in our school of choice. We get upset when our loved one does not get promoted at work. But do we ever cry because of missing a prayer? Or because our child did not wake up for Fajr? Most of us do not, because we prefer the dunya (worldly life) over our deen (Islamic way of life). We are content in accomplishing only the bare minimum in our religion, but when it comes down to our worldly affairs, we want the best of the best!
For instance, if we go to an all-you-can-eat buffet, we are not satisfied until we have eaten as much as we possibly can. But when we pray, we are satisfied after merely reading our fard (obligatory prayer). We seldom feel troubled when leaving our sunnah (additional prayer).
Before the month of Ramadan starts, we need to start winding down our worldly affairs: Our routine should consist of only the tasks that are absolutely necessary. Everything that takes us away from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) should be avoided at all costs. Our focus should be on building a stronger and closer relationship with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).
Our five daily prayers are our special link with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). They are a means by which we cut ourselves off from the world five times a day, to focus solely on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). They remind us that this world is temporary, and indeed we will return to Him. The purpose of Ramadan, as stated in Surah Al Baqarah in the Qur’an, is to develop taqwa (God-consciousness).
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: Al-Baqarah(The cow):183]
The prayer in which you remember Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) sincerely is the one which opens your heart and increases you in taqwa. Therefore, improving our prayers would be a good way to prepare for Ramadan. Understand the words you recite in the Qur’an. Increase your understanding of the surahs (chapters) you read in your prayers. Memorize some new surahs to recite in your prayers, as this will improve the quality of your prayers.
When you take away another person’s rights or dues in this world, your prayers will be affected. If you take away Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى )right – which is your full focus and attention in prayer – then how can you expect such a prayer to benefit you? Start practicing before Ramadan on how to concentrate only on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) in your prayers. Continue this in Ramadan. Practice ridding your mind of all other thoughts while praying. Leave the world behind five times a day.
Zikr (Remembrance of Allah)
Make a list before Ramadan of all the small steps you can take to increase your remembrance of Allah. This will be your taqwa. Increase your dhikr of Allah, so that by the time Ramadan comes, it is a habit. Inculcate different adhkaar (words of remembrance of Allah) in your life such as ‘La ilaha illAllah Muhammadur rasoolullah’, ‘SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi’, and ‘Astaghfirullah’.
The Messenger of Allah (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said, “I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”[Al-Bukhari].
Make a list of all the duas you want accepted by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). Do not ask for only dunya; ask for the best akhlaq (manners), ask for humility, ask for the blessing of praying tahajjud (night prayer), ask for being dependent on none other than Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).
Change your attitude in life by focusing on having only positive thoughts. Learn to be grateful for all the blessings in your life and around you. Stop complaining. Realize that even the things we do not like can often be a hidden blessing from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).
Work on implementing the things in your life which are a part of our deen, but are not yet a part of your amal.
Pray to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) to guide you and help you towards having the best Ramadan you have ever experienced!