“What are your goals in Ramadan?” she asked. My mind started fast-forwarding. Finishing the Quran, studying the tafseer of selected parts, teaching children about fasting, organising a charity iftaar . . . Then I thought, hang on a minute, what if I die tomorrow?
What Will You Achieve Before Ramadan?
Soon we’ll be visited by a beloved guest: Ramadan! Now’s the time to set habits which will make you benefit to the maximum next month. Preparation is key!
Usamah ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, said: I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’ban.’ He said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.’ [Al-Nasa’i]
Let’s discover what you can achieve before Ramadan to boost your productivity and enter Ramadan on top of things, insha’Allah!
Allah ‘azza wajal gives us a golden piece of advice in this week’s central ayah: And make provision for yourselves; the best provision is taqwa. [Quran, 2:197]
What is Taqwa?
Taqwa is one of the many words in the vocabulary of Islam whose equivalent can’t be found in English. It’s most often translated as God-consciousness or even fear of Allah, but this amazing virtue means much more!
What does this have to do with Ramadan? It’s a reminder! While your mind might be occupied with thinking about how long the days of fasting will be, how you’ll occupy your children, and which food you’ll prepare beforehand, it’s time to stop thinking and ask yourself: how is my taqwa? What is my relationship with Allah at this moment and how can I make it better?
Your Journey to Ar-Rayyaan
Ar-Rayyaan are the Gates of Paradise reserved for those who used to observe fasting. On our journey through life we need provisions; food, drink, even the air we need is part of our rizq –provisions. For our spiritual journey through this life to arrive at those gates of Jannah we need another provision and this provision is called taqwa.
Taqwa comes from the root waaw-qaaf-yaa which points out to protecting, preserving, and guarding. If you have taqwa you do your best to guard yourself against the displeasure of the Almighty! Allah Al-Hadee – The Ultimate Guide – inspired us with a protecting awareness, a kind of self-discipline and conscience, by which you can keep ourselves moving in the right direction. Looking at it like this it’s obvious why taqwa is described as the best provision; by means of taqwa you have the conscience and the consciousness necessary to keep you from wandering astray on your journey.
A Ramadan From Your Heart
This Ramadan strive to have your heart fully present. Know that all this activity— the suhoors, the iftaars, the charity, the taraweehs– boils down to one thing: your relationship with Allah (swt).
Allah, our most beloved, says with respect to animal sacrifice that neither their flesh nor their blood reaches Allah, but taqwa from you reaches Allah. [Quran, 22:37]
Without taqwa things will go wrong. When you’re motivated by something else while preserving the rituals of Ramadan instead of loving Allah (swt), your discipline will slip away. So this is a reminder to your heart: re-connect with Allah (swt) so you can benefit from your beautiful relationship with Him in His special month, insha’Allah!
Practical To-Do’s Before Ramadan
When Ramadan comes do you want to just get from suhoor to iftaar, or do you also want to fill your days with some quality ‘ebaadah? Here are some powerful habits to start developing now, in the coming weeks, apart from voluntary fasting, so that you can enter Ramadan on top of things!
1). Pray the sunnah prayers before or after salat.
When you realize the rewards you miss from not praying these sunnah prayers you would not leave them. Get into a habit of praying them and your salah will feel incomplete without performing them!
2). Spend time every day sincerely repenting to Allah.
Tawbah Nasooha. (Repenting sincerely? As a habit? How?) Ramadan is the month in which we can gain mercy and forgiveness from Allah (swt) for all of our sins past and present. We should know that Allah is most merciful and most forgiving and loves to forgive! Therefore you should get into the habit now of repenting to Allah so that in Ramadan we will make the best of repenting!
3). Make remembrance of Allah after salah and in the morning and evening.
I know people who became Muslim as a result of reading a dua’ book (The Fortress of the Muslim to be specific)! These are amazing energy boosters and stress-relievers and a world will open for you if you just sit down and read their meanings. Get into the habit of saying the supplications after prayer to enrich your salah experience. Get into the habit now of saying this amazing set of adiyaa (remembrances) from the sunnah which he used to say before sunrise and after sunset. You can find them in the known dua’ books, like The Fortress of the Muslim or look at makedua.com.
4). Pray the Night Prayer.
Have your soul start tasting the tranquillity and unparalelled beauty of conversing with Allah in the deep hours of the night. Set the habit now and give yourself a no excuse policy. Develop the habit of praying Tahajjud, so you will be all tuned in when the taraweeh night prayers start, in shaa Allah!
5). Guard the duha prayer.
Imagine you can give charity on behalf of every bone in your body. Imagine the rewards now, let alone in the blessed hours of Ramadan! The duha prayer can be two rakah prayer which you may pray anytime after sunrise until before about 30 minutes before Dhuhr.
6). Supplicate before you go to sleep.
Checking Facebook? One last email? Watching YouTube? Imagine how blessed your sleep is and how easy you can wake up for fajr when you say the supplications the Prophet used to say before he went to sleep! You can find them in the same dua’ book. They are amazing.
7). Forgive others.
Look into your heart and try to forgive those who wronged you so that your heart is totally open for worship in Ramadan and seeking the forgivness of your own sins from Allah.
8). Recite Quran with understanding.
If you didn’t already, I want to motivate you to finish the course 50% of Words before Ramadan. Imagine understanding 50% of what is being recited by the imam in the Taraweeh prayers. The course is 9 hours, so you can easily study half an hour each day. Plus set the habit of reciting the Quran one hour a day now. So it doesn’t matter how much you read in this hour, some may read 1 juz, others just one page, what matters is that you understand what you are reading so you can build your relationship with the Quran and excel in Ramadan insha’Allah!
Praying you will benefit,
Khawlah bint Yahya ~ United Kingdom