We learn from the Seerah that the Companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would prepare for Ramadan six months prior to the arrival of the blessed month. Upon witnessing the blessed month, they would thank Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) for allowing them to observe another Ramadan. When the month had passed, they would beg Him to accept their worship during the month.
The Companions (رضي الله عنهم) were fortunate that they had Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who was the best role model and the perfect human being to learn from and follow. While we have missed the opportunity, we have his Sunnah with us to learn from and practice.
Ramadan is a blessed month to seek forgiveness for our negligence, make a fresh start and develop praiseworthy habits, in sha Allah.
1. Praying on Time:
The Seerah tells us that the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) life revolved around the prayer. Whether he was at home, traveling or even in a battle, he never missed his prayers. Offering prayers at their appointed time is one of the deeds that are the most beloved to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
The scholars suggest that the best tip to ensuring we offer our prayers on time is that we get ready for the prayer before its time begins. It means that if the Dhuhr Azan is at 12:45 PM, then at 12:30 PM, you leave whatever you have been doing and get up to make ablution. By doing this, you will get in the prayer mode, and your nafs [soul] will not tell you to delay your prayers nor offer them in a rush. A prayer offered with concentration increases the chances of its acceptance.
2. Spending Time with the Quran:
Ramadan is the month of the Quran. We cannot prepare for Ramadan while giving no portion of our day to the Book of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). The Quran has five rights on a Muslim: believing in it, reading it, understanding it, acting on it, and spreading its message to others. How can we give its rights when we do not spend time with it? How can we live by it when we do not understand it? How can we call others to the Quran, when we are distanced from it?
If you have been away from the Quran for too long, Ramadan is a good time to reconnect. Start by reciting a few verses, then move on to a page a day, and then, in sha Allah, to a Juz (chapter) a day. However, the point is not “how much” of the Quran you finish but how much you understand and implement in your life.
3. Giving Regular Charity:
We are living in times of trials and tribulations. One recommended method of warding off calamities is giving in the way of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) generously. Look around your home, how many items are you holding onto that are beyond your needs and you have not touched them in many weeks, months or years? It happens with so many of us; we buy stuff and store it away. It is not until our annual cleaning that we realize how much we own.
Give away whatever is extra and beyond your needs to help the less fortunate prepare for Ramadan. Focus on building and furnishing your home of the hereafter. Keep in mind the One you are giving it to. It may seem that you are giving to a person or an institution but in reality, you are giving to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
Wealth is not the only form of charity. Giving your time, sharing your talents, being kind, and smiling are all different forms of charity. By widening the definition of charity, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) gives us opportunities to do more good and raise our scales.
4. Attending Gatherings of Knowledge:
A scholar recently said, “We have so many Masajid around us, but it is a sad reality that only a few of them have regular classes of knowledge.”
We cannot find love and connection in our prayers until we gain knowledge of the Deen and know what and why we are praying. Alhumdulillah, as Ramadan draws closer, we see online and offline classes being offered to help prepare for Ramadan. Attend at least one circle of knowledge every week, for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.” [Muslim]
SubhanAllah, what a glad tiding for the knowledge seekers!
5. Being in the State of Purity:
Many times, we delay or ignore acts of worship because we are not in a state of purity. While this might be a valid excuse for someone with a health condition, it does not apply to everyone. We must practice being in a state of purity so that the angels love spending time with us. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Whoever sleeps while he is in the state of purity, an angel will accompany him in his garment. He will not wake up until the angel prays, ‘O Allah, forgive your slave since he is sleeping in the state of purity.” [Classed Sahih by Sheikh Al Albani]
When we go in prostration, the angels come near our mouth to collect the words of Tasbeeh [exalting Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)]. If we have bad breath, it will push them away. Practice being in a state of ablution and use Miswak [wooden toothbrush] to clean your mouth.
6. Controlling Our Anger and Our Tongues:
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (رضي الله عنه) said, “When you fast, then let your hearing, seeing, and speaking fast as well. And abstain from lies and haram things. And refrain from harming your neighbors. Be tranquil and dignified on the day when you fast. And do not let the day you fast and the day you do not fast be the same.”
It is a blessing that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) gave us a month when we consciously try to control and give up bad habits. Do not let go of this habit after Ramadan has passed. Stay away from gossips, back-biting, character assassination and other evils of the tongue.
7. Remembering Death Often:
A scholar said, “If you are unable to pray or worship Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), then visualize yourself in your grave. How would you like it to be?” All of us would want it to be wide and filled with light, where the Quran and our good deeds are our companions. But how can they accompany us when we were not connected to them in this world?
Get into the habit of remembering your death often. It will make you more conscious of how you spend your days and nights.
Let us not miss the opportunity that we have been given and prepare for Ramadan to make it our best ever, in sha Allah.