As Ramadan approaches, we have our own inner voices, the lectures online and physically in our own masajid, and then all those social media posts about preparing for Ramadan. We speak about setting goals, decluttering our decorating our homes, and meal preparations. We shop around for Ramadan-themed books for our children, and read up reviews for the best Ramadan planners.
Of course, our most awaited guest, Ramadan is coming! And we are excited to welcome it into our homes, masajid, our hearts, and souls.
As with any guest’s arrival, there is an element of anxiety that tugs at the other end of excitement. Are we prepared enough? Will we waste away the time that this special guest is with us, and lose out on the opportunities of multiplied reward, forgiveness, and salvation? Remember: Ramadan is not a judgmental guest ( unlike that guest who you feel anxious about welcoming!). Ramadan is not going to eye your house to see if you have a mess in that corner or not. Ramadan is not going to talk behind your back and tell the others if you had decorated your house for her arrival or not.
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Ramadan is that friend who comes to heal you and benefit you and bring Allah’s blessings to you, whether you are prepared for it or not! Ramadan is that balm to your aching and broken heart.
All that Ramadan and the Lord of Ramadan wants of you is that you try to be a better version of yourself. To commit in whatever capacity you can to increase taqwa (consciousness and mindfulness) and be more intentional in your worship. If you intend to increase taqwa, Ramadan is there to hold your hand and take you towards it! As we glide into Ramadan, our mindset and what is within our souls have far more weightage than anything else.
If you are feeling anxious about the long lists of recommended deeds you have heard or read that you should impose upon yourself, then pause. Take a few deep breaths, and look within yourself first. What is it that you want to truly achieve through any action items and goals that you set for yourself? Allah created you and me for nothing but to worship Him – but what is your unique goal? What are your unique dreams and aspirations?
Let us examine the common ayaat pertaining to fasting. I suggest that you grab a paper and pen, and jot down the words that have been highlighted within them.
“O, believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful ˹of Allah˺.” [Baqarah: 183]
“Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramaḍân˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Baqarah: 185]
Even though this ayah is not directly about fasting, it is sandwiched between ayahs of fasting, so there is something to be taken away from it:
“When My servants ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond ˹with obedience˺ to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided ˹to the Right Way˺.” [Baqarah: 186]
The following ayah talks about the permissibility of intimacy and intercourse between a husband and wife in Ramadan; and through that, once again I invite you to notice the highlighted words:
“It has been made permissible for you to be intimate with your wives during the nights preceding the fast. Your spouses are a garment for you as you are for them. Allah knows that you were deceiving yourselves. So He has accepted your repentance and pardoned you. So now you may be intimate with them and seek what Allah has prescribed for you.3 ˹You may˺ eat and drink until you see the light of dawn breaking the darkness of night, then complete the fast until nightfall. Do not be intimate with your spouses while you are meditating in the mosques. These are the limits set by Allah, so do not exceed them. This is how Allah makes His revelations clear to people, so they may become mindful ˹of Him˺.” [Baqarah: 187]
Let us break down the themes that can be derived from the above particular phrases and words:
More than anything else, it is the intention that counts. Allah looks into your hearts and souls more than anything else. He wants you too, to focus first and foremost on that, especially in the month of Ramadan.
Really breathe in and feel this deep within you. Close your eyes if you need to: Alhamdulillah for Islam. Alhamdulillah for reaching (so close to) Ramadan. Alhamdulillah for the freedom to experience Ramadan. Alhamdulillah for all the resources and knowledge we are exposed to, that helps us prepare for Ramadan (even though it can seem overwhelming at times!) What else are you feeling grateful for? Take a minute or two to write those down too!
3. SEEKING GUIDANCE WITH SINCERITY:
Ramadan is the month of Quran, the Book of guidance! You know your struggles and your weaknesses. You know there are things that the Quran commands you to, but you have difficulty implementing it.
The difficulty could be arising from lack of knowledge and understanding the seriousness of the command. It could also be due to some negative association. Or simply a disease of the heart, or due to the whispers of the Shaytan. This is your jihad. Know that Allah’s promise of reward is true. Dig deeper to understand your struggle better, and validate it. Could this be the Ramadan that you finally start following this command, or staying away from this sin?
Maybe you struggle with wearing the Hijab, or you have been trying to quit smoking or abstain from porn. Maybe it is your temper, or your salah. Whatever it may be, ask yourself: What is it that I can do in regards to this struggle of mine, in Ramadan? How can I continue even after Ramadan?
4. KNOWING ALLAH WANTS ONLY EASE FOR YOU:
Allah has set limits for us, and we submit in obedience to them. But these limits are from The Merciful Lord who wants ease and good for us. Allah has made permissible for us those that He knows we cannot fulfill. And Ramadan is a training ground for that realization.
5. SEEKING REPENTANCE:
Allah is Al-Ghafoor (The Most Forgiving), Al-Ghaffar (The Ever- Forgiving), Al-’Affuw (The Supreme Pardoner who erases without leaving a trace), At-Tawwab (The One who accepts repentance relentlessly). It was narrated from ‘Aishah that she said: “”O Messenger of Allah, what do you think I should say in my supplication, if I come upon Laylatul-Qadr?” He said: “Say: ‘Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Forgiving and love forgiveness, so forgive me).'” Mindfully and constantly seeking forgiveness from Allah is one of the less overwhelming goals that one can do.
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, the jinn are restrained, and the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. A heavenly caller announces: O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short! Allah will save them from the Hellfire and that is during every night of Ramadan.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
Abu Huraira also reported: “”The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said when the month of Ramadan arrived, “The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah Almighty has obligated you to fast. In it the gates of the heavens are opened, and in it the gates of Hellfire are closed, and in it the devils are chained, and in it is a night that is better than a thousand months. Thus, whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived.”” [Musnad Ahmed]
6. HAVING HUSN ADH-DHANN OF ALLAH :
When you are overwhelmed, anxious or having feelings of inability; having Husn Adh-Dhann (positive thoughts) of Allah and leaving your affairs to Him, relieves yourself of the burden that you are responsible for your salvation. Rather, it is your expectation from Him and His promise of reward that you are banking on.
Let us look at the famous hadith related to fasting in the month of Ramadan.
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan faithfully and expecting its reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.”
(Someone who fasts is obviously one who is a Muslim and has imaan. So, over here, the word “imaanan” coupled with “ihtisaban” which means calculating, can be understood to be mean having hope and positive thinking of Allah )
7. DUA’ DUA’ DUA’ ALWAYS:
Allah is All- Hearing. He wants you to ask Him ALL THE TIME. He has asked you to do so. If you feel stuck, call out to Him. If you feel incapable of all those goals for your dream Ramadan, call upon Him. If you are struggling with negativity within you or around you, ask Him for ease and clarity. Ask him to remove the pain, malice, trauma, and heal you physically, mentally and spiritually. If you don’t know how to make dua’, ask Him for help and guidance. The Almighty, The Most Great and High, The Omnipotent, and The Controller, is The One who also is hearing you, seeing you, and is All- Knowing of you.
Now that we have broken down some essential components for a healthy Ramadan mindset, I will leave you with these three questions:
- What is the one thing you have difficulty implementing or quitting? (you might have a long list, but pick just one that you want to focus one). How will it feel to finally be able to master this?
- What is the ‘ibaadah that gives you the most fulfillment? (pick only one) How will it feel to be able to do it consistently throughout the month? What would your Ramadan look like if you did this? How would your days be if you did not take this action? What is one vital* action that you can do, to ensure you do this ‘ibaadah? [*Example: if your goal is to have more mindful salah, pick “sujood” to focus on, and you will see that eventually, your whole salah will improve inshAllah]
- What is an ‘ibaadah that if you did it, you will feel like you had the best Ramadan? (again, pick only one)
And there you go, these are the short and sweet list of goals that you want to hold on to religiously during this blessed month (and beyond) with the help of Allah . Because Ramadan is building yourself for the beyond, not a temporary makeshift mansion that will crumple afterward! And, Allah loves small but consistent actions!
O Allah! preserve us for Ramadan, safeguard Ramadan for us and accept it from us. Ameen!
– Prepping The Mind, Body, And Soul For Ramadan