08 Feb The Essence of Ramadan – Preparing for the blessed month
Alhamdulillah, soon we will be reaching Ramadan, Insha Allah. The time of the year when we turn to our Lord and Creator, Allah swt.
But before the blessed month of Ramadan arrives, there are a few things which should be pondered over.
What should we aim to attain this Ramadan? And how can we prepare for it from now?
Firstly, let us ponder over the purpose of Ramadan. Allah says in the Qur’an :
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).” Surah Baqarah verse 183
We are told to fast in the blessed month of Ramadan so that we may attain God-consciousness. This is the purpose of fasting. In linguistic terms, the word ‘siyaam’ in arabic means ‘to abstain’. So in this month, we abstain from many permissible things in which we would have been otherwise indulged, were it not for the command of Allah. Abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations, for certain parts of the day, teaches us the aspect of patience and tolerance. The interesting point to ponder over here is the fact that we are told by Allah to obey Him, and obey His beloved Messenger Muhammed (Pbuh) in the Quran:
يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَطِيۡـعُوا اللّٰهَ وَاَطِيۡـعُوا الرَّسُوۡلَ
“Oh you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger.” Surah al-Nisa verse 59
During fasting, we are commanded by Allah to leave the halal things. Food, drink and inter marital relations. When not fasting, we usually find ourselves indulging in these pleasures and blessings. Yet, due to the love we have for Allah in our hearts, we follow His command to abstain from these delights for a certain portion of the day. This proves to us, that we as humans, are very much capable of following the commands of Allah. When He orders us to leave the halal things during Ramadan, we do so, without hesitation, so that we may follow His command with full obedience. And yet, when it comes to following His orders, the orders of Rasoolullaah (Pbuh) in matters where we are asked to abstain from sins and haram, we fall short. We fall into sins without giving it a second thought. And so we learn that Ramadan is a month for us to train our hearts, minds and souls.
Ramadan is a month for us to train our hearts, minds and souls.
Ramadan is the very time to develop a love for and connection with Allah, our Lord. Without Whom, we are nothing. He has allowed us to be honoured, despite our disobedience towards Him. So let us turn to Him fully, every day, not just for 29 days or 30 days. Allow the blessings of this month to enter the soul in a manner which leaves the soul in a state where it yearns for its Maker.
In essence, this is God consciousness. The thought of Allah never leaves our mind and so we are protected from committing much wrong. If we attain this level of god consciousness, we will, Insha Allah, attain the purpose of Ramadan.
There will come times when the whispers of the devil or our own nafs (evil selves) will get the better of us and we will fall into wrong.
It is narrated in a hadith:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of sinners are those who repent often.”
At·Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah
Regarding this we are guided by Allah and the Beloved Prophet Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم. We turn back to Him. After having committed the wrong, we must turn to Allah wholly and entirely. We must have regret and remorse over our actions. And most importantly, we must make the intention not to fall into the same wrong again. When we turn sincerely and wholly to Allah in repentance, why will He not forgive, when He is Al-Ghaffar, The Most Forgiving.
Let it not be the case that we leave this month without having benefited from its blessings. Let us allow ourselves to inculcate the love of Allah and Rasoolullaah صلى الله عليه وسلم in a manner where we are greater protected from disobedience of Him outside of this month also.
“Poor is the one who leaves Ramadan the way He was before”.
It shouldn’t be the case that the increased good actions in Ramadan, the high level of self control, the abstaining from evil, should leave us as soon as Ramadan ends. If this is the case, we will truly be losers.
The effect of Ramadan should be visible upon us in the same manner the morning dew rests upon the flower petal. It allows the flower to twinkle and after absorbing it, the flower is revitalised. Such is Ramadan. It’s blessed effects will allow us to shine, and if we absorb the goodness of this month into our souls, our souls will also be revitalised.
So how do we connect with Allah in a meaningful way? The answer is that we worship with intention. The worship we do out of habit throughout the year becomes a worship we do with intention.
Food for thought
It is often the case that in the run up to Ramadan, alot of time is spent by our sisters preparing snack food for the freezer. Samosas, spring rolls and other such delicacies are foods which are a must iftar menu item for some families. However, it is important to remember that good health is also a blessing from Allah. Reading up on the sunnah method of eating and the sunnah foods would be advisable to prepare for the needs of the body during this month. Eating a large amount of food as soon as the call for Maghrib prayer is announced is not advisable. Rather, the best way to open one’s fast is by eating a few dates and drinking some water. This way we can pray in peace, without the belching and pain of overeating. Thereafter, we may enjoy a nutritious meal.
Preparing the food can also be a means of reward during this month for there is great reward in feeding the fasting person. So if we prepare the food with this intention, we’ve bagged some rewards. Perform some dhikr whilst cooking so that it too may be a means of reward, and help us achieve the purpose of Ramadan; God-consciousness.
How do we prepare spiritually?
Before the arrival of the blessed month, we will have inculcated a good habit of supplicating and doing extra remembrance of Allah. So when Ramadan does arrive, we are already in good practice.
Ramadan the month of the Qur’an
Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an and we should aim to complete the recital of at least one Qur’an. Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahullah would finish the Quran 61 times in this holy month. One in the morning of each day, one in the evening, and one in the taraweeh, Subhan Allah! We can take out a portion of the day where we regularly sit with the Qur’an, for this does not take from the day, rather, it blesses it. The Qur’an should not be neglected, no day should go past in which we have not read at least a small portion from it.
One beautiful way to attain God consciousness is by doing self-reflection. This is something which, if we build the habit of doing it now, it will be of great benefit during Ramadan. We can spend a few minutes of the day – perhaps after asr, or after fajr, or before going to sleep – to focus our attention on our Creator, and think about our day.
How did I spend my day? What did I do? Did I fall short in any area of obedience? Did I do anything by which my Lord would be unhappy? Did I do anything which may bring happiness to My Lord?
Whichever manner we choose to do it, some aspects of self-reflection should be there. This will improve our connection with Allah. By putting ourselves to account by our own selves, we can see where we are lacking and where we can improve. And this will, insha Allah, allow us to inculcate the characteristic of taqwa in within our souls.
The purpose of this month is to attain God-consciousness. Our every action can be a means of much goodness and reward if done in the best way with the right intentions.
Let us allow this month to nourish our souls and get closer to our Creator in the dunya, so that in shaAllah, in the HereAfter, we will also be from amongst those who are closest to Him. Ameen
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The Prophet (Pbuh) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small.