Fasting of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam as narrated on the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said :
"Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Fasting in Ramadan was made Fard not only on the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) but also on those who were before Islam, as Allah (SWT) said in the holy Qur'an Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 183; "O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous."
The aforementioned Ayah indicates to the purpose of fasting as well saying "That you may become Muttaqi (Righteous).
Let us understand the meaning of Taqwa. Taqwa essentially is to protect one self from the punishment of ALLAH by obeying HIS commandments and by abstaining from what HE has prohibited.
It was reported that Umar bin Khattab (R.A) asked Ubay Ibn Ka’b (R.A) about Taqwa. In reply, he queried Umar (R.A), ”O Leader of the believers, what do you do when you have to pass through a thorny road? Umar (RA) replied, “I lift my cloth up to my calves and watch my footsteps and take each step slowly from the fear of thorns lest they don’t pick me”. Ka’b said, “This is Taqwa”.
So, in the month of Ramadan, one can be a Muttaqi by the practice of refraining from Haraam things and obtaining Halaal ones.
Here are some steps cited out to keep them in practice during Ramadan.
Step 1: Seek Knowledge about Ramadan:
Since Ramadan is Fard (obligatory), everyone must comprehend its basic knowledge like; What to do is Makruh while fasting, what breaks the fast, how to pay its Kaffara (compensation) and Du'a for Iftari etc.
Step 2: Reciting The Holy Qur'an:
The holy Qur'an is a guide book not only for Muslim but all human beings, revealed on the prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) through Jibril (A.S) in the cave of Hira.
The holy Qur'an says:
"The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion." [TMQ 2:185]
"This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah." [TMQ 2:2]
There are many verses and hadith illustrate the significance of Ramadan and reciting the Qur'an.
In many Places, Rasulullah (P.B.U.H) has highlighted the great rewards for reciting Qur'an and has encouraged the Ummah to make an effort to recite the Qur'an correctly even though it may be difficult on an individual. Rasulullah (P.B.U.H) has mentioned:
“Whosoever recites one letter of the Qur'an, he will get one reward and every reward is multiplied tenfold. I do not say "الم(Alif laam Meem)" is one letter, but “Alif” is one letter, “laam” is one letter and “meem” is another letter." (Sunan Tirmidhi)
Furthermore he (P.B.U.H) said:
“An expert in the Qur'an will be in the company of the noble and pious angels, and the one who stutters and recites and it is difficult upon him (to recite correctly in spite of excessive attempts to recite correctly) will receive double reward." (Sahih Muslim)
So keeping the Ahadith mentioned above in perception, get ready yourself to recite the holy Qur'an at least one and quarter Juz' everyday during this Ramadan and after.
If you don't know Arabic, recite Arabic text with English transliteration or with the language you expert in order to know the message of the holy Qur'an to the entire humanity.
If you are a Hafiz, recite in Taraweeh with "Tarteel" or in Tahajjud (This is a real Sunnah).
"And recite the Qur’an with (Tarteel) measured recitation." [TMQ 73:4]
Step 3 – Change
Be aware if Ramadan affects anything that is happening in the month or shortly after. Do you have exams during Ramadan? Or is there a major family wedding after Ramadan within a short time? Moving house?
If so, plan for these events from now. Study now so that you are prepared for the exams before the month starts.
Be packed and ready to go before Ramadan or plan that you do it after so that it doesn’t take time away from your worship. The last thing you want to do is that spend Ramadan at the shopping centres.
Buy any Eid presents and prepare for any wedding before the month starts. Don't let fasting of Ramadan waste for temporary materialistic works and preparation.
Step 4 – Prepare spiritually
We all know that Ramadan is about Fasting, Praying, Reading Qur'an and giving in charity. Start these worships early; don’t expect to just click into it as soon as the first day of Ramadan starts.
Start doing extra prayers from now, start revising and regularly reading Qur'an now(if you are Hafiz or not), get used to being generous and follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and fast during Sha’ban.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most generous of the people and he was even more generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibril (A.S) visited him. Jibril, upon him be peace, would meet with him every night of Ramadan until the end of the month and the Prophet would recite the Qur'an to Jibril. When Jibril met him, he would be more generous than a swift wind bringing rain. (Bukhari and Muslim)
Step 5 – Prepare your mind
Fasting is to refrain from more than just what we consume in our mouth. Start working on your patience; be extra vigilant with your conversations: ensure you are not backbiting, slandering or talking about useless things, lest your worships go futile.
Step 6 – Say ‘good riddance’ to bad habits
Know what bad habits you have and stop them from now, don’t wait until Ramadan begins. If you sleep late, start sleeping early, if you are a Facebook or Whats App junky start cutting down, have a coffee craze, slow it down etc.
It might sound much easier said then done, but once you’ve committed yourself, purified your intentions – make sincere dua for guidance. In sha Allah, these bad habits will be easier done with than you ever expected.
Step 7 – Plan your life around your worship
For instance; instead of working through your prayer or setting up meeting etc., at prayer times, plan that you have a break at prayer time.
Don’t take your phone with you to the place you pray and forget the world as you stand between the hands of the almighty Allah subḥānahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He).
During fasting, a man stops from having Halal things as having food, water etc because of Allah's order and commandment.It gives us a lesson that when you refrain from permitted things during Ramadan, why not then from prohibited ones?
Adnan Murtaza Al-Nadwi
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