“شَهۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِىۡٓ اُنۡزِلَ فِيۡهِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَ بَيِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡهُدٰى وَالۡفُرۡقَانِۚ…”
It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong.” (Translation from Ahmad Zaki Hammad)
It is the month of forgiveness. The month of supplication. The month of strength. Most importantly, it is the month of the Quran. Indeed, it is none other than Ramadan. As the blessed month of Ramadan quickly approaches, we must ask ourselves, what have we prepared for its arrival? Any time an important occasion or matter is coming up, we always prepare for it ahead of time. For example, think about a Ramadan azuma (gathering). Before the gathering, we must figure out who is cooking what food, how to arrange the tables, what desserts shall be made, how the kids will be distracted from making a mess and bothering the adults, etc. Under no circumstance will a lack of preparation exist. Could you imagine if the guests showed up for the gathering and were welcomed with no food on the table? Well then how would it be if Ramadan, a guest that only visits once a year for the people whom Allahﷻ deems, arrived at our doors with nothing prepared for it? In order to benefit from all of the blessings that Ramadan has to offer, we must prepare ourselves prior to its arrival.
What is the Purpose of Fasting?
“يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ”
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those who have believed before you, so that you may be ever God-fearing.”
The core purpose of Ramadan is to attain taqwa, as it is clearly stated in the verse above. Taqwa means fear of Allahﷻ. Fasting is the one deed that always makes us very conscious of Allahﷻ. A hadith that is muttafaq alaih (agreed upon by Bukhari and Muslim) and Qudsi. The Prophetﷺ is telling us what Allahﷻ said, narrated by Abu Huraira, “All of the actions of the son of Adam go back to him, except for one. That one action is fasting. For the fasting is mine and only I shall reward it.” In this month, even the farthest Muslim from his faith rediscovers Islam. Even the one who constantly commits major sins has a movement in his heart during this month. Even the individual who never visits the Masjid attends the prayers during this month. We are very conscious of everything we do and everywhere we go during Ramadan because we are fasting and do not want to lose that. This is taqwa.
Ramadan is the month of replacement. Replacement of what, you may ask. It is the month of replacing a bad habit with a good deed. If you are addicted to a particular sin, Ramadan is the absolute best month of the year in which you will be able to overcome Shaytan and be victorious. It is not just about ending a bad habit but is also about replacing it with something that is beneficial. That way you can exit Ramadan as a different and better individual.
“يٰۤاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَتۡكُمۡ مَّوۡعِظَةٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ وَشِفَآءٌ لِّمَا فِى الصُّدُوۡرِۙ”
Ramadan is also the month of the Holy Quran. As the Aya states, it is the month of Ramadan that the Holy Quran was revealed. So, if you are wondering where to begin, use this month to strengthen your connection with the Quran. In order to establish any bond between ourselves and the Quran, we must ask ourselves about our Salah. Do we pray the five daily prayers? Do we pray them on time? Do we feel anything when we pray? It is so important to remember that the Salah was given to us as a gift. It was given to us as a means of communicating with Allahﷻ five times daily. Allahﷻ does not benefit from our prayers. He does not need our prayers. Surely, it is mankind who are in need of Allahﷻ, so He blessed us with the gift of Salah. Start by understanding what is being said in the prayer. I do not mean read the translation of Surah Al-Fatiha, I mean dive deeper than the surface and grasp a firm understanding of every word we say. If you are having trouble praying all five prayers, then Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to fix this matter. Make it a habit to pray in the Masjid and then you will feel the blessings of Salah as well as Ramadan.
Allahﷻ explicitly links Quran and Ramadan together before he links Ramadan and fasting. We are guilty of not reading enough Quran throughout the year. Ramadan is the month of the Quran, it is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Scholars used to lock up all their books of Fiqh during Ramadan just to focus on the Quran. The Prophetﷺ told Aiysha, “Every year Jibreel came to me to read the Quran to me, and I read the Quran back to him.” How often do we open the Quran outside of Ramadan? The sad truth is that the Qurans sitting in our homes collect dust between each Ramadan due to the lack of people reading them. Let us make an effort to read just a few ayas or a half page a day between now and the beginning of Ramadan, then we can slowly increase how much we read. Remember, Allahﷻ says in the Quran, “Oh people, a reminder has come from your lord to you and in it there is a cure for the diseases of the heart.”
Moving on, the month of Quran is not only about abstaining from eating and drinking, but our eyes and tongues are fasting as well. Our eyes are fasting from watching anything that is disliked or haram in the eyes of Allahﷻ. As we are conscious of what goes into our mouths, we should be conscious of what goes into our eyes. Perhaps one of the most important, our tongues are fasting from engaging in poor and dirty language, lies, etc. As we are conscious of what comes into our mouths, we should be conscious of what comes out.
As I conclude this special Ramadan reminder, I just want to give one piece of advice to everyone. This Ramadan, I would like everyone to pick one small, good deed. It might be praying two raka’at of Qiyam each night on your own, or donating even just $1 each day, smiling at everyone that you meet, etc. Pick one small, good deed and keep it only between yourself and Allahﷻ. Do not let anyone know about this good deed that you do except Allahﷻ. Begin with this good deed during Ramadan and let it continue outside Ramadan. In doing so, it will secure a level of sincerity between yourself and your Lordﷻ. We would know that our intentions are pure and sincere only for Allahﷻ, and no one else. I ask Allahﷻ to allow us all to benefit the most from this blessed month, I as Allahﷻ not to let Ramadan exit without having forgiven all our sins, and I ask Allahﷻ to grant us the privilege of witnessing the following Ramadan to come, Allahumma Ameen.
By Ahmad Salah