The following are 10 ways in which we can prepare for this beautiful month starting from NOW:
1. Voluntary Fasts
What better way of preparing ourselves to fast for 30 consecutive days in Ramadan than to fast the voluntary fasts.
Fasting Monday and Thursday:
Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasalam) would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said:“The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other.” He says: “leave them for later”. (Ahmad; Hasan)
Another is to fast the white days (13, 14 & 15th of each Islamic month):
Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said “O Abu Tharr! If you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th [these are call the al-ayaam al-beedh, the white days]”. (Ahmad, an-Nasaa’i & at-Tirmithi; Sahih)
Therefore we should fast these days in order to prepare for the fasting of Ramadan and even after Ramadan we should continue to do so for fasting will intercede for us on the day of judgement:
Rasulallah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:“Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: “O My Rabb! I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.’ And the Qur’an will say: “I prevented him from sleep during the night, so accept my intercession for him.’ He (Sallallahu `Alaihi Wasallam) said: ‘And they will (be allowed to) intercede.’” (Ahmad, at-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, Sahih)
2. Reciting Qur’an
Allah the exalted says:
“The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
Ramadan was the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed so it is the month of the Qur’an. We should devote much of this blessed month reciting the Qur’an.
Az-Zuhri used to say upon the coming of Ramadan,“It is only about reciting the Qur’an and feeding the poor.”
Abdur-Raziq said, “When Ramadan came, Sufyan Ath-Thawri would give up all acts of (voluntary) worship and devote himself to the recitation of the Qur’an.”
But for many of us the Qur’an has gathered a lot of dust since the last time we picked it up.
As Ramadan is fast approaching we must blow off the dust and start to build a close relationship with the Qur’an for it will intercede with us on the day of judgement:
“Recite the Holy Qur’an as much as we can for It will come as an intercessor for its reciter’ on the Day of Judgement” (Muslim)
The Recitor will be in the company of Angels:
‘Aa’ishah related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Indeed the one who recites the Quran beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim)
There are Ten Rewards for Every Letter Recited from the Quran in normal times but in Ramadan these rewards are multiplied:
“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allaah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Laam, Meem’ (a combination of letters frequently mentioned in the Holy Quran) is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Laam’ is a letter and ‘Meem’ is a letter.” (At-Tirmithi)
So what better time for us to get into the habit of reciting the Qur’an than to begin to do so right now. We should recite the Qur’an with its meanings and try to understand and implement it into our daily lives.
We should set ourselves realistic targets for how much we should begin to recite each day for e.g. we will recite 1 or 2 pages a day, half a juz (chapter), or 1 juz etc. We should recite however much we can manage and then build up gradually.
3. Praying Superogatory (Nafil) prayers
In Ramadan every voluntary prayer carries the reward of a Fard prayer in normal times and there is nothing more rewarding than a Fard prayer so one can imagine the immense rewards that are available in Ramadan for every voluntary prayer we pray.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:“Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” (Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1887)
In order for us to take advantage of these immense rewards we should start begin now by praying all of the daily Sunnah and Nafil prayers so by the time Ramadan comes we will already be in the habit of praying all of our Sunnah and Nafils and so we cna increase our voluntary prayers even more so during Ramadan. This would be difficult if we were not in the habit of praying Sunnah and Nafil prayers in normal times.
By increasing our voluntary worship we can gain closeness to Allah as well as the company of Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in Jannah:
Rabi’ah ibn Malik al-Aslami reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Ask (anything).” Rabi’ah said: “I ask of you to be your companion in paradise.” The Prophet (Sallallahu ALaihi Wasallam) said: “Or anything else?” Rabi’ah said: “That is it.” The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said to him: “Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers).”
4. Making Dua
Many of us do not spend as much time as we should do in Dua. Even if we do we rush our dua and our hearts and minds are not present whilst supplicating to Allah.
Many of us rush our Dua’s and our hearts are often not present whilst we are supplicating to Allah. Therefore we lose out on much of the benefits and blessings of Dua. We must give more attention to our Dua’s and try to concentrate more and be more sincere in our Dua’s imagining Allah watching us supplicate to him. We should humble ourselves making ourselves low and not worthy in front of Allah. We should try to cry if we can and have FULL hope that Allah will accept our Dua’s if not in this world then in the hereafter.
Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: “When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.”
The place of Dua is so honourable to Allah that the Prophet (Sallallahu AlaIhi Wasallim) said:
“Nothing is more honourable to Allah the Most High than Du`a.” (Sahih al-Jami` no.5268).
It is the most excellent of worship:
He also said: “The most excellent worship is Du’a.”(Sahih Al-Jami` no. 1133)
So let us get into the habit of making sincere Dua’s from deep within our hearts and let us not be heedless when supplicating to Allah. What better time than now for us to get into the habit of making more intense and sincere Dua’s. So by the time Ramadan arrives we would have already got into the habit of making the long, sincere and intense Dua’s which will readily be accepted during this blessed month especially whilst we are fasting and in the latter part of the nights during Tahajjud.
It may help to make a list of what we should ask of Allah suring dua’s which we can refer to as a reminder as this may help us to make our dua’s longer and more sincere covering everything we want to ask of Allah.
5. Sincere Repentance
Ramadan is the month where we can gain mercy and forgiveness from Allah for all of our sins past and present.
We should know that Allah is most merciful and most forgiving and loves to forgive:
Allah says: O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and you would then seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you.
When a person sins and then sincerely turns to Allah for forgiveness, one will find Allah ready to accept his repentance and to forgive him, as this verse indicates: And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself, but then seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will find Allah forgiving and merciful. (Surat an-Nisaa 4:110)
Allah loves repentance and loves those who turn to him in repentance:
Truly Allah loves those who turn [to Him] in repentance, and He loves those who keep themselves in purity. (Qur’an 2:222)
Therefore we should get into the habit now of repenting to Allah so that in Ramadan we will make the best of repenting to Allah and continue to do so throughout everyday of our lives.
How unfortunate is a person who after the end of Ramadan does not gain any forgiveness of his sins from Allah but ends up piling more sins onto his account.
6. Generosity & Charity
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) became even more generous in Ramadan than he already was.
Ramadan is a time for generosity and giving. It is a time when we think about those who have less than us as well as thank Allah for everything he has given us. Ramadan is an honourable and blessed month, and the rewards for generosity are multiplied in it.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) said,“The best charity is that given in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmithi).
Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) said, “He who feeds a fasting person will gain the same reward as he will, without decreasing from the fasting person’s rewards.” (Ahmad).
Therefore we should get into the habit of giving in charity now so by the time Ramadan arrives we would increase in our generosity, giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. We should give whatever we can afford as Allah looks at our intentions.
Surely in there hereafter we will regret that which we did not spend in the path of Allah.
7. Controlling the tongue
Ramadan is a time where we must control our desires (nafs) aswell as our tongues:
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:“Fasting is not (abstaining) from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say:‘I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban)
Therefore we must protect our tongue from vain speech and foul language. Protecting the tongue is preventing it from lying, back-biting, slander, tale-carrying, false speech and other things that have been forbidden in the Qur’an & Sunnah.
Those who control their tongues are of the best of Muslims:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked: “Which Muslim is best?” He responded, “One who the other Muslims are safe from his tongue and his hand.” (Tirmidhi, #2504)
We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that by the time Ramadan comes we will all of a sudden break a lifetime habit and control our tongues. Again this is another big deception. We must start controlling our tongues now for we cannot for changing lifetime bad habits is not an overnight process.
So how can we begin to control our tongues? This can be done by “THINKING BEFORE SAYING ANYTHING”.Not just talking without even thinking what we are going to say.
We must think before we speak and before saying anything we should think whether or not what we are going to say is going to please or displease Allah.
If we doubt that what we are about to say may anger or displease Allah then we should refrain from saying it. If we have nothing good to say then surely it is better NOT to say anything at all. Remember we WILL be accountable for everything we said in our lives so we MUST start taking responsiblity for what comes out of our mouths NOW otherwise we will regret it later when it is too late. Therefore we must get into the habit of “thinking before speaking”.
So let us begin to control our tongues now so that by the time Ramadan comes we would have adopted good habits and would have been used to controlling our tongues and refraining from saying anything which may anger or displease Allah.
REMEMBER: If we do not protect our tongues then our fasts will be in vain:
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech.”(Sahih Bukhari)
8. Improving Character & manners
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came to perfect the character of man and the best of this Ummah are those wioth the best of characters:
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alahi Wasallam) used to say:“The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (al-Bukhari)
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “There is none heavier in the scales of the Hereafter than good character (Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud).
Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) also said:“The best loved by me and the nearest to me on the seats on the Day of Resurrection are those who have the best manners and conduct amongst you, who are intimate, are on good terms with others and are humble, and the most hated by me and who will be on the furthest seats from me are those who are talkative and arrogant.” (Tirmidhi)
Again as with making any big change perfecting our character and manners cannot be done overnight but we must make a start now so that by the time Ramadan comes we would have gained momentum in making the necessery changes to our characters in order for us to be the best of this Ummah and those closest to Allah.
Surely if good character and manners are the heaviest on the scales then can you imagine how much more heavier they will be if we behave with good character and manners during Ramadan?
So let us strive to perfect our manners, character and conduct towards others and know that these good deeds will be of the heaviest on the scales and will enable us to reach the highest ranks of Jannah and the closest to Allah.
9. Moderation in eating
On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying:“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah )
Ibrahim al-Nakha’i, on of the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on them both, mentioned: “The people ruined before you were done in by three characteristics: too much talking, too much eating, and too much sleeping.”
There is no doubt that excessive eating is not only a cause of many diseases but is also a major factor in stopping us from maximising our worship to Allah.
Ash-Shafi’I said: I have not filled myself in sixteen years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clear understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.
Many of us fast during Ramadan fast during the day and after Iftaar make up for all the food we missed throughout the day by binge eating.
Surely this goes against the very purpose of Ramadan which is to be moderate in eating and to remember those who have less than us. How will we remember the unfortunate when we constantly over eating before and after our fasts?
By controlling what we eat now we will not only benefit our health in the short and long term but moderate eating will make us less heavier and enable us to maximise the amount of worship we do everyday during Ramadan and the rest of our lives.
Al-Hassan Al-Basri: “The test of Adam (AS) was food and it is your test until Qiyamah.
And, it used to be said: Whoever takes control of his stomach gets control of all good deeds.
And: Wisdom does not reside in a full stomach.
One day, Al-Hassan offered some food to his companion who said: I have eaten until I am no longer able to eat. To which Al-Hassan said:Subhaana Allah! Does a Muslim eat until he is no longer able to eat?
10. Implementing Sunnah’s into Daily life
Following the Sunnah is a command from Allah:
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran: 3:31)
Surely if we follow the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in every aspect of our lives then everything that we do will become a worship to Allah, even going to the toilet, having a bath, dressing and undressing etc
Reviving the Sunnah into our daily lives:
Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward.” (Tirmidhi)
The best habit we can ever have in our lives is to implement the Sunnah into EVERY aspect of our lives so that our whole life and everything we do during it can become a worship to Allah.
We can do this by gradually learning all of the Sunnah’s and dua’s of every aspect of our day waking up, leaving and entering the Masjid and house, dressing and undressing etc. So let us get into the habit right now of implementing every Sunnah’s into our daily lives so by the time Ramadan comes we can continue to implement Sunnah’s and gain even more rewards for them.
May Allah enable us to make the best of this Ramadan and make it a salvation for us in the Hereafter. Ameen
بدأ الإسلام غريبا وسيعود كما بدأ غريبا, فطوبا للغربا
“Islam began as something strange and it shall return to being something strange as it was. So, glad tidings for the strangers.”quran 3:104 ” Be a community that callsfor what is good,urges what is right, and forbids what is wrong: those who do this are the successful ones.