Preparing For Ramadhaan-The 'Month Of Mercy'
By Sister S Bemath
As the dawn of Ramadhaan approaches, offering us glimpse of its golden rays of purity, every Muslim around the world prepares to experience the warm ambience which only this month can bring. From Suhoor to Iftaar to Taraaweeh Salaah, Ramadhaan brings together brothers, sisters, parents and children. In order to derive the utmost benefit from the sacred month of Ramadhaan, it is crucial to recognize the spiritual significance and importance of this month. Fasting during this month should be only for ALLAH TA'ALA, and that HE will give the reward for it, for the reward of ALLAH, the Bountiful and Munificent, is greater and vaster than anyone could imagine, Subhaan-ALLAH!
A Hadith so beautifully encapsulates:"The reward for every good deed of Adam will be multiplied anywhere between ten and seven hundred times. ALLAH said: 'Except for fasting, because it is for ME and I MYSELF will give recompense for it. He gives up his food and his passion for ME.' For the one who fasts, there are two times of rejoicing, one when he breaks the fast, and one when he meets his Lord. Verily the smell that comes from the mouth of one who is fasting is more pleasing to ALLAH than the scent of musk." (Hadith:Bukhari and Muslim)
Beloved Reader! This is a month which ALLAH TA'ALA has designated for the revitalization of the soul and one's spiritual ascension after a year full of sin and spiritual retrogression. However, all this will only be possible if we value this precious month and prepare for it accordingly. It is reported that Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to commence His preparation two months prior to Ramadhaan by reciting the following supplication at the beginning of Rajab, "O ALLAH! bless us in Rajab and Sha'baan and make us reach Ramadhaan" .This shows the importance of conditioning oneself mentally and spiritually for the advent of this month. Ramadhaan is a long- awaited celestial guest; accordingly, we ought to prepare the grandest reception in appreciation for all of it's beautiful blessings and barakah. It is only through such yearning and longing that the significance of Ramadhaan will develop in our hearts serving as a catalyst to increase our good deeds and to fulfil the objectives of Ramadhaan.
Therefore, we should strike a balance, during this all-too-short blessed month, between our domestic duties and the opportunity this month brings, to draw closer to ALLAH through worship and good deeds. Do not let our household chores and other work distract us from performing the obligatory Salaah at the appointed times or from reading the Qur'aan Kareemf or Nafl Salaah. Nor should we let traditional late-night family gatherings keep us from performing Qiyaam al-Layl and making Du'a. There are three main objectives to attain from this blessed month, namely absolution of one's sins, attainment of piety and enhancing one's communion with ALLAH TA'ALA. In regards to absolution of sin, Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) mentioned, "Whoever fasts and stands for worship in Ramadhaan out of faith and anticipation of reward, all of his previous sins will be forgiven." (Ibn Majah)
The main element mentioned in this Hadith is that our effort and striving in worship throughout the month should be with the zest of Imaan and zeal of reward. The recompense of this will be a thorough effacement of sins. The veil of inhibition that impedes a person from his or her Rabb will be removed and the doors to a life of spiritual bliss, ecstasy and harmony will be flung open. Subhaan-ALLAH!
ALLAH TA'ALA states,
"O you who believe, fasting has made compulsory upon you as it made compulsory upon those before you so that you may become ALLAH fearing." (Quran:2:183)
Alhamdulillah! Fasting is one of the best spiritual exercises to establish piety, patience and a perpetual consciousness of ALLAH TA'ALA and the reward for true patience is Jannah. In this beautiful month four things you should continue to perform in great number, two of which shall be to please your Rabb, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot do. Those which shall be to please your Rabb, are that you should in great quantity bear witness that there is no diety to worship except ALLAH (i.e. recite the Kalimah Tayyibah Laa Ilaaha Illallaah) and make much Istighfaar (beg ALLAH'S forgiveness with Astaghfirullaah)." And as for those without which you cannot do, you should beg of ALLAH, entrance into Paradise and ask refuge in HIM from Jahannam(Hell)." Once a person feels the bliss of being completely pardoned and relieved from the burden of sins coupled with the feelings of ALLAH'S Omnipresence, he or she would have reached a very high pedestal of divine communion. This pedestal is what referred to as the stage of Ihsaan; where a person worships ALLAH as if he or she is seeing HIM or with the full conviction and cognizance that ALLAH is watching him or her.
Beloved Reader! The Mubarak month of Ramadhaan requires special preparation because it requires complete dedication on part of the Mu'min. Below are a few easy ways to Inshaa-ALLAH (ALLAH willing) help prepare our minds and hearts for this upcoming Month of Mercy.
1. INTENTION TO PREPARE:
One of the most essential elements of preparing for the arrival of Ramadhaan is to make the intention for preparation for verily "every action judged by it's intention"(Hadith-Bukhari). The preparation begins the day you start practicing humility and patience and learn how to control your nafs (desires) and anger.
2. PERFORM REWARDING ACTIONS:
In the spirit of Ramadhaan, it is best to start preparing for the blessed month by performing actions that are rewarding and appreciated by our beautiful ALLAH. According to a Hadith, "If a person says, "SubhaanALLAH"(Glory be to ALLAH) 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away."
3. INCREASE THE WORSHIP:
To start preparing for the blessed month of Ramadhaan, it is best if you start increasing your worship. This will allow you to adjust your routine for the arrival of Ramadhaan. Increase all forms of Ibadah(worship) such Fasting,recitation of Qur'an, Zikr, Sadaqah(Charity) , Nafl (voluntary) Salaah etc
4. DETERMINE SPECIFIC DAYS FOR FASTING:
To adjust your body to fasting, it is best that you start fasting beforehand. You should define specific days for fasting. For example, if you fast every Monday and Thursday, you will be more fully prepared for Ramadhaan making the adjustment much easier.
5. READ THE MUBARAK QUR'AAN REGULARLY:
For individuals who have not prepared for reading and reciting Qur'aan during Ramadhaan, Qur'aan Kareem recitation while fasting becomes difficult. It is best if you start reading the Mubarak Qur'aan after Fajr salaah on a daily basis just to prepare for the Ramadhaan spirit.
6. ADJUST SLEEPING HABITS:
Ramadhaan teaches us to adjust the way we lead our life. Therefore, before the arrival of Ramadhaan, it is ideal if you start adjusting your sleeping habits. You should start off by going to bed early and rising early. If you are used to this routine, you will not feel sleepy and tired when Ramadhaan arrives.
7. DEFINE OBJECTIVES:
Ramadhaan is the ideal month to embark on your journey to fresh objectives. If you are a smoker and want to quit this habit, you should start off with this month. If you want to be an early riser, still Ramadhaan is the perfect month for you.
In essence, Ramadhaan is the most blessed and rewarding month. Therefore, all Muslims should try their best prepare for this auspicious month of Ramadhaan. Regular recitation of Qur'aan, voluntary charity and recitation and offering prayers will help you prepare for the Ramadhaan spirit. Inshaa-ALLAH!
O Beloved Reader! Let us embellish our Akhlaaq(character) in this beautiful and blessed month with gifts presented by the Prophet of guidance (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Let us make this Ramadhaan a means of gaining nearness to Allah Ta'ala and preparing for the eternal journey that each and every one of us must traverse.