It’s that time of year when If you’re Muslim, you are getting excited about the approaching month of Ramadan. If you’re anything like me you want to get the most out of it, adopt good habits and raise your taqwa from the previous year.
Ramadan is building God-consciousness ( Taqwa), all year long we pursue our desires and are often heedless of Allah. However, Allah still blesses us with another Ramadan to get close to him. Another opportunity to acknowledge that He is watching us all the time. We are all starting at a different level of iman and taqwa. Strive to be forgiven and admitted to Jannah (paradise) is the aim, inshaAllah.
Ramadan Mubarak! I’ve been to a few talks over the last couple of weeks. Once again I’ve been inspired to reassess where I am and work harder to get the most out of Ramadan 2017. Here is a summary some thoughts about Ramadan. Firstly it’s a reminder for me and then for you. Allah has opened the gates of Jannah and closed the gates of jhannam, I’m trying to head in the right direction!
Things to consider to be winners by the end of Ramadan
High status of Ramadan
The month of Ramadan is the only month that is specifically named in the Quran, showing its high status.
Allah says in the Quran …..
I’m humbled that Allah chooses the people that will carry out good deeds and this is truly a blessing. If we have been given tawfeeq (inspiration and the opportunity) in this month to instill good habits, we should put in the maximum effort we can, as the Sahabah did.
What it Means to Me
Ramadan for me is a sense of Not acting, not in the sense of inactivity but rather not acting on your desires. If you want to find out what makes you tick then when the shaytan are tied up and you are left with only your nafs (desires) that’s when your real self shines through. No blame shifting! This is not necessarily a bad thing as it exposes the areas in your life that don’t align with your beliefs and aspirations for this duniya and the hereafter. Ramadan exposes our weaknesses. It’s fair to say if they stay hidden and we are unaware we would not be able to take the actions to correct them. I would rather be aware and do something about them! We can truly unpack our souls and find out what makes it tick, and align it with what we want.
Meaning of Ramadan
The meaning of the word Ramadan denotes a sense of burning or heat in Arabic. It has been described by some scholars to refer to the intense scorching effect on bad deeds that burns them away. Furthermore, we go through a process of purification of the heart as we gain Taqwa.
Removing the hustle-bustle of modern life for a short period allows for insight and reflection. In order to soak something in you need to be still, as it opens up introspection and we are more able to answer the question of where is my life going?
Ramadan is a cleansing and purification of our sins and once we gain this spiritual insight it opens up a flood of opportunities to make positive changes. Removing distractions is the best way to do this. As we spend more time in the company of Allah SWT through dua, prayer, recitation and reflection on the Quran we develop more love for Him. Afer all the more time we spend in the company of the one that we love the more understanding we have of them.
Depending on how we act in this month or the coming year, it will impact on whether we are welcomed through the gates of paradise or turned away.
How to gain Taqwa.
Reflection and practice in Shaban
Have you ever felt that just towards the end of Ramadan you are filled with intense remorse, tears, and heartfelt dua? Do you wonder why some years you take so long to get that connection with Allah and before you know it, the month is saying Goodbye? I’ve certainly felt that way, however, there are some ways to combat that.
Firstly take time before Ramadan to reflect about exactly what you want to achieve in Ramadan. Practicing self-control, eating less, avoiding sin before the month comes in, is a sure-fire way to elevate your iman and taqwa to a higher level, the sahabah used to do this in Shaban.
Even if it’s a few days before, practice being conscious about what you are saying, limit your food intake, or become aware of what you want to improve from the previous year.This is all training for the nafs so that the swirling teacup that shaytan leaves behind becomes still before the blessed month starts.
Don’t worry if you haven’t managed this reflection stage, you can still use the three sections of Ramadan to build this connection so that when you get to the last ten days you are at your best and can exert yourself the most and find the night of power, InshaAllah
Set specific goals
It doesn’t matter what stage you are starting from.Whether it’s to read salah or study the tafsir of the Quran. The blessings of Ramadan mean that everyone improves. It is the best time to start and establish good habits. Setting specific goals means you are more likely to succeed in achieving them, as the saying goes: failing to plan means planning to fail.
I’ve noticed over the years that when I’ve made specific goals that I want to achieve and written them down, God willing I have achieved them. Making small steps towards the bigger goal means that eventually, it makes you closer to achieving them. Because if you aim for a specific number you tend to push yourself towards it.
Make a timetable for when and how many recitations of the Quran, Zikr, Tafsir, Tarawhi , Seerah, Astagfars you will do this month. You can find the plan to download below and fill in your specific your goals. This visual reminder will help you focus your energies on what is important.
Download this Ramadan-Journey-Personal-Checklist.pdf (27 downloads) Ramadan journey – personal checklist to help keep track of your goals. I found choosing a few aims and slotting specific times into your diary help to utilize any spare time. For instance, if you decide you are going to aim to read 70,000 Astagfasrs over the month, split them between the 5 prayers and read before or after the prayers. If you find you are traveling use that time to fit in some aspect of your goals.
Increase Quran Reading Through Sharing.
what my family and I do to encourage each other to read more Quran, including the children: is share the reading of one Quran together. Encouraging children to read more according to their ability and age builds self-efficacy and a collective purpose. This teamwork means that no one is left behind in gaining the maximum reward in this month.We are all on the same journey to get close to Allah. You can download the Family Quran Sharing Poster (6 downloads) and print it, adding your family’s names and allocations. Try it you will be surprised at how much more you all will get through sharing a common goal, and encourage each other.
What Type of Fasting Person Are You?
we are all at different spiritual states when we start Ramadan. However, if we know where we are heading it can help us to plan for achieving it. One consideration is to see what each category requires and aspire to the next level this year, inshaAllah.
Not all fasts are the same. Depending on our knowledge, upbringing, exposure, commitment and past experiences we can fall into different spiritual states. Have a look at these and aim to move up a level or get a degree higher within your previous level so that you are always moving up in rank.
Imam Ghazali 3 Levels of Fasting
” how many a person who fasts and yet has no benefit from the fast save for hunger and thirst.
Hadith Ibn Majah 1690
These are people who fulfill the obligation of fasting and do not invalidate their fast. They fulfill the conditions of fasting.
The intermediate level
These people fast with all their organs and abstain from wrong actions. The fast of the righteous involves protecting the eyes, the tongue, the ears, hands, the stomach and the heart.
The ideal State
Allah says in the Quran:
And for those who strive hard in Our cause, We will surely guide them to Our paths. Allah is with the Muhsinoon( good- doers)
Quran 29: 69
These are people that fast with their hearts and remove all worldly distractions from their life to focus on the remembrance of Allah SWT.
You know you have made progress when you come out at the end of the month a winner. Significantly, the habits you created stay with you throughout the year. It’s really exciting to write down all the positive things I want to achieve this Ramadan. I’m going to use this blessed time to get to know our Creator better.
May Allah bless everyone with a fulfilling, rewarding and successful Ramadan and allow us all entry in through the gates of Paradise, with ease, Ameen. Please remember me in your dua’s as I am the most in need of improvement.
How do you make your Ramadan productive? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.
Allah Hafiz for now Sabah 🙂