|Written by Raghad Ebied|
|Sunday, 15 July 2012 18:31|
The doors of Heaven are open while the doors of Hellfire are closed. The devils are tied up while Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala (glory to Him in the highest) increases your rewards manifold for every good you do. It truly is the most blessed time of the year. It is Ramadan, the month of fasting.
Ramadan is a time of revival for everyone – those who have been practicing for years; those who have just come to realize the beauty of feeling close to Allah; and those who don’t fully realize that beauty yet. Ramadan is a truly golden opportunity, as many have had their lives transformed during this sacred month.
So how can we reap the most from Ramadan, and ensure that we come out of it more God-fearing and devout than when we entered it? Here are some tips:
1) Supplicate for Allah to allow us to witness Ramadan this year and put blessing in it
Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, used to spend the months preceding Ramadan praying to Allah to allow him to witness Ramadan. He spent the months following Ramadan praying to Allah to accept his fasting and the deeds he had done during Ramadan.
2) Form your good habits and increase your good deeds before Ramadan
It is reported that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to fast most of the month of Shaban which precedes Ramadan except for the last few days. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, was asked by Usamah ibn Zaid why he fasted so much in Shaban, he replied: "That is the month people neglect. It comes between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are raised to the Lord of the Worlds and I love that my deeds should be raised while I am fasting." (An-Nasaa'i)
Other good deeds of course include all of the ones mentioned below. Pace yourself into increasing your good habits – it won’t happen overnight.
3) Make a conscious decision to change for the better in Ramadan
Decide what habits you would like to drop and what you would like to adopt. Be specific and realistic. If there are one or two habits that you think are most important, and that you would like to develop, then focus your efforts on them.
4) Plan your Ramadan resolutions before Ramadan starts.
This way, once you enter the month of Ramadan, you are mentally and physically prepared to start making changes. Remember, that the rewards in this month are multiplied between 10 to 700 times, so you can potentially get the reward of 700 good deeds for each letter of the Quran you read in Ramadan. Some of the areas you may want to plan for in terms of frequency and amount include:
Prayer – Including extra prayers, praying in congregation, the night prayer and tarawih (special evening prayers performed in Ramadan).
Charity – This doesn’t have to be money but can include time dedicated to social service and assisting less fortunate members of the community.
Quran – Decide on how much you would like to have read by the end of the month and stick to your goal.
Dawah – Help others around you feel the beauty of becoming closer to Allah.
Strengthening family ties – Make sure that before Ramadan starts, there are no hard feelings among relatives. Be the first to call and reconcile, or just call to say Ramadan mubarak (congratulations).
Supplication – Allah loves insistence in du'a, so pick out the supplications that are most important to you and insist on them every time you make du'a.
Buddy system – Select a friend or family member who will help keep you in check during Ramadan.
5) Be aware of distractions before or during Ramadan
Turn off the TV, sign out from Facebook and put away your Xbox console. Prioritize your commitments. There isn’t a minute to waste in this blessed month
6) Try to maintain your intention so you will continue to do these good deeds long after Ramadan has ended
Don’t think that when Ramadan is over you should give up the good habits you adopted and go back to your old ways. Ramadan proves to you that you have the time and energy to do the good things you have been doing. To ensure that your Ramadan is accepted by Allah, you should continue striving to attain taqwa (spiritual steadfastness) throughout the year as this is the purpose of Ramadan.
Finally, if we keep this verse of the Quran as our motto for Ramadan, we will continue to stay motivated:
“And hasten to the forgiveness of your Lord and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the God-fearing." (Ch.3, v. 133)
We should all race for forgiveness from Allah and seek His mercy in this blessed month. We should all make a new start that begins with righteous actions done purely for the sake attaining the pleasure of Allah.
So, let us make this a new start and continue for the rest of the year, God willing. Let us not deprive ourselves of this profound opportunity to be amongst the inhabitants of a Paradise that spans the heavens and the earth.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 2008 edition of the Muslim Link. To access our archives, visit muslimlink.ca■