Abu Hurairah reported that our dear Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
We are now witnessing the most important yearly spiritual experience in a Muslim’s life. During these 30 days of mercy and forgiveness, we have the privilege of getting closer to Allah (Exalted be He) so much that we are expected to be given whatever we ask for. This article will focus on tips to follow during Ramadan.
The First Night of Ramadan
Before the first night of Ramadan, Muslims all around the world wait for the announcement of the month. So, how to collect reward from this moment?
Try to look for the new moon with the family, make the little ones busy with this. However, if the religious authority in your country announces the beginning of Ramadan and you are still unable to see the new moon, you should accept the decision without any fuss.
Send greetings to family members and friends. If you live in a non-Muslim community, try to explain the significance of Ramadan to your neighbors. It is important to explain to them that Ramadan is more than just abstaining from eating and drinking.
Share the joy of Ramadan with your children. Do not refer to the night of `Eid (festival day)! Kids should feel that the coming of Ramadan is a special event to celebrate, even if they do not fast it yet. Involve them in decorating the house, making lamps using craft work, etc.
Do not miss Tarawih (night Prayer in Ramadan). Many people miss the Tarawih Prayer on the first night of Ramadan for different reasons. They say the first day of Ramadan starts after midnight, and thus they don’t attend the first Tarawih. Others are occupied with congratulation calls regarding the coming of Ramadan. Some others may just forget it.
Ibn `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Actions are judged by intention. A man will be rewarded only for what he has intended.” (Al-Bukhari)
Intention (niyyah) in Islam has an immense importance. During the first night of Ramadan, make a lot of good intentions and ask Allah to help you fulfill them. Examples of intentions:
– Fasting for Allah’s sake
– Having a rewarded month
– Attaining inner peace
– Pardoning friends and family members
– Witnessing the Night of Qadr and getting its rewards
– Preparing food for the fasting persons to get the reward
While planning your schedule, there are two points that should be taken into account. First, do not pile tasks on our schedule and wait till the appropriate minute to fulfill them. Instead, you should allocate an enough time for each task. Second, there are blessed moments in Ramadan that we should not miss by focusing on other tasks. For example, you should not visit people during Tarawih (night Prayer in Ramadan), or watch a religious program right after Fajr when you are supposed to do dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and read the Qur’an.
Divide your day into at least 6 parts:
– The morning: For sahur (pre-dawn meal) Tahajjud (Night Prayer), Fajr Prayer, reciting Qur’an after Fajr, istighfar (asking forgiveness).
– Work: Fasting is not an excuse to be inefficient at work. It does not justify being ill tempered because you miss your coffee or cigarette. Concentrate on dhikr (remembrance of Allah) especially while waiting in traffic, driving to and from work, etc.
– From `Asr to Maghrib: 30 minute nap, family time, reciting Qur’an, watching an educational program, reading about the Prophets´ stories, preparing Iftar (breaking the fasting meal) and any other task you planned for.
– Breaking fast
– `Isha’ and Tarawih: It is unnecessary to spend hours in traffic to go to a mosque with the best sheikh in the city. Choose a masjid in your neighborhood.
– Night: This time depends on when you complete the Tarawih Prayers. (Family time, completing other tasks, Qiyam)
– Keep each salah as a time interval between tasks, so you can pray at the masjid if possible.
– Have intention for i´tikaf (staying in the masjid for a particular time period in the worship of Allah with certain conditions).
– Divide the month into three parts where each part consists of 10 days. This is an efficient way to accomplish your schedule in this blessed month.
– Set the goals you want to fulfill in each of the 10 days. Write them in a separate column. You could concentrate on social tasks in the first 10 days, family tasks the following 10 days, du`aa’ and dhikr (personal spirituality) in the last ten days. I do not mean to totally separate your tasks, but give you a rough time period to focus on.
– Start dividing these tasks and goals. If your lifestyle is organized with minimal surprises, you can plan these 10 days in advance. If not, try and make a draft for 2 days. Making a draft helps you feel less guilty if something unexpected happens. This does not mean that you get out of your actual task but, you might need to double the effort for the next 2 days. Place an X on completed tasks, to give you a sense of accomplishment.
– For the last 10 days of Ramadan, try to intensify all kinds of `ibadat (acts of worship), especially praying at night.
– Recite the whole Qur’an. In case you cannot read, listen to it and read the translation.
‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Laylat Al-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka `afuwwun, tuhibbul `afwa, fa`fu `anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).”(At-Tirmidhi)
Last Night of Ramadan
After all the effort of planning, helping others, praying, fasting and keeping good intentions, we will reach the last night of Ramadan hoping for the great reward of being saved from the fire and accepted in the Heaven. It is important to trust Allah that He will accept your hard work. At the night of `Eid, the joy is not because we are not supposed to fast the next day. Yet, it is because we have accomplished an act of worship that is most beloved to Almighty Allah.
– Supplicate Allah that He accepts all of your efforts done in Ramadan, and that He supports you to sustain your productivity after Ramadan.
– Share greetings for `Eid (feast).
– Give the kids the joy of `Eid (new clothes, money, decorating the house, gifts, going to the park and making plans for the day of `Eid)
– Do not forget to pay Zakat Al-Fitr (the charity paid during the month of Ramadan). It is preferable to delay it to the last days of Ramadan, as reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this concern. However, scholars stated that it is permissible to give it during the whole month.
– Do not forget the families with limited income. Although you pay your Zakat Al-Fitr, you are still asked to donate for those people in order to bless them with Ramadan and `Eid.
– As soon as the authorities prove it to be the end of Ramadan, start repeating the Takbir (Saying “Allahu Akbar” [i.e. Allah is the Greatest]) and teach it to the young ones.
These are some of my tips for Ramadan, please share yours! I will pray from the heart that Allah accepts all of our good deeds and efforts this Ramadan. Please do not forget me in your du`aa’.