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How To Prepare for Ramadan!
Author/Source: Arabic lecture by Amr Khaled  (www.amrkhaled.net) Posted by: Mona Soueid
Hits: 8014 Rating: 10 (1 votes) Comments: 0 Added On: Saturday, October 01, 2005 Rate this article

HOW TO PREPARE FOR RAMADAN?

(Translation of Amr Khaled lecture)



We will start with some basic facts about Ramadan:

*Fasting became obligatory on the Muslims during the 2nd year after the Hijra (migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Madinah), therefore the Prophet fasted nine Ramadans’ in his lifetime.

*Fasting was made compulsory in the same year that Jihad was enjoined upon the Muslims. The command to begin fasting was revealed in the month of Sha’ban (the month directly preceding Ramadan), whereas Jihad was enjoined on the Muslims during the Battle of Badr (on the 17th of Ramadan). Is there any connection between the two? The scholars say that Ramadan trains a person to struggle against their own desires (which is Jihad al-nafs) and therefore a person is better equipped and prepared for a struggle against the enemy (Jihad al-a’daa). Therefore it is not strange that many victories for the Muslims took place in Ramadan, such as the Battle of Badr, Fath Mecca, Qaadisiyah, A’in Jaloot (against Tataar), Andalaus, etc.
We need to prepare ourselves well because the state of the Muslim nation will not change except with people fasting properly. Therefore if you want to be of those who bring glory and victory to the Muslims, you need to fast ‘properly’ (explained later).

*The stages that were involved in enjoining fasting:

1) optional – fasting the day of Aashoora
2) compulsory – fasting the month of Ramadan.
The compulsory fast of Ramadan was initially much harder than our current fast. It began in such a way that if a person slept after Maghreb or the time of Ishaa came, they would have to remain fasting until the following day. This was to show the Mercy of Allah upon us. Similarly the prayer began as 50 prayers and was then reduced to five, and yet we still don’t fast or pray properly.

*What is the wisdom behind fasting? What does Allah want us to achieve from this month? Is it just about getting thirsty and hungry?

Allah informs us of the purpose in this verse:


2:183 O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, in order that you may gain taqwa (God-consciousness, self-restraint)

This implies that if you fast Ramadan properly you must exit the month with Taqwa. What is Taqwa? To have taqwa means that Allah will find you doing that which He ordered and will not find you doing that which He forbade. Is it possible to acquire 100% taqwa such that Allah only finds me doing that which He ordered and never finds me doing anything forbidden? Probably not, but what is the majority? 80% or 70% taqwa. For example, a person who exits Ramadan and still drinks alcohol has most probably not gained taqwa. Whereas a person who exits Ramadan and now reads Quran often, and prays regularly in the mosque has achieved the purpose of Ramadan and gained taqwa.

*How does fasting (which is the abstinence from food, water and sexual desire from sunrise until sunset) result in taqwa?

Fasting affects these four aspects which lead to taqwa:
1) the control of the physical body on the soul decreases– because the physical body gains its nourishment from food, water, marital intimacy, whereas the soul gains its nourishment from knowing its Creator, reading Quran, making du’a etc. Consequently, when you fast and halt the indulgence and nourishment of the physical body, the souls craving for its nourishment increases and this leads to taqwa.
2) The sexual desire decreases – lack of energy
3) Self restraint/control increases – you stop eating when it is sunrise, you don’t eat during the day even though the food is in front of you and you are hungry, etc.
4) Accompanying the righteous increases – people attend taraweeh prayers in the mosque, families break their fast together, etc.

The Beauty and Blessings Contained Within the Month of Ramadan

• The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying, "Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all." [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah] It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, not all of us can find that which to provide for the fasting person’. He said: ‘Allah will give this reward for providing a fasting person with a date, or a drink of water or a drop of milk. And it is a month during which the start of it is Mercy, and the middle of it is Forgiveness and the end of it is Salvation from the Hell-Fire’. Collected by Al-Bayhaqi.
• In another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)) says, "Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted." [Narrated by Tabarani]
• "In Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyan. Those who have fasted will enter by it on the Day of Resurrection. There will be an announcement asking, "Where are those who have fasted?" Then they will get up, and none but they will enter by that gate. As soon as they have entered, the gate will be closed and no one else will enter that way." (Sahih Bukhari)
• Verily, paradise decorates (beautifies) itself from one year to the next for the month of Ramadan. When Ramadan begins, Paradise says ‘O Allah grant me within this month inhabitants from amongst your slaves’.
• Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his previous sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his previous sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his previous sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).
• Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said : "The time between the five daily prayers, two consecutive Friday Prayers, and two consecutive Ramadans are expiations for all that has happened during that period, provided that one has avoided the grave (major) sins." [Muslim]
• The Prophet (peace be upon him) would say when Sha’ban begins ‘O Allah bless us in Sha’ban and let us live until Ramadan’.
• `Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him) said: "The fast and the Qur'an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Qur'an will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted." [Ahmad]
• Allah's Apostle said, "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." [Bukhari]
• When Ramadan begins, a caller calls out ‘O seeker of goodness come forward, and O seeker of evil stop’, and Allah will save people from the Hell-Fire in Ramadan, and this will occur every night.
• Ibn Majah related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Aas that the Prophet, (peace be upon him) said: “A fasting person, upon breaking his fast, has a supplication that will not be rejected”.
• Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet reported that Allah (SWT) said in a Hadith Qudsi:, 'Every good deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it. Fasting is a shield. On the day you fast, do not use obscenity, nor yell at others, nor act ignorantly towards them. However, if anyone abuses you verbally or attempts to draw you to fight with him, say 'I am fasting, I am fasting’. The Prophet (peace be upon him) then states: By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the smell of musk. There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks his fast and the other when he meets his Lord" (Muslim).
How do we fast properly?
Fasting is of three levels:
1. Siyam al-‘awaam (common person) – this is only fasting from food, water and sexual desire. Fasting in this way allows you to fulfill your obligation but this category of fasting does not get the blessings and benefit from Ramadan. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness (Darimi). Therefore they were not saved from Hell-Fire or forgiven all their previous sins.
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink (Bukhari, Muslim).
2. Siyam al-khawaas (specific person) – this involves fasting of the limbs. Therefore, your eye is fasting from looking at anything haram, your hands are fasting from touching anything haram (stealing, magazine etc), your mouth is fasting from uttering anything haram (lying, backbiting etc).
3. Siyaam khawaas al-khawaas – this involves fasting from everything apart from Allah. It’s as if you are on hold for Allah in this month. You might be at work, but your heart is with Allah; you might be cooking but your heart and thoughts are with Allah. We should all try to attain this level, at least some of the days of Ramadan, if not all.
Which of these three types of fasting do we intend to do?
Goals in Ramadan
Let’s now construct a plan for our goals in Ramadan. This will help in maintaining the motivation throughout the month. Set an attainable goal for each of these categories of deeds.

1. You and the prayer
- Compulsory prayers: for example to pray every pray in the mosque, or with concentration, or at the start of it’s time, etc.
- Optional prayers: for example to pray the 12 highly recommended optional prayers (2 before Fajr, 4 or 2 before Dhuhr and 2 or 4 after, 2 after Maghreb and 2 after Ishaa) every day of Ramadan
2. You and the Quran
- How many times do you intend to read the whole Quran in this month, how many pages a day? For example, to read the Quran twice while contemplating its meaning.
- For each letter of the Quran that you read you get a minimum of 10 hasanat up to 700 and multiplied by 70 in Ramadan, imagine the reward from reading one juzz’!!
3. You and Charity
- For example, set aside $5 a day to give in charity. It is not only limited to money, but also includes being generous, inviting people over to break their fast etc.
Ibn `Abbas narrated: “The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel visited him, and Jibreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Jibreel, and when Jibreel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
4. You and Taraweeh
- For example, you may intend to pray taraweeh every night in the masjid where they recite a juzz’ a night.
5. You and your ties of kinship
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘that a person who cuts off his ties of kinship will not enter paradise’. Therefore, maintain your ties of kinship and contact all of your relatives before or during Ramadan.
6. You and calling to Allah
- For example, aim to try and guide a non-practicing friend to Islam, or give out books and tapes about islam during the month, etc. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘if Allah were to guide someone on your hands, it would be better for you than this whole earth and what it contains’.
7. You and Du’a (supplication)
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A fasting person, upon breaking his fast, has a supplication that will not be rejected”. Therefore make use of this opportunity. Make a list of supplications, and continually say them throughout the month. The companions used to continually repeat their supplications during the month of Ramadan, and they would say, that the next Ramadan would not come until all those supplications were answered. Spend the last few minutes before breaking your fast, supplicating to Allah, and don’t forget to make du’a for the Muslims.

*Let us all aim to make this our best and most productive Ramadan, and not waste a single minute of it. How many people that fasted Ramadan last year are no longer with us anymore? We might not be present for the next Ramadan, so we should not take it for granted. May Allah help us all to fast properly in Ramadan and may He grant us salvation from the Hell-Fire and forgive us our sins, Ameen. May He also return the glory to the Muslims, Ameen.


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