As Ramadan draws near, we are all growing in anticipation of attaining its richest blessings. During this beautiful month the doors of Jannah are open and the doors of Jahanam are closed. Each year as we enter this blessed month, it is a time of spiritual cleansing and rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul. Ramadan is our annual special visitor; however instead of visiting your home, Ramadan is visiting our hearts. Just as we would prepare our home for our visitor, it is time for us to prepare our hearts.
We therefore embark on a month-long journey of increased worship, striving to strengthen our relationship with Allah (SWT) by seeking His mercy, forgiveness and emancipation from the fire through our ibadah. These are five ways to help one to be spiritually prepared for Ramadan.
- Correct Your Intention
Islam puts a lot of focus on intention, for good reason. It is not necessarily what you do that matters the most, but rather why you did it and for whom. One should ponder on our intentions, by reminding oneself why the Qu’ran commands us to fast during Ramadan.
“O’ you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Al-Baqarah 2:183]
Here Allah (SWT) is informing us that fasting is decreed for us so that we may attain taqwa or righteousness. May Allah (SWT) grant this to be a cornerstone for every Ramadan and every day of our lives. Taqwa in the simplest definition means to attain God-consciousness. And it is our Taqwa which drives our actions to have both the love and fear of Allah (SWT) behind them. This in itself empowers our rituals and daily habits to be our acts of worship instead of just a meaningless act. If you are consciously aware of your faith and ask yourself the question, “Is this something Allah (SWT) wants me to do?’, then you are showing signs of increasing taqwa. One should therefore always make ones intentions clear and focused, thereafter renew those intentions every day and be mindful of them.
- Straighten Your Relationship with Qu’ran
Allah (SWT) says that Ramadan is the month of the Qur,an, but we should not wait for Ramadan to open our Qu’ran and read it. It is imperative that we start reciting the Qu’ran today, so that we may prepare ourselves for this blessed month. One should recite for quality over quantity, by pondering over the verses and its meaning, and how we may implement its teachings in ourselves so that we may attain righteousness.
The Qu’ran is so much more than words; these are divine revelations from Allah (SWT) who had it revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) via Angel Jabril (AS). It is the kalaam of Allah (SWT) and what is better than reciting these verses in seeking the pleasure of our Creator.
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts.” [Muhammad 47:24]
So one should read the Qu’ran every day leading up to Ramadan and keep doing it throughout Ramadan.
- Focus in Prayer
One of our fundamental practices as a Muslim is praying, and it will be the first thing we are asked about on Day of Qiyaamah. This statement alone gives us an idea how important it is not only to perform salaah but also our concentration whilst making salaah should be at its best. It is said if you want to talk to your Creator then make salaah, but if you want Allah (SWT) to talk to you then you should recite the verses of the Holy Qur’aan.
- Fasting and Du’aa
While it is obligatory to fast during Ramadan, it is also recommended to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, on the white day, i.e 13th, 14th and 15th of every Islamic month, as well as the months around Ramadan (Shaban and Shawwal). Allah (SWT) says that salaah is beneficial for My slave whereas the act of fast is for Me (SWT). One should therefore regard fasting is a spiritual act that helps us control our subconscious influences (nafs) and an act of worship in attaining Allah’s (SWT) pleasure.
Du’aa is one of the easiest acts of worship gifted to us. One may practically make du’aa anywhere and anytime even without having ablution or having to prepare oneself for a meeting with one’s Creator. It is simply having good intentions and asking Allah (SWT) what one holds dear to the heart. Our du’aa is not limited to oneself but one may make du’aa for others such as one’s family and the entire ummah. The du’aa made whilst fasting is of an importance, as Allah (SWT) hears the one who seeks His guidance, protection and all good that their heart desires. If Allah (SWT) wills then you shall receive what it is you are asking for.
If your thoughts keep wandering towards things outside of prayer, seek help and refuge in Allah (SWT) by saying, “A`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan ar-rajim”, and return to your prayers.
- Look at Your Manners
This is an important topic to highlight; our fasts are not desired by Allah (SWT) if our adab (manners) is unruly. Allah (SWT) commands His slaves to be steadfast, patient and seek righteousness. The Prophet (SAW) said, Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink” [Narrated by Abu Huraira [Bukhari 6057].
One should start making a conscious effort to correct any areas in one’s character that has room for improvement. This will help improve one’s spirituality and demonstrate a better example of Islam to those around you.
May Allah (SWT) grant us to become more mindful in our endeavor of becoming more sincere within our worship, our focus, our intentions, our heart and good character all year round, and may Allah (SWT) make it easy upon us and accept our ibadah, Ameen Ya Rabbal Aalameen.
Sr Gikma Johaadien Isaacs Arabic (Cairo, Egypt)
Mother of 3 and 2nd year BA Student