Just before Ramadan: General Preparation
Ramadan is here again providing us the opportunity to reach out to Allah more than ever and ask for His forgiveness and blessings. As Allah has singled out this month more so than others for showering His blessings and mercy, it is only prudent that we also use the opportunity to reassess our conditions, our purpose and direction in life, and accordingly make appropriate changes in line with His commands.
- Towards a fully packaged and prepared Ramadan, We fill it is necessary Do your Eid shopping now so as to not consume precious time during Ramadan and especially the last ten days
- Find out where you will be praying Tarawih
- Print out the Muslim Diary checklist and the Ramadan check list and put it up on your wall
Things you will need for Ramadan:
- Qur’an with translation
- Tafsir book
- Book of Adhkar (e.g. The Fortress of the Muslim by Sai’d bin Ali bin Wahaf Al-Qahtani, The Muslim Diary www.themuslimdiary.com)
- Lectures of a scholar you like and a topic that motivates you
- Books that inspire you and teach you more about Islam and how to become a better Muslim
- Fruits (Dates).
How to make Tawbah
Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ Khutbah on Ramadan “O People! The month of Allah (Ramadan) has come with its mercies, blessings and forgiveness’s. Allah has decreed this month the best of all months. The days of this month are the best among the days and the nights are the best among the nights and the hours during Ramadan are the best among the hours. This is a month in which you have been invited by Him (to fast and pray). Allah has honoured you in it. In every breath you take is a reward of Allah, your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations are answered. Therefore, you must invoke your Lord in all earnestness with hearts free from sin and evil, and pray that Allah may help you to keep fast, and to recite the Holy Qur’an. Indeed!, miserable is the one who is deprived of Allah’s forgiveness in this great month.
While fasting remember the hunger and thirst on the Day of Judgement. Give alms to the poor and needy. Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind towards your relatives and kinsmen. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing (forbidden) and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. Be kind to orphans so that if your children may become orphans they will also be treated with kindness. Do repent to Allah for your sins and supplicate with raised hands at the times of prayer as these are the best times, during which Allah Almighty looks at His servants with mercy. Allah Answers if they supplicate, Responds if they call, Grants if He is asked, and Accepts if they entreat. O people! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires. Make it free by invoking Allah for forgiveness. Your back may break from the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate yourself before Allah for long intervals, and make this load lighter. Understand fully that Allah has promised in His Honour and Majesty that, people who perform salat and sajda (prostration) will be guarded from Hell-fire on the Day of Judgement. O people!, if anyone amongst you arranges for iftar (meal at sunset) for any believer, Allah will reward him as if he had freed a slave, and Allah will forgive him his sins. A companion asked: “but not all of us have the means to do so” The Prophet (SAAWS) replied: Keep yourself away from Hell-fire though it may consist of half a date or even some water if you have nothing else. O people!, anyone who during this month cultivates good manners, will walk over the Sirat (bridge to Paradise) on the day when feet will tend to slip.
For anyone who during this month eases the workload of his servants, Allah will make easy his accounting, and for anyone who doesn’t hurt others during this month, Allah will safeguard him from His Wrath on the Day of Judgement. Anyone who respects and treats an orphan with kindness during this month, Allah shall look at him with kindness on that Day. Anyone who treats his kinsmen well during this month, Allah will bestow His Mercy on him on that Day, while anyone who mistreats his kinsmen during this month, Allah will keep away from His Mercy.
Whomever offers the recommended prayers during this month, Allah will save him from Hell, and whomever observes his obligations during this month, his reward will be seventy times the reward during other months. Whomever repeatedly invokes Allah’s blessings on me, Allah will keep his scale of good deeds heavy, while the scales of others will be tending to lightness. Whomever recites during this month an Ayat (verse) of the Holy Qur’an, will get the reward of reciting the whole Qur’an in other months. O people! The gates of Paradise remain open during this month. Pray to your Lord that they may not be closed for you. While the gates of Hell are closed, pray to your Lord that they never open for you.
Satan has been chained; invoke your Lord not to let him dominate you.” Ali ibn Talib (ra) said: “I asked, ‘O messenger of Allah, what are the best deeds during this month’?” ‘He replied: ‘O Abu-Hassan, the best of deeds during this month is to be far from what Allah has forbidden’.”
How to make Tawbah
TAWBAH CONSISTS OF THREE PARTS: KNOWLEDGE, REPENTANCE AND DETERMINATION Knowledge: If you have knowledge of Islam then you will recognise your sins and understand why they are harmful for you and know what the punishment is if you continue doing those sins. You must also have sincere faith and devotion to Allah, because if you know that something displeases/angers Him them you will feel bad about doing it.
Repentance: Once you understand that the sins you have done are harmful and that you have earned Allah’s displeasure, then you will feel bad about having sinned. You will feel deep regret and remorse, even grief at having committed those sins.
Determination: When you feel so bad about doing those sins, then you will refrain from doing them and be determined never to do them again, especially if you know what the harmful effects and punishment are for those actions. If you have committed a sin that involved taking away someone else’s rights, then you must return those rights and ask forgiveness from that person also.* *Adapted from Imam Al-Ghazali, Ihya Ulumuddin, translated by Maulana Fazlul Karim, Taj Company, 1982, Vol. 4
THE FOLLOWING MEASURES HELP IN OBSERVING NIGHT PRAYERS:
- Read up about the merits of Night Prayer. This will motivate you and make you more determined to perform it
- Just before you go to sleep, ask Allah to help you wake up for Tahajjud
- Go to bed early
- Nap during the day, if at all possible
- Avoid overeating in the evening
Etiquettes of Reading The Qur’an
- You should be in a state of taharah (ritual purity) before you can touch the Qur’an
- You should begin with: “A’udhu billahi minsash-shaytanir rajim” (I seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan, the cursed one), followed by “Bismillahir rahman ar-rahim” (In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful)
- If you can read the Qur’an in the Arabic language, it is preferred to recite it with the basic rules of tajweed.
- It is recommended to beautify your recital with a pleasant voice
- The speed of your recitation must be regulated by your ability to understand so that you can think about what you are reading
- If the verse contains commands and prohibitions you should immediately decide to accept or restrain from them. But if it is something you have failed to do in the past, you should seek forgiveness and intend to do it in the future. In the event that the verse contains mercy, you should feel happy and request it, if it contains wrath, you should seek refuge in Allah. If the verse glorifies Allah, you should glorify Him
- It is undesirable to stop reading to converse or talk to someone, laugh or play or look at something that takes away your attention, unless there is a valid reason
- The best time to recite the Qur’an is during salah, then night-time reading, especially the latter part of it. The best time of day is after Fajr.*
*Adapted from Khurram Murad, Way to the Qur’an, Islamic Foundation, 1985
Etiquette of Making Du’a
- In order for du’as to be accepted, a person should ensure that their earnings and possessions are all halal
- It is recommended to face the Qiblah while making du’a
- There are certain times and places that are more opportune for making du’a, such as: the Day of Arafah, during the month of Ramadan, Friday, last third of the night, at dawn, during sajdah, during rainfall, between adhan and iqamah, after the fard prayers
- It is recommended to raise your hands to your shoulders with the palms upwards
- It is best to begin the du’a with the praise of Allah and blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ
- Du’a should be made with full attention and humility, in neither too loud a voice nor too quiet
- You should not make du’a for anything that is haram or that involves harming certain people
- You must be patient in having your du’a accepted
- Be confident and have belief in Allah that He will accept your du’a
- It is recommended to repeat your du’a three times
11 The best of prayers are the du’as of the Prophet ﷺ
* Adapted from As-Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqh us-Sunnah, American Trust Publications, 1991, Vol IV
THE DAILY PRAYERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
FAJR (Subh) (Dawn Prayer):
Two rak’at of Sunnah al-mu’akkadah followed by two rak’at of fard.
Dhuhr (Noon Prayer):
Four rak’at of sunnah al-mu’akkadah, four rak’at of fard, followed by two rak’at of sunnah almu’akkadah.
‘Asr (Afternoon Prayer):
Four rak’at of Sunnah ghair al-mu’akkadah, followed by four rak’at of fard. Note that it is forbidden to perform sunnah prayers after ‘Asr until sunset.
Maghrib (Sunset Prayer):
Three rak’at of fard, followed by two rak’at of sunnah al-mu’akkadah. ‘Isha (Night Prayer): Four rak’at of sunnah ghair al-mu’akkadah, four rak’at of fard and two rak’at of sunnah almu’akkadah.
This comprises one rak’at, three rak’at etc (an odd number). Witr can be performed immediately after the two rak’at sunnah of ‘Isha, or it can be performed just before sleeping, or after Tahajjud.
Nafl(prayers bring extra reward if performed):
(Voluntary) prayers can be performed with any of the five daily prayers in sets of two rak’at apart from the time after Asr until sunset and after Fajr until sunrise.
This is a nafl prayer, which can be performed from after sunrise to before Dhuhr time. It consists of between two and twelve rak’at, performed in sets of two rak’at.
NOTE: · Fard prayers are obligatory and neglecting these makes a person a sinner · Sunnah al-mu’akkadah prayers are emphasises Sunnah i.e. the Prophet [saws] never neglected to perform these · Sunnah ghair al-mu’akkadah prayers carry a reward if performed but no punishment if not performed · Nafl prayers bring extra reward if performed.
Dhikr and Remembrance of Allah
‘Ali ibn Abi Talha relates that Ibn Abbas said, “All obligations imposed upon man by Allah are clearly marked and one is exempted from them in the presence of a genuine cause. The only exception is the obligation of dhikr. Allah has set no specific limits for it, and under no circumstances is one allowed to be negligent of it. We are commanded to ‘remember Allah standing, sitting and reclining on your sides’ (3:191), in the morning, during the day, at sea or on land, on a journey or at home, in poverty and in prosperity, in sickness of in health, openly and secretly, and in fact at all times throughout one’s life and in all circumstances.” “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace” (13:28) “Those men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise. For them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35) Excellence of saying La ilaha ill-Allah Jabir [ra] reported that the Prophet [saws] said, “The best remembrance of Allah is to repeat La ilaha illallah and the best prayer is Alhamdulillah.” (An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim).
Excellence of Tasbih, Hamd, Tahlil, Takbir and others Abu Huraira *ra+ reported that he Prophet *saws+ said, “There are two phrases that are light on the tongue but heavy on the scale of rewards and are dear to Allah. These are: Subhanallah wa bihamdihi (All glory is to Allah and all praise to Him) and Subhanallah al-Azim (Glorified is Allah the Great).” (Muslim, Bukhari and At-Tirmidhi) Samura ibn Jundab [ra] reported that the Prophet [saws+, “The dearest phrases to Allah are four: Subhanallah (Glorified is Allah), Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah), la ilaha illallah (there is no god bud but Allah), Allahu akbar (Allah is the Greatest) There is no harm in beginning them in any order you choose while remembering Allah.” (Muslim) Abu Sa’id *ra+ reported that the Prophet *saws+ said, “Perform the enduring deeds more frequently.” They asked,” What are these enduring deeds?” The Prophet *saws+ replied: “At-Takbir, At-Tahlil, At-Tasbih, alhamdulillah and la hawla wa la quwatta illa billah [There is no power nor any might except with the permission of Allah+.” (An-Nasa’i and Al-Hakim) (Takbir means saying Allahu Akbar, Tahlil means saying la ilaha illallah, Tasbih means saying subhanallah) Excellence of Istighfar ‘Abdallah ibn Abbas *ra+ said, “If one supplicates without fail for forgiveness from Allah, He finds a way out for him to get out of every distress and difficulty, and gives him sustenance through ways utterly unthought of.” (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim).
Suggested Activities for the Last Ten Days of Ramadan
1 Make a big effort to increase all your religious activities for the last ten days, such as extra prayers and more dhikr
- Keep reciting this special du’a: “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbu’l-‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni” Oh Allah, you are indeed pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me
- Make tawbah
- Evaluate yourself and see how you could be a better person
- Make long, sincere and deep du’as.
- Try to finish the Qur’an and read the du’a for the completion of Qur’an recitation
- Spend some time in i’tikaf. If you cannot fulfil the sunnah of sitting in i’tikaf for 10 days then you can sit in seclusion for any length of time with the sole purpose of drawing closer to Allah and you will, insha’Allah, be rewarded accordingly
- Try to minimise the time you spend on worldly matters. You could try not watching tv, or surfing the internet and this will all help you in drawing closer to Allah
- Try to memorise surahs which you can recite in your salah e.g. some of the shorter surahs in the 30th juz
- Read and learn some hadith and try to practise these in your daily life
I’tikaf is when a person stays in the mosque with the sole intention of worshipping Allah and drawing closer to Him, while turning his attention away from worldly affairs as much as possible. Women can do i’tikaf at home in a secluded area or the house where they usually pray. The retreat of the last ten days of Ramadan (sunnah i’tikaf) starts at Maghrib of the 20th and ends upon the announcement of Eid. If someone is unable to sit in i’tikaf for the whole ten day period, then they can also perform i’tikaf, but this would be a mustahabb or nafl i’tikaf. This can be performed for any length of time and the reward is given accordingly. This time in i’tikaf must be spent doing salah, dhikr, reading the Qur’an, making du’a, reading religious books, making tawbah and sending salutations on the Prophet [saws]. Permissible acts: 1) The person may go out at any time for some need that he must perform such as answering the call of nature, doing wudu or ghusl 2) It is permissible to leave the mosque to eat and drink if food and drink are not made available in the mosque
Actions that nullify the I’tikaf:
1) Intentionally leaving the mosque even if it is just for a short time (in the case of sunnah i’tikaf)
2) State of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding.
Zakat al-Fitr becomes obligatory on every Muslim, male or female, adult or child, at the end of Ramadan as long as he/she has the means to do so, even those who have not fasted during the month of Ramadan for any valid reason. Ibn Abbas [ra] reported that the Prophet ﷺmade zakat al-Fitr compulsory so that those who fasted may be purified of their idle deeds and shameful talk (committed during Ramadan) and so that the poor may be fed. Whoever gives it before salah will have it accepted as zakah, while he who gives it after the salah has given sadaqah. (Abu Dawud) Therefore, zakat al-Fitr is to provide those who fasted with the means of making up for their errors during the month of fasting, just as any sadaqah washed away sins. Zakat al-Fitr also provides the poor with the means with which they can celebrate Eid al-Fitr along with the rest of the Muslims. As mentioned in the above hadith it should be given before the Eid prayer so that it can be distributed to the poor in time for the Eid celebrations, so that they may participate also.
The Sunnah of Eid
- To wake up early, in order to prepare for the sunnahs of the day
- To perform ghusl and apply perfume (men only)
- Wear the best clothes available to you (without excess)
- Eat before going for Eid prayer. The sunnah is to eat an odd number of dates
- To walk to the place of prayer, if at all possible, reciting the takbirat which is: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilaha illallah. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahil hamd” Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. There is no god but Allah. Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. All praise belongs to Allah.
- To return from the place of prayer using a different route to the one taken to get there.
Dua in Ramadan
Dua for Sighting the Crescent Moon
Transliteration: Allahu Akbar, Allaahumma ahillahu ‘alaina bil-amni wal-imaani, was-salaamati wal-Islaami, wat-tawfeeqi limaa tuhibbu wa tardhaa, Rabbunaa wa Rabbukallaahu.
Meaning: Allaah is the greatest. O Allaah, let the crescent loom above us in safety, faith, peace, and Islaam, and in agreement with all that You love and pleases You. Our Lord and your Lord is Allaah.
Source: At Tirmidhi 5/504
Dua for Breaking the Fast
Transliteration: Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu [wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu] wa ‘ala rizq-ika aftarthu
Meaning: O Allah I fasted for You and I believe in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance
Source: Abu Dawud
Transliteration: Zahabadh-dhama’u wabtallatil-‘urooqu, wa thabatal-ajru inshaa-Allaahu.
Meaning: The thirst has gone and the veins are quenched, and reward is confirmed, if Allaah wills.
Source: Abu Dawud 2/306, Sahih Al-Jami As Saghir 4/209
Transliteration: Allahumma innee as’aluka bi-rahmatikal-latee wasi’ath kulla shai’in an taghfira lee.
Meaning: O Allaah, I ask You by Your mercy which envelops all things, that You forgive me.
Source: Ibn Majah 1/557
Rabanna taqabal-minna innaka anta sami’-l-áleem