Thaqofah: Preparations for Ramadan

Thaqofah: Preparations for Ramadan

حول الإستعداد لشهر رمضان وكيفية المعايشة معه

Virtues and merits of Ramadan

The following are a few among many hadiths that conveyed the virtues and merits of this great month. These hadiths are conveyed to refresh and improve our understanding of the significance of this month and to motivate us towards better preparations.

A bumper pack

“أتاكم رمضان شهر مبارك فرض الله عز وجل عليكم صيامه ، تفتح فيه أبواب السماء ! وتغلق فيه أبوب الجحيم ! وتغل فيه مردة الشياطين ! لله فيه ليلة خير من ألف شهر ! من حرم خيرها فقد حرم ! “[1]

The prophet ﷺ said: “Ramadan, the month of blessing has come to you, Allah made fasting in it obligatory, all the doors of heavens will be open, and all the doors of hell will be closed, all rebellious devils will be chained down, there is a night in it better than one thousand months, whoever loses the good (of the night) has indeed lost”

Imam Ibn Rajab said: This hadith is a basis for Ramadan awareness and felicitations. This may be done by exchanging greeting cards, sending congratulatory messages to phones of relatives and friends, and pasting posters designed for the purpose.

A month of multiple rewards

Salman, the Persian (RA) has reported the following: The Holy Prophet ﷺ addressed us on the last day of Sha’ban wherein he said:

“O men, a great, blessed month has cast its shadow upon you. It is a month which contains a night far better than one thousand months, a month that Allah has made obligatory to fast therein and commended to stand praying in its nights. If someone seeks Allah’s nearness by offering an optional act of worship in this month, it will be as rewarding as to offer an obligatory worship in other days, and if someone performs an obligatory act of worship in this month, it will carry as much reward as the reward of performing seventy obligatory acts of worship in other days. It is the month of patience and the reward of patience is Jannah (paradise). It is a month of sympathy, a month in which the provision for a believer is increased. If someone provides another person with food to make iftar, it will cause forgiveness to his sins and freeing his neck from hell and he will be awarded the same reward as the fasting person will be rewarded for his fast, without decreasing his own reward.” The companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ said, “O Messenger of Allah, every one of us does not have enough food to offer for iftar to another fasting person.” The Holy Prophet said, “This reward will also be given to a person who offers to a fasting person one date or a drink of water or a little milk for his iftar. And this is a month the first part of which is the forgiveness from Allah and the last part of which is liberation from hell. If someone relaxes the burden of work from his slave in this month, Allah will forgive him his sins and will free from the Fire. In this month you should do four acts frequently. Two acts are such that you will please your Lord through them and two are such that you can never claim to be need-free of them. As for the two acts you please Allah through them, they are: to bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and to seek forgiveness from Allah. And the two acts you can never be need-free of them are: to pray Allah to give you the Jannah and to seek refuge with Allah from the Fire. And if someone serves a drink to a fasting person, Allah will make him have such a drink from my fountain (the Kauthar) that he will never get thirsty after it until he enters Jannah.”[2]

 The definition of fast

Fasting is the most notable ibadah[3] in Ramadan. The actual technical definition of any ibadah is necessary to determine its minimum requirements and validity. Every ibadah has ideal level; failure to attain the perfect stage does not invalidate the act. There are two reasons for observing any obligatory act in Islam: (1) To fulfil the obligation of Allah[4] (2) To attain the reward and purpose associated with it. Hence, the definition of fasting:

To abstain from foods and drinks and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset with the intention of worship.

However, fasting has a purpose just like every other ibadah. The purpose of fasting was made clear by Allah:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ.

O You who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain piety[5].[6]

Furthermore, failure to comply with the moral etiquettes and purpose of fasting will reduce it to an ordinary weightless ritual:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.”[7]

Preparations intensify in Sha’ban

Usamah bin Zaid said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.”‘[8]

How a Muslim should prepare for Ramadan

Being a month of unquantifiable blessings; a Muslim should try to comply with all the following necessary stages of preparation to enable him reap the full benefits of the month.

 Step #1: Sincere Determination and Intention

  • Prayers before meeting the month:

اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان.

Allahumo, baarik lanaa fee Rajab wa Sha’baan wabalignaa Ramadan

Oh Allah! Grant us your blessing in Rajab and Sha’ban and let us witness Ramadan.

اللهم سلمني إلى رمضان وسلم لي رمضان وتسلمه مني متقبلاً.

Allahumo, salimnee illa Ramadaan wasalim lee Ramadaan wa tasleemihee minnee mutaqoballah

Oh Allah! Keep me healthy to Ramadan and make Ramadan easy for me and accept it from me.

  • Sincere intentions to maximize the month

In Hadith Qudusi, Allah said:

“إذا تحدث عبدي بأن يعمل حسنة فأنا اكتبها له حسنة”

Whenever my servant sincerely determines to do something righteous, I write it for him as a reward

 Determination to complete recitation of the whole Qur’an.

    • Sincere repentance from all sins.
    • Determination to open a new chapter of improved Islamic life style.
    • Determination to attain the highest possible level of righteousness during the month where rewards are in manifolds.
    • Sincere intention to purify personal characters and improve well on mutual relationships with people.
    • Intention to disseminate the message of Islam to people in an attempt to encourage them to utilize their rare piousness in the month
    • Intention to  organize Islamic programmes

 Step #2: Inner self preparations

  • Determination to return to Allah any time we deviate.

…وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ.

… O ye believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain bliss.[9]

وعَنْ الأَغَرَّ بن يسار رضي الله عنه عن النبي صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ! تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَإِنِّي أَتُوبُ فِي الْيَوْمِ إِلَيْهِ مِائَةَ مَرَّةٍ )

Al-Agharr al-Muzani who was from amongst the Companions of Allah’s Apostle () reported that Ibn ‘Umar stated to him that Allah’s Messenger (may peace ‘be upon him) said: O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily, I seek repentance from Him a hundred times a day.[10]

  • Happiness and well wish due to the coming of the month

قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ

Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy,- in that let them rejoice”: that is better than the (wealth) they amass.[11]

  • Clear any debt of fast from Ramadan of the previous year

It is not permissible to carry the fast from a previous year due to menses, sickness, travel or breastfeeding into a current one.

عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا تَقُولُ : كَانَ يَكُونُ عَلَيَّ الصَّوْمُ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ فَمَا أَسْتَطِيعُ أَنْ أَقْضِيَهُ إِلا فِي شَعْبَانَ.

Abu Salama reported: I heard ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) saying: I had to complete some of the fasts of Ramadan, but I could not do it except in the month of Sha’ban due to my duties to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) or with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).[12]

Imam ibn Hajar Al-Asqolaani explained that with this hadith of A’isah it is not permissible to postpone fasting owed from previous Ramadan into the present one.[13]

Step #3: Preparing knowledge wise

  1. For scholars
    • Reading books on topics of Ramadan
    • Organizing lectures and seminars before, during and after the month
    • Giving constant encouragement and advice to Muslims on how to maximize the month
  1. For worshippers
    • Attending lectures and seminars to improve on the knowledge required for Ramadan

Step #4: Making provisions available for the month

Practical experience shows that human mind loses concentration when there is no provision. How can a man concentrate on his ibadah when he has no food at home? He will always remember food even when not hungry. Therefore, in order to maintain your drafted plan for the month, adequate provisions and savings should be made for self and family before the start of the month. All provisions must be carefully provided from the halal.

Step #5: Physical body fitness and health wise preparations

  • Abstaining from all foods that could weaken or deteriorate our health.
  • Engaging in some sports that could improve health and wellbeing of the body.
  • Consulting a doctor for complete medical check-up and treatments.

Step #6: Administrative/governmental preparations

It is necessary for the sighting of the crescent to begin Ramadan. The government of Muslims’ administrative bodies should provide modern advance binoculars to satisfy this purpose. This is especially important due to the effect of industrialization on the environment, which has covered the sky with thick smokes which make sighting the crescent with bear eyes difficult.

However, if any individual Muslim should sight the crescent, he must notify[14] the authority or committee in charge then start his fast without proclaiming publicly, even if the authority or committee reject his claim.

Fasting commences and ends with either of two things in order of priority:

  • Sighting the crescent OR
  • Completing the number of the previous month (Sha’ban) to be 30 days

 Step #7: Dawah preparations

For mosques, Islamic organizations, Islamic schools & institutions and scholars.

  1. Dawah Bag (A gift package for a fasting Muslim): This package may contain siwak (chewing stick), books on Ramadan, prayer mat, food items, fruits, etc
  2. SMS broadcast (to the Muslim community): This may be planned for all days in the month with different messages to remind, reinforce and motivate the Muslims and celebrate the atmosphere of blessings.
  3. Keeping list of short topics: To teach/remind the Muslims at every regular interval (preferably after solat) at the closest mosque. Only 5 or 10 minutes of talks will be enough (e.g. reading the meaning of hadiths on virtues and rewards of fasting).
  4. Family learning circle: The head of the family should form a circle with the family members to learn the fiqh of fasting, daily or weekly with new topics and examples as peculiar to the family. The members should break their fast together.
  5. Dissemination of pamphlets and posters: Our list of short prepared topics may also be printed in pamphlets and posters and distributed or posted daily after every chosen solat. A book stand with such may also be placed at strategic locations.
  6. Engaging the students: Islamic schools and madaaris may practically encourage their students on discussions of topics related to fasting and Ramadan.
  7. Feeding fasting Muslims: Preparations should be made on feeding fasting Muslims that attend tafsir or fiqh gathering before solat magrib.
  8. Umrah encouragement: Hajj & Umrah Pilgrimage body should plan affordable packages for Umrah and encourage those who can afford it.
  9. Mutual Assistance: “…help one another in Al­Birr and At­Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety)…” (Q5:2)

Ramadan responsibilities

  1. Complete the number of fast (29 or 30 days) with the intention to fulfil a pillar of the religion.
  2. Maintain steadfastness during its days and nights and compete in all that is righteous.
  3. Observe the obligatory solats with the intention to fulfil a pillar of the religion.
  4. Adhere to all the superogatory solats.
  5. Observe the taraweeh and tahajjud all nights in the month.
  6. Recitation of the Qur’an with a renewed determination to complete at least a whole of it; ponder over its meanings and seeking to understand its message (by attending tafsir).
  7. Reciting and chanting lots of Adhkar.
  8. Giving in charity and spending generously.
  9. Lots of prayer for self, family and the entire Muslims.
  10. Be present at learning circles of fiqh and tafsir in mosques.
  11. Choose to pay the zakat in Ramadan if eligible.
  12. Perform the Umrah in Ramadan if capable.
  13. Advice the people on righteousness and forbid evil and bad deeds at the mosque, in the library, along the streets, in the bus and gatherings of knowledge.
  14. Improve on family ties even if through telephone calls.
  15. Visit the righteous elders, sit with them to take advice and seek dua from them.
  16. Control the tongue properly. Avoid idle talks and useless discussions and arguments. Utilize your time for the remembrance of Allah and preoccupy yourself with the recitation of the Qur’an.
  17. Be cautious of time killers. Don’t waste time on the television and its unending programmes. Don’t frustrate your drafted plans with addiction to TV programmes[15].
  18. Abstain from backbites, lies, gossips, arguments, hypocrisy, hostility and dispute in order to maintain a good quality for your fast. Fasting was prescribed to eliminate all of these.
  19. Observe I’tikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadan with its etiquettes and seek the night that is better than a thousand months (Laylatul Qadr).
  20. Pay the zakatul fitr when due
  21. Attend solat eid.

[1] . (رواه النسائي والبيهقي:صحيح الترغيب : 985)

[2] Reported by Ibn Kuzaymoh

[3] Ibadah: act of worship

[4] For example, in a hadith, the prophet said: the solat of the one who drinks an intoxicant will not be accepted for 40 days. Yet, the person must still observe the solat. This means that the second reason (i.e. reward) is lost but the first reason (fulfilling Allah’s command) must still be fulfilled.

[5] Piety is attainable by righteousness

[6] Surat-ul-Baqarah 183

[7] Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1690

[8] Sunan Abu Dawud: Vol. 3, Book 22, Hadith 2359

[9] Surat-ul-Nuur 31

[10] Sahih Muslim Book 48, Hadith 53

[11] Surat-ul-Yunus 58

[12] Sahih Muslim: Book 13, Hadith 193

 [13] فتح الباري ” ( 4 / 191 )

[14] It is not allowed to spread the news by itself. The leader of the Muslims must be the one to announce it.

[15] It is important and timely to admonish Muslims at this time of the year when a glorified world football tournament coincides with Ramadan. This may be a test from Allah on the choice of Muslims between the rewards in what Allah prescribed and a worldly play.

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