Ramaḍān ‘5’s: Which one are you?

Each year many different types of preparations are made for Ramaḍān; I will address three of them.

(1) Allāh’s preparation of the month of Ramaḍān

(2) The preparation of the people of Īmān and

(3) The preparation of the people of Dunya.

5 ways Allāh prepares Ramaḍān for us:

Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has made this Islamic month like none other imbuing it with prizes and opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else.

1) Allāh has made it a manageable number of days.

He said, “a limited number of days” [1]

This is from His infinite mercy upon us for He is willing to offer an unlimited reward within ‘limited’ days.

2) The fiercest enemies to man – the devils – are shackled in chains during the first day of Ramaḍān and are held until the last of its days in order to make this season of worship easier and lighter upon the heart of the believer than any other time.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“When the first night of the month of Ramaḍān comes, the devils and rebellious jinn are chained up” [2]

3) The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“.. and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it remains open, and the gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it remains closed.”

4) On every single one of its nights, Allāh frees many who were bound for the Hellfire.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“And there are those who were destined for the fire whom Allāh ransoms from it every single night.”

5) Allāh has placed within it a treasured night wherein worshipping Allāh is greater than the worship of 1,000 months. 1,000 months is approximately 83 years and 4 months, but during that night, the reward is even “greater than 1000 months”.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

‘During Ramaḍān is a night that is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is deprived indeed.’

These are just some of Allāh’s many preparations of this month in order to make it the perfect opening for those who crave the highest levels in Jannah, the vastest of its gardens, the most precious of its offerings and the closest of its homes to Allāh.

5 ways the people of Dunya prepare for Ramaḍān:

Some of us, however, refuse to meet such kindness with kindness; they are the people of Dunya who have made their chief priority in life the building of their current homes. How do they prepare for Ramaḍān? In a way which causes them to miss out on so much, if not all, of what this month has to offer.

1) Their prime focus is to stack up the fridge with food, as if they are approaching a month of feasting, not a month of fasting. We tell the non-Muslims that this month also helps us to regulate our diets, to minimise our intake and to show gratitude to Allāh for what He has given us and, whilst this is true, our preparations for extravagant feasts, our consequential weight gain and horrific wastage of food contradicts everything we say.

Furthermore, our excessive demands waste much of our spouse’s time who, in many cases, spend endless hours preparing starters, main course meals and desserts when, in reality, they would much prefer spending a lot more of that time in the worship of their Lord. Watch how you eat and drink this Ramaḍān.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Those whose bellies are fullest today will be the hungriest on the Day of Judgement.” [3]

After hearing this ḥadīth, the narrator, Abū Juhaifa, did not eat to his fill until the day he died.[4]

In fact, Imām Ahmad was asked: “Can a person whose belly is full experience a soft heart?”

He replied, “I do not believe so.”

2) They prepare for Ramaḍān by exhibiting clear signs of displeasure and irritation as it draws closer, something which appears on their facial expressions and, at times, in what they say as well.

Allāh knows all too well that many such people are only fasting Ramaḍān because those around them are also doing so but they cannot wait for its departure. Does such a person not fear being told by Allāh on the day of Judgement: ‘I was never in need of you or your fasting! You hated my worship and so you have nothing with me on this Day.’

Such hatred of Ramaḍān or, as a matter of fact, hatred of any aspect of Islām poses a threat to one’s Hereafter, for Allāh said about a people:

“That is because they hated what Allah revealed, so He rendered their deeds null.”[5]

3) They prepare for Ramaḍān by regulating their working hours with their employers, but not for the sake of making time for worship and Qur’ān, but to maximise their opportunities of sleeping throughout their fast.

4) They prepare by setting an early intention with regards to which TV series they will follow during the hours of fasting, and to make an exception for Ramaḍān by watching every one of the 90 minutes of the football match as opposed to sufficing with the highlights, for there is, according to them, a pressing need to ‘kill time’. Worse still are others who intend on undoing the good deeds of their fast by spending their evenings after Iftār with the people or within the places of disobedience.

5) They prepare by searching for the Masjid that offers the shortest Tarawīḥ prayer. This is not because they have to wake up early the next day for work, but because Ṣalāh for them is a heavy burden. This comes as no surprise, as Allāh said about Ṣalāh,

“It is difficult except for the humbly submissive.”[6]

This is how the people of Dunya prepare for Ramaḍān. Compare how Allāh treats them and how they treat Allāh; how He calls them but they run away; how He opens door after door of opportunity but they slam them shut. They behave with their Lord as if it is He who is in need of them and not them who are in need of Him.

5 ways the people of the Hereafter prepare for Ramaḍān:

As for the people of Īmān, their preparations for Ramaḍān are entirely different. Their slogan is ‘O Ramaḍān hurry, for sins are heavy and hearts are ill’. Since they observe life through the lens of the Hereafter, their preparations for Ramaḍān are the polar opposite of the above. How do they prepare?

1) They prepare by making passionate Duʿā’ for Allāh to allow them to witness another Ramaḍān, another month of much needed opportunity and unmissable prizes.

As Mu’alla b. Al-Fadl said,

“They used to make Duʿā’ for six months prior to Ramaḍān, asking Allāh to allow them to witness Ramaḍān.”

Yahya b. Abī Kathīr would also say in his Duʿā’,

“O Allāh, hand me over to Ramaḍān and hand Ramaḍān over to me, and receive it from me having accepted it.”

2) They prepare an impeccable intention in advance, one that they refresh on every single day of Ramaḍān, having realised that the forgiveness of sins is directly linked to specific intention setting. There are three opportunities in Ramaḍān of having your account of sins completely emptied, but there is a very important condition that appears in all three narrations.

As for the first opportunity, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Whoever fasts the month of Ramaḍān out of belief and hope for the reward, all of his previous sins will be erased.”[7]

As for the second opportunity, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Whoever prays the night prayers in Ramaḍān out of belief and hope for the reward, all of his previous sins will be erased.”[8]

As for the third opportunity, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Whoever prays the night prayer during Laylah al-Qadr out of belief and hope for the reward, all of his previous sins will be erased.”[9]

These three opportunities are linked to an intention. Thus, this category of people are eager to show Allāh that they are happy with Ramaḍān, not miserable, and that they are fasting due to their desperate need for the reward, not because others are fasting. Theirs is an intention they renew every day.

3) They prepare by creating an early connection with the Qur’ān, fasting and night prayer. No athlete participates in competition without prior warm ups, nor can a boxer ever dream of enduring a 12 round fight without dedicated training beforehand, similarly, the people of the Hereafter warm up for Ramaḍān so that they hit the ground running.

Some of us assume that our state of Īmān will automatically switch on overnight when Ramaḍān arrives, as if it is a button that has been pressed. Whilst some do experience a major boost in the first couple of days, they are very quick to run out of steam a week or so into Ramaḍān. In many cases, this is due to a lack of proper preparation before Ramaḍān and so the people of Īmān prepare well in advance.

4) They prepare by evaluating and reflecting on every sin they struggle with and repent for them before the arrival of Ramaḍān. They are not like others who mock Allāh by arguing that they will sin as much as they can before Ramaḍān arrives and, when it does, then they will desist.

They do this because they have seen countless Muslims who experience Ramaḍān year in year out but on each time, they fall so short in their recitation of Qur’ān, extra Ṣalāh, wise usage of time and, in the end, Ramaḍān has little effect on them. What held them back? None other than sins they did not rid themselves of before Ramaḍān.

Sins are like injuries that bruise one’s ability to enjoy worship, and since Ramaḍān is a month of worship, the people of Īmān are afraid of missing out on the sweetness of being close to Allāh.

Wuhaib b.Ward was asked:

“Can a person who always sins experience the sweetness of worship?

He replied,

“No, not even the person who intends to sin.

In much the same way that the body fails to taste the sweetness of food when it is ill, the heart will fail to taste the sweetness of worship with sins. A person may extend a lustful gaze at the impermissible and, instantly, his ability to enjoy the recitation of the Qur’ān is damaged. Similarly, a person may engage in impermissible communications, inhalations, conversations, financial dealings or their likes and, immediately, the love for Ṣalāh, Da’wah, Duʿ`ā’ or their likes dissipates.

Such a person may wonder at how Allāh’s punishment has not come to him yet despite his insistence upon a sin, whilst not realising that he is, in fact, being punished in the worst of all ways but fails to see it, for the joy of being close to Allāh and working for the Hereafter has been snatched away from him.

Ibn al-Qayyim said,

“There is not a punishment in existence that is worse than one’s heart being turned hard and feeling distant from Allāh.[10]

Therefore, the people of the Hereafter prepare for Ramaḍān by removing these obstacles – those of sins – before the month of Ramaḍān arrives.

5) They prepare for Ramaḍān by putting together an action plan. They do not settle with targets such as “I will read as much Qur’ān as possible”. Instead, they take control, knowing exactly what they want from the month of Ramaḍān.

A suggested daily programme for Ramaḍān:

1) Ensure that you wake up for Suhūr, even if you do not enjoy eating at that time. Eat or drink something small so that you earn the reward of applying the Sunnah of Suhūr each night, for in Suhūr there is blessing (barakah).[11]

2) During that time, ensure that you pray at least two units of voluntary Salāh so that you earn the reward of praying and making Duʿā’ in the greatest part of the night – its last third. Utilise this time to reflect upon your sins and follow that up with Istighfār (seeking forgiveness), for Allāh has praised those who do this during this time of night.[12]

3) Ensure, dear brother, that you, at the least, make Fajr and ʿIshā’ Ṣalāh in congregation in the Masjid, as they do not clash with most people’s working hours. In doing so, you will be given the reward of spending the entire night in Ṣalāh.[13]

4) Ensure that you recite the morning remembrances after Ṣalāh al-Fajr and the evening remembrances after Ṣalāh al-ʿAsr without fail.[14]

5) On the days that you are off work, try to remain in the Masjid after Ṣalāh al-Fajr, occupying yourself with the recitation of Qur’ān and Dhikr until sunrise. Then pray the Duha prayer 15 minutes after the rising of the sun or, better still, you may wish to delay it until about 10 minutes before midday; a person who does this is given the reward of a complete Hajj and ‘Umrah, inshāAllāh.[15]

6) Set an intention each day before going to work to use those hours to acquire Halāl wealth to spend in Allāh’s path so that you are rewarded for every minute of your day. Ensure that you give your mouth little rest from Allāh’s remembrance throughout your 9-5 and that your limbs are fasting with you, as you restrain them from every form of sin.

7) After coming home and briefly resting, dedicate an hour for the recitation of the Qur’ān and/or the study of its meanings.

8) Dedicate the final 30 minutes before Iftār to Duʿā’, as the Duʿā’ of the fasting person is accepted throughout his fast.[16]

9) After you have had your meal after Maghrib, strictly utilise the time between Maghrib and ʿIshā’ for the recitation of the Qur’ān.

10) Ensure that you do not miss a single day’s worth of Tarāwīh prayers. Choose the Masjid which offers the recitation that connects with your heart the most.

11) Dedicate a manageable portion of charity that you will give each day. If you worry about forgetting to give it out on some days, then set up a daily direct debit.

12) Set yourself a target of attending at least one circle of knowledge each week, for they are gatherings that are visited by the angels and shrouded by the mercy of Allāh.

13) Set yourself a target of calling or visiting one relative of yours a day, as upholding family ties extends one’s life, expands one’s wealth and protects a person from an evil ending to one’s life.[17]

The programme above is merely a suggestion requiring adaptions to individual circumstance. I would, nevertheless, recommend that whatever your targets may be, that they be in the numerical form. For example, “I will do such and such X number of times, and such and such Y number of times”. In this way you have a base to rate your performance in the coming years.

I ask Allāh to make us amongst the people of īmān who meet His kindness with kindness, His offerings with acceptance and His worship with excitement and preparation.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Al-Qur’ān, 2:184

[2] AtTirmidhi, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[3] AlHaakim, on the authority of Abu Juhaifa

[4] Ibnu Abi Dunya

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 47:9

[6] Al-Qur’ān, 2:45

[7] Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[8] Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[9] Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[10] Al-Fawaa’id

[11] Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Anas

[12] Al-Qur’ā, 3:17

[13] Muslim, on the authority of ‘Uthmaan

[14] Find them here: http://www.islamawareness.net/Dua/Fortress/027.html

[15] AtTirmidhi, on the authority of Anas

[16] AtTirmidhi, on the authority of Abu Huraira

[17][17] Al-Bukhari, Al-Bazzaar, AlHaakim and others

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