“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient. (57:16)
The month of Ramadan opens the floodgates of opportunity for believers who embrace it with faith and anticipation. The opportunities are endless. The Night of Power offers us the 1000 months of worship. The reward of virtue is equal to a fardh performed in any other month. The reward of a fardh is multiplied seventy times. Muslims are further shielded from the bidding of the shayateen so that they are not distracted and waylaid from exerting themselves. The first ten days bring the special mercy of Allah, followed by the second ten days of forgiveness and the last ten days of emancipation from the fire of Hell.
We all know time is a limited commodity. Every second that passes can never be retrieved, it is the drop lost into the sea of eternity. We have limited time to make the best of the endless opportunities that the month offers us. “Take advantage of five matters before five: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” (Ahmed) We may be in very different circumstances next Ramadan. We may not have the health, the time or the life to take advantage of another Ramadan. Now is the time, we have to act with a sense of urgency.
Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has called Ramadân the month of sabr [patience]. Sabr is made up of three levels of endurance:
• Persistence in acts of obedience: As humans we tend to be inconsistent, we become lethargic, weary and lazy. Our challenge is to persist and subdue the tendency to be inconsistent and irregular in our ibadah. Ramadân gives us the spirit and resilience to persist in our ibadah. If we cannot be consistent in our ibadah during the month of Ramadân, it is hardly possible to do so outside Ramadân. The minimum requirement is to discharge all our farâ’id obligations.
• Abstention from acts of disobedience: Ramadân is a month that helps us to control our desires and passions. Fasting gives us the ability to resist the enslaving urge to do wrong. It is a “…protective shield, so when one of you are fasting, let him not behave or speak indecently; if someone tries to abuse him or fight him, let him say, ‘I am fasting’….” [Bukhari and Muslim]. Every limb of our body must fast from indecency and vice. Both men and women should be conscious of their attire… tight fitting jeans that accentuate the contours of their bodies, revealing tops, etc. goes against the grain and spirit of fasting. If we cannot learn modesty in our conduct and attire in the month of Ramadân, chances are that we never will!
• Perseverance in times of difficulty: The third component of sabr is the ability to persevere in the face of difficulties. No difficulty, no pain, no hardship is in vain, they have a meaning which often times is beyond our understanding. The life of a believer revolves between gratitude and patience. It is during times of difficulty that our faith is tested, are we going to loose hope and become despairing? We must view the difficulties attached with fasting, taraweeh and sehri as a test of our faith, and a means of securing the pleasure of Allah. If we fail to persevere in Ramadân, we harm none except ourselves; we certainly do not harm Allah!
Ask for Allah’s Forgiveness:
Never let a day of Ramadan pass that you have not asked for Allah’s forgiveness. Seeking forgiveness not only erases your sins, it also removes anxiety, opens the doors of sustenance, attracts the mercy of Allah and draws us closer to Allah.
Read the Quran:
If you want to speak to Allah engage in Salaah, if you want Allah to speak to you read the Quran. Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, he will have twice that reward.” (Bukhari)
Connect with the Qur’an:
“Truly there is a reminder in this for anyone who has a heart, or who listens attentively with presence of mind.” (50:37)” Read the Quran with presence of mind, attempt to understand its message by referring to authentic tafsirs. The message of the Quran enables us to distinguish right from wrong; it serves as a companion in solitude, a light in darkness, it guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery, it is an ornament amongst friends and armour against enemies
Spend time making du’aa:
If it is not in the nature of a mother to turn her child away empty handed no matter how disobedient a child may be, how is it possible that the One who is the Most Merciful and who has placed mercy in the hearts of all mothers turns away His slave, empty handed? How is it possible for the One Who becomes angry when His slaves do not supplicate to Him, not to be happy when they do. Dua is our intimate conversation with Allah; it is uplifting, liberating and empowering.
Safeguard your sight:
The glance is a poisoned arrow of Shaytaan. Whoever lowers his gaze for Allah, He will bestow upon him a refreshing sweetness which he will find in his heart on the day that he meets Him.” (Ahmed) Shaytaan’s attack begins with a glance, he enters the heart through a lustful glance, he infused the imagination with promised satisfaction, he arouses waves of passion, he makes what is seen, appear more beautiful than it really is, and transforms it into an idol for the heart to worship. He promises false rewards, lights the fire of desires and then leaves you to do the rest
“And spend [in the way of Allah] from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says: ‘My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous.’(63: 10) The Prophet’s Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam charity in Ramadan is described as abundant as ‘the free blowing wind.” There is no better exercise for the heart than lifting people up!
Purify your heart:
“Verily Allah does not look at your outward semblances, or your bodies, but rather He looks at your hearts!” Are you pleased that you should keep grime and dirt: grudges and malicious feelings in your heart… the place that Allah looks at?
Act with passion and anticipation: Do not let your acts of worship be empty shells of uninspired and reluctant obedience.
Allah gives to those willing to receive. Let us make this Ramadan different to all our previous ones. We may not have the opportunity again. ‘Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.’