The Essence of Ramadan

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The gift of Ramadan is shortly going to be upon us by the Will of Allah. Year after year, Allah Subhanhu wa Ta’ala gives us a chance to take advantage of this blessed month in which His special Mercy is sent towards the entire world.

“O people! A great and blessed month has approached you, a month containing a night better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting in its days an obligation and prayer in its nights a (recommended) voluntary act. Anyone who seeks nearness to Allah in this month through any virtuous act will be like one who carried out an obligatory act at another time (outside of Ramadan), and whoever performs an obligatory act in this month will be like one who performed seventy such acts at another time…”                                       [Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah]

Such is the love of Allah Subhanhu wa Ta’ala for His slaves, that He gives us this chance every year, to become of the Tawabeen (people who repent) and Mutahireen (people who purify themselves through repentance and begging forgiveness). Gates of Jannah are opened in this blessed month, and the devils are chained. This is a time of the year when we have an opportunity to refresh our emaan (faith), renew our neeyah (intentions) and rejuvenate our amal (actions).

As much as it is true that all Muslims await the month of Ramadan desperately, in order to avail the special blessings and immense mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, associated with this month, there are many around the world who are unable to fast all or some days of this month, due to old age, sickness, travelling, nursing or being pregnant, as well as women on their monthly periods. We all know that Allah is the Most Merciful, and in His infinite Mercy and divine wisdom, He allows us to not fast if we are under any such circumstance, and to follow the ruling of feeding a poor for a missed fast (fidyah) and to make up fasts later in life, as soon as circumstances permit. He Subhanhu wa Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days”                                                                                                    [al-Baqarah 2:184] 

And:

“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)”

[al-Baqarah 2:184] 

However, I am not a scholar, and in no way qualified to even comment on this aspect of missing fasts. In this article, I would try to present a few acts that can be performed, even if one is sick, on medication and is not able to perform Qiyaam (night worship) or Taraweeh (Ramadan Nawafil after Isha prayers).

Gratitude should be your Attitude

Count your blessings! Rather than complaining and wasting time in thinking what you cannot do, think of all the numerous possible good deeds that you can perform generally, and in this month especially, to grab your share of reward from Allah. Work hard. Don’t give up easily. Aren’t these also special favors of Allah upon us? Aren’t we so fortunate to be part of a Deen (religion) which has been clearly laid out and made convenient for us? How then can one feel deprived in the month of Ramadan, even though one is not fasting, due to one or the other context mentioned above?  Obviously the nearness of Allah that can be felt through fasting and praying, for His sake, is unmatched and irreplaceable; however, one must not lose heart and try best to accomplish Allah’s willingness, believing that He surely understands one’s physical limitations and health problems. Be grateful for such a loving and understanding Lord! Allah says in the Qur’an:

‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor] [Surah Ibrahim; 14:7]

Feed the Fasting

As a child, I saw both my diabetic parents, who were also heart-patients, not being able to fast with the family. However, they did what they could, in the best way possible. May Allah Subhanhu wa Ta’ala accept from them their ibaadah (worship) and efforts, and forgive them wherever they have slackened, Aameen!

I vividly remember my father waiting for the month of Ramadan, to get all sorts of yummy treats for his fasting children, and servants at home. There used to be a feast laid out; from sweets to savory, suhoor (morning meal before sunrise) to iftaar (evening meal at sunset), day after day, the entire month, and year after year, all 30 days of Ramadan, on our dining table, until the time my father was alive. Abba (my father) used to stand in lines to get us all possible goodies, to teach us the joy of fasting and sharing with our neighbors and servants. Ramadan used to be a much-awaited treat for us then. With adolescence came much of the realization, that those were my father’s ways to instill in us the love for the month and gratitude for the associated blessings. Alhamdulillah, all my siblings continue the legacy of my father after his death. As I grew up and had a kitchen of my own, I also developed the habit of sharing food with neighbors and feeding my family with the best of feast possible (depending on the energy reserve each year). I am although, very careful to not be extravagant or wasteful in my cooking; however, just cooking enough, to be able to share some food with friends and neighbors, especially when you are living away from home, gives one immense satisfaction and happiness. Set an example of sharing for your kids to follow. Such is the Ramadan spirit, after all.

There are many ways in which one can accumulate Allah’s love and mercy in this month, and feeding the poor, needy or even just the fasting is one such highly rewarded and recommended act in Islam.

Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.”  [Tirmidhi]

There are countless opportunities of this great deed in community mosques where people can actually volunteer to just help with the arrangements of feeding the fasting people or even spend money on this noble cause.

Other Virtuous Acts

Do a lot of adhkaar (remembrance of Allah through exalting him) while cooking, cleaning, driving, and in fact, even just laying in bed. Listen to a lot of Qur’an recitation and tafseer (explanation). Recite Qur’an and try to better your tajweed (rules of reciting Qur’an). Boost your emaan (belief) with lectures of renowned scholars, in the language you most enjoy. There must be a Daura e Qur’an (brief explanation of Qur’an) going on in your neighborhood or community mosque. Find out about it. Go to it, if you can. You can’t? Share details with someone who might go because of you.

Pray taraweeh and nawafil (extra prayers) if you can. You cannot? So what if one cannot perform long prayers due to a physical permanent or temporary disability? Don’t be disheartened. Try to improve the quality of your compulsory prayers. Already doing so? Increase the quantity then! “How?” you may ask! Learn new verses of the Qur’an and try prolonging your mandatory salaah (prayers).

Write for Deen. Spread the Khair (wellness). Become a means of sadaqa e jaariyah (on-going charity) for your parents.

Be generous and kind. Display your best manners possible, in the hope of adopting good habits and getting rid of bad ones. Help your neighbors buy grocery, give them a ride to the mosque or otherwise, or help them mow the lawn. Do you share for creating ease in someone’s life, and Insha’Allah Allah will create ease for you, in ways unimaginable!

Remember, the reward of every good deed in Ramadan is multiplied manifolds. Even if you do not reach your goal, your mere intention of doing so, will Insha’Allah (by the Will of Allah) earn you the reward of doing it.

Invest in Your Aakhirah

One must avail this blessed month to its fullest by investing in one’s Aakhirah, No doubt giving charity is a highly rewarded deed, any time of the year. However, in this month this deed can become your means of salvation. Have the yearning greed to actively look for such opportunities. Give a lot of compulsory charity (Zakaah) and voluntary charity (sadaqaat) to the poor and needy. You can also buy gifts of new clothing, shoes, and toys, for the less privileged to celebrate Eid as much as you would want your own family members to enjoy it. In the least, spend in the way of Allah, by donating online or in-person, to charitable causes like hospitals, mosques, water pumps, Islamic schools, Islamic blogs/magazines, supporting funeral costs, or helping a widow cover the costs of raising her orphaned kids … etc. Take this blessed month as an opportunity to build your business plan for a huge profit to accumulate for you in the afterlife Bi Idhn Allah (with the permission of Allah).

Intentions Matter

Your intentions of performing any of the good deeds prescribed above, or anything else that comes to mind, however; fully depend on your intentions. Perform all deeds for the sake of Allah and not for the purpose of showing off to the world, what you are capable of doing, financially or otherwise. Expect your reward and return from Allah alone.

Make Du’a

Make lots of du’a for forgiveness of yourself and your deceased family members, parents, spouse and progeny, and the entire Ummah (muslim community world-wide). Remember that the du’a made in the absence of a brother is more likely to be accepted, and one gets to reap the fruit in the form of angels saying “aameen” to the same du’a for the asking person. Most importantly, make du’a for Allah Subhanhu wa Ta’ala to accept all your good deeds performed in the month of Ramadan, and to keep you steadfast beyond this month. Beg Allah to keep you away from the whispers of Shaitan and pure from riya (showing off).

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