All praises are for Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) that we are granted and are about to witness the blessed month of Ramadan once again. Here is how to make the most of it using Qur’an and Sunnah.

  • Do not fast in the last days of Sha’baan.

In a hadith we learn:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet ﷺ said,:

لَا يَتَقَدَّمَنَّ أحَدُكُمْ رَمَضَانَ بصَوْمِ يَومٍ أوْ يَومَيْنِ، إلَّا أنْ يَكونَ رَجُلٌ كانَ يَصُومُ صَوْمَهُ، فَلْيَصُمْ ذلكَ اليَومَ

“None of you should fast a day or two before the month of Ramadan unless he has the habit of fasting (Nawafil) (and if his fasting coincides with that day) then he can fast that day.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1914)

To clarify, it is allowed for a person who regularly fasts on Mondays and Thursdays to continue on fasting on Mondays and Thursdays if it falls in the last days of Sha’baan. Otherwise, one should not fast.

  • Fast for the entire month of Ramadan

Plan on fasting the entire month. When you witness Ramadan, then it is obligatory for a Muslim to fast.

In Surah Al-Baqara, it is said:

یٓاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا کُتِبَ عَلَیْکُمُ الصِّیَامُ کَمَا کُتِبَ عَلَی الَّذِیْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِکُمْ لَعَلَّکُمْ تَتَّقُوْنَ

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Al-Baqara: 183]

One must fast keeping the following aspects in mind so the benefit of Ramadan can be obtained. In such a manner, a person can become rightly eligible to attain the blessings of this very special month.

  • Avoid actions that become prey to riya (show-off)

What ‘showing-off’ really means is to perform an act of worship for anything other than Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). It is a form of hypocrisy. Ikhlas (sincerity) in ibadah (worship) is to perform the act only to please Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) and to attain nearness to Him. Show-off is the opposite of sincerity and is a matter that falls under shirk (associating partners with Allah).

The purpose of an act that is done to please others, obtain their validation is carried out for the pleasure of seeking the approval of others. Hence, Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) does not accept it and considers it baseless.

For Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ), the acceptance of an act calls for two main conditions. The first one is that the act is based on sincerity for Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ)’s pleasure and the second is on the methodology of the Sunnah. This is the acceptable deed. All other deeds are not acceptable by Him.

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) says in the Qur’an:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ  وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion.
[Al-Bayinnah: 5]

The Prophet ﷺ feared that his Ummah will become prey to such hypocrisy in their religion. He said:

إنَّ أخوَفَ ما أخافُ عليكُمُ الشِّركُ الأصغرُ: الرِّياءُ، يقولُ اللهُ يومَ القيامةِ إذا جَزَى النَّاسَ بأعمالِهم: اذهَبوا إلى الذينَ كنتم تُراؤونَ في الدُّنيا، فانظُروا هل تَجِدونَ عِندَهم جزاءٍ.

“Verily, the thing that I fear most for you is the minor shirk.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is the minor shirk?” He said, “Ar-Riya’, (showing off). Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection when He is rewarding the people for their actions: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off in the world and see if you can find any reward with them.'”
(Source: Sahih Al-Targhib wa Tarhib 32)

  • Make the intention to fast prior to Fajr

It is mandatory for a person to make the niyah (intention) for an obligatory fast the night before or at least before the time of Fajr sets in. In a hadith it is mentioned, the Prophet ﷺ said:

من لم يبيِّتِ الصِّيامَ منَ اللَّيلِ فلا صيامَ لَه

“Whoever does not intend to fast before dawn comes, should not fast.”
( An-Nissai: 2333)

This proves that it is mandatory for a person to make the intention to fast the next day a night before or at least before the onset of Fajr time. Imam Ibn Khuzayma, under the light of انما الاعمال بالنیات (Deeds are based on intention) has stated: It is wajib to make the intention to fast everyday/everynight before the onset of Fajr, unlike the one who says  it is sufficient for a person to make one intention for the entire month (Sahih Ibn Khuzayma 1934)

Imam Ibn AlMundhir AnNaysaburi states: “It is the consensus of the scholars that that whosoever has made an intention to fast the next day during the month of Ramadan and then he has fasted, then his fast is complete.”
(Al-Ijma 123)

  • Fast with complete faith (imaan) and the intention of attaining reward

The intention of the fast is to obtain the pleasure of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) and the reward of Akhira. It should not be to be part of the worldly crowd who fasts for the sake of fasting because it is the month of We have discussed above that sincerity is the key to worship. It is stated in a hadith that the fast will only be acceptable in front of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) if it is done with good intention to obtain reward.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

مَن صَامَ رَمَضَانَ، إيمَانًا واحْتِسَابًا، غُفِرَ له ما تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنْبِهِ.

“Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 38)

  • Guard your Senses (Tongue and Ears)

To fast is not to abstain from food and drinks alone; it is essential to stay away from all big as well as the smaller sins. Drinking alcohol, staying away from all kinds of intoxicants, gambling, doing watching things that are forbidden, indulging in any kind of indecent activity, listening to music, fighting, using foul language, betraying others, talking about others behind their backs and any other sinful act. When we are able to use our faculties to please Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) is when we avail the true benefit of fasting.

The purpose of fasting is to attain taqwa (fear of Allah) (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) and to fight the desires and control them. This is how we tame our nafs. In a hadith we learn:

Narrated Abu Huraira, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

مَن لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ والعَمَلَ به، فليسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ في أنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وشَرَابَهُ

“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1903)

  • Make sure to eat suhoor (eating prior to fasting)

Many of us eat well at night and then sleep throughout the night without waking up before Fajr to eat what is called ‘sehri’ (meal before fasting). Such people usually end up sleeping through Fajr. When we wake up for sehri, then automatically we are able to offer the Fajr prayer.

Hence, not only do we lose out on the Fajr prayer, we lost out on the benefit obtained from eating sehri.

Narrated Anas bin Malik, the Prophet (ﷺ) said,

تَسَحَّرُوا؛ فإنَّ في السَّحُورِ بَرَكَةً

“Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1923)

To leave sehri, is to imitate that Jews and Christians. In a hadith:

‘Amr b. Al-‘As reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

فَصْلُ ما بيْنَ صِيَامِنَا وَصِيَامِ أَهْلِ الكِتَابِ، أَكْلَةُ السَّحَرِ.

The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn.
(Sahih Muslim: 1096)

Hence, eating sehri is not only a means to obtain reward but to not eat is also to oppose the Jews and Christians.

  • Do not delay iftar (breaking of the fast)

Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,

لا يَزَالُ النَّاسُ بخَيْرٍ ما عَجَّلُوا الفِطْرَ.

“The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1957)

We also learn:

إِنَّا معشرَ الأنبياءِ ، أُمِرْنَا أنْ نُّعجِلَ إفطارَنا ، ونؤخِرَ سحورَنا ، ونَضَعَ أيمانَنَا عَلَى شمائِلِنا في الصلاةِ

We, the Prophets (Alaihimussalaam) were commanded that we should delay the sehri and rush to breaking of the fast. To delay the breaking of the fast is the way of the Jews and Christians.
(Sahih Al-Jam’i: 2286)

Additionally, narrated AbuHurayrah, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

لا يزالُ الدِّينُ ظاهرًا ما عجَّلَ النَّاسُ الفِطرَ لأنَّ اليَهودَ والنَّصارى يؤخِّرونَ

Religion will continue to prevail as long as people hasten to break the fast, because the Jews and the Christians delay doing so.
(Sahih Abi Dawud 2353)

  • Pray on time

One should pray on time regardless of the month, but Ramadan is a blessed month and one should really make an effort to offer the prayer as soon as the time sets in. Many people keep fasts and sleep throughout the day neglecting all of the prayers that come in between. The Qur’an clearly talks about prayers in these words:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.

This verse clearly indicates the commandment to not only establish prayers but to establish at the given times.

  • Avoid quarrelling and getting angry

Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah said,

قالَ رَسولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ: قالَ اللهُ: كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ له، إلَّا الصِّيَامَ، فإنَّه لي وأَنَا أجْزِي به، والصِّيَامُ جُنَّةٌ، وإذَا كانَ يَوْمُ صَوْمِ أحَدِكُمْ فلا يَرْفُثْ ولَا يَصْخَبْ، فإنْ سَابَّهُ أحَدٌ أوْ قَاتَلَهُ، فَلْيَقُلْ إنِّي امْرُؤٌ صَائِمٌ

‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1904)

The fasting person must control their anger no matter how big the situation they face. Even if someone does not treat them well, the fasting person should abstain from responding with the negative. Fasting is to teach us patience and perseverance. Reacting with impatience and harshness is not the way of the fasting person. Fasting is a wonderful way to teach young children of the family and show them what good treatment is by practicing

  • Try not to do injustice upon others

One of the conditions of fasting is to not harm the other Muslim and be unjust in this state. The person who is wronged can pray against you and the dua of that person will not be rejected. As we learn in a hadith:

واتَّقِ دَعْوَةَ المَظْلُومِ؛ فإنَّه ليسَ بيْنَهُ وبيْنَ اللَّهِ حِجَابٌ

and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 1496)

  • Repent and do alot of Istighfar

A person who is drowned in sin and has nothing to look forward to has the opportunity to turn back in this blessed month and be forgiven. Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) opens the doors of His Mercy and says in the Qur’an:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ  إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا  إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”

The person who regrets his action and makes an intention to never repeat them, Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) will forgive such an individual.

Another verse of the Qur’an indicates this:

فَاسْتَغْفِرُوْهُ ثُمَّ تُوْبُوْا اِلَيْهِ  اِنَّ رَبِّيْ قَرِيْبٌ مُّجِيْبٌ

so ask forgiveness of Him and then repent to Him. Indeed, my Lord is near and responsive
[Hud: 61]

Al-Agharr al-Muzani who was from amongst the Companions of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) reported that Ibn ‘Umar stated to him that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ تُوبُوا إلى اللهِ، فإنِّي أَتُوبُ في اليَومِ إلَيْهِ مِئَةَ مَرَّةٍ

O people, seek repentance from Allah. Verily, I seek repentance from Him a hundred times a day.
(Sahih Muslim: 2702)

  • Rectify your affairs with those who may be upset with you

Even today, there are families who seek revenge and fighting for incidents that happened several years ago. There has been no forgiveness, settlement between them. They continue to give each other the silent treatment and continue on the adversity for years after years.

The fighting culture is witnessed on the streets today while people quarrel over accidents on the road and are not tolerant of the other. We need to learn patience and practice tolerance. We need to learn to forgive and move on. We need to not stop greeting other people no matter how angry we are with them.

Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,

ليسَ الشَّدِيدُ بالصُّرَعَةِ، إنَّما الشَّدِيدُ الذي يَمْلِكُ نَفْسَهُ عِنْدَ الغَضَبِ.

“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 6114)

To reap the benefits of this Ramadan, rectify your matters with any friend, family or individual who may be upset with you. Work out all the issues and make amend with them. Consider this hadith:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

تُفْتَحُ أبْوابُ الجَنَّةِ يَومَ الإثْنَيْنِ، ويَومَ الخَمِيسِ، فيُغْفَرُ لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ لا يُشْرِكُ باللَّهِ شيئًا، إلَّا رَجُلًا كانَتْ بيْنَهُ وبيْنَ أخِيهِ شَحْناءُ، فيُقالُ: أنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حتَّى يَصْطَلِحا، أنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حتَّى يَصْطَلِحا، أنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حتَّى يَصْطَلِحا. وقالَ قُتَيْبَةُ: إلَّا المُهْتَجِرَيْنِ.

The gates of Paradise are not opened but on two days, Monday and Thursday. and then every servant (of Allah) is granted pardon who does not associate anything with Allah except the person in whose (heart) there is rancour against his brother. And it would be said: Look towards both of them until there is reconciliation; look toward both of them until there is reconciliation; look towards both of them until there is reconciliation.
(Sahih Muslim 2565a)

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr, the Prophet (ﷺ) said,

ليسَ الواصِلُ بالمُكافِئِ، ولَكِنِ الواصِلُ الذي إذا قُطِعَتْ رَحِمُهُ وصَلَها

“Al-Wasil is not the one who recompenses the good done to him by his relatives, but Al-Wasil is the one who keeps good relations with those relatives who had severed the bond of kinship with him.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari 5991)

What we learn from this hadith is that to do equal to a relative to what he has done for you is not enough to maintain the ties of kinship. Maintaining ties of kinship is to actually do for those who have left you and be kind towards them.

  • Make effort to perform Taraweeh prayer

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) says in the Qur’an:

وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا

And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer][Al-Furqan: 64]

The pious ones remember Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) even at night. They are not heedless of Him. In fact, the night worship is dearer to them as there is no one to witness them. Secondly, the night time is a time of complete solace and tranquillity where they are able to concentrate. In a hadith we learn the importance of Tahajjud prayer.

Narrated Abu Huraira,Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said

مَن قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إيمَانًا واحْتِسَابًا، غُفِرَ له ما تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنْبِهِ.

“Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.”
(Sahih- al-Bukhari: 37)

Standing before Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) at night is called qiyam ul layl or tahajjud. It compensates for the sins committed by the person and removes them.

That was narrated to us by Al-Qasim bin Dinar Al-Kufi (who said), “Ishaq bin Mansur narrated to us, from Isra’il” with this (Another chain) Bilal narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

عليكُم بقيامِ اللَّيلِ ، فإنَّهُ دَأْبُ الصَّالِحينَ قبلَكُم ، و قُربةٌ إلى اللهِ تعالى ومَنهاةٌ عن الإثمِ و تَكفيرٌ للسِّيِّئاتِ ، ومَطردةٌ للدَّاءِ عن الجسَدِ

“Hold fast to Qiyam al-Lail, for it is the practice of the righteous before you, and indeed Qiyam al-Lail is a means of nearness to Allah, a means of prevention from sin, an expiation for bad deeds, and a barrier for the body against disease.”
(Tirmidhi 3549)

  • Make alot of Du’a

In the Qur’an Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) mentions:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.
[Al-Baqara: 186]

This verse appears between the mention of Ramadan. Hence, it proves that during Ramadan, the night prayer and during the day when a person is fasting is a time of acceptance of dua’s.

Do not forget to avail the time of acceptance at iftar.

ثَلَاثَةٌ لَا تُرَدُّ دَعْوَتُهُمُ الْإِمَامُ الْعَادِلُ، ‏‏‏‏‏‏وَالصَّائِمُ حَتَّى يُفْطِرَ، ‏‏‏‏‏‏وَدَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ يَرْفَعُهَا اللَّهُ دُونَ الْغَمَامِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، ‏‏‏‏‏‏وَتُفْتَحُ لَهَا أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ، ‏‏‏‏‏‏وَيَقُولُ:‏‏‏‏ بِعِزَّتِي لَأَنْصُرَنَّكِ وَلَوْ بَعْدَ حِينٍ

There are three whose supplications are not turned back: A just ruler, and a fasting person until he breaks his fast. And, the supplication of one who has been wronged is raised by Allah up to the clouds on the Day of Resurrection, and the gates of heaven are opened for it, and Allah says, ‘By My Might I will help you (against the wrongdoer) even if it is after a while.’”
(Sahih Ibn Majah: 1432)

  • Give plenty of Charity (sadqah)

To give to those in need is a means of earning great reward and obtaining Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ)’s pleasure. It entails helping the needy, orphans and widows. It includes assisting the handicapped individuals or paying for someone’s medical expense and looking after the ones who need help. Sadqa is to clothe those who cannot afford clothing or provide food to those who cannot feed themselves.

Narrated Ibn `Abbas, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to be more generous in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel used to meet him. Gabriel used to meet him every night in Ramadan to study the Holy Qur’an carefully together. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to become more generous than the fast wind when he met Gabriel.
(Sahih al-Bukhari: 3220)

May Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) give us the ability to implement each of these action points this Ramadan and accept them from us. (Aameen)

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