preparing for ramadan 2013

In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Preparing for Ramadan

As Ramadan is quickly approaching us, we at the AlKauthar Team would like to give you a friendly reminder regarding what each of us should be preparing to take away from this Blessed Month, because as Allah (The Most High) says:
“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers” (Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat, ayah 55)
Firstly, in order to benefit from the month of Ramadan, one must understand its objectives. The following are a few of these objectives:
1) Submission and Devotion
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the obligatory actions that an individual must perform in order to be considered a Muslim. It is a direct command of Allah (the Most High) and, therefore, a Muslim (one who submits their will to the Will of Allah) must fulfil this integral responsibility. The sheer fact that Allah commands us to do something should be sufficient reason for us to do it because, as He says in the Surah Noor, ayah 51:
“The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, “We hear and we obey.” And those are the successful.”
Fasting is just one of the many actions that Allah commands His servants to fulfil in order to test the reality of the faith that they claim is within their hearts. So let us remember this important concept before getting into any of the other Fawaa’id (beneficial consequences) that may arise from fasting during Ramadan.
2) Attaining Taqwa (God-Consciousness)
Allah (the Most High) says in the Qur’aan, in Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 183:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may attain Taqwa.”
From this we can see that one of the main objectives of Ramadan is to attain Taqwa which is typically translated as meaning “God-consciousness”. A lot of us may go through our daily lives without remembering Allah in the slightest (May Allah forgive us and protect us from such heedlessness!). As we fast during the days of Ramadan, we are reminded every time that we look at the food or drink that we would typically partake in during the day that “the only reason why I am not enjoying you is because I have been commanded by my Lord to abstain”. If we keep this thought in mind while we are fasting, then we can challenge and hopefully overcome the heedlessness which has inflicted us over time inshaa’Allah.
3) Self control
Fasting helps to train us to forego immediate gratification and obedience of our desires in order to attain loftier objectives and a lasting reward. When an individual realises the strength that they need to overtake their desires, they are capable of realising successes like no other, in this world and in the Hereafter.
4) Nearness to the Book of Allah (the Qur’aan)
As Muslims (and human beings for that matter), we are in dire need of guidance in this world. This guidance can be found in the Kitaab (the Qur’aan) and the Hikmah (the Sunnah) that Allah revealed to us through His Final Messenger (sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that each and every one of us strengthens our connection with this source of guidance in order for us to receive the direction that we need in this world. During the month of Ramadan, one of the most practiced and emphasised acts of worship Is the recitation of the Qur’aan. This month was always a special time in the past, going back to the life of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) – who would review the entire Qur’aan with the Angel Jibreel – and in later years when the scholars would leave all their other books aside in order to focus their efforts on strengthening their relationship with the Book of Allah because they knew that was where the most reward lay. Therefore, in following the example of our Messenger (sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and our righteous predecessors (may Allah have mercy upon them), it is important that we focus our time on reciting, understanding and pondering the Qur’aan in order for us to attain the optimal benefit from Ramadan. We also hope that these habits will remain with us long after the month has passed.
5) Gratitude
Through abstaining from food and drink do we begin to attain an appreciation for the blessings that we have. As human beings who have been made forgetful; it is unfortunate that when we have something around us for a long period of time we fail to recognise how important that thing really is to us. Only through the absence of something can we truly begin to appreciate what we really have and Ramadan helps to facilitate that.
6) Empathy
Most certainly, the hunger and thirst that one endures through fasting during Ramadan is nothing compared to the hardships that are faced by many who are suffering in the world. Even so, by experiencing just a fraction of this pain should cause us to sympathise with one another on a far greater level. Maybe it will be that you become more willing to give to those who are in need when you taste the hunger of someone who hasn’t eaten or drunk for an entire day.
So what can one do right now in order to get ready to attain optimum benefit?
1) Set your intention:
Make a firm and sincere intention to seek the pleasure of Allah for your fasting in order for you to be rewarded. Avoid being of those who only attain hunger and thirst due to their lack of sincerity.
2) Write down your goals:
Ramadan should be a time of goal setting for the year to come. Set goals with regards to your ‘Ibaadah: how much Qur’aan are you going to read each day? How many raka’at of Qiyaam do you hope to continue after Ramadan? How much sadaqah do you plan to give? And so on.
3) Practice fasting during the month prior to Ramadan (Sha’abaan):
It was a practice of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to fast more frequently in the month prior to Ramadan. Therefore, as preparation for the long days of fasting ahead, try performing some voluntary fasts in the month of Sha’abaan. In an authentic Hadeeth in Al-Bayhaqee, it is recorded that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) mentioned that “Allah’s Messenger never fasted an entire month other than Ramadan and I haven’t seen him fast more than he did in Sha’baan”. However, avoid fasting a day or two before Ramadan to avoid making the fasting seem conjoined in some way.
4) Increase in reading the Qur’aan:
Read a certain portion of Qur’aan each day until you develop the habit of reading at least one juz’ a day. This way, you can finish the Qur’aan at least once before the end of Ramadan.
5) Increase in voluntary prayers and supplication:
The people of knowledge would always make du’aa that they would have the opportunity to witness Ramadan and that their deeds would be accepted from it. They would especially increase in this in the time just leading up to it. So in following their example, we should increase in our asking of Allah because Allah is certainly pleased with His Servants when they ask of Him. In addition, we should also increase in our voluntary prayers (especially those after salaatul-Ishaa) in preparation for performing Qiyaamul-Layl (i.e. Taraweeh) during the nights of Ramadan. We hope that we can continue asking and praying to Allah in this manner even after this Blessed Month has passed us by.
6) Alter your sleeping habits:
If you are an individual who is used to staying up to the late hours of the night, it may be wise to alter your sleeping patterns in order to ensure that you can wake up for suhoor as well as attaining the benefit of Qiyaamul-Layl. You know what works best for you; just make sure that you take the necessary precautions.
There are probably other wisdoms that one can derive from this special month and recommendations that can be given, but these should hopefully be sufficient for a reminder inshaa’Allah. Feel free to share a reminder of your own in the comments below!
Baaraka Allahu feekum wa jazaakum Allah khayran.

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