Ramadan isn’t just about abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk and if it is seen as just a daily fast for 29 or 30 days, it can become one that is cumbersome and done without much spiritual zeal. Here are ways to achieve a spiritual boost as the month of Ramadan begins to reel in.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) announced on the last day of Sha`ban:
“Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in this month shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in this month shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time.” (Al-Albani)
Prophet Muhammad’s prelude to Ramadan is an eye opener as to why Ramadan is so important.
The more good deeds a person engages in, the closer God guides him/her towards the right path, and the good deeds become compounded as Ramadan reels in.
“In Ramadan, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” (Al-Mundhiri)
When Prophet Muhammad saw the crescent, he used to say:
“Oh Allah! Cause it to appear over us with prosperity, faith (Iman), security and Islam. (Then to the moon): My Lord and your Lord is Allah.” (Al-Albani)
“Prophet Muhammad was the most generous of all people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).” (Al-Bukhari)
Ramadan is a great time for charitable deeds, in order to emulate Prophet Muhammad’s generosity. Engaging in charity helps wash away sins by cleansing earnings and mitigates any form of arrogance (in one’s heart) as one is able to relate to those who are less fortunate. By engaging in charitable deeds as a prelude to Ramadan, there is greater chance that giving to charity during Ramadan will also become easier as charity if cultivated even before Ramadan arrives. Reminding oneself of God’s Mercy and the Prophet’s generosity is a great way to continue in the path of God and to make the best of Ramadan.
Abu Hurairah narrated that Prophet Muhammad said:
“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.” (Al-Bukhari)
The reason for repentance is that we can be unaware of our sins on a daily basis. So there is no time like the present to start cleansing our hearts in order to fully embrace the fasting month.
Zaid bin Thabit said, “We took the “Suhur” (the meal taken before dawn while fasting is observed) with the Prophet and then stood up for the (morning) prayer.” I asked him how long the interval between the two (Suhur and prayer) was. He replied, ‘The interval between the two was just sufficient to recite fifty to sixty Ayahs. (Al-Bukhari)
Imagine being able to recite fifty to sixty verses of the Quran during the short time frame. Surely these are the benefits of Ramadan and the same benefits may be reaped by believers who fast with sincerity.