In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
“May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon You”
Bismillah Walhamdulillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam ‘ala Rasulillah
As-Salaam Alaykum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakaatuh
1) The Ramadhan–Early Bird Series
Ramadan is quickly approaching. Instead of waiting for the last minute to prepare, begin today for a fruitful month of blessings and Barakah from Allah [SWT].
To fully benefit from a great opportunity, you need to prepare for it – and the more thorough the preparation, the better. As Muslims, we have an annual event that serves as a tremendous opportunity to gather rewards and effect permanent, positive changes in our lives that will help us draw closer and closer to the Almighty. That opportunity is Ramadan.
Usually, it’s only in few days before Ramadan that we start hearing about how important it is to prepare so that by the time the month arrives, we’re already in the spirit of striving, and we have the momentum to make the most of Ramadan.
But we also hear how the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) com panions
(may Allâh be pleased with them) used to look forward to Ramadan a full six months before it came. And because they are the best generation in our history, we should take them as our role models and try to emulate their attitude towards this great opportunity.
We have, Insha Allah, few days left until Ramadan begins – so if we want to take full benefit from Ramadan, and take advantage of those `early bird’ benefits, now is the time to start preparing (if we haven’t already started, that is).
You may be thinking it’s too soon, but time flies and we get wrapped up in so many things – so it would be foolish to let this reminder – and this early opportunity – pass you by.
The Early Bird Plan
It’s a well-established principle that the way to success is gradualism: doing things little by little, stage by stage, but being consistent in it. So with this series, what I hope to do is take one aspect of development at a time, and make that the focus for the month – for the next five months. And when Ramadan hits, Insha Allah, we would have covered five important elements of our spiritual lives, and be better prepared to step up in those areas to new and amazing heights.
The system being proposed here is open to your suggestions, so please do give feedback if you can contribute anything positive. With regard to topics on a monthly basis, you can choose to go along with what’s suggested, or you can choose your own area to focus on. Each person knows him/herself best, and knows what’s most important for their lives – so focus on what you need to, adopting a structured framework within which to focus your efforts.
The general framework for the project:
1. Pick an area you’d like to work on for this month (e.g. character, speech, fasting, charity); or use the one prescribed in this article
2. Analyse what your current condition is in the area (quality, frequency, etc)
3. Look at what your weaknesses / problems are, and their root causes
4. Think of practical methods to over com e those root causes
5. Set up a realistic plan of action to implement those solutions gradually in the com ing months, then at a higher pace in Ramadan
Stage 1: Salaah
We know the importance of salaah in Islam: it’s the first thing we’ll be asked about on the Day of Judgement, and according to another hadeeth, it’s a founding pillar of Islam – whoever has established it has uplifted the pillar, and whoever has disregarded it has dropped the founding pillar.
So with that in mind, this first month’s preparation consists of the following:
Ask yourself: • Do I understand how important salaah really is, for both my current life and my time in the grave and Hereafter? • Am I making my com pulsory Salaah every day? • Am I generally making them on time, or do I let other things delay me too often? • Am I striving to make them in congregation? • Do I have good concentration in salaah, or do other things often distract me?
There are many other points we could ponder on regarding salaah, but for now, we’ll limit the discussion to these alone. Think through each question, and record your answers. Be honest with yourself – and do this either com pletely in private, without sharing it with anyone (if you prefer it that way), or with someone else (if you think that’s more beneficial).
Root Cause Analysis
Now go through each of these points and look at what the problems / weaknesses are. List each of the problems, along with its outward symptoms that you notice (e.g. losing focus during salaah – what is my mind drifting to?). Then try to find what the root causes of those problems are by interrogating each symptom. Ask yourself “why?” that symptom persists, and keep asking “why?” of each answer until you get to the root cause.
With the problems diagnosed, the symptoms identified, and root causes found, now think of practical ways to solve those problems from the root. For example, if your mind drifts to your daily activities during salaah, is it because you spend so much time wrapped up in those activities, and then `quickly’ go to make salaah for a short time before you can get back to it?
If so, one solution is to give yourself a buffer of a few minutes before each salaah – a short period where you disconnect from all those activities, sit quietly and alone and try to let all those thoughts dissipate while you mentally prepare for your meeting with Allah. And after the salaah, take another few minutes to just stay in that moment – before you return to your life’s activities.
With solutions identified, now analyse what your schedule and life is like at this moment, and com e up with a realistic plan of how you can implement the solution. Remember that a solution is far more effective if you implement it gradually – in small, manageable pieces, and consistently – rather than trying to make a big change in one go, and burning yourself out. Set up your plan to take baby steps in this month, knowing that you’ll only be starting small for now – and increasing the pace when Ramadan com es.
If, after a while, you find that you’ve incorrectly estimated your ability to follow the plan, simply make adjustments as needed. The goal for this month, and the four that follow, is to implement steps that are realistic for you – what you can manage, and not what will overburden you.
And the most important resources of all are the right intentions, sincere dua asking for success in this venture, and then consistent effort to do your best.
Courtesy: Yacoob Manjoo
2) Some homework to do in Ramadhan
The pious servants of Allaah will wel com e this blessed month, awakening from their negligence, beseeching Allaah’s pardon, and repenting to Him. They will take a very pledge that they are, with immense pleasure, going to fully utilize this blessed month of Ramadaan with all of its mercies and the bliss that it brings. Moreover, they will spend their precious time worshipping Allaah, increasing their righteousness and good deeds. Thus, this month is meritorious for special pious deeds in which there are surely many virtues.
1.ReadQuraan: Learning the translation of the meaning, pondering over its Verses are also re com mended and encouraged acts.
And he (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever reads one letter from the Book of Allaah, will receive one Hasanah (reward for a good deed), and one Hasanah com es with ten like it. I do not say that Alif – Lam – Mim is a letter. Indeed Alif is a letter, and Lam is a letter, and Mim is a letter.
2. Make Dua (Supplications)
One should make as much Dua for himself, family and the Muslim Ummah as much as he can during Ramadaan.
3. Strengthen Family ties
Ramadaan is a time where a person who may have problems or disagreements between his family members should clear them. There is great reward for one who upholds kinship. Narrated Anas bin Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him): Allaahs Apostle (peace be upon him) said,”Whoever loves that he be granted more wealth and that his lease of life be prolonged then he should keep good relations with his Kith and kin.”
4. Praying Qiyaam / Taraweeh/ Tahajjud (the Night Prayer)
Narrated Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him): I heard Allaahs Apostle (peace be upon him) saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allaah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
Ramadaan is a perfect time for Muslims to make Dawaah to those that are not practicing, as well as non-Muslims.
6. Nawafil /Optional/ Voluntary Prayers
Narrated Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:”The first of his deeds for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer. If it is sound then he will have succeeded but if it is not sound then he will be lost and doomed. If anything is lacking from his obligatory prayers, the Lord will say: Look and see whether My slave has any voluntary (prayers), and the shortfall from his obligatory prayers will be made up from that.
The Duha Prayer is a voluntary Salah prayer between the time after Fajr (i.e. Dawn) and the time before the Dhuhr prayer (i.e. forenoon). The minimum Rakahs for Duha prayer are two and the maximum are twelve.
8. Make Dhikr Of Allaah
And He, the Most High, also said: “And remember your Lord by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and with fear without loudness in words in the mornings, and in the afternoons and be not of those who are neglectful.
Narrated Aboo Saeed(may Allaah be pleased with him): I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying, “Indeed, anyone who fasts for one day for Allaah’s Pleasure, Allaah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years.
10. Itikaaf(seclusion In the mosque for ibadat)
Narrated Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to practice Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice Itikaf after him.
“Witr” literally means odd number. Witr has two different meanings in the Sunnah: The last one or three Rakahs of the night prayer, or it means all of the night prayers (because in essence they are odd – numbered). This discussion refers to the former meaning. We learn from the following hadith that Witr is not obligatory but desirable. But it would not be correct to show any slackness in performing it because every Muslim should do his best to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Aboo Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying: “In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification (SubhanAllaah) is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise of Him (Alhamdulilah) is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness (La ilaha illa Allaah) is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness (Allaahu Akbar) is an act of charity, enjoining Maruf (good) is an act of charity, forbidding what is Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two rakahs which one prays in the forenoon will suffice.”
13. Providing for one to open the fast
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, will have a reward equal to his, without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person.”
Its very easy to have a sudden burst of energy and do a lot in one day and then not do anything during the rest of the month (due to tiredness). It’s Sunnah to be moderate and consistent. Narrated Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her): The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allaah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.”
Oh Allah, allow us to make the most of Ramadhan. Oh Allaah, let us meet you with a clean heart, with all our sins erased. Oh Allaah grant us mercy, and make us from those that you have freed from hell fire.
Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqba ibn ‘Amr al-Ansari al-Badri reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, “Anyone who shows the way to something good has the same reward as the person who does it.” [Muslim]
E.g. if you encourage someone to go for Salah, or pay Zakat and the person actually goes ahead and prays or pays Zakat, Allah will reward him for the good deeds and at the same time give you (the one that encouraged them to do good) an equal reward as he has given them- without decreasing what he gave them.
So encourage others to do Good and refrain from bad Deeds and please remember me in your prayers
Your brother in Islam