Last year’s Ramadan was a first of its kind. It wasn’t anything like we’d pictured or anticipated – everything about it was different. Like many, I spent it away from family and loved ones; a Ramadan without the very rituals that made it special. The spiritual boost that we get from communal events and congregational prayers is certainly unmatched, but I found that it is often in times of solitude, that we are able to disconnect from worldly distractions, and focus on strengthening our relationship with Allah.
I had to come to terms with the fact that Ramadan was an individual journey of self-reflection and personal growth. The mosques may close, but the doors to Allah’s mercy and forgiveness remain open. It was up to me to utilize this month and let my imān blossom.
So, how can we make the most out of Ramadan?
Our pious predecessors would pray to Allah SWT for six months asking Him to allow them to reach the month of Ramadan, and they would pray for six months after, asking for Allah to accept their ibadah. There’s no doubt that we’ve all experienced (and continue to) a traumatic and tumultuous year. With so much death surrounding us, one can only feel immense gratitude to be alive.
Just to emphasise how blessed we really are; the Prophet ﷺ compared two men – a martyr who died before Ramadan and another man who lived to fast it. He described the difference between the two as “Greater than what is between the heavens and the earth”, simply because the latter witnessed Ramadan, fasted and prayed more. [Sahih Ibn Majah].
Tip: Think of those who passed before this blessed month began. Were they aware that Ramadan 2020 was to be their last? What would they have done differently? Such perspective is necessary to appreciate the blessing of reaching yet another Ramadan and not take it for granted.
Renew your intentions
Reminding yourself of the rewards for every act of worship you do in Ramadan encourages you to stay consistent. As we do certain ibadah repeatedly, it is easy to forget why we do it and the rewards we can reap. It turns into a habit. But intentions are a beautiful concept in Islam. Allah SWT rewards us for each intention we make, regardless if the action is one. Fasting is a perfect example; you can make the intention of fasting because Allah says fasting is for Him and He shall reward for it. You can make the intention of fasting for your sins to be wiped away. You can make the intention of fasting to attain piety.
These are all different intentions that multiply the reward for the same action. Likewise, you’re rewarded for the mere intention of giving charity, even if you don’t have anything to give. You’re rewarded for your sleep if you intend to wake up for suhoor. How beautiful is that?
Tip: Renew your intentions before every ibadah and you’ll find yourself more motivated and consistent post-Ramadan.
Speak to Allah through du’aa
The Prophet ﷺ used to seek refuge in Allah from a supplication that is not heard. Surely, Allah SWT is the All-Hearing, but this means that the du’aa is not accepted, due to its conditions being unfulfilled. He ﷺ said:
- “One of you may be answered so long as he is not hasty and says, ‘I made du’aa but I got no response.” [Bukhari]
- “Call upon Allah with certainty that He will answer you — and know that Allah will not answer the supplication of a heart that is negligent and distracted.” [al-Tirmidhi | Hasan]
- “None of you should say: ‘O Allah, forgive me if You wish; O Allah, be merciful to me if You wish,’ but he should always appeal to Allah with determination, for nobody can force Allah to do something against His Will.” [Muslim].
Ramadan is the month of the Quran, we read the Quran and hear Allah’s words speak to us. But it’s also the month of du’aa where we talk to our Lord. The verse in which Allah says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran..”
is followed by the verse:
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me – indeed I am near..”.
Tip: Supplicate with determination and trust in Allah’s response. Sometimes the things we pray for aren’t good or right for us at the time. Perhaps, the blessing is in the form of a delayed response or withheld for something better. Perhaps, you’ve had more victories than you are aware of and even more are to come. Trust that there is wisdom behind it all.
Naturally, we have high hopes for ourselves in Ramadan. Your goal might be to finish the Quran more than once or to pray your five prayers on time. The first week goes well. You manage to pull through the second, and then you start to feel that mid-Ramadan slump incoming. The excitement starts to die down and you’re left wondering if you aimed too high and your goals were beyond your capabilities. However, habits are built on consistency and we don’t acknowledge Allah once a year only. Ramadan is meant to change the rest of your year and life, for the better.
Tip: Be realistic in your goals and adjust the intensity of your worship, so that you can incorporate it into your daily life after Ramadan. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few”.
Do more. Be extra.
If Ramadan was like every other month, then the reward for your good deeds would be the same as the other months. Instead, good deeds are multiplied more than tenfold. Your fast wipes away your previous sins and intercedes for you on the day of judgement. Likewise, the Quran also intercedes for you and the reward for reading each letter is greatly multiplied. Every night Allah chooses people whom He redeems from the Fire. Minor sins committed between two Ramadans will be expiated. Allah has allocated a gate of Paradise called Ar-Rayyaan, solely for those who fast. Ramadan is truly special. Do more. Be extra. You never know which Ramadan will be your last.
Tip: Maximise the rewards you can get out of Ramadan and know that if Allah SWT guided you to make an effort in getting closer to Him, then surely He wills guidance for you. A sign of an accepted Ramadan is your life changing for the better once it’s over. But that doesn’t have to be a drastic change. It could be a sin that you’ve been trying to abandon or wanting to incorporate more worship into your life.
He will guide you as long as you make the effort.
Allah says: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good” – Surat Al-‘Ankabut.