As a nature, we all rejoice when we hear the coming of a guest, but, if the guest is so especial and important, then such joyful moments increase manifold. We are in the month of Shaban (the 8th month of Islamic calendar), the month in which we dearly wait for our guest.
The upcoming month is the guest about which these lines are being written. We will shed light on how one can welcome this guest and what importance this honorable guest has? Moreover, we will point out that how to spend our time with this precious guest? And how to achieve its bounties, mercies and blessings?
In fact, Ramadan is the dearest guest to our hearts that comes once in a year with a lot of blessings, mercies, favors, bounties and manifold rewards. A month of good deeds; in which Allah (SWT) removes all big obstacles in the way towards good deeds. The doors of Paradise are opened and those of Hell are closed (their literal opening and closing).
Ramadan is given a special importance in the Muslim societies; when the good deeds become more attractive and their reward is doubled so that the Muslims are inspired to perform more and more in the way of Allah. They make a determined struggle to avoid sins; therefore these good deeds are doors to Paradise and the sins are doors to Hell.
How to welcome and benefit ourselves from this guest?
There is no doubt that Allah (SWT) made some hours, days, nights and months more preferable than others. He preferred the month of Ramadan over all other months ordering to fast in its days, reciting the Holy Quran, praying taraweeh (additional prayer, usually prayed in this month after Isha prayer), giving in charity, seeking the Night of Decree and confining ourselves in the mosque for prayers and invocations, in short completely setting ourselves aside from the worldly activities.
9 ways to welcome the month of Ramadan:
1. Revising the intention:
One should revise his/her intention before the coming of Ramadan. Intention is the main origin in all deeds. It is a standard by which deeds are accepted or rejected. If the intention is pure, Allah (SWT) will accept the deeds. And if it is corrupt, then the deeds will be rejected. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Actions are but by intention and every man will have but that which he intended.” (Al-Bukhari: 1)
The intention is a deed of heart, uttering it by the tongue is not compulsory. For example, the words of intention that are pronounced before prayers or fasting, which are common among people, have no evidence in authentic Hadith; so they are innovations.
2. Repenting from sins:
Ramadan is a great opportunity for us to return in repentance to our Supreme Lord, because people are released from Hell on every night during this month and it is a special honor of Ramadan. After repentance for sins, every person is able to secure this honor. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed, O seeker of evil, stop.’ And Allah has necks (people) whom He frees (from the Fire) and that happens every day. ” (At-Tirmidhi: 682).
3. Hoping for reward:
As a Muslim, one should hope for reward while doing good deeds. A believer always hopes to enter Paradise while doing good deeds. Being sincere in good deeds one must hope for their rewards from Allah (SWT) and the only hope of a believer is to enter Paradise. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim: 760).
4. Providing food for a fasting person to break his fast:
Making arrangements for a fasting person to break his/her fast is a great virtue. Many Ahadith are reported concerning this. In Ahadiths it’s said that the providing food and drink to the people observing fast is not necessary, if one does so, it will have extra reward but that must be done according to one’s capability and with good intentions. The provider will get full reward as the one who fasts. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever provides the food for a fasting person to break his fast with, then for him is the same reward as his (the fasting person’s), without anything being diminished from the reward of the fasting person.” (At-Tirmidhi: 807).
5. Reciting the Holy Quran:
Quran is the book of guidance for believers. As Muslims, we all know the status of Quran and its recitation. From authentic Ahadith we know that reciting the Glorious Quran has countless rewards. Quran has even more of an important significance and rewards in the blessed month of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Quran will intercede for those who recite it on the Day of Resurrection. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Recite the Quran, for it will come on the Day of Resurrection interceding for its companions.” (Muslim: 804).
Jibril (AS) used to meet the Prophet (PBUH) every year in Ramadan until it ended, and the Messenger (PBUH) would recite the Quran to him. The predecessors of this Ummah would recite the Holy Quran constantly during Ramadan. They used to recite the whole Quran in three days in the first twenty days of Ramadan and in one day during the last ten days of this month.
Therefore, it is the month of Quran. We should recite Quran as much as we can in this noble month as it is important for the one who fasts to recite it as much as he/she can during these blessed days and honorable nights.
6. Avoiding backbiting, slandering and vain talk:
A Muslim, as a rule, is commanded to refrain from things like vulgar and obscene talk and other activities of the Days of Ignorance. And when he is fasting, it is more important that he observe abstinence from all evil activities in all circumstances. Rather than engaging in disputes, he is advised to plainly declare to his opponent that he is fasting, so that all doors to any bad conduct are shut. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“If one does not avoid speaking Zur, and acting upon it, Allah is in no need of him abstaining from his food and his drink.” (Al-Bukhari: 1903).
The word Zur in the hadith means, all types of false and vain talk. It is a talk of disbelief, false witness, false accusation, backbiting, telling lies, slandering, swearing, cursing and false criticism, nevertheless it includes all types of disobedience and sins.
7. Avoiding much sleep and food:
Islam is a natural religion (a religion towards Fitrah) based on moderation, middle course, and away from excessiveness. Therefore, it urges to eat and drink normally. One should not exceed the limits. Eating too much causes much sleep which results in abundance of worship and achieving great rewards. Moreover, a Muslim should not sleep, eat and drink a lot to deprive himself from such great opportunity.
8. Praying Taraweeh (Voluntary Night Prayer) During Ramadan:
Voluntary night prayer during any time of the year is recommended and merits great rewards from Allah (SWT), even so during Ramadan. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever stands (in prayer) during Ramadan, having faith and expecting his reward (from Allah), he will have all his previous sins forgiven.” (Abu Dawud: 1371).
Moreover, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever stands with the Imam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.” (Ibn Majah: 1327).
9. Knowing the importance of last ten days and nights of Ramadan:
There should be more than usual emphasis on performing the acts of worship and devotion during the last ten (or nine) days of Ramadan. Last ten days and nights of Ramadan have a unique importance in Islam.
It has more virtues and significance especially the odd nights i.e. 21, 23, 25, 27, 29. These odd nights include the Night of Decree according to Qur’an and Sunnah. Worshipping in this night is better than a thousand months and whoever spends Laitlat Al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.
In short, Ramadan is a guest that should be respected. It is the important opportunity for us to benefit ourselves from it. We should do all kinds of good deeds with faith and hope of reward. With utmost sincerity and conformity to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), our fasting, night prayers and good deeds shall have more chances of inviting Allah’s pleasure in forgiving our sins.
May Allah make us from those who avail this opportunity and do all types of good deeds in faith and hope for reward. Ameen!