Monday, 5 June, 2023

Welcoming the blessed month of Ramadan

Dr Muhammad Obaidullah

Ramadan is a special month in the Islamic calendar. It is called the month of rahmah, maghfirah and nazah. This is a month to achieve true piousness. The Qur’an says: “Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, that you become God-fearing.”. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 183) The month is also famous as the month of the Qur’an as the holy book was revealed in this month. The Qur’an itself states: “The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 185) Therefore, Muslims around the world look forward to it with great anticipation. Finally, it is a time of spiritual renewal, self-reflection, and community engagement. If you are wondering how to welcome Ramadan, here are some tips to help you get started:
Mentally Prepare Yourself: Mental preparation is very much significant for doing anything physical towards achieving a specific goal. The month of Ramadan integrates both physical and spiritual activities. One of the best ways to welcome Ramadan is to mentally prepare yourself for its arrival. Take some time to reflect on your goals for the month, your intentions (niyyat) for your fast, and your commitment to your faith and its acts. Try to think about what you hope to achieve during this sacred time and set yourself up for success by creating a plan of action. The Islamic legal maxim is “Matters are judged by their objectives” (al-‘Umur bi maqasidiha).
Cleanse Your Home and Heart: Cleanliness is a part of our belief. It requires for any basic ‘ibadah. However, Islam does not only emphasize on the outer cleanness, but also inner cleanness which is considered as tazkiyyatun nafs (purification of soul). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Purity is half of faith. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) fills the scales, and Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) and Alhamdulillah fill up what is between the heavens and the earth. Prayer is a light, charity is proof (of one’s faith), and endurance is a brightness and the Qur’an is a proof on your behalf or against you. All people go out early in the morning and sell themselves, thereby setting themselves free or destroying themselves.” (Sahih Muslim) Ramadan requires, thus, both. As you prepare yourself for Ramadan to achieve the goals set by the Creator, it is important to cleanse your home, cloths, and your heart as well. Clear out any clutter, dust and organize your living and prayer space. This will surely help you to feel more focused and energized during the month. Similarly, engage in acts of repentance, forgiveness, and prayer to purify your heart and prepare it for spiritual growth.
Make Du’a: Du’a, or supplication, is the heart of ‘ibadah. Allah (SWT) loves it very much and responses it quickly. The Qur’an says: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2: 186)  Du’a, thus, becomes a vital part of Ramadan. It is a time to ask for forgiveness, seek blessings, and pray for guidance. Take some time each day to make du’a, whether it is before iftar or before going to bed at night. Remember to pray for yourself, your family, and all those in need.
Plan Your Meals: Taking meal in a prescribed way is mandatory during the month of Ramadan especially those who fast. It breaks the general daily routine to take meal as compared to other months of the year. Therefore, it is also important to plan for taking meal in this month. Moreover, planning your meals in advance is essential for a successful Ramadan. Take some time to plan out your meals for suhur well known as “sahri” in our culture and iftar, so you can ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need to keep you going throughout the day. We are also recommended to plan to share our meals with others, whether it is with your family, friends, or the less fortunate in your community.
Set Realistic Goals: When it comes to welcoming Ramadan, it is important to set realistic goals for yourself. Whether it is reciting and studying a complete or certain amount of Qur’an, memorizing it, giving a certain amount in charity, or engaging in more acts of kindness, set goals that are achievable and that will surely help you to grow spiritually, inShaAllah.
Engage in Community Service: Islamic teaching is to save yourself and your kins as well. The Qur’an states, “Believers, guard yourselves and your kindred against a Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones” (Surah al-Tahrim, 66:6) Ramadan is a time of giving, and one of the best ways to welcome Ramadan is to engage in community service. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food bank, donate to a charity, or organize a fundraiser for a cause you believe in. Helping others during Ramadan is a great way to connect with your community and to strengthen your faith.
Prepare Your Mind and Body: Fasting can be physically and mentally challenging, so it is important to prepare your mind and body for the month ahead. Start by gradually adjusting your eating habits a few days before Ramadan starts, so your body can adapt to the new schedule. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, reported that the Prophet used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban, except for a few days.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)  Similarly, prepare yourself mentally by engaging in meditation or mindfulness practices that will help you stay focused and centered during the fast.
Create a Support System: Having a support system during Ramadan is also important, especially if you are fasting for the first time or are experiencing any challenges. If you are in any different society or situation rather than in a Muslim community and far from your family, connect with your family and friends, join a local mosque, or seek out online communities of Muslims who are going through the same experience. If you can create an environment where you can perform all activities together, it will be easy for you.
Welcome Ramadan with Joy: Ramadan is a month of festival among Muslim societies. Most of the activities are performed in a team such as Tarawi, Iftar, Sahur etc.   Therefore, remember to welcome Ramadan with joy and excitement. This is a special time of year, and one that is meant to be celebrated. Embrace the month with open arms and make the most of this opportunity to deepen your faith, connect with others, and grow spiritually.

The writer is a researcher on Islamic views on contemporary issues