According to Imam Rabbani (ra), “Whoever spends Ramadan unsystematically and without planning, their entire year will be divergent and distracted. The one who prepares well for Ramadan and utilizes every moment, their entire year will be like that as well.”
So Ramadan is a reflection of the rest of the year. The Mashaykh used to say that if you don’t prepare for Ramadan in advance, you can’t benefit from it.
Continue reading this article to know:
- Sunnah Duas to recite at the approach of Ramadan.
- Mindset to develop about Ramadan.
- Attaining forgiveness in the month of Ramadan.
- Purifying your heart.
- How can you prepare for Ramadan in the months of Rajab and Shaban?
- Taking advantage of the current scenario.
- Advice from Mufti Taqi Usmani on how to spend Ramadan.
- The types of fasts according to Imam Ghazali.
- Three stages of Ramadan.
- Daily schedule of Ramadan (+ FREE printable).
- Guidelines specific to the last 10 days of Ramadan.
- What should be the change in us when Ramadan ends?
- Maintaining Ramadan changes.
Sunnah Duas to Recite at the Approach of Ramadan
As Ramadan approaches, recite these Sunnah Duas frequently:
اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان
O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan.
اَللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْنِيْ لِرَمَضَانَ وَسَلِّمْ رَمَضَانَ لِيْ وَسَلِّمْهُ لِيْ مُتَقَبَّلاً
O Allah! Safeguard me for the Month of Ramadan (by making me see the Month of Ramadan healthy and fit), and safeguard the Month of Ramadan for me (by making the conditions in it such that I can take maximum benefit from it) and accept it from me.
Mindset About Ramadan
Approach this Ramadan as the last opportunity for your Maghfirah, your forgiveness. When you think of this Ramadan as possibly the last Ramadan of your life, you will treasure every moment and strive to make the most of it.
And who knows for sure that they’ll live to see the next Ramadan? So many people who were with us last year are not alive to witness Ramadan this year.
In Surah Maida, verse 35, Allah (swt) says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who believe, fear Allah and seek means of nearness to Him, and carry out Jihād in His way, so that you may succeed. [5:35]
So the word here, Taqwa, comes from the root letters wao, qaaf, and yaa. It literally means to save yourself, and the essence of it is to be so overcome with love for Allah (swt) that you stay away from sinning. You protect yourself from sins out of love for Allah (swt), this is Taqwa (commonly translated God-fearing).
And the second keyword here is Waseela, which has been aptly translated as “means of nearness to Allah (swt)”. So as Ramadan approaches, consider that there is no greater Waseela, no greater source of gaining His Qurb (closeness and love) than this blessed month.
When Ramadan arrives, you should be prepared to do a lot of Mujahida, a lot of personal struggle (physical and spiritual) to take full advantage of this month, so that you may be among the successful.
Then Allah (swt) says in Surah Baqarah, verse 183,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing. [2:183]
This verse tells us the main goal of fasting is so that we may become people of Taqwa. And it also lets us know that Taqwa is not an in-built quality, it’s not something that happens on its own. We have to work hard to develop it in our hearts.
So approach this Ramadan with the intention that you are going to make it your Waseela to gain Taqwa.
This is how you can link all of these various verses to understand the deep connection between fasting and Ramadan, gaining Taqwa and Hidayah, and reciting the Quran al-Kareem.
Attaining Forgiveness in the Month of Ramadan
If you want to know the purpose of Ramadan, read this Hadith:
Abu Huraira (ra) reported: The Prophet (saw) ascended the pulpit and he said, “Ameen, ameen, ameen.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, you ascended the pulpit and said ameen, ameen, ameen.” The Prophet said, “Verily, Gabriel came to me and he said: Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and he is not forgiven, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say ameen. I said ameen. Whoever sees his parents in their old age, one or both of them, and he does not honor them and he dies, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say ameen. I said ameen. Whoever has your name mentioned in his presence and he does not send blessings upon you and he dies, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say ameen. I said ameen.” [Sahih Ibn Hibban]
So this tells us that our ultimate aim in the month of Ramadan is to gain Allah’s Maghfirah, to gain His pardon and forgiveness.
Then in another Hadith, the Prophet (saw) mentions the categories of people who will be exempted from the forgiveness of Allah (swt):
The Prophet (saw) said, “On Laylatul Qadr, the angels descend to the earth on the command of their Lord. They spend the entire night extending greetings of peace to people who are occupied in worship and saying Ameen to their Duas. When they intend to go back in the morning, they ask Jibraeel, “What has Allah (swt) decided about taking care of the matters of the believers from the Ummah of Muhammad?” Hadhrat Jibareel (as) replies, “Allah (swt) has had mercy on the Ummah of Muhammad this blessed night. He has forgiven and pardoned every believer except four.” Upon hearing this, the Sahabah asked Rasulullah (saw), “Who will be those four?” Rasulullah (saw) replied, “The alcoholic, the one who disobeys his parents, the one who breaks ties, and the one who harbors hatred.” [Shuab ul Imaan, 3421]
So every believer will be forgiven by Allah (swt) in Ramdan except these four types of people. This is a point of reflection for all of us. If you fall in any of these categories, it is time to seek His repentance and make amends.
The first category is of alcoholics. The second is of those who have displeased, hurt, and disappointed their parents. If you fall in this category, make amends before Ramadan. Heal your parents’ heart, seek their forgiveness so that Allah (swt) may forgive you.
The third category is of those who break ties with their kin. And the fourth is of those who harbor hatred in their heart against others. The Arabic for the 4th category connotes that you hate someone to the extent that you want harm to befall them. You would be happy if they were harmed, that’s how much you hate them.
So again, only we can judge for ourselves if we fall in any of these categories. If we do, we have this time before Ramadan begins to repent, let go of grudges, and forgive others while also seeking their forgiveness.
Purifying Your Heart
Enter Ramadan with a clean, pure heart. Let go of ill feelings and get ready to strive hard to gain His Qurb, His closeness, love and forgiveness. We have so much to ask Allah for in this month, we have to beseech Him for the sake of the entire Ummah.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran,
يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ
The Day when neither wealth will be of any use (to any one) nor sons, except to him who will come to Allah with a sound heart. [26:88-89]
So this is the month to nurture our heart and soul. This is not the month to worship our stomach and fulfill our cravings. According to Imam Ghazali (ra), the root of all ailments of the heart (e.g. jealousy, hatred, arrogance, etc.) lies in stuffing the stomach.
How can you purify your heart? In several Ahadith, the Prophet (saw) has mentioned that the hearts become rusted just as iron does. How can you polish them?
- By reciting the Quran.
- By remembering death often.
- By doing excessive Dhikr.
- By doing Istighfar, seeking repentance.
How can you prepare for Ramadan in the months of Rajab and Shaban?
Only those people can benefit from Ramadan who enter it with full preparation. So how can we prepare for Ramadan?
1. Recite 2 Nafl Hajat (desperation/need) and make Dua for the Taufiq to increase in good deeds and abstain from all sins.
2. Frequently recite this Dua: اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان
3. Start attending Islamic talks or listen to a lecture by a reliable scholar and Shaykh at least once a week.
4. Read the Quran al-Kareem for at least 15 minutes every day, and try to increase this time as Ramadan draws near.
5. If you still struggle with your Tajwid, this is the perfect time to start learning how to read the Quran properly so that you can recite it well in Ramadan.
6. For men, they should resolve to pray all 5 Salahs in the Masjid in congregation. Women should also strive to read all 5 prayers at the earliest time possible every day.
7. Recite 33x Subhan Allah, 33x Alhumdulillah, and 34x Allahu Akbar after every Fardh Salah.
8. Eliminate all unnecessary distractions from your life that serve no purpose except to waste your time.
9. Try to set aside your smartphone for a simple phone in this month, if possible.
10. Stay away from all sins, especially sins of the eyes and tongue, like backbiting, gossiping, gazing at non-Mahrams, etc.
11. Complete your shopping and preparation for Eid in advance. Try to avoid going to the mall or Bazaars in Ramadan.
12. Don’t host or attend Iftar parties, the rest of the 11 months are sufficient for such events. Make this exclusively the month of Ibadah.
Make a sincere effort to practice as many of these as possible, seek forgiveness for your shortcomings, and know that Allah (swt) is immensely appreciative of every good that you do.
Taking Advantage of the Current Scenario
We can view the current situation with lockdowns, social distancing, and quarantine as even more Asbaab (means) that Allah (swt) has created so we can turn to only Him in this month, letting go of all else to be alone with Him and worship Him.
So not only is Shaytan locked up and the doors of His mercy are wide open, we have these extra limitations placed on us that actually create the perfect opportunity to connect with Allah in solitude this Ramadan, free from distractions.
Advice From Mufti Taqi Usmani on How to Spend Ramadan
Types of Tasks
- Unimportant tasks, e.g. dinner parties, gossiping, social media.
- Important tasks, e.g. house renovation, preparing for your wedding.
Mufti Taqi Usmani suggests that if you want to benefit from Ramadan, you should leave the unimportant tasks completely and delay the important tasks until Ramadan is over.
Types of Worship
Mufti Taqi Usmani explains that there are two types of Ibadah.
- Bilwasta Ibadah in which you worship Allah indirectly, e.g. giving Sadaqah (charity).
- Bilawasta Ibadah in which you worship Allah directly, e.g. praying, doing Dhikr, making Dua etc.
So this month of Ramadan is the month of Bilawasta Ibadah, it’s the time to directly connect with your Rabb. (Note: This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also perform Bilwasta Ibadah, it just highlights the importance of focusing our energy on the direct form of worship.)
Beautiful Example about Connecting with the Quran
Scholars explain that the angel who brought down revelation of the Quran al-Kareem attained the title of “Afdhal ul Malaaikah”, the Greatest Angel. The Prophet on whom this Quran was revealed is “Afdhal ul Anbiya”, the Greatest Prophet. The Ummah which received this Book is called “Khayrul Umam”, the Best Ummah. The month in which this Quran was revealed is “Afdhal ush Shuhoor”, the Most Blessed Month. And the night in which the Quran was revealed is the best of all nights, “Laylat ul Qadr”.
So everything which is connected to the Quran is given superiority over the rest of its kind. Now think about the person who has the Quran safe in his/her heart. What would be their superiority over all of mankind? Subhan Allah!
As is mentioned in a famous Hadith,
خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ
The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it. [Sahih Bukhari]
So in this month, increase your recitation of the Quran al-Kareem. Read as much Quran as you can and fill every spare moment with recitation.
3 Types of Fasts
Imam Ghazali mentions that there are 3 types of fasts.
- Fast in name only, in which a person fulfills the legal requirements of a fast (i.e. refrains from eating, drinking, and intercourse) but doesn’t abstain from sins. This fast may or may not be accepted.
- Fast of the general population, in which they fulfill the requirements of a fast and also abstain from bad deeds, but return to sinning when Ramadan ends. There is some hope that their fast will be accepted.
- Fast of the Saliheen, the righteous ones, in which all legal and spiritual aspects of fasting are fulfilled. This is the type of fast we should all strive to attain. There are two ways this can be achieved: by eating only Halal food and eating less.
Stages of Ramadan (Three Ashras)
Ramadan is divided into three parts or stages, called Ashras.
- The first 10 days of Ramadan are for Rahmah, mercy.
- The second 10 days are for Maghifrah, forgiveness.
- The last 10 days are for Nijaat, freedom from Hellfire.
An important tip to remember is that the Duas you make which are in accordance with the decisions being made in the heavens are more likely to be accepted. What does this mean? For example, the first 10 days of Ramadan are for His Mercy, so make all of those Quranic and Sunnah Duas asking for Rahmah. Same applies for the second and third Ashrahs.
Daily Schedule of Ramadan
Guidelines Specific to the Last 10 Days of Ramadan
In the last Ashra, struggle harder to utilize every moment. The Prophet (saw) would strive more in the last 10 days of Ramadan than at any other time of the year. Try to sit for Itikaf, but if you’re a mom of young children or a working woman, then try to facilitate a member of your family to sit for Itikaf. Take care of their Suhoor and Iftar so they can devote time in seclusion to worshipping Allah and you will also have a full share in their reward, insha Allah.
Make the intention of Nafl Itikaf every time you sit down for Ibadah, to recite the Quran, pray Nawafil, do Dhikr or make Dua.
What should be the change in us when Ramadan ends?
After so many days and nights spent in Ibadah, solitude, purification of our heart and soul, we should emerge from Ramadan with the following changes:
- Our Akhlaq should be perfected such that people are completely safe from our Sharr (evil).
- Our Mu’amlaat (dealings) should be perfected according to the Quran and Sunnah.
- Our Ibadaat should be perfected according to the Haqq (right) of each Ibadah. We should have attained at least the lesser level of Ihsan, which is to worship Allah (swt) knowing that He sees us.
Maintaining Ramadan Changes
How can you stay firm on our Taubah once Ramadan ends? How can you hold on to all of the changes and spiritual habits you struggled so hard to develop in this month?
By keeping good company. By staying away from people who tempt you to sin, and starting to associate with people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Akhirah.
May Allah (swt) allow us to benefit from every single moment of Ramadan. May He accept our fasts and Ibadah, ameen.
This article is adapted from a talk on Welcoming Ramadan by the sister of Junaid Jamshed, may Allah reward her immensely.