As Muslims all over the world are awaiting the arrival of the holy month (Ramadan) with its compulsory 30-day fasting which may commence on Sunday, June 5, or Monday, June 6, 2016, depending on the sighting of the moon, which officially announces the beginning of a new month in Islamic calendar. A lot of Muslim brothers and sisters in Nigeria and beyond see preparations for the month in terms of how much they have in their bank accounts, how much food stuff gathered, cleaning or renovating of their houses and more. Of course, all these are also necessary.
They can’t be outrightly discarded, but they’ve not as important as those steps we need to take that can uplift our souls spiritually during and after the period.
ENCOMIUM Weekly got across to a renowned Islamic scholar and Imam, Ikeoluwa Central Mosque, Powerline, Orile Agege, Lagos, Alfa Abdulwaheed Akomolesin on the necessary steps to be taken by Muslim faithful ahead of Ramadan fasting, and he highlighted the following:
“As a Muslim awaiting the holy month – Ramadan, you need to get yourself engaged in fasting in the month that precedes Ramadan which is Shaaban.
“According to the teaching of Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), a Muslim is enjoined to fast at least thrice during the month. You can fast more but you can’t fast the whole month. It’s just to prepare you for Ramadan. Also, the reward of your good deeds are multiplied during the month. So, it’s always good and rewarding fasting during Shaaban.
“You also need to improve on your good deeds and worship so that they won’t be hard for you to do during the holy month.
“A Muslim must embark on charity with a view to purifying his soul and work. Doing this before Ramadan will enable you do more during Ramadan. And the more you touch the lives of people during the month and beyond, the more Allah rewards you.
“Also, recitation of the Holy Qur’an is very important in the life of a Muslim either before or during Ramadan. Doing this regularly earns you a beautiful reward from Allah. And it will constantly draw you close to Allah.
“There are lots of acts of Ibadah (worship) that can be embarked on during the period. But in this divide of the globe, a lot of us believe in gathering food stuff, saving money as if that’s all that is in preparation for the 30-day fasting. No, these are just by the way. What we need the most is purification of our souls because going into 29 or 30-day fasting is a great spiritual retreat that deserves serious preparations as it was observed by Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his disciples.
“Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) always enjoined his followers to go round their vicinities to announce the preparations for Ramadan. He always told them to be steadfast in their economic activities that will make the month conducive for all the fasting Muslims so that those who’re less privileged will also participate in the fasting. And few days to Ramadan, like about 10 days, you would embark on prayer for forgiveness of sins and all that. So, it’s always good, as Muslims, to seek forgiveness of our sins and repent before the next Ramadan. Also, we need to make up for the number of days we couldn’t fast during the previous Ramadan because it’s a debt that must be settled before we start the new one.”
Corroborating Akomolesin’s submission, a compilation by Nabeelah Naeem, Islamic Relief, United State of America stated that the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) used to prepare for Ramadan six months ahead. So, if we really want to make the best of the month, then we need to prepare for it now.
As we know, fasting is more than just abstaining from food and lustful desires as well.
Fasting pushes us to be cognizant of our actions, to be patient and to be morally upright thereby increasing our Taqwa (Allah’s consciousness).
According to the compilation, here are some ways we can improve on different aspects of our life so we can fully benefit from Ramadan, a time when the rewards of our deeds are multiplied.
1 FAST VOLUNTARILY
This month – Shabaan is the prime time to start fasting extra or making up your missed fasts from the last or preceding Ramadan.
Usamah Ibu Zayd (May Allah be pleased with Him) said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Shabaan”. He said, “That’s a month which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it’s a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the world. I like my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.” Narrated by Al-Nasaai.
The best way to prepare fasting for a whole month is to start fasting often in order to gain control over your actions, stomach and desires.
Fast Mondays and Thursdays: Abu Hurairal reported that the most the prophet (PBUH) would fast would be Mondays and Thursdays. He was asked about that and he said: “The deeds of people are presented to Allah every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other.” (Hassan)
Fast the White Days – 13, 14 and 15 of each Islamic month: Abu Thaar Al-Ghafari said the messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Oh. Abu Dharr! If you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13, 14 and 15 (these are called Al-Ayaam Al-Beedh, the White Days)”. (Shahih)
The prophet said, “Allah said, “Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting, it’s for me, and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it. And verily, the smell of the month of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of music,” as contained in (Bukhari).
2 RECITE AND REFLECT ON THE QUR’AN
Start now to reflect on portions of the Qur’an to get closer to Allah and understand your responsibilities. Every single time you read the Qur’an, you will uncover more depths of meaning and benefits in this world and the thereafter. Aisha (RA) related that Prophet (PBUH) said, “Indeed the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Muslim)
3 FOLLOW THE SUNNAH AND PRAY EXTRA PRAYERS
Learn more about the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and follow him by emulating his actions. “Say, (Oh Muhammed), if you should love Allah, and then follow me, (so) Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is forgiving and merciful” (Qur’an 3:31)
4 REPENT AND MAKE DU’A
We all make mistakes, but Alhamdulilah, we can always repent.
The Prophet (PBUH)said: “All the children of Adam constantly err, but the best are those who constantly repent” (Tirmidhi)
5 GIVE CHARITY
This world can only be a better place if we help each other. In return, Allah rewards us in both worlds. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “All is the aid of His servants as long as His aide in the assistance of others” (Muslim)
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward?” (Qur’an 57:11).
The Prophet said, “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidh)
6 IMPROVE YOUR CHARACTER
Everyone can be a little more kind and work on different aspects of their character.
The Prophet (PBUH) used to say, “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and characters.” (Al-Bukhari)
7 EAT HEALTHY AND MODERATELY:
With less time to eat in Ramadan, we really need to pay attention to what we eat. Now is the best time to research the nutritional values of the food we eat. While we fast, the food we eat before we start our fast or to break our fast needs to provide the optional energy so we can accomplish our daily tasks and increase our worship.
Overeating too is hazardous. Ash-Shafii; said, “I have not filled myself in 16 years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clean understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship”.
In order to take full advantage of this holy month, we need to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally and mystically. And even after Ramadan, we can move to the next level spiritually.