Preparing for the Arrival of Ramadan, Month of Blessings, By Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Bestower of Mercy
All Perfect Praises are to Allah; we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and He whom He leaves astray there is none to guide him! I bear witness that none is worthy of worship but Allah, who is alone without partners and I bear witness that Muhammad (Pbuh) is His slave and Messenger.
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:102)
“O People! Revere your Lord, who created you from a single soul. Created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is Ever watchful over you.” (An-Nisa’ 4:1)
“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger (Pbuh) have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:70-71)
Indeed the best speech is Allah’s Book and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (Pbuh). And the worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovations is an act of misguidance leading to the fire.
My Respected People! Ramadan is one of the eagerly awaited months of Islamic calendar. The month is full of blessings and mercy that showers upon Muslims from Allah Almighty. Therefore, in order to increase their fair share in the feast of blessings and mercy, Muslims try preparing for the month before hand, so that the transition remains easy for them and they make the most out of the whole month.
Brothers and Sisters! Pertaining to the arrival of the month, it is imperative that a Muslim prepares for it before hand and be reflective of all that the month carries and how one can extract the maximum blessings and mercy from it. Today’s Sermon will discuss the importance of the month of Ramadan, the way a Muslim must reflect upon it and how one should prepare for it before it actually arrives.
Importance of Ramadan
Servants of Allah! There are numerous hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and verses of Quran that emphasize on the importance of Ramadan in Islam. For the sake of general understanding, the verse of Quran that stresses on the importance of Ramadan is mentioned below:
“O you who have believe! Observing al-sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun (the pious).” (2:183)
From this verse of Quran, it becomes clear that fasting is nothing new or special that was bestowed upon Muslims, rather the earlier nations of the earlier Prophets also kept fast. Moreover, in this verse Allah Almighty also mentions the objective of fasting in Ramadan, and which is to make oneself pious. Therefore, for Muslims fasting is of grave importance as it helps them purify their souls and transcend to a higher level of piety.
Reflecting Upon Ramadan
My people! When a Muslim hears about the arrival of Ramadan, the first thing he or she needs to do is to reflect upon the purpose of Ramadan. Allah Almighty does not need the fasting, the thirst and hunger of a Muslim, rather it is all for the personal good of a Muslim and the well-being of a society.
Although in the aforementioned verse of Quran, Allah Almighty has mentioned the purpose of fasting, and that is to make a person more pious. However, if one reflects upon the reasons behind fasting, there may come numerous other objectives as well.
1. First, in Ramadan, all the Muslims pray extensively and cordially, therefore, it is quite natural that this month presents a chance for increasing the reward balance and seeks forgiveness for the sins that a person has committed.
2. Second, the hunger and thirst in the month of Ramadan help a Muslim relate with the other people in the world who are unfortunate and don’t have access to ample food and drinking water. When a Muslim keeps a fast, actually he or she empathizes with such people and feels the way they feel and the way they go through the day with such limited provision.
3. Third, when a Muslim goes through the day with limited energy, although it effects at a physical level, however, the real effect of it is seen on the attitude of a person making him or her more humble and patient. Therefore, during a fast, a Muslim is supposed to be at the best of his or her character in terms of patience and humility.
In addition, I advise you to try and know dos and don’ts of fasting in Ramadan as well to avoid bad things and follow good habits.
Preparing for Ramadan
Muslims anxiously await the arrival of Ramadan so that they can get on with the process of praying and gaining blessings, mercy and forgiveness from Allah Almighty. The arrival of Ramadan brings a complete or at least a major change in the routine of a person. Therefore, those who don’t prepare beforehand, find it difficult to settle in and get used to with the Ramadan routine once it’s upon them. Therefore, the objective of preparations is to make a person transit into the routine of Ramadan and waste not any of its precious moments. Let me give the major tips that can help in preparing yourself better for the Noble Month.
Have the Right Intentions
The first thing that a Muslim needs to do pertaining to preparation for Ramadan is having the right intentions. You must really intend to make the most out of this month only then will you be able to enjoy Ramadan and gain the blessings it offers. On the other hand, if you just want to go through the month, then nothing will come to avail and despite whatever situations of ease you create for yourself, Ramadan will be futile and hard for you. Therefore, try having right intentions pertaining to preparing for the month.
Get Into the Habit of Tasbih
Tasbih is a verbal praise of Almighty Allah which a Muslim does either reading phrases or words of praise of Allah Almighty. In Ramadan, each and every moment gets sanctified, therefore, to get the maximum reward from the days of Ramadan besides prayer; a Muslim must do Tasbih as well. When you start performing Tasbih a month before the arrival of the Noble Month, then by the time the month comes, you are already in the habit of recitation of Tasbih, while sitting, walking, or doing any work.
Make Your Prayers Regular
Dear Brothers and Sisters! In Ramadan, the number of people in congregational prayer gradually increases. However, there are people who initially find it hard to make time to go to a mosque and offer prayer in congregation in the beginning days of Ramadan. Therefore, in order to make sure that you offer prayers with congregation at the first day of Ramadan, start making time for congregational prayer a month before the arrival of the Noble month. For those who do not know how to accurately perform the Salah/Prayer, the Step by Step Salah is a perfect guide in form of mobile app to learn Salah on your own. In addition, to learn in depth, you must know the key elements to consider while offering Prayer.
Try Keeping Few Nafilah Fasts
The initial few fasts of Ramadan are quite hard on Muslims, as they suddenly get exposed to hunger and thirst and don’t know how it is to spend a day on low energy. They don’t know the foods that make them feel satiated for longer, they don’t know the drinks that keep the thirst in control and they don’t know how they should adjust their routine during fast. For this very reason, it is imperative that a Muslim keeps a few Nafilah fasts before the Ramadan in order to know about the changes that are to come during the fast, so that when Ramadan comes, he or she is prepared for it.
Quran recitation brings blessings and reward from Almighty Allah; however, in order to read Quran, it is imperative that a Muslim has sufficient time. Therefore, in order to make the most out of Quran reading in Ramadan, it is imperative that a Muslim starts reading Quran before Ramadan so that he or she knows that how much they can read in a particular time and when do they have time for it. This way, when Ramadan comes, they already know when to read and how much to read. And for those Muslims, who are naive to reading Quran in Arabic, it is the perfect time to start learning to read Quran as the reward of learning in Ramadan is seventy times higher than learning in any other month. So, to help you cash this much reward, our Nagazi-Uvete Central Mosque is here to help you. Register yourself now and start learning to read the Noble Quran.
In a nutshell, it is imperative for a Muslim to contemplate over the purpose of Ramadan, so that he or she is able to experience and incorporate that purpose into his or her personality. Moreover, the preparation of the Noble Month before its start also helps in enjoying the month in a better way and experience the true essence of it with minimal hassle.
Brief Do’s and Don’ts of Ramadan Fasting
The Noble Month of Ramadan is just around the corner. Muslims anxiously await this auspicious month in which they pray and praise Allah Almighty and receive greater blessings and rewards in return. During this whole month, Muslims fast from the beginning of the day from sunrise to till the sunset refraining from any kind of drinking, eating, sexual intercourse etc.
Regarding the month of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said in a hadith:
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Bukhari)
Now from this hadith, it is clear that Ramadan is the month of asking forgiveness and receiving countless blessings. Moreover, as there is no Satan, therefore, there are minimal temptations in this month. In addition to the simple refraining from eating or drinking, there are other things which Muslims need to avoid and there are other things which they need to do in Ramadan. Here I will give the major dos and don’ts of Ramadan.
Servants of Allah! There are number of things, which a Muslim can do to make use of the blessings of the Noble Month of Ramadan. The following lines give the major actions or deeds that Muslims must perform in the month of Ramadan.
1. Reciting Quran daily – The first thing that you can do to make sure that you earn maximum blessings and rewards in the Noble Month as mentioned earlier, is to recite Quran. With every single word of Quran there is a reward, hence the more you read Quran the more reward you receive. Moreover, pertaining to reading of Quran, you must prefer recitation and understanding its meanings as that is the essence of Quran which can help you become a better Muslim not only in the month of Ramadan only, but for months and years that are to come. In addition, if you are someone who does not know how to read the Quran in Arabic, Ramadan is the month to get started with Quran learning. Daily you can take Quran Tutoring Classes from any reliable Islamic center. In Shaa Allah, by the end of Ramadan, you will be on the right track to be able to read and recite the Noble Quran with perfect pronunciation.
2. Following the Sunnah – Acting upon the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is another deed that brings reward to a Muslim. The month of Ramadan provides a great chance to learn about Sunnah and then practice it in the Noble Month, where there is peace and blessing everywhere. Therefore, a Muslim must try learning about Sunnah of Prophet (Pbuh) in general and his traditions related to Ramadan in particular and then apply it to daily life throughout the month.
3. Nawafil Brings Reward – Although every Muslim regularly observes five times a day prayers during Ramadan, however, as the reward for prayers get increased in this month, therefore, a Muslim must also indulge in Nawafil prayers whenever he or she finds time. Offering Nawafil brings additional rewards and benefits to a Muslim and helps purify his or her heart making them glorify Allah Almighty with a pure and sincere heart.
4. Performing Tarawih – Tarawih is another Sunnah of Noble Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) which is special to the month of Ramadan. A Muslim must ensure that in addition to all the mandatory prayers the Tarawih (after Isha’ prayer) is also observed. Therefore, Tarawih should be observed on regular bases to attain greater blessings and rewards during the whole month.
5. Paying Zakah – Although there is no set month for paying Zakah, however, the month of Ramadan is an ideal time when one can pay Zakah and be charitable. As the festival of Eid comes after Ramadan, therefore, paying Zakah helps those who are less fortunate be able to celebrate the festival with somewhat same zest as all the other prosperous people. Therefore, one must try paying the due Zakah in the month of Ramadan.
My people! Besides the obvious fact that a Muslim is not allowed to eat or drink anything during fast and refrain from any sexual activity, there are several other things, which a Muslim must refrain from in order to ensure that fast is observed in the true spirit. The lines below give some major don’ts which a Muslim must observe when keeping a fast during the month of Ramadan.
1. Eating Junk Food – Suhur and Iftar are two important elements of Ramadan where former is related with eating before dawn while the latter is concerned with eating on breaking of fast. However, it is observed that some Muslims do not take care of what they eat at both these occasions, which makes fasting difficult for them in addition to causing health problems. Therefore, what Muslims need to do is to avoid excessive or junk food eating during the Ramadan to stay healthy.
2. Holding Grudges – Fasting gives the lesson of sacrifice and forgiveness; therefore, during the month of Ramadan a Muslim must not hold grudges and indulge in fighting people. Rather, he or she needs to start forgiving people and whatever mistakes people commit he or she should be tolerant and forgiving towards them.
3. Losing Patience – Another thing that fasting in Ramadan teaches is tolerance and patience. These are two character attributes that seriously lack in people these days and even during Ramadan people lose their temper, grow impatient and create all kinds of problems for themselves as well as for others. Therefore, getting angry during Ramadan is one thing that a Muslim must try to avoid and increase patience and tolerance.
4. Committing Satanic Deed – Ramadan also teaches a Muslim to ward off evil and its temptation. Although the Satan is chained in this month, however, it is the habits of the rest of the months that haunt a Muslim in this month as well. Therefore, a Muslim must try refraining from base thoughts as well as committing vain and base deeds. Instead, a Muslim must do acts of good and kindness so that the fast is kept and observed in the true spirit.
In a nutshell, for a Muslim it is imperative to do good deeds and refrain from evil and sinful deeds as well as thoughts so that the true purpose of fasting is achieved. Once a Muslim is able to refrain from the bad and starts doing good, then the practice in Ramadan can be carried on to the rest of the years as well, which is the true purpose of this Noble Month.
Some Mistakes to Avoid in Ramadan
The first thing that a Muslim needs to avoid during Ramadan is anger. It is the root cause of the evils and the outcome of it is never good. When angry the judgment of a person gets clouded and he or she is not able to see clearly, and in such unclear situation a person commits mistakes that for which a person has to feel ashamed, regret or repent upon later on. Moreover, one of the essences of fasting in Ramadan is that it teaches a Muslim to be patient and humble, which are the virtues which when present cause the vice of anger to flee. Therefore, it is more than imperative that a Muslim resorts towards patience and tolerance instead of getting angry during Ramadan. This anger leaves to hurting other people emotionally, which definitely is not a good deed and should be avoided during Ramadan. Also, when you feel getting angry, remember Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) advice of seeking refuge from Allah.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said:
“I know a word which, if only he would say it, this (anger) would leave him. If he said, “A’uzu billahi min al-shaytan (I seek refuge with Allah from the Shaitan),” this [anger] would leave him.” (Reported by Bukhari, al-Fath, 6/377)
In addition, start concentration upon the Special Deeds of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in Ramadan which would ultimately drive your anger away.
Avoid Sleeping All the Day:
Each and every moment of Ramadan is precious and a Muslim must make full use of it by praising and praying to Allah Almighty in the maximum time possible. Although the sleep at night and a little nap in the afternoon is necessary for the health of the body, however, staying all night long and sleeping throughout the day is never a good ploy. In order to avoid the hunger and thirst that develops during the day, some Muslims try staying awake during the night so that they could sleep through the day. This is wrong and against what fasting teaches us. The thirst and hunger during fast helps us understand what the less fortunate people go through, therefore, if one does not feel all that, then the essence of Ramadan is lost. Hence, it is imperative that a Muslim keeps fast whilst keeping the regular routine intact and continuous.
Avoid Fasting Without Prayer:
This usually happens in cases when Muslims stay awake during the night and spend all day sleeping. Besides praying in fast, the prayers themselves are mandatory upon a Muslim and fasting or no fast, a Muslim is supposed to offer them regularly. Therefore, a day without prayers in normal circumstances is not complete, let alone the day of Ramadan. In Ramadan a Muslim is supposed to indulge in excessive prayers and seek forgiveness and blessings from Allah Almighty by offering regular prayers, therefore, if one does not do so and only remains hungry and thirsty throughout the day, then perhaps it is not keeping the fast in the way it deserves to be kept. Therefore, a Muslim must make sure that regular fast is accompanied with the mandatory prayers and Tarawih Salah at night to keep fast with true essence.
Avoid Not Taking Care of Speech:
Another objective of fasting in Ramadan is to teach a person self control. In a fast, a person is supposed to control his or her desires and urges. Besides these urges and desires, a Muslim is also to control the way he or she is to behave and speak with others. In this regard, one needs to take care of any kind of vulgar speech. Whether it’s in terms of profane, derogatory or vulgar speech or in form of backbiting and slandering, a Muslim is to refrain from them all in order to better be able to incorporate the spirit of Islam in his or her personality. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) says:
“Fasting is a shield, so the one who fast should always avoid obscene speech and ignorant behaviour. If someone abuses him or starts to fight with him, he should reply by saying: I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, a Muslim is to observe fast as a shield and refrain from all such sorts of speech that provoke anger or caused derogation of the other person.
In a nutshell, the emphasis or focus of a Muslim during Ramadan should be on gathering as much blessings as possible. In addition, one must take care of the things to do and things to avoid in Ramadan. Therefore, it is imperative that one refrains from any such deed that spoils the blessings gained and is against the essence and spirit of fasting.
My respected people! To conclude my Sermon, I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.
O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, Ameen.
My People! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, and upon his family and Companions.
With this, I conclude my Sermon and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving, Most Merciful.
This Jumu’ah Sermon (Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 15, 1438 A.H. (May 12, 2017), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.