A great misunderstanding has been embedded amongst most of the Muslims regarding the true nature of fasting, and they make it an occasion for making special sweets, eating and drinking, staying up late at night watching shows on TV or waste time on internet. Many take it as an opportunity to make fortune in their business. They make preparations for that long before Ramadaan, lest they miss out on some food or prices go up. They prepare by buying food, preparing drinks and looking at the Television supplementary guide so that they can choose which shows to follow and which to ignore. They are truly unaware of the real nature of fasting in Ramadaan; they take worship and piety out of the month and make it just for their bellies and their eyes.
But those who fear Allah are aware of the real nature of fasting in the month of Ramadaan, so they start to prepare from Sha’baan, and some of them even start before that. Among the best ways of preparing for the month of Ramadaan are:
This is obligatory at all times, but because of the approach of a great and blessed month, it is even more important to hasten to repent from sins between you and your Lord, and between you and other people by giving them their rights, so that when the blessed month begins you may busy yourself with acts of worship with a clean heart and peace of mind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful” [Al-Noor 24:31]
It was narrated from al-Agharr ibn Yasaar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O people, repent to Allaah for I repent to Him one hundred times each day.” [Narrated by Muslim (2702)]
It was narrated from some of the salaf that they used to pray to Allaah for six months that they would live until Ramadaan, then they would pray for five months afterwards that He would accept it from them.
The Muslim should ask his Lord to let him live until Ramadaan with a strong religious commitment and good physical health, and he should ask Him to help him obey Him during the month, and ask Him to accept his good deeds from Him.
Rejoicing at the approach of the blessed month
The arrival of Ramadaan is one of the great blessings that Allaah bestows upon His Muslim slave, because Ramadaan is one of the occasions of good in which the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. It is the month of the Qur’aan and of decisive battles in the history of our religion.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allaah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Qur’aan); —therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass” [Yoonus 10:58]
Discharging the duty of any outstanding obligatory fasts
It was narrated that Abu Salamah said: I heard ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) say: I would owe fasts from the previous Ramadaan and I would not be able to make them up except in Sha’baan. [Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1849) and Muslim (1146)]
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: From her keenness to do that in Sha’baan it may be understood that it is not permissible to delay making them up until another Ramadaan begins. Fath al-Baari (4/191).
Seeking knowledge in order to be able to follow the rulings on fasting and to understand the virtues of Ramadaan.
Hastening to complete any tasks that may distract the Muslim from doing acts of worship.
Sitting with one’s family members – wife and children – to tell them of the rulings on fasting and encourage the young ones to fast.
Preparing some books which can be read at home or given to the imam of the mosque to read to the people during Ramadaan.
Fasting some of the month of Sha’baan in preparation for fasting Ramadaan.
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast until we said: He will not break his fast, and he used not to fast until we said: He will not fast. And I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) complete a month of fasting except Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more in any month than in Sha’baan. [Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1868) and Muslim (1156)]
It was narrated that Usaamah ibn Zayd said: I said: O Messenger of Allaah, I do not see you fasting in any month as you fast in Sha’baan? He said: “That is a month that people neglect between Rajab and Ramadaan, but it is a month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.”
Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (2357); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
This hadeeth explains the wisdom behind fasting in Sha’baan, which is that it is a month in which deeds are taken up (to Allaah). Some of the scholars mentioned another reason, which is that this fasting is like Sunnah prayers offered beforehand in relation to the obligatory prayer; they prepare the soul for performing the obligatory action, and the same may be said of fasting Sha’baan before Ramadaan.
Reciting & Reading Qur’aan
Salamah ibn Kuhayl said: It was said that Sha’baan was the month of the Qur’aan readers. When Sha’baan began, ‘Amr ibn Qays would close his shop and free his time for reading Qur’aan.
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi said: The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Sha’baan is the month of irrigating the crops, and the month of Ramadaan is the month of harvesting the crops.
He also said: The likeness of the month of Rajab is that of the wind, the likeness of Sha’baan is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramadaan is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Sha’baan, how can he reap in Ramadaan? Now Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Sha’baan if you are seeking Ramadaan? This is how your Prophet and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month, so what will you do?
How can we prepare for Ramadaan?
We can prepare for Ramadaan by taking stock of ourselves and recognizing our shortcomings in living up to the Shahaadatayn, or our shortcoming in fulfilling our duties, or our shortcomings in not keeping away from the desires and doubts that we may have fallen into…
We should set ourselves straight so that in Ramadaan we will have a higher degree of faith. For faith increases and decreases. It increases through obedience to Allaah and it decreases through disobedience and sin. The first act of obedience that a person should achieve is that of being a true slave of Allaah and believing that there is none that is rightfully worshipped except Allaah, so he directs all kinds of worship to Allaah and does not associate anyone else in worship with Him. Each of us should realize that whatever has befallen him could not have missed him, and whatever missed him could not have befallen him, and that everything happens by the will and decree of Allaah.
We should avoid everything that could undermine our commitment to the Shahaadatayn. This means keeping away from bid’ah (innovations) and things that have been introduced into the religion. We should also follow the principle of al-walaa’ wa’l-bara’ (loyalty and friendship vs. disavowal and enmity), by taking the believers as our friends and by regarding the kaafirs and hypocrites as enemies, and we should rejoice when the Muslims gain a victory over their enemies. We should follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions and adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the way of the Rightly-Guided Khulafa’ who came after him. We should love the Sunnah and love those who adhere to it and defend it, in whatever country they are and whatever colour or nationality they are.
We should take stock of ourselves and recognize our shortcomings in doing acts of worship such as praying in congregation, remembering Allaah (dhikr), paying attention to the rights of neighbours, relatives and the Muslims, spreading the greeting of salaam, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, urging one another to follow the truth and be patient and steadfast in doing so, being patient in avoiding evil actions and in doing good deeds, and accepting the decree of Allaah with patience.
We should take stock of ourselves and our sins and our following whims and desires. We should stop ourselves from persisting in that, whether the sin is great or small, whether it is a sin of the eye, by looking at that which Allaah has forbidden; or by listening to music; or by walking to things of which Allaah does not approve; or by using one’s hands to srike in a manner with which Allaah is not pleased; or by consuming things that Allaah has forbidden such as riba (usury) and bribes, or any other means of consuming people’s wealth unlawfully.
We should never forget that Allaah stretches forth His hand during the day to accept the repentance of those who sinned at night, and He stretches forth His hand at night to accept the repentance of those who sinned during the day. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqoon (the pious). Those who spend (in Allaah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allaah loves Al-Muhsinoon (the good‑doers). And those who, when they have committed Faahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allaah and ask forgiveness for their sins; — and none can forgive sins but Allaah — and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know. For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allaah’s Orders)” [Al ‘Imraan 3:133-136]
“Say: “O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Al-Zumar 39:53]
“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allaah’s forgiveness, he will find Allaah Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Al-Nisa’ 4:110]
By taking stock, repenting and seeking forgiveness, this is how we should welcome Ramadaan. “The smart man is the one who takes stock of himself and strives to do that which will benefit him after death, and the helpless one is the one who follows his own whims and desires and engages in wishful thinking, (assuming that Allaah will forgive him regardless of what he does and that he does not need to strive to good deeds).”
The month of Ramadaan is the month of great gains and profits. The smart trader is the one who makes the most of special occasions to increase his profits. So make the most of this month by doing lots of acts of worship, praying a great deal, reading Qur’aan, forgiving people, being kind to others and giving charity to the poor.
In the month of Ramadaan the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut. The devils are put in chains and a caller cries out each night, O seeker of good, proceed, O seeker of evil, desist.
So, O slaves of Allaah, be among the people of good, following the path of your righteous forebears who were guided by the Sunnah of your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), so that we may end Ramadaan with our sins forgiven and our righteous deeds accepted.
We should note that the month of Ramadaan is the best of months.
Ibn al-Qayyim said: Another of example of that – i.e., of the differentiation between the things that Allaah has created – is the fact that the month of Ramadaan is superior to all other months, and the last ten nights are superior to the other nights.” Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/56
This month is superior to others in four things:
1 – In it there is the best night of the year, which is Laylat al-Qadr. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al‑Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the Night of Al‑Qadr (Decree) is? The Night of Al‑Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allaah’s Permission with all Decrees, (All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allaah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn” [Al-Qadar 97:1-5]
So worship on this night is better than worshipping for a thousand months.
2 – In this month was revealed the best of Books to the best of the Prophets (peace be upon them). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
“We sent it (this Qur’aan) down on a blessed night [(i.e. the Night of Al‑Qadr) in the month of Ramadan — the 9th month of the Islamic calendar]. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship]. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments.As a Command (or this Qur’aan or the Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messengers)”
It was narrated by Ahmad and by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer that Waathilah ibn al-Asqa’ (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Scriptures of Ibraaheem were sent down on the first of the month of Ramadaan. The Tawraat was sent down on the sixth of Ramadaan. The Injeel was sent down on the thirteenth of Ramadaan. The Zaboor was sent down on the eighteenth of Ramadaan, and the Qur’aan was sent down on the twenty-fourth of Ramadaan.
Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1575.
3 – In this month the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are chained up.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” (Agreed upon).
Al-Nasaa’i narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Ramadaan comes, the gates of mercy are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are put in chains.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 471.
Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah and Ibn Khuzaymah narrated in one report: “When the first night of the month of Ramadaan comes, the devils and rebellious jinn are chained up and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist. And Allaah has those whom He redeems from the Fire, and that happens every night.”
Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 759.
If it is asked, how come we see many evil actions and sins committed in Ramadaan, for if the devils are chained up that would not happen?
The answer is that evil actions become less for those who observe the conditions and etiquette of fasting;
or that the ones who are chained up are some of the devils – namely the rebellious ones – not all of them;
or that what is meant is that evil is reduced in Ramadaan, which is a proven fact. If evil happens at this time, it is still less than at other times. Even if all of them (the devils) are chained up, that does not necessarily mean that no evil or sin will happen, because there are other causes of that besides the devils, such as evil souls, bad habits and the devils among mankind. Al-Fath, 4/145
4 – There are many kinds of worship in Ramadaan, some of which are not done at other times, such as fasting, praying qiyaam, feeding the poor, i’tikaaf, sadaqah, and reading Qur’aan.
I ask Allaah, the Exalted, the Almighty, to help us all to do that and to help us to fast and pray qiyaam, and to do acts of worship and to avoid doing evil. Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.
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