What >>does Ramadhaan mean to you? Does it mean more to you than going for >>a vacation >>or to Disney World? Are you mentally and psychologically ready to >>attain all the >>goodness Ramadhaan has to offer? Are you then spending enough time >>and taking >>pains to plan how can you get the most benefit from the opportunity >>Ramadhaan >>affords you? >> >> >> >>Some >>people do plan for Ramadhaan, but that planning is only to the >>extent of who to >>invite for Iftaar and what special foods to prepare or how to get >>the best deal >>on dates? But is this the type of outcome that is the objective of >>Ramadhaan? >> >> >> >>The >>objectives of Ramadhaan are to: >> >> >> >>q >>Increase our Taqwa >> >>q >>Make us more charitable >> >>q >>Prepare us for life-long Jihaad, >>and >> >>q >>Strengthen our relationship with the Holy >>Qur-aan. >> >> >> >>So, >>what are the action plans you want to undertake during Ramadhaan so >>that when it >>departs, you have seen significant growth in your Taqwa, you are >>more giving, >>more involved in Jihaad and more tuned to the Qur-aan? >> >> >> >>Ramadhaan is a wonderful opportunity to help us fine-tune our >>normal >>patterns of behaviour thereby changing us for the better. We can >>ask ourselves >>the question: What areas of our personality, attitude, behaviour, >>daily routines >>and lifestyle, etc. do we need to change to bring us closer to the >>Islamic >>standard? >> >> >> >>What aspect of your life have you decided to improve on during this >>Ramadhaan and what are your plans for achieving this change? >> >> >> >>We >>all need many changes and many improvements. None of us is perfect >>and our list >>of proposed improvements can be exceedingly long if we were being >>honest with >>ourselves. Naturally, one cannot pick a big list and work on all >>those areas in >>one month. The best approach is to pick only a few items where the >>most >>important change is needed and to devise a plan to make a definite >>improvement >>in those area(s) this Ramadhaan. Success in making the change would >>make you a >>winner this Ramadhaan and the month will be one of great triumph >>and blessings >>for you. >> >> >> >>If >>you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadhaan >>by >>identifying areas requiring improvement and if you have prepared a >>plan of >>action, may Allaah (SWT) assist you and bless you for taking this >>step in your >>life. Congratulations on a good start! >> >> >> >> >> >>My Plans This >>Ramadhaan >> >> >> >>How should we >>-- simple, ordinary Muslims -- spend this fasting month so that at >>the end of >>the month we feel inner joy and true happiness knowing that our >>‘Eed day will be >>the day of celebrating rewards from Allaah Subhaanahu wa >>Ta`aala? >> >> >> >>Here is a >>sample plan that you can use for that purpose: >> >> >> >>This Ramadhaan, >>I will establish a close relationship with the Qur-aan. I will give >>the top >>priority to knowing and understanding the contents and message of >>the Qur-aan. I >>will recite and study the Qur-aan with translation and tafseer >>regularly and >>steadily throughout the month from a good, authentic English >>translation and >>Tafseer such as the one by Imam Maudoodi (The Meaning of the >>Qur-aan) or by Syed >>Qutb (In the shade of the Qur-aan). I will not sleep after Fajr, >>but instead >>study the Qur-aan until I am ready to go to school or work. >>Throughout the day, >>I will find time to revise and re-learn the Soorahs and Aayaat I >>already know. >>Once that is completed, I will learn at least one Aayah a day from >>a Soorah I do >>not already know. >> >> >> >>This Ramadhaan, >>I will sleep early, soon after Ishaa. I will go to bed with clear >>and conscious >>intention of fasting the next day, as well as with the intention of >>getting up >>early for Tahajjud. Then, while remembering Allaah, I will fall >>asleep. I will get up well before Suhoor time, >>thanking Allaah for giving me life, offer Tahajjud and then make >>special Duaa >>for the mercy of Allaah on our Ummah, His help for its success and >>well being, >>and His interference to foil the plans of the enemy. I will also >>make special >>Duaa that Allaah protects my Ummah, my family and me from the >>Dajjaal and his >>Fitnah. >> >> >> >>Just for this >>month, I will not watch TV at all. My knowing of what is shown in >>the news does >>not affect any affairs of the world. Watching the news causes only >>frustration, >>despair and anxiety. If I do not watch for a month, it will not >>have any impact >>either on me, my Ummah or the world at large. I would rather spend >>the month on >>my personal improvement, personal spirituality and building a >>close, personal >>relationship with Allaah, rather than on an activity where I cannot >>make any >>difference. (Unless I am one of >>those few Muslims who write letters, articles or op-ed pieces to TV >>producers / >>anchors, paper editors / columnists, politicians and media in >>general to make >>Islamic points or to stand up for the Ummah. If I am one of those, >>I should >>continue this Jihaad in Ramadhaan). >> >> >> >>While fasting, >>I will make a special effort to speak only to add value and to say >>only what is >>true, factual, positive, meaningful and useful. When I do not have >>anything good >>and useful to talk about, instead of saying anything else, I will >>remember >>Allaah through the beautiful words taught by our Prophet, while >>paying attention >>to their meanings and feeling the impact of the words on my heart, >>my mind, my >>thoughts and my attitude. Or, if I do not know them, I will learn >>those words of >>remembrance or prayer. Or, I will spend those moments to recite the >>portions of >>the Qur-aan that I know or learning those I do not. >> >> >> >> >>I will not lend >>my ears to anything that is useless, indecent, negative, spiteful >>or >>inappropriate. In my car, I will listen to the Qur-aan or some good >>speech of a >>reputed scholar. If my car CD player has a feature that allows it >>to repeat the >>same piece over and over again, I will use it to help me learn new >>verses or >>Soorah. Similarly, while riding the transit or subway, I will use >>my >>pocket-sized Qur-aan or book of Prophet’s du`aas to recite, >>practise or revise >>those I know or learn those I do not know. >> >> >> >>This Ramadhaan, >>I will particularly watch my gaze. While glancing on a member of >>opposite ***, I >>will move my gaze away before I start evaluating or assessing the >>attractive >>features of looks, appearance or personality or before I start >>paying attention >>to or begin enjoying those attractions. I will not participate or >>listen to the >>comments of sexual nature that my colleagues, peers or friends >>make. >> >> >> >> >>While >>remembering Allaah in many other ways, I will more frequently ask >>for Allaah’s >>mercy in the first 10 days of Ramadhaan (Yaa ?ayyu Yaa Qayyoomu, >>bi-ra?matika astagheethu), invoke Allaah’s forgiveness in the >>second 10 >>days (astaghfirullaah-al-azheem-alladzi laa ilaaha illaa huwa-al >>?ayyu-l-Qayyoomu wa atoobu ilayh) and seek salvation from the Fire >>in the >>last 10 days (Rabbanaa aatinaa fi-ddunyaa ?asanatanwa fil-aakhirati >>?asanatanwa qinaa adzaab-annaar). During the last ten nights, I >>will >>frequent the du`aa: Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tu?ibbul ‘afwa, >>fa’fu >>‘annee. >> >> >> >>This Ramadhaan, >>I will be exceptionally charitable. My heart will be ameliorated >>and my purse >>will be widely opened, when tears fill my eyes on seeing, hearing >>or thinking of >>the scenes of devastation, disease, starvation, agony, >>displacement, killings, >>blown up bodies and severed limbs of poor, helpless people caused >>by man-made >>disasters as in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya and Kashmir >>or by natural >>disasters as in New Orleans or in the areas hit by Tsunami. I will >>send all my >>Zakaah for their help right at the beginning of Ramadhaan through >>trustworthy >>Islamic charities. In addition to my Zakaah, I will pay whatever I >>can spare >>from my family’s necessities for helping those in dire need. If I >>have been >>paying my Zakaah to my relatives, this Ramadhaan, I will help my >>relatives from >>my other savings and resources, so that I can pay Zakaah to the >>victims of state >>terrorism or natural disasters. I will avoid spending money on my >>home >>decoration or getting new clothes for ‘Eed or buying more video >>games and toys >>for my children, so that those who are in more need than me and my >>family can be >>helped. I will even pay my Fitrah very early in Ramadhaan so that >>it can reach >>those displaced from their homes before ‘Eed and before the weather >>becomes too >>cold. >> >> >> >>Also this >>Ramadhaan, I will be generous and forgiving to my family, friends >>and the Muslim >>community at large. I will clear my heart from anger complaints, >>suspicion, >>jealousy, grudges or dislike against any of them. I will be extra >>kind, >>accommodating, courteous, supportive and helpful to my non-Muslims >>neighbours >>and colleagues. I will find ways to have them participate in the >>blessings of >>Ramadhaan and happiness of ‘Eed by sharing my food specialties with >>them or >>giving gifts and chocolates to them. >> >> >> >>This Ramadhaan, >>I will decline all invitations to dinner meetings with non-Muslims >>because every >>moment in this month is too precious to be spent on those >>activities. And this >>Ramadhaan, I am going to take my vacations in its last 10 days, so >>that the >>precious opportunity offered by those days can be fully utilized >>for developing >>my spiritual relationship with Allaah Subhaanahu wa >>Ta`aala. >> >> >> >>I will kick at >>least one of my bad habits such as arriving late for appointments >>or breaking >>promises. I will show up or do what I indicate I will do and I will >>show up or >>do so on time. If I am a smoker, this Ramadhaan, I will not smoke >>even after >>Iftaar, before Suhoor or at night. I will keep my mouth odour free >>for prayers >>and Allaah‘s remembrance and my lungs, blood and heart from >>disease. >> >> >> >>If I am a >>university student whose final exams are falling in Ramadhaan, my >>act of worship >>is to do my utmost best to study hard and get the best possible >>results, given >>that any moment that is not spent on studying is not spent in any >>other pursuit >>except in the remembrance of Allaah or study of the Qur-aan. While >>travelling >>to/from or within campus or while taking a break from studies, I >>will >>automatically shift to remembrance of Allaah or recitation of the >>Qur-aan. For >>my studies, I will keep timings that are consistent with the spirit >>of >>Ramadhaan, i.e. sleep early and get up very early. Instead of >>staying up late at >>the risk of missing Suhoor or Fajr, I will adjust my body clock to >>Islamic >>lifestyle instead of the western lifestyle. When I get up to study >>at 2 or 3 AM, >>I will start with two Raka’at of Tahajjud and then continue with my >>studies. >>After Fajr, I will still spend 15-20 minutes on the study of >>Tafseer even on >>exam days. >> >> >> >>If we succeed >>this Ramadhaan in living as planned above, we will be able to look >>back and >>rejoice on the day of ‘Eed. >> >>Having >>Taqwa, Attaining >>Tazkiyah >> >> >> >>Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala >>commands: >> >>“O Believers! Adopt >>Taqwa of Allaah; watch what each of you provides for Tomorrow >>(Hereafter); >>and again, maintain Taqwa of Allaah. >>Indeed, Allaah is aware of what you do. And >>do not be like >>those >>who forgot Allaah, and as a consequence, >>He caused them to forget their souls >>(their >>own >>well-being).” (Al-Hashr 59:18-19) >> >>The attitude and approach of a Muslim >>towards the affairs of life that distinguishes him from a >>non-Muslim is called >>Taqwa. It is a paradigm shift resulting from a continual >>awareness, remembrance and consciousness of Allaah brought about by >>a true faith in Allaah (Eemaan). >> >>Taqwa is an attitude of keeping >>one’s duty to Allaah and a paradigm of care, caution and avoidance >>in the >>following sense: >> >>· >>Being willing, eager and careful to fulfill one’s >>duties to Allaah in every aspect of life. >> >>· >>Being conscious of our accountability to Allaah >>and being mindful that He is well aware of all our actions, >>intentions, thoughts >>and behaviours. >> >>· >>Being cautious not to get involved in anything >>that is prohibited or leads to something that is prohibited by >>Allaah. >> >> >>· >>Being particular about maintaining a lifestyle >>that will avoid incurring the displeasure or punishment of Allaah. >> >>As per the paraphrased >>discussion between Ubayy Bin Ka’ab and Umar (may Allaah be pleased >>with them) >>Taqwa is: Living one’s life as carefully as one holds his clothes >>closer to his >>body while passing through a dense jungle of thorny bushes in order >>to protect >>his clothes from being caught in any of the thorns. >> >>To capture all the aspects of >>Taqwa in translation is difficult. Hence, different scholars have >>translated >>Taqwa as being God conscious, keeping one’s duty to Allaah, or >>fearing Allaah >>Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. In fact, Taqwa is all these things. >> >>Taqwa is the source of all >>virtues and goodness. It is the catalyst that reforms a person from >>inside. Once >>a person’s paradigm shifts genuinely towards Taqwa, he embarks on a >>path of >>continuous self-improvement. He monitors his own thoughts, motives >>and actions >>to ensure that they remain pure and aligned with the guidance of >>Islam. He >>becomes motivated, eager and enthusiastic to do good, or rather >>excel, in his >>ethics, morals, dealings, human relations, and every aspect of his >>conduct in >>day to day life. He tries his best to avoid any bad behaviour in >>any affairs of >>life. Good actions please him. Mistakes give him anxiety, in which >>case he >>immediately repents, seeks Allaah’s forgiveness and makes up for >>them by doing >>more good. He loves Allaah’s creations and cares for them. He >>becomes generous, >>gracious, forgiving and kind. He becomes a champion for the rights >>of the weak, >>neglected, disadvantaged and persecuted people of the society. He >>courageously >>stands up and struggles for the establishment of justice, fairness, >>equity and >>equality of all people. He dedicates himself selflessly, never >>expecting or >>accepting any thing or any benefit in return because his goal is >>Allaah’s >>pleasure, mercy and forgiveness. >> >>This process of ongoing, >>continuous self-improvement in terms of one’s thoughts, motives and >>actions >>regarding all affairs of one’s life is called Tazkiah >>(Purification). >> >>Thus, true faith makes a person >>continually remember Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala with love and >>awe. This all >>results in an attitude of Taqwa which, if properly understood and >>adopted, >>results in purification (Tazkiah). The result is a person at >>his/her best – the >>best a human being can be. >> >>For such a person, the good news is: >>“Successful is indeed he who purifies.” (Al-A’alaa >>87:14) >> >>Ramadhaan and >>Jihaad >> >> >> >>Ramadhaan is a month of Jihaad in two ways: >> >> >> >>· >>The successful defense at Badr >>against the first Makkan attack (on the 17th) and the final victory >>over Makkans >>(Conquer of Makkah on the 20th) both happened in Ramadhaan. >> >>· >>Sowm used to be a process of >>training horses to endure hardship and develop endurance whereby >>they were kept >>hungry and thirsty but driven extra hard during the hours of Sowm. >> >> >> >> >>Muslims are Allaah’s troopers who have been charged with the >>responsibility of establishing a peaceful, just, fair, caring, >>sharing, loving, >>righteous, pious and clean society (i.e. an Islamic society). They >>are expected >>to remain engaged in a lifelong struggle to initiate, develop, >>establish, >>maintain and expand that society. This lifelong struggle, called >>Jihaad, is such >>an important responsibility for every Muslim that anyone not >>seriously >>contemplating it has been regarded as hypocrite (Munaafiq) by our >>Prophet Sall >>Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam. >> >>This >>Jihaad includes changing one’s own behaviour to the Islamic way; >>influencing >>one’s family, friends and relatives to practice Islam completely; >>inviting one’s >>neighbors, colleagues and citizens of one’s town to Islam; starting >>the Islamic >>movement in one’s locality; helping Islamic movements in the world; >>helping >>oppressed people of the world in general and Muslims in particular; >>etc. All >>this Jihaad work can be done in multiple ways through >>word-of-mouth, written >>words, good actions and behaviour, charitable acts, etc., as long >>as each action >>fits in an overall strategy developed to achieve clear time-lined >>goals and >>objectives. >> >>If Jihaad for >>clearly defined goals is so critical a responsibility that shirking >>it puts your >>faith (Eemaan) in question; if Ramadhaan is the month of Jihad that >>reminds and >>prepares you for this responsibility; and, if you have heard Allaah >>calling you >>for Jihaad when reciting or listening to Soorah Al-Baqarah, >>Aali-Imraan, >>An-Nisaa`, Al-Anfaal, At-Towbah and Al-Hajj, >> >>then: >> >>What >>Jihaad activities are you doing nowadays? >> >>What >>have you done today and what do you plan to do within the next >>week? >> >>What >>do you want to achieve within a month, within a year and the next >>three, five >>and ten years? >> >>Tomorrow, when Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala asks you, “I called >>you to do an extremely important task for me, what did you do?” >>What would be >>your response? Would you say: >> >>· >>“What task, O Allaah? I did not >>know you called? I did not read/listen to the Qur-aan.” Or, “I >>recited the Qur-aan and listened >>to it as well, but could not understand your call.” Or, “I recited >>and listened >>to the Qur-aan for Blessings. Was I supposed to respond to its call >>as >>well?” Or, >> >>· >> “O Allaah, I heard you calling when I was >>reciting the Qur-aan in Ramadhaan and when I was listening to it in >>Taraaweeh >>prayers, but I chose to disregard it.” Or, “O Allaah, there were >>problems in our >>community. The circumstances were not right. I alone could not have >>done much. >>So I just went to the Masjid, quietly prayed and came back home.” >>Or, >> >>· >> “O Allaah I was too busy in Masjid >>politics and too caught up in fighting for subsidiary, >>insignificant and/or >>irrelevant Fiqh issues that I did not have time or energy to do >>what you were >>calling me for.” >> >>Do >>you think any of these responses will be acceptable to Allaah SWT? >> >>Wouldn’t it be better if you could rather say, >> >>“O Allaah, I listened to you and I obeyed. I did my best in the >>circumstances. Whatever little capabilities I had, I dedicated them >>for your >>cause. Please, my Merciful Lord, accept my humble efforts and >>reward me with >>your limitless grace and generosity.” >> >>Can >>you imagine the sweetness of the response that Allaah will give to >>this last >>answer! >> >>So, >>what are your action plans to perform Jihaad of changing lives for >>the better, >>your main duty to Allaah SWT? >> >>If we succeed this Ramadhaan in living as planned above, we will be >>able to look back and rejoice and feel inner joy and true happiness >>knowing that our Eid day will be the day of celebrating rewards >>from Allaah >>Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala.