Ramadan: A Time to Attain Taqwa
by Sh. Jamal Said
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Allah’s favor has descended upon us as He has selected us to witness His month this year. Its days are the best of all days, nights the best of all nights, and hours the best of all hours. Mere breathing and sleeping are rewarded as tasbeeh and ‘ibadah during this month. In Ramadan the Muslim increases his awareness of his place and purpose on this earth and is reminded of the blessings of his Creator as Allah (SWT) says, “Oh you who believe! Fasting has been ordained upon you as it was ordained upon those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (God-consciousness)” (2:183). Through gaining Taqwa, the Muslim becomes increasingly self-aware, measuring his every thought, word, and action.
And so we begin this month by purifying our intentions and invoking Allah for whatever our heart desires for He has promised to accept the invocations of the sincere. The gates of Jannah remain open during this month so we ask Allah to save us a home in it as we beseech Him to keep the gates of Jahanam closed to us as they are closed during this blessed time of year.
Ramadan has arrived to discipline our worst enemy, our nafs, and nourish our hearts since the shayateen are locked up. In abstaining from food and drink, we are reminded of our ability to control our desires and urges. We can elevate ourselves to become righteous human beings, detaching from the animalistic persona society has glorified and convinced us to be acceptable. This is a time to reevaluate our intentions, decisions, and actions, and by doing so we strengthen our relationship with our Creator (SWT).
During the month of the Quran, the Muslim reconsiders his relationship with Allah’s Book. He opens his heart to the Quran to allow its guidance to purify it and his mind to illuminate his understanding. In reciting and memorizing from the Quran, the Muslim draws nearer to Allah (SWT) receiving His protection and blessings.
As we reconsider our relationship with Allah (SWT) and His Book during Ramadan we must also reflect upon our relationships with His slaves from our parents, siblings, relatives, in-laws, and friends. It would be a shame to allow Ramadan to pass by without rectifying our relationships with fellow Muslims by seeking their forgiveness, forgiving them for their shortcomings, and ridding ourselves of grudges. We must keep in mind that although Allah may forgive us for violating His rights upon us when we sin, He will not forgive us for violating the rights of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Therefore we must humble ourselves and seek their forgiveness before a time comes when we will not have the luxury of doing so.
This year Ramadan is quite special since it will be during the summer. Those who are not working or studying during this month have much more time during the day to engage in activities which either please or displease Allah (SWT). So we must surround ourselves with good company, righteous friends and create a schedule to keep us from wasting our time which often leads to sinning. This is a time to train ourselves to give up bad habits such as using bad language, and take up good habits such as lowering our gaze and holding our tongues. We must work hard to guard our tongues, eyes, and ears from all which displeases Allah (SWT) and spoils our inner selves. For everything we say, see, and hear will either purify or ruin our hearts. Our struggles during this month will lighten the burdens we carry on the Day of Accounting. Prophet Muhammad (S) was reported to have said, “O People! You have made your conscience the slave of your desires; make it free by invoking Him for Istighfar (repentance/forgiveness). Your back is breaking under the heavy load of your sins, so prostrate before Him for long intervals and make it lighter.”
We must not allow ourselves to forget the objective of this month which is save our skins from the fire of Jahanam and receive Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. Let us keep these reminders in mind. Abstain from watching television, including satellite stations which advertise entertainment programs made especially for Ramadan. The nights of Ramadan should not be reserved for such entertainment, playing cards, and smoking cigarettes or water pipes. Just as good deeds are heavily rewarded during this month, bad deeds will also weigh heavily. We must observe the sanctity of this month as we observe the sanctity of Hajj. Sweeten your tongue with the remembrance of Allah and seek His forgiveness as you abstain from backbiting and gossip. Rid yourself of bad language, control your anger, and reconcile any disputes you have with anyone. Give sadaqa to the needy and provide iftaar to both those in need and those not in need. Offering iftaar to the fasting person, whether rich or poor, will be rewarded heavily as promised by our beloved Messenger of Allah (S). Strive to complete the recitation of the Quran during Qiyam and engage in reading Tafseer by pondering over the meaning of its verses. Finally, be honest with yourself and make real attempts at changing yourself for the better. If you left something during Ramadan for the sake of Allah, leave it permanently and Allah will open for you doors in this dunya and the door of Jannah in the akhira.
May Allah (SWT) accept our fasting, prayers, and supplications during this month.
Sh. Jamal Said