"Ramadaan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'aan as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong)" - Surah Al Baqarah 2:185Abu Hurairah (radhiallâhu ânhu) reported that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. said,
"Ramadaan has come to you - a blessed month. Allah has made obligatory upon you its fasting. In it, the gates of Heaven are open, the gates of the Hellfire are closed and the evil devils are chained. To Allah belongs a night in it, which is better than a thousand months. Whosoever is prevented from its good, then he has been deprived." (reported by Ahmad and An-Nasaa'ee. See Ahmad Shaakir's checking of the Musnad (no. 7148) and Saheeh At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb of Al-Albaanee (1490) as well as Tamaam-ul-Mannah (395).
The hadeeth is a glad tiding to the righteous servants of Allah S.W.T, of the coming of the blessed month of Ramadaan. The Prophet SAW informed his companions of its coming and it was not just a simple relaying of news. Rather, his intent was to give them the glad tidings of a magnificent time of the year, so that the righteous people who are quick to do deeds can give it its due estimate. This is because the Prophet SAW explained in it (the hadeeth) what Allah Ta'ala has prepared for His servants from the ways towards gaining forgiveness and His contentment and they are many ways. So whosoever has forgiveness escape from him during the month of Ramadaan, then he has been deprived with the utmost deprivation.
Being able to reach Ramadaan is a magnificent bounty in itself, bestowed upon the one who reaches it and rises to its occasion, by standing in prayer during its night and fasting during its day. In it, he returns to his Protector -- from disobeying Him to obeying Him, from neglecting Him to remembering Him, from remaining distant from Him to turning towards Him in submissive repentance.
A Muslim must be conscious of this bounty and acknowledge its magnitude. For indeed, many people are prevented from fasting, either because they die before they reach it or because they are not capable of observing it or because they oppose and turn away from it. Thus, the one who fasts must give praise to his Lord for this bounty and should welcome this month with the joy and delight that a magnificent time of the year out of all the occasions for performing obedience is welcomed.
He should exert himself deeply in doing good deeds. And he should invoke Allaah to grant him fasting and standing in night prayer and that He provide him with seriousness, enthusiasm, strength and energy in that month. And that He awaken him from heedless oversleeping so that he may take advantage of these virtuous times of good. (Excerpts from "The Approach of Ramadaan by Sheikh Abdullaah ibn Salih al-Fawzaan)
However, there are questions we should ask ourselves as Ramadaan draws nears - questions such as, what does Ramadaan mean to us personally? What are our plans for this Ramadaan?
How do we attain taqwaa and tazkiyah?
Below are some excellent advice by Ustaadz Ayub Hamid in answer to the above questions entitled: "Ramadaan: What does it mean to you?" "My Plans for this Ramadaan" and "Having Taqwaa, Attaining Tazkiyah" - inshaa'Allah, you will find them beneficial.
Ramadaan: What does it mean to you?
Success, in whatever we do depends on how clear we are on the objectives we want to achieve and how well we plan for it. What does Ramadaan mean to you? Does it mean more to you than, for example, going for a vacation or excursion? Are you mentally and psychologically ready to attain all the goodness Ramadaan has to offer? Are you then spending enough time and taking pains to plan how you can get the most benefit from the opportunity
Ramadaan affords you?
Some people do plan for Ramadaan 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 Ramadaan?
Objectives of Ramadaan are:
* to increase our Taqwaa * to make us more charitable, and * to strengthen our knowledge of the Holy Qur'aan.
So, what are the action plans you want to undertake during Ramadaan so that when it departs, you have seen significant growth in your Taqwaa, you are more giving and more tuned to the Qur'aan?
Ramadaan 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 Ramadaan 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 one or two aspects of your personality where the change is needed most importantly and then, devise a plan to make some defined improvements in those areas this Ramadaan.
Success in making the change would make you a winner this Ramadaan and the month will be one of great triumph and blessings for you.
If you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadaan by identifying areas requiring improvement and if you have prepared a plan of action, may Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala assist you and bless you for taking this step in your life.
My Plans for this Ramadaan
While remembering Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala in many other ways, I will more frequently ask for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala's mercy:
- in the first 10 days of Ramaadan (Yaa Hayyu Yaa Qayyoomu, bi-rahmatika astagheethu),
- invoke Allaah's forgiveness in the second 10 days (astaghfirullaah-al-Azeem-alladzi laa ilaaha illaa Huwa-al
Hayyu-l-Qayyoomu wa atoobu ilayh), and
- seek salvation from the Fire in the last 10 days (Rabbanaa aatinaa fi-ddunyaa hasanatanwa fil-aakhirati
hasanatanwa qinaa adzaab-annaar).
- During the last 10 nights, I will frequent the du'a: Allaahumma innaka 'afuwwun, tuhibbul 'afwa, fa'fu 'annee.
Having Taqwaa, Attaining Tazkiyah
Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala commands:
"O Believers! Adopt Taqwaa 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 Taqwaa. It is a paradigm shift resulting from a continual awareness, remembrance and consciousness of Allaah brought about by a true faith in Allaah (Eeman).
Taqwaa is an attitude of keeping one's duty to Allah and a paradigm of care, caution and avoidance in:
· Being willing, eager and careful to fulfill one's duties to Allah in every aspect of life.
· Being conscious of our accountability to Allah 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
· Being particular about maintaining a lifestyle that will avoid incurring the displeasure or punishment of Allah.
As per the paraphrased discussion between Ubayy Bin Ka?ab and Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them) Taqwaa 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 Taqwaa in translation is difficult. Hence, different scholars have translated Taqwaa as being God conscious, keeping one's duty to Allaah, or fearing Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala. In fact, Taqwaa is all these things.
Taqwaa 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 Taqwaa, 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 Taqwaa 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)
Given the depth as well as the sublimity of the Qur'aanic text, a faithful translation of it into another language is virtually impossible. The various translations that exists today, however accurate they may be, cannot be designated as the Qur'aan, since they can never hope to imitate the diction or the style of the Book of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala. But as translation is one of the few ways to export the message of the Qur'aan to allow those lacking in knowledge of Arabic to share this priceless gift, it becomes a duty for those in a position to fulfill this task.
Truly, "The power of iman is such that once it fills the heart of a true believing Mu'min it is impossible to be removed." (Sahih Bukhari)