HOW TO GAIN MAXIMUM BENEFITS FROM RAMADHAN
By Mufti Waseem Khan
Ramadhan is indeed the most blessed month of the Islamic calendar, and one in which Allah Has placed a great amount of virtues, blessings and rewards for doing good actions. Those who are fortunate to witness this month should consider it a great opportunity and a favour from Allah to be alive and witness another ‘Ramadhan’. They should therefore be extremely grateful to Allah, and appreciate this great blessing by using it in the best possible manner, to gain all the blessings, rewards and greatness which Allah Has placed in this Holy month. Not using the month in accordance to the teachings of Islam, and showing disregard for the great virtues that lie in the month, is in reality, a form of ingratitude to Allah and a sign of non-appreciation for the gift of Ramadhan.
Ramadhan is the month for the believers. It is the month of blessings and rewards. It is the month of mercy and forgiveness. It is so great that through it, a believer can become a Jannati (a dweller of paradise) and attain a lofty rank in Allah’s sight. It is one in which a believer can have his past sins, major and minor, forgiven. It is one through which one can become beloved to Allah and gain closeness to Him. Ramadhan provides the ideal opportunity for one’s Duas (supplications) to be accepted.
Ramadhan is unique. It has no parallel, and it is incomparable. Allah’s mercy showers like rain on the believers. His forgiveness covers them like the night, and His barakah shines on them like the sun. For them, He opens all the gates of paradise and locks every single door of Hell.
Ramadhan is so special; it is so virtuous and powered with so much spirituality, that Allah chains and shackles the devils (satans) and rebellious Jinns, so that they may not interfere with the worship of the believers in the Holy month. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Only on account of Ramadhan, thousands of souls are freed from Hell every night. (Tirmidhi).
This is indeed from the excellence and distinction of this glorious month and a special gift from Allah.
The month is filled with so much goodness and virtues that Allah deputes an angel who calls out from the heavens to the believers, exhorting and encouraging them to increase in good deeds; to excel in good deeds and to hasten in piling up mountains of good deeds. (Tirmidhi).
This is the great month in which Allah is extremely generous. He gives without measure. He forgives without looking at the bulk of sins, and answers the call of every caller.
Who is willing to get what Ramadhan has in it? Who is there who wishes to run towards Allah in Ramadhan? Who is there who will plead guilty in the court of Allah, shed tears of repentance and gain forgiveness from Allah? Who is there who is ready to gain the full benefits of Ramadhan? This might be the last chance. It could be one’s last Ramadhan, and may be one’s last month on the face of the earth.
If one really wishes to gain the great merits and benefits of the sacred month, then one will need to discipline oneself and devote one’s time for the different forms of worship that bring tremendous amount of benefits in Ramadhan.
In this regard, it is important for one to know that those actions that have been made Fardh (compulsory) in Islam must be done. Negligence and laziness in fulfilling the Faraidh must not be shown. Therefore, one must ensure that one observes all the fasts of Ramadhan, and pay careful attention to the times of starting and ending the fast.
While observing the fast, the intention must be filled with Ikhlas (sincerity). It must not be done for any reason except that of the pleasure of Allah. Fasting is an act of worship which is extremely beloved to Allah. Allah loves to see His servants sacrificing for His sake. He loves to see them giving up their food and drink only for His sake. He admires the spirit of sacrifice from His servants, where they willingly go hungry and thirsty for many hours, only for the sake of their Lord. Allah Himself speaks highly of this and says, “Fasting is for me, and I Alone shall give its rewards. My servant leaves off his lawful desires and food only for my sake.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Fasting thus, shows the servants’ total submission and obedience to Allah and thus, elevates him to the different stages of piety. A believer must therefore decorate his fast with sublime qualities, and refrain from every deed which takes away the light and soul of his fast.
Sabr (patience) is a ‘Must’ for every believer. This is what adorns the believer, and makes him humble and devout to his creator. He accepts whatever comes in his way and does not complain. He bears the trials sent to him by Allah, and He forbears the test which is sent upon him.
The pangs of hunger and thirst invite him to end his fast, but he does not give in! Satan invites him to sins and bad deeds, but he withholds. His body seems to become tired, and it wants to give up the worship of Allah, but he is persistent, and is not willing to stop his actions in obedience to Allah.
The true believer recognises that he cannot wear the garment of Taqwa except that it is embodied with ‘Sabr’ (patience).
While walking through the days and nights of Ramadhan, the believer needs the forbearance in fulfilling the order of fasting. He forbears and suffers the pangs of hunger and thirst only for the sake of Allah. He perseveres in the obedience of Allah, waking through the hours of the night and standing as trees planted in the ground, in worship to his creator. His undying love for his beloved Lord makes him unmindful of the tiredness of his body, weakness of his limbs and sleepiness of his eyes. He yearns for, and waits anxiously for the moment when he will stand in full devotion to Allah, and shed before him the tears of joy and love, reading His Holy words which came from above the seven heavens.
This is the believer in Ramadhan. He perseveres, is persistent, and shows full patience in the obedience of Allah. Along with this, he restrains himself from the abominable. He turns away from sins and iniquities, and shuns every evil. He curbs his appetite for wrongdoing. He puts a check on the evil promptings (Waswasa) of Satan, and he bridles the Nafs and carnal desires. He thus, practices patience in staying away from sins and wrongdoings.
Patience therefore, is an essential requirement for the believer in Ramadhan. He cannot do without it, and depends on it for the acceptance of his fast and the goodness of Ramadhan. In exchange, he will be rewarded handsomely in the hereafter, and will receive the eternal gardens of bliss in Paradise. It is for this reason, the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘The month of Ramadhan is a month of patience, and the reward for patience is Jannah (Paradise).’Allah Himself speaks about the rewards for patience and says ‘Certainly the Patient ones shall receive their rewards in full, without measure.’ (Surah Zumar Verse 10)
Purity the of mind, soul, body and heart is required for the true believer. He is not only conscious of his body, clothing and external, but he is more concerned about his heart, soul and internal self. While keeping the body and clothing clean from impurities and dirtiness, the true believer also strives to keep his heart, mind and soul clean and pure. While he decorates himself with attractive garments, he also beautifies his inner self, soul and heart with admirable, praiseworthy and commendable traits and characteristics. His real beauty is internal and not external. His true self is the inner self and not the outer self. The true believer knows that Allah does not look at his face or outer garment, but He looks at his heart and soul, and so, he decorates and beautifies his heart, and ensures that it is kept pure at all times.
While polishing his heart with the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, the true servant of Allah knows that he must first cleanse it with Istighfar by seeking forgiveness from Allah. Hence, he cleans his heart by continuously begging Allah for His forgiveness and repenting for all his sins. At the same time, he polishes and brightens his heart with the dhikr of Allah.
Thus, in order to reap the true benefit of this very sacred month, the believer is required to beg Allah for forgiveness continuously. He must also set a period of time during the day, especially in the morning after Fajr Salaah to be engaged in the dhikr of Allah (remembrance of Allah). In doing so, he must do Allah’s dhikr with the most beautiful words.
The third Kalimah is a very powerful dhikr, as it includes a few of the great forms of Allah’s remembrance. One can put aside some time in the morning (after Fajr Slaah) and in the evening (after Asr Salaah) to recite these beautiful and powerful words of Allah’s dhikr. These words are Subhaanallah Walhamdulillah Wa Laa Ilaha Illallah Wallahu Akbar Wa Laa Hawla Wa Laa Quwwata Illa Billahil Aliyil Adheem.
It will be extremely beneficial and greatly rewarding for one who recites this 100 times in the morning and evening. Along with this, one should make it a practice to make Istighfar and recite ‘Astaghfirullah’ 100 times in the morning and evening. Besides these, we have also been ordered by Allah to send peace and blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ has also laid great stress on this, and has mentioned the great rewards and blessings for sending peace and blessing upon him. Keeping this in mind, our pious predecessors have emphasized that a believer should make it his daily routine to send an abundance of Salah and Salaam (Darud) upon the Prophet ﷺ. One should also incorporate this as his daily practice, and recite the Darud Shareef 100 times in the morning and 100 times in the evening.
From among the great meritorious acts which brings light, peace and serenity to our hearts, is that of the tilawah (recitation) of Quran. This is a great act of Ibadah (worship) which increses our Imaan, elevates our rank in Allahs’ sight and brings us closer to Allah.
Ramadhan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. It is the month in which the Prophet ﷺ used to revise the Quran with Jibraeel (A.S). Hence, Ramadhan has a deep rooted attachment with the Quran. The believer must therefore make time for the Quran. He must recite it with care and attention, and develop a close bond with it in the month of Ramadhan. He must fix a time daily, which he will dedicate for the recitation of the Holy Quran, and then grasp every opportunity to recite it.
The month of Ramadhan is also a month in which duas (supplications) are accepted by Allah. Every time in Ramadhan is sacred and special. The days and the nights, the mornings and the evenings are all special times where Allah answers the duas of his servants. At the time of Tahajjud and just before breaking the fast are very special times for the acceptance of duas. The believers must therefore take this great opportunity to beseech and supplicate to Allah for all their needs. Make as much dua as possible. Ask Allah for everything that one needs, and he will answer one’s duas.
Ramadhan is also a special month for worshipping Allah. It is a month which ‘Ibadah’ (worship) has a very high status, and is extremely beloved to Allah. It is for this reason, we find that the Prophet ﷺ used to wake for the entire nights of Ramadhan, being absorbed in worship of Allah through salah. As such, believers must dedicate themselves to the worship of Allah through salah. Besides the five daily salah and the Taraweeh/Witr Salah, they must perform those Sunnah and Nafl Salah which the Prophet ﷺ made as part of his life, and has highlighted the great blessings and reward for. The believers should therefore, perform the Tahajjud Salah when they get up for Sehri in the morning.
After the Fajr Salah, one should remain in the dhikr of Allah and the recitation of the Quran, and after 20 minutes, one should perform the Ishraq Salah. A little while after that, one should perform the Dhuha or Chasht Salah. Then, after Maghrib Salah, one should perform the Awwaabeen Salah. Besides these, one must make it a practise to perform all the Sunnah and nafl salah at the times of the Fardh Salah. During the period of the day and the night, one can perform many nafl salah (once it is not the prohibited times for salah). If one implements these easy practises, then Allah will bless him immensely, and he would be from among those who have established the month of Ramadhan with Ibadah (worship).
While observing the salah, believers should ensure that they have full sincerity, and that they humble themselves and be fully devoted to Allah while engaged in Salah. Salah is the way of communicating with Allah. One should therefore not be distracted by other things, nor should he ‘rush down’ or perform Salah as if he is ‘in a hurry’. One should rather, offer his Salah in a peaceful manner, with full calmness, and taking one’s time in qiyam, ruku and sajdah.
Salah is a worship which the believers give to Allah, and Allah does not accept anything that lacks sincerity and is not done properly and perfectly. The same is applicable to all acts of worship including duas (supplications), recitation of Quran and doing the dhikr of Allah. These must be done with utmost sincerity, and with deep love and yearning in the heart to do them. They should not be done as if one is forced to do so, or he is ‘passing time’ or he simply wants to please others. The believers must have firm belief that these acts of worship bring about the pleasure of Allah. These yield a tremendous amount of rewards and blessings, and they result in goodness, happiness and Allahs’ help in this world and the hereafter.
Believers are also required to protect their fast from becoming void of blessings. While the validity of the fast is based one ones’ abstention from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to sunset, the true value, benefit, blessings and worth of the fast comes about when the fasting person stays away from all Haram (unlawful acts). Believers know very well that if their fasts are to be accepted and fully rewarded by Allah, then they must refrain from backbiting, slandering, lying and ill speaking.
They must guard their tongues against every type of vile, indecent, vain and useless speech. In a similar manner, they must protect their ears from listening to that which is haram, and protect their gazes from looking at haram. The hearts must be kept clean and pure from hatred, malice, rancour, grudge, ill feelings and hypocrisy.
The believers are conscious of their actions and so, they do not use their hands to commit haram, nor do they use their feet to walk towards haram. They are reminded of the fact that on the Day of Judgement, their limbs shall testify against them.
The believers are also very conscious of what they consume. They partake of only the halal and abstain from the doubtful and haram. They know very well that consuming haram brings about disastrous results in this life and the hereafter and so, they are extremely careful of what they eat and where they eat.
Ramadhan is a special month for reaping a tremendous amount of blessings from Sadaqat (Charities) and giving one’s monies in Allah’s cause. The believers therefore, fulfil their compulsory duty by paying their Zakah. They help their poor and needy brothers and sisters by extending charities, and they purchase their homes in Paradise by spending their wealth to propagate, help and establish Allah’s religion on the face of the earth.
When the last ten nights of Ramadhan enters, the believers become vigilant. They become watchful on every odd night of this time, casting aside their sleep and tiredness, remaining in the state of wakefulness, and searching diligently for the night of power and greatness. The believers anxiously await this night to worship their Lord, to supplicate to Him, and to repent unto Him. In this way, the believers ‘count down’ the days and nights of Ramadhan. With hearts filled with grief and sadness, they see the blessed month going away. They realise that it is time to make amends for their deeds, to cry before their Lord and beg His pardon and forgiveness before they are totally deprived. They thus, hasten in ‘building up’ their good deeds, increase in their acts of worship, and use every moment of the last days and nights of Ramadhan in the best possible manner.
Alas! The call is made that Ramadhan has ended. The happiness of Eid enters the hearts of the believers, but the sadness and grief of the departure of Ramadhan fill their eyes with tears. The eyes begin to weep, the hearts are filled with sorrow and now, only now, the true value and greatness of Ramadhan is felt. While the day of Eid will be spent with joy and happiness, the true believers will anxiously await the arrival of the next Ramadhan.