When you want to attend an event that requires particular etiquettes, you get prepared beforehand to represent yourself better and make the most of it. It is the same for entering the holy month of Ramadan during which the gates of heaven are said to be wide open, and the divine blessings are more than any other time . Let’s see how we can get prepared to make the most of Ramadan.
According to the Islamic teachings and the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), spiritual preparation is crucial for having a fruitful Ramadan. In other words, the more one engages in spiritual and religious practices, such as prayer, reciting the Quran, etc. the more he/she will be able to benefit the unique chance of Ramadan. The practices below are helpful in this regard:
The two months leading to Ramadan are said to be the chances to get prepared for this great month of mercy and blessing for Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to fast most days of the month of Shaban  and recommended his followers to observe their religious duties more than ever. This way, one can benefit more from the spirit of Ramadan.
To make the most of Ramadan, one should purify the soul beforehand. Abstaining from sins is a step towards this . The two months before Ramadan, Rajab and Shaban, are excellent opportunities to refrain from every form of evil and prepare the soul for receiving the blessings of the Ramadan. Therefore, it is also advised to repent and to compensate for what we had done before .
One of the incidents that give importance to the month of Ramadan is the revelation of the Holy Quran on the nights of Qadr. Therefore, it is highly recommended to recite the Quran carefully and more than ever during the month of Ramadan. To have a better command of this holy book and also benefit from its many spiritual benefits, one can recite the Quran before the coming of Ramadan and contemplate on its teachings. This way, you will feel more prepared to recite more pages of the Quran during Ramadan.
Respecting the rights of others is advised repeatedly in Islamic teachings such that the supplication (Dua) of the one who is in debt to others, won’t be accepted . It means that without having paid the rights of others, all the prayers and the fasting during Ramadan will worth nothing. So, an important thing to do before Ramadan is to seek forgiveness from others.
Fasting before Ramadan (in Shaban) is an excellent way to adopt the eating habits of Ramadan. There are also spiritual benefits in fasting during Shaban, and it is highly recommended in Islamic teachings.
To get physically prepared for fasting during Ramadan, one can modify his\her eating habits as follows:
If you are coffee addicted, you might get a headache when being deprived of it for 15 hours, for example. It is good to start reducing the caffeine before Ramadan. It is a good practice to prevent any pain when you fast, and it is good for your health, too.
During Ramadan, especially in long days, you might not be able to eat like normal. Eat less before Ramadan to get used to it.
Doing so, you train your stomach for eating early in the morning before dawn.
Doing exercises and sports take a lot of energy and make you thirsty, which can be tough during Ramadan. It is better to start doing your workouts in the evening rather than in the morning to get the new rhythm for Ramadan.
During Ramadan, you drink less, which might increase the risk of kidney disease. So, drink more water and healthy drinks before Ramadan.
Constipation is a common problem when you fast during Ramadan. To prevent, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables high in fiber and keep this rhythm during Ramadan because it helps improve the digestion process.
All in all, Ramadan is a chance for every Muslim to evaluate his/her life and find the strength to change him/herself for the better. But without Allah’s help and guidance, we cannot even take a step. Therefore, before anything, we should direct our attention toward our Creator and ask Him to give us the ability and opportunity to make the most of the month of Ramadan.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, p. 340.
- Muhammad al-Bukhari, "Sahih al-Bukhari", I. 1969.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha", vol. 2, p. 51.
- M. Milani, “Hikam wa Mawaedh Alanbiae”, vol. 1, p. 235.
“O ALLAH, bless Muhammad (PBUH) and his Progeny! Bless us in this day of our festival and our fast-breaking, make it one of the best of days that have passed over us.” Imam Sajjad (AS) - Sahifa Al-Sajjadiyya
Eid al-Fitr is the most important festival in the Islamic calendar. It provides us with an opportunity to offer thanks to Allah for having given us the will and strength to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadan. This Eid falls on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan.
On the day of the celebration, a typical Muslim family gets up very early to perform the following tasks:
It is recommended to recite the following Takbirs after performing the Dawn prayer (Salat al-Fajr):
"اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُلاإِلَهَ إِلااللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُوَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُالْحَمْدُلِلَّهِ عَلَى مَاهَدَانَاوَلَهُ الشُّكْرُعَلَى مَا أَوْلانَا"
‘AllaahuakbarAllaahuakbar la ilaahaillallaahuwwllaahuakbarallaahuakbarwalillaahilh’amd al ha’mdulillaaha’laamaahadaanaawalahushukrua’laamaaawlaanaa’
It means: “Allah is Great. Allah is Great. There is no god but Allah. And Allah is Great. Allah is Great. (All) praise be to Allah. (We) sing the praises of Allah because He has shown us the Right Path. (We) gratefully thank Him because He takes care of us and looks after our interests.”
Zakat al-Fitr is a mandatory religious tax paid by those who can afford it as a kind of charity at the sunset of Eid alFitr night (i.e. the night preceding Eid day), which is about three kilos of the item commonly eaten per person in the house (e.g. wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice or millet, etc.).
You can also pay the price of one of these items in cash. Fitrah should be given to deserving believers whose income is not sufficient to spend on their families for one year. It is better to give it before the Eid prayer (Salat al-Eid).
The Eid prayer is performed in the morning, between sunrise and the Midday prayer (Salat al-Zuhr). It can be performed either individually or in a congregation and consists of two Rak’ahs (units). During the first Rak’ah, you should recite the first chapter of the Holy Quran (Surah al-Fateha).
Thereafter, you can recite another chapter of your choice. However, it is recommended to recite Chapter 91 (Surah al-Shams) in the first Rak’ah and Chapter 8 (Surah al-Ghashiya) in the second one following Surah al-Fateha; or alternatively, recite Chapter 87 (Surah al-A'ala) in the first Rak’ah and Chapter 91 (Surah al-Shams) in the second (following Surah al-Fateha).
After reciting the Quranic chapters, there are five Takbirs-i.e. ‘Allahu Akbar’- that needs to be said in the first Rak’ah and four in the second one - and along with each of these, you should recite a Qunut (raising hands in prayer).
After the fifth Qunut of the first Rak'ah, you should recite a Takbir (Allahu Akbar) and then perform the Ruku’ (bowing) and continue with the Sujud (prostration) twice. In the second Rak’ah, the actions of the first Rak’ah are repeated with four Takbirs. At the end of the prayer, upon the completion of the second Sujud, you should recite the Tashahhud and complete the prayer with the Salutations (Salam).
Although any recitation or Dua will suffice in Qunut of the Eid Prayers, it is recommended to recite the following Dua:
"اَللّهُمَّ اَهلَا لْکِبْرِيَاءِ وَالْعَظَمَةِ،وَاَهْلَا لْجُوْدِ وَالْجَبَرُوتِ، وَاَهْلَا لْعَفْوِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ وَاَهْلَا لتَّقْوٰی وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ،اَسْاَلُكَ بِحَقِّ هٰذَا الْيَوْمِ الَّذِی جَعَلْتَه لِلْمُسْلِمِيْنَ عِيْدًاوَلِمُحَمَّدٍصَلَّی اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ ذُخْراًوَكَرَامَةً وَشَرَفًا وَمَزِيْداً اَنْتُصَلِّیَ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَاَنْ تُدْخِلَنِی فِی کُلِّ خَيْرٍاَدْخَلْتَ فِيْهِ مُحَمَّداً وَآلَ مُحَمَّدٍ،وَاَنْ تُخْرِجَنِی مِنْ کُلِّ سُوْٓءٍ اَخْرَجْتَ مِنْهُ مُحَمَّدًا وَآلَ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَواتُكَ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَيْهِمْ اَجْمَعِيْنَ.اَللَّهُمَّ اِنِّی اَسْاَلُكَ خَيْرَمَاسَاَلَكَ بِهِ عِبادُكَ الصَّالِـحُونَ،وَاَعُوْذُبِكَ مِمَّا اسْتَعاذَ مِنْهُ عِبادُكَ الْمُخْلِصُوْنَ"
‘Allahummaahlalkibriya'iwal 'azamah, waahlaljudiwaljaburat, waahlal 'afwi war rahmah, waahlattaqwawalmaghfirah.
As alukabihaqqihazalyawmillazija'altahulilmuslimina 'ida ,waliMuhammadinsallallahu 'AlaihiwaAlihi, zukhranwasharafanwakaramatanwamazida an tusalliya 'ala Muhammad wa Ali Muhammad wa an tudkhilani fi kullikhayrinadkhaltafihi Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad wa an tukhrijani min kullisu'inakhrajtaminhu Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad salawatuka 'alahiwa 'alahim. Allahummainni as alukakhayra ma saalakabihiibadukassalihun, waauzubikamimmastaazaminhuibadukalmukhlasun.’
“O Allah, (belongs to You only) pride, glory, excellence, omnipotence. (You) grant amnesty and show kindness, (You are) Holy and Oft-forgiving, (so), I ask You in the name of this day which You have ordained as a day of happiness for the Muslims. An occasion for Muhammad (blessings of Allah be on him and his progeny) to plan ahead and grow strong to send blessings on Muhammad and on the progeny of Muhammad. And introduce me to every good that had been made available to Muhammad and Muhammad’s progeny. Educate me to keep from every evil as You kept safe Muhammad and Muhammad’s progeny from it. Your blessings are on him and on them. O Allah, I ask you to give me the good which Your pious servants had asked for. And I take refuge with You from that which caused Your pious servants to seek refuge with you.”
This is how Muslims joyfully celebrate the achievement of enhanced piety on this day of forgiveness, moral victory, and peace, of fellowship, brotherhood, and unity. Muslims not only celebrate the end of fasting but also thank God for the strength that He gave them during the previous month to help them practice self-control.
Happy Eid al-Fitr!
Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?
Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.
What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?
Converting to Islam
Having faith in the pillars of Islam
Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.
As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.
It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.
In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” . Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.
Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.
Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.
Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” .
We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.
If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.
[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.
[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” 
[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” 
[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” .
- Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.
- Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)