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.
Islam, as the last divine monotheistic religion, is the most perfect of the religions: “Today I have perfected your religion for you… and I have approved Islam as your religion.” (5:3). By introducing Islam, Allah has completed His blessings upon human beings (5:3). In other words, Islam provides everything that humans need to reach their perfection and salvation in the afterlife ; what they require for a divine life in this world and the tools they need for their social life, too; including their rights and responsibilities. The Islamic responsibilities of each individual towards others were thoroughly discussed previously. Here, the focus will be on Islamic responsibilities that concern the rights and benefits of people in society.
When reviewing the Islamic teachings, one can notice the importance of congregation, unity, and brotherhood in the society. That is why many duties such as those to parents, neighbors, relatives, sick people, the elderly, the young people, mentors, etc. as various members of society are defined in Islam. Doing good to orphans, those in need, the traveler and the beggar, and freeing slaves (2:177) is another Islamic principle that concerns the members of society.
Hence, it can be concluded that in most cases, Islam has preferred the benefits of the congregation over the individual, even if it imposes a limitation or a loss to the individual. This can be compared to some of the social rules that aim to bring order in society but are limiting to individuals (e.g., red light).
In Islam, there is no place for arrogance and racism, but brotherhood towards other Muslims and a general sense of humanity towards every human being have been encouraged . According to the Quran, the diversity of life and the various languages and colors of human beings are all signs of Allah’s majesty (30:22). Also, as Islamic teachings suggest, no privileged class exists, and everyone is equal in society, the only criteria for superiority over others is having piety or moral excellence (49:13).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has also emphasized this in a narration where he (PBUH&HP) says that all human beings are from the same father (Adam (AS)) and no nation or race is superior to the other . In another narration, he (PBUH&HP) says that whoever knows more than others is more respected , and he repudiates the discriminations based on tribe, origin, color, and wealth.
By many of its rulings and duties considered for its followers, Islam aims to direct the attention of each individual to other’s needs. One way of achieving this goal is through the Alms-Tax (Zakat). Zakat is an exact amount of money that must be paid according to the rules of Sharia to be used in favor of the people in need or for certain beneficial deeds in society. Zakat can be given to poor people or can be spent on public welfare or creating jobs.
It should be noted that one can directly pay Zakat to the needy people only under the permission of his/her religious expert (Marja’). The aim is to manage and organize the resources by an expert aware of the requirements of the society; Marja’. This is one of the solutions to prevent a particular group of community to manipulate the economy. It empowers those who have been neglected in society to become productive and useful.
Sadaqah is giving away something (money, clothes, food, teaching, etc.) voluntarily to someone in need without expecting anything in return and with the intention of pleasing Allah: “spend from what we have provided you” (63:10). Giving charity in the form of Sadaqah is highly recommended in Islamic teachings. However, the manner of giving charity is of high importance in Islam. Sadagah should be offered discreetly to needy people rather than in public with the intention of showing off and pretending to be generous. This means that Islam encourages the preservation of human dignity.
Here, we reviewed a general Islamic viewpoint that guarantees the rights of every member of the society and the importance it gives to social expediency. These Islamic recommendations will ultimately promote human rights and dignity.
- M H Tabataba'i, “Tafsir al-Mizan”, Surah Al-Maidah.
- islam and humanity
- M. Karajaki, “Ma’dan al-Jawahir wa-Riyadat al-Khawatir”, p. 21.
- Shaykh Saduq, “al-Amali”, p. 27.
Islam's history from the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) until now has witnessed many challenges that were overcome through the flexible and rational set of rules offered by Allah. The way Islam deals with the requirements of each era and how its principles and rules can be applied to new cases are among the reasons for the quick spread of Islam during ages, which are addressed in this part of the topic.
Islam is basically sensitive to the evolutions and the requirements of each epoch. This is not the case for many religions and sects, especially those founded by humans. Imam Ali (AS) has advised: “not to impose the customs and traditions of your time on your children because they belong to a different era from yours” .
Unlike other creatures of the world such as animals, plants and inanimate objects, humans have memory, tradition, and history; animals might have memory, but not tradition nor history. This makes it possible for humans to compare different periods of their life and form the concept of progression and retrogression; which is not the case for animals and plants.
And, that is the reason why the specifications and the requirements of each time become meaningful; e.g., old vs. new, classic vs. modern, etc. This makes one pause once in a while to ask him\herself: am I going forward or actually taking a step back? And undoubtedly, getting advanced would be the most pleasant reflection that one can have. But, how can one be on an ever progressive path?
For self-development, one needs a set of values, disciplines, and rules with the help of which he\she can define a structure for his\her life that will consequently guarantee his/her success and advancement over time. This also applies to social development.
On the other hand, every human being is not able, nor has time, to contemplate every detail and strategy about life and to establish his\her framework. Hence, one usually relies on the teachings and instructions of a specific sect, religion or ideology. But, how is it possible? How can one select the best framework and then adjust it according to the specifications of each era such that it can apply to every period? That is possible with the help of wisdom.
Among various ideologies and religions known in the course of time, those who are more rational can be adapted better to the requirements of each period and are consequently more understandable and acceptable by humans. Such a religion or ideology provides the principles and rulings which can be perceived by the human’s wisdom and from which humans can conclude and extract the guidelines and codes that are exclusive to each era.
Among different religions, Islam is really the only one that is rational and is based on wisdom; So are the divine guidelines. Every good act and deed ordered to is rationally and truely useful in nature, not because it is a divine order. And something known devilish in Islam is intrinsically wrong; it is not wrong because God has told us so. In other words, it is not Islam who renders something good or bad, it rather provides the rational tools to identify what is wrong and what is right. That is the reason why Islam is more compatible with the specifications of each time, i.e., it provides the axioms and frameworks and leaves the rest to the human’s wisdom. This takes place through a process called Ijtihad.
Using Ijtihad, Islamic jurists (Faqih) derive the guidelines and regulations from the principles of the Quran, the narrations, and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and the Infallible Imams (AS). In this regard, Imam Sadiq (AS) said that the Infallible Imams had introduced the Islamic axioms and it is a duty over Muslims to deduce the details and rules .
This is the Islamic jurisprudence which is a unique characteristic that enables Islam to propose rational solutions, to respond to new issues and questions at each time. It also facilitates for human beings the application of the Islamic axioms to their activities and dealings. Otherwise, religion or ideology that is limited to the text, and has no solution to become updated in the course of time, will be a temporary time-dependent one that cannot survive through the time evolution.
According to what has been mentioned above, Islam as a whole guide and roadmap is able to consider new situations, and issues raised at different periods and propose relevant solutions for them. Islam's history has shown it as a dynamic religion whose guidelines are not limited to the cases in a thousand years ago but meets the requirements of all time. Of course, it should be noted that being ever up to date does not mean to welcome every new change and circumstance; it rather means to derive the relevant Islamic orientation and ruling by considering the Islamic axioms.
- Ibn Abi l-Hadid, “Comments on Nahj al Balaqa”, vol. 20, p. 267, T. 102.
- M. Al-Hili, "Al-Saraʼir Al-Hawi Li-Tahṛir Al-Fatawi", vol. 3, p. 575.