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.
"Indeed Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who have faith! Invoke blessings on him and invoke Peace upon him in a worthy manner." Quran (33:56)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was the last messenger sent by Allah to guide human beings toward a more prosperous and meaningful life. His life was full of challenges and difficulties. However, he never gave up on his holy mission and strived to save as many souls as he could. His characteristics were unique and exemplary, which made him the best choice for prophethood, the beloved of Allah (Habibullah).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was the son of Abdullah and Amina, the grandchild of Abd al-Muṭṭalib and from the Banu Hashim clan. He was born in Mecca about the year 570 A.C, in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal . Being taken care of by his paternal grandfather, Abd al-Muṭṭalib, and then by his uncle Abu-Talib, father of Ali (AS), who loved him a lot and regarded him dearer than his own children , he learned a little about the merchandise. He was well-known and called Al-Amin, meaning the trustee, due to his honesty and faithfulness . This reputation attracted Khadijah, and she proposed him for marriage. He married this 40-year-old woman at the age of 25 . This was a happy marriage, by all means. They lived a happy life, and they had many children, of which all the male ones passed away, and their most famous daughter is Fatimah (AS). Little is known about his youth before becoming a prophet. One fact is certain; he was absolutely against the discriminating behaviors and beliefs of the people of his era.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was a kind and generous man. He was known for his modesty, honesty, and trustworthiness. He never disrespected anyone and cared a lot about his appearance in society; although his clothes were mostly ragged, they were neat and clean. His hygiene was another important fact in his life. Family, as the smallest unit of society, was the most important thing for him. He had a deep respect for his wife and her daughters, especially Fatimah .
His political life started with inviting the members of his family and clan to Islam, and then, publically announcing Islam as the true faith sent by Allah for human beings. Soon after the public announcement, many of the heads of clans began to rise against him, and he migrated to Medina, and there, he formed the first Islamic government. His strategy was friendship and peace, and the Quba mosque was the center of his government . He never forced anyone to convert to Islam. Instead, he brought logical words and verses of the Quran and spoke gently with the people he wanted to invite. Even when he tried to ask people of the other religion to convert to Islam, he used their own words and verses from their holy books. All in all, he followed the steps Allah had taught him to guide human beings to the right path:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and proper instruction, and argue with them in the best way. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided." (16:125)
It was a tradition among some Hashemi Arabs, Called Hunafa, to go to the Harra cave during the month of Ramadan and then come back after the end of the month. Actually, it was Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) grandfather who made it up. Muhammad(PBUH&HP) was not an exception.
On the contrary, he was one of the fans of staying alone in that cave and worshiping Allah, his only God and the God of his fathers, up to prophet Abraham . On one of those nights of Ramadan, Gabriel descended to him and asked him to read. Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “I can’t.” Gabriel repeated, and he again denied. Then Gabriel recited the first verses of the Quran sent by Allah:
Recite in the name of your Lord who created -
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous –
Who taught by the pen -
Taught man that which he knew not. (96:1-5)
Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) great mission had started. He found out that it was not a typical experience. He came back home and then returned to the cave. All of The Holy Quran descent to him in one of those holy nights:
"Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree." (97:1)
That Quran was descended to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in one night and that he became able to read in a few minutes is not the only miracle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He had other miracles like dividing the moon into two, reviving the dead, the testify of stones in the palm of his hand, etc. we are going to discuss these miracles in our next articles broadly .
The fact is that the events of that night of Ramadan made Muhammad (PBUH&HP) a prophet. Later on, people interacted with him, saw, felt, and understood his truthfulness, and stepped on the path of Islam. His lifestyle, social, political, and even family interactions carried badges of acceptance and appreciation that were imitated by the truth-seeking people. He was not the prophet belonging to centuries ago, but of all guided human beings.
- "Early Years". Al-Islam.org. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Baqdadi, Ibn-Sad Tabaqat Al-Kubra Vol. 1, P 96
- Shirazi, Huhammad Sadiq The Prpphet Muhammad, a Mercy to the World at: <https://www.al-islam.org
- Ibid 2, P. 105
- A survey on Prophet Muhammad’s Behaviours, Hossun, Vol. 9 at:< https://hawzah.net
- Azizi, Musa Political Life of Prophet Muhammad Noghte PArgar Magazinem Pp 84-96 at: <http://hablolmatin.dmsonnat.ir
- Video Lecture of Yasir Qadhi at: < http://lifeofprophet.com/a-few-good-men-the-hunafa/>
- Abu Ibraheem. "Miracles of Prophet Muhammad". Why Islam. ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America). Retrieved 29 April 2019.
The last days of the year are perhaps the most hectic times of our lives. Everyone is busy wrapping up what has remained unfinished, an incomplete project, an undecided relationship or an unsaid word.
Among all these noises, one might stop for a moment and look back at the 365 days that have passed so quickly, and how they have gone by. “What have I accomplished? What are the mistakes that I am repeatedly making? Have I reached my goals? Have I become a better (or worse) person? Have I even changed? How much have I fulfilled my responsibilities as a Muslim?” these are the questions that we always ask ourselves at this time of the year.
And when the last seconds of the year come, we start thinking of the days that are before us; of our new resolutions, plans, and decisions. 2019 or 20 are not different if our days are not going to be more productive and better than before.
Islam recommends us to evaluate ourselves regularly and look back at our actions [i]. However, this does not mean that you should just remember your past mistakes, regret making them and do nothing. Every new day is a chance for us to put aside one bad habit and go toward the perfect version of ourselves, not being satisfied with our past achievements and always setting new goals.
According to Imam Ali (AS), you are a loser if your two days (or two years, two weeks, etc.), are spent the same, meaning that you have not improved or have not added anything to your life.
This could be reading a book, watching a worthwhile movie, planting a tree, caring more about your parents, etc. The worse thing is when you are degrading and your present day is no better than yesterday. This kind of person is cursed, Imam Ali (AS) believes.
You win the cup if you live a better and more productive day than yesterday! Of course a day, or two days, etc. are only metaphors, and they can mean any span of time. What is important is how you pass these moments, days or years.
The new year is also a chance to renew our goals and purposes. I know that it might sound like a cliche, yet it is impossible to deny the importance of motivation or a drive to push you and make you ambitious.
You might have many purposes, some long-term and some short-term, some financial or spiritual. And do not just think about your goals, but take action toward achieving them [ii].
Islam guides us toward becoming a better person and thus sets specific goals for Muslims to be aware of in their lives. A Muslim’s ultimate purpose which will spread in all aspects of his/her life and every decision and every move is to get as near as possible to that eternal source of blessing and peace, Allah, and be worthy of His worship .
Being ambitious is not enough. It is important to feel responsible as well. Islam differentiates three people as the ones to whom we hold some responsibilities, which have to be fulfilled simultaneously; including Allah, ourselves and others. Our first and foremost responsibility is toward Allah, our One, and Only Creator.
Perhaps a few minutes before the New Year is the best time to think of His blessings to us and decide to appreciate them more through worshiping Him sincerely and devote some time of our life to praying. Secondly, we are responsible for ourselves; taking care of our mind and spirit, having a plan for our life and continually following it, observing a healthy lifestyle, etc.
And finally, we have some responsibilities toward others, other human beings, other creatures, our surroundings, etc. To be a better person, we should be careful in our interactions with other people, be conscious of how we treat the environment and animals and strive to build a better world.
You can start a new year with a plan for your next 365 days. As Muslims, our life plans should always reflect our Islamic values. Having that in mind, think of what you want to achieve; how you can better fulfill your responsibilities toward Allah, yourself and others as enumerated in Islam (specify the actions that you should commit and the things you have to avoid doing to guarantee your commitment to those responsibilities), or where you want to be this time next year. Have a look at the big picture and set little goals which will lead you to that ultimate purpose and help you become a better Muslim.
Then, keep track of your plan during the year, observe your progress and see how much of your plan you have fulfilled and to what extent you have been devoted to your Islamic responsibilities. As Imam Ali (AS) beautifully puts, you should strive to build your life as if you have eternity before you, and at the same time be aware of the day (i.e., The Day of Judgment) that you will be questioned about your actions and manners in this world .
The last days of the year are like the exam days, but this time you would examine yourself. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) puts, when it comes to evaluation, you should be harder on yourself than when you are evaluating other people’s deeds . You would evaluate whatever you have done up to that time and how much of that big picture that you had in your mind has completed.
Finally, if we are willing to make the most of our lives, we have no other choice than be aware of our every step and every action that we take. And, every new year marks our promise to ourselves and Allah to be the best we can and continue going toward this goal.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Evaluate yourself before you would be evaluated [by Allah on the Judgment Day]” .
[ii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Your efforts make you worthy” .
- Al-Hurr al-Aamili, Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, vol.16, p.99.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 47.
- Quran (36:61)
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, vol.2, p.535.
- Ibid, vol.16, p.98.