Have you ever taken part in a challenge of self-building for a certain amount of time? These challenges, be it individual or social, need a few elements to keep you move on and get over them. Thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan seems like both an individual and a social challenge.
In this text, we would like to discover the ways that keep us motivated to finish our challenge of fasting in Ramadan. How can we complete this challenge and take the most benefits out of it?
The challenge is to perform fasting for thirty (sometimes 29) days in the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam is to avoid eating and drinking and many other worldly desires and sins from the morning prayer (Salat al-Fajr) time until the dawn prayer (Salat al-Maqrib). It is noteworthy that committing some acts will make fast invalid. 
The main goal of fasting like any other type of worship is to purify the soul and improve human beings spiritually: “Felicitous is he who purifies himself.” (87: 14)
But any type of worship, apart from its ultimate goal, has other benefits and some minor goals in training the human soul. For example, one of the small goals of praying the obligatory prayers (Salat) during the day and at night is to teach Muslims to adhere to certain principles. It is mentioned in the Quran that one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are “those who are humble in their prayers” (23:2) and “are watchful of their prayers” (23:9). These two verses, mentioned in the same Surah, show that one level of being a believer is to reach a feeling of utter humbleness in front of Allah. However, at the same time, being watchful on prayers and trying to perform them on time while observing all of its rulings is another aspect that will lead to higher spiritual levels. The same example applies to any other type of worship, especially fasting in Ramadan.
I have personally tried many different challenges for forty days; for example, forty days of waking up before dawn, forty days of avoiding fast foods, forty days of doing half an hour exercise per day, etc. I’ve been able to make some of those challenges a habit. However, in all those challenges, I needed something or someone to keep me motivated and guide me with the issues that I was facing throughout the challenge.
Regarding the challenge of fasting in Ramadan, I think it is essential to find some ways to help us enjoy fasting, instead of solely experiencing hunger and thirst.
Different things can keep us motivated to have better spiritual experiences of fasting in Ramadan. Having a different routine in the month of Ramadan, avoiding some entertainment and starting some new useful habits such as reading the supplications and contemplating on them, specifying a certain amount of time on reciting the Quran with translation and interpretation, performing the recommended prayers (Nawafil), trying to help others in any possible ways, and any other act of goodness that we can accomplish.
While we try to perform good deeds during fasting, reciting the Quran has a powerful influence on all our acts. Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran: “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible. He knows that some of you will be sick, while others will travel in the land seeking Allah’s bounty, and yet others will fight in the way of Allah. So recite as much of it as is feasible, and maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and lend Allah a good loan.” (73:20)
Allah (SWT) tells us to recite the Quran as much as we can. Then He mentions that He is aware of different conditions that people may have; some of them may be sick, some maybe traveling and working outside their houses to gain Allah’s provision, some may be fighting in the way of Allah. But then He mentions again that in whatever situation you are, do not forget to recite the Quran. It does not need to be a lot of recitation. Just recite as much as you can, and it will help you by both its miraculous and extraordinary achievements.
To provide a better definition of the above phrases, it can be said that the miraculous effects of the Quran are those effects that everyone can gain them by reciting it, even if they are not contemplating on its verses. However, exceptional achievements are for those who recite the Quran thoughtfully and intend to understand the words of Allah (SWT) as much as possible.
In sum, when you start the challenge of fasting in Ramadan and hope to gain the best results out of it, you need someone to motivate you, to be your mentor, and to elevate your knowledge and wisdom while you are going through the hard days of your challenge. The Quran could be that mentor who speaks to you the words of Allah (SWT), gives you hope, sympathizes with you in your hard moments, and guides you through the way to reach your ultimate goal. “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible.” (73: 20)
All Abrahamic religions believe in the return of the savior, the liberator of the human beings and redeemer, in the End-Time. Prophets and divine messengers have promised the day that the whole universe will be full of justice and tenderness. Other religions also have similar beliefs, although they differ in some minor aspects, which will be discussed below. We go through references from different religions and faiths to examine their views about the last savior.
In Upanishads, which is a collection of ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, the last savior is called Kalki. He is believed to be the tenth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu in the last of the four stages in the endless cycle of existence known as "Samsara," which is defined "as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Or as the world of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukkha)" . He rides a white horse with a fiery sword. He will end the darkest and destructive period to remove adharma [i] and will usher in the Satya Yuga [ii].
Another reference talks about a just commander at the end-time who is the leader of angels and humans, who knows the truth and gets hold of everything from deep in the seas too high in the mountains, and no one greater than him will come to earth .
In Zoroastrianism, there are three saviors who each will rise in a thousand years. The last one is an eschatological savior figure who will destroy evil and will bring about the renovation of the world. He is called Saoshyant, which means the beneficent in its single form. Yet, in its plural form, it is considered to mean the redeemer. The Khorda Avesta describes this savior as such:
Whose name will be the victorious SAOSHYANT and whose name will be Astvat-ereta. He will be SAOSHYANT (the Beneficent One) because he will benefit the whole bodily world; he will be ASTVAT-ERETA (he who makes the bodily creatures rise up), because as a bodily creature and as a living creature he will stand against the destruction of the bodily creatures, to withstand the Druj of the two-footed brood, to withstand the evil done by the faithful. 
Accordingly, the Soashyant will rise at the end-time and fight against the vices in the world and spread justice and goodness far and wide.
In some of the Buddhist references, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, we read about the future Buddha of this world, called Maitreya, who will be a successor to the present Buddha. In Sanskrit, Maitreya means kindness and love. According to Buddhist religious texts, Maitreya will be the fifth and last Buddha who will appear on the earth. The arrival of Maitreya is expected at a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the earth. That is when Maitreya will appear on the earth to achieve complete enlightenment and to teach the pure dharma .
The Taoist last savior, called Li Hong, is depicted as an ideal leader who would reappear to set right heaven (tian) and earth (dì) at a time of upheaval and chaos. Li Hong will appear at the end of the world cycle to rescue the chosen people, who would be distinguished by certain talismans, practices, and virtues .
The Jews belief in the savior is manifested in the idea of the coming of Moshiach (i.e., Messiah). This person is believed to be a descendant of King David, who will "gather the Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the land of Israel" . There are many verses in different scriptures and Talmudic [iii] literature which refer to this figure and enumerate his characteristics and manners [iv]. For instance, Isaiah says:
And there shall come forth a rod from the stock of Jesse [King David's father], and a branch shall grow from his roots; and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge by what his eyes see, nor decide by what his ears hear. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Those who follow Judaism believe that their savior has not been born yet. Therefore, they are eagerly awaiting the coming of the one who will save them and establish a just dominion in which "there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living" .
Christians believe that Jesus Christ (PBUH) is himself the savior of humankind, and he was born for this purpose. The name Christ literally means "the anointed one" or the Messiah . As the Gospel of Matthew says, Jesus Christ (PBUH) has been sent to "Save his people from their sins" (1:20-21). It is also believed that Jesus Christ (PBUH) had been crucified to atone the sins of humanity and lead them toward salvation. According to Christian sources, Jesus Christ (PBUH) was the savior who was awaited by the Jews as whose coming was predicted in the Torah as the Moshiach.
Another point which makes Jesus Christ (PBUH) the awaited savior in Christianity is the idea of his second coming or the Second Advent in the end-time to whose "day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32). This is the belief in "the future return of Christ in glory when it is understood that he will set up his kingdom, judge his enemies, and reward the faithful, living and dead" . Different gospels, including Matthew chapters 24–25; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21:5–26, and John, chapter 14:25–29, are mentioned as the evidence for this belief. Moreover, according to biblical verses, there will be many signs indicating the end-time among which the second coming of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and the last judgment.
Therefore, like many other religions, Christians also believe in a savior or as they call it the Messiah, who will make this world a better place and free it from oppression and injustice.
In Islam, the belief in the savior is rooted in the fact that Allah never leaves His creatures, especially human beings, on their own and support them through sending His apostles to guide them toward the right path: "and there is a guide for every people" Quran (13:7). He had sent 124000 prophets (PBUT) first, followed by righteous leaders who continued the path of previously chosen messengers of Allah. As the Quran says, "Certainly We wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: 'Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth.'" (21:105).
Therefore, the earth will never become empty of Allah's guide, and people will benefit from these guiding lights either directly or indirectly. Imam Mahdi (AS), the twelfth leader of Muslims and a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who is leading a secret life at the time, will ultimately rise and spread peace and humanity throughout the earth. "The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) informed Muslims about his reappearance, telling his names, attributes, appellations, and peculiarities" . The time of his coming is unknown, and it is followed by the preparation of particular circumstances.
The signs that indicate his coming include "Widespread injustice and oppression, the advent of Dajjal (Anti-Christ) who would misguide the thinking of the people, the advent of Sufyani who is one of the pillars of mischief and corruption on the earth, the formation of the Islamic army, which would raise up black standards, the voice of the angel of the sky giving glad-tidings of his reappearance, the coming down on earth of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and his paying allegiance to and praying behind in congregation Prayers led by Imam Mahdi (AS)" 
This belief in the last savior, who would stand against tyranny and injustice and remind human beings of their real value, also, highlights Islam's optimism toward the future of the world.
Finally, we have reviewed the belief in the last savior or the person who will save humankind from the evilness and destruction in this world in different faiths and religions. On a more in-depth look, we can find many similarities between these beliefs. However, the Abrahamic religions had a more precise and more tangible attitude toward the idea of the last savior and the time of his coming. Therefore, the concept of the savior is one of the most essential and significant matters regarding the future of human destiny.
[i] Opposite to dharma, which includes unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, wickedness, and vice.
[ii] The period when humanity will be governed by gods and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal, and humanity will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme.
[iii] The central text of Judaism and the primary source of the Jewish religion.
[iv] Isaiah 2, 11, 42; 59:20, Jeremiah 23, 30, 33; 48:47; 49:39, Ezekiel 38:16, Hosea 3:4-3:5, Micah 4, Zephaniah 3:9, Zechariah 14:9, Daniel 10:14.
- the man on the white horse
- The Vishnu Purana, trans. Horace Hayman Wilson, London: Trübner & co., Book IV, Chapter 24.
- Khorda Avesta, Translated by James Darmesteter (From Sacred Books of the East, American Edition, 1898.), Part five
- Anna K. Seidel. "Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist Messianism: Lao-tzu and Li Hung." History of Religions, Vol. 9, No. 2/3
- The end of days
- what does christ mean
- second coming
- Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Milani, The Promised Savior: An inquiry into the imamate of Imam Mahdi (as) from the viewpoint of Muslim thinkers, part 1, p.8.
- Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi, The Life of Imam al-Mahdi, Trans. Sayyid Athar Husayn S.H. Rizvi, p.259-283. Pdf.
Another year has come around and another Hajj (holy pilgrimage) period has started for Muslims from all around the world. Those who have decided to take part in this year’s Hajj may have already made some preparations for this holy journey or are in the process of gathering their stuff and making arrangements. But even when we think we are more than ready, we find ourselves saying: “Oh, I forgot that!” right on the way to the airport!
Hajj is a journey that every Muslim is required to participate and loves to do so. However, according to Islamic principles, before deciding to take part in this occasion, you should ask yourself these three questions:
1. Can you afford Hajj financially? [i] (This includes buying tickets, hotel expenses, and your expenses during your stay in Mecca and Medina, etc.)
2. Are you physically able to perform Hajj rituals? [ii]
3. Is the route to Mecca and Medina (to which I recommend you to travel and have a plan for it) safe and open? [iii]
If you are positive about all the above questions, you are considered to be Mustati (i.e., obliged to take part in Hajj) . Then you can start preparing yourself for this journey. If not, don’t get disappointed. Pray to Allah to give you the necessary abilities for participating in the next year Hajj.
Hajj is first and foremost a spiritual journey. A journey to the depth of your soul. If you don’t know why you are taking all these difficulties, then your effort will lose its meaning. Like any other action in Islam, you should perform Hajj with the intention of Allah’s satisfaction and surrendering to His will.
Search for a travel agency which offers various Hajj packages and consult with them about the necessary documents you need in order to ask for visa from Saudi Arabia. You can also visit the website of Saudi Arabia‘s Ministry of Hajj for more information.
You can also ask your friends or acquaintances who have taken this journey before about the best travel agency for Hajj. Or you can visit the nearest mosque or Islamic center in your city, and ask the Muslims there about travel agencies.
Either way, make sure you know about the date, duration, accommodation, your representative there, and the type of transportation your agency offers within Mecca and to Medina. You can find some useful questions to ask from travel agencies on this website.
The best way is to google it. Try to have a clear view of all the places you will visit during Hajj such as Mina, Arafat, etc. You can download a map and see the locations. Also make sure you check the weather, to know which clothing best suits you. Typically Saudi Arabia is hot during Hajj rituals so be ready for a hot and sunny journey!
Since Hajj rituals take much energy and need a healthy body to complete the tasks before everything visit your doctor and have a check-up. If there are any medicines that you should use during your journey, make sure you get the prescription from the doctor and buy the medicines beforehandedly.
Hajj is a one-month journey, so you will need many things during this time. Here is a list of some necessary or useful things to pack in your baggage for Hajj:
An extra set of clothing (white underwear, trousers, hijab, white socks, etc.)
Waist Pouch (Fanny Pouch)
slippers (flip-flops, thongs), sneakers
towels (2 large, 2 small)
elastic eye-glass holder
sunglasses (or clip-on sunshades)
travel alarm clock
A scent-free lotion or Vaseline
A scent-free sun protection free
A medical face mask
toothbrush and toothpaste
small shampoo bottle
some plastic bags
Saudi Arabia’s Money (Rials)
Guidelines for Hajj
pen, pencil, notebook
A praying mat
A small copy of Quran, prayer and Dua books, Tasbeeh
Foods/Snacks/Water (some light food, like biscuits, cereals, nuts, dried fruits, etc.)[vi]
During Hajj rituals you will walk a lot. You should walk around Kaaba, walk the distance between Safa and Marva, etc. So, it’s important to have enough strength and be physically in good condition to be able to keep up with this endeavor.
Try to do some exercises and eat healthier food sometime before embarking on your journey to Mecca.
Yes, you need to write a will! Even if you are 25! But don’t worry it doesn’t mean that you won’t come back home. It’s just a way to make sure you have arranged all your worldly concerns properly, and you can start a spiritual journey with light and free soul. Make sure you consult with your lawyer after writing your will and legalize it.
You remember what happened at Mina two years ago, right? Many families were worried about their children, husbands, wives, etc. but they couldn’t reach out to them. So, it is very important to predict a proper way of communication with your hometown. This can be a Saudi Arabia SIM card or even any other SIM Cards that work abroad. You can also ask the hotel staff for their WIFI information.
Have an idea of the actions you need to perform during Hajj. Salam Islam has a complete guide to these rituals: Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage. You can also buy a booklet or download an ebook about these rituals to have it with you during the journey. Then, understand the reason behind those actions. You can read our Philosophy of Hajj Rituals, to get a better grasp of the reason behind these rituals. This way, you will remember them more easily.
Most of the rituals during Hajj are time-bound. For example, you have only a few hours to perform stoning Jamarat. Also, the process of Ihram and actions in the Arafat need to be done during a certain time. So, you need to work on your time management so that you won’t lose any of those actions.
Hajj is not an easy journey. It is not a summer vacation. It is an Islamic obligation and a life-changing journey. During this time, you will face many difficulties, and sometimes you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of interesting yet difficult physical activities or prayers you are required to do.
However, think of it as a chance to be purified and as an opportunity to strengthen your patience. For, every precious reward comes after consistency and patience.
As you are well aware, Muslims are not just of a certain nationality or country. In every country and with every nationality, you can find people who believe in Islam. Hajj is a chance for this huge community to gather together and be unified despite their differences.
So, during your journey, you may encounter people with different colors, languages, outfits, etc. Try to be respectful and modest toward everyone, no matter where they come from or how they look.
During Hajj you might have to join a group. And you will be with them every day of this one month period. You will accompany them in every ritual and action. So, try to prepare yourself for more cooperation and sacrifice. Sometimes you may need your roommate’s help, and in return, he/she may need yours. Try to be nice and generous.
After all, you want to participate in Hajj for a good reason: Self-awareness. This is a journey to find out who we are and why we are here. So, practice on the good in you and try to improve them. Be the best you can be. And prove that you deserve Allah’s invitation.
[i] One of the requirements for Hajj to be obligatory for a Muslim is financial ability – i.e., you have enough money to support yourself and your family on your journey .
[ii] Another requirement for performing Hajj is physical ability- i.e., Hajj is not obligatory for the sick, the old or those who are either unable or would face severe hardship .
[iii] Another requirement for obligatory Hajj is Sirbi ability - i.e., the route is open and safe .
[iv] To buy Ihram you can follow these links:
[v] Make sure about the kinds of medications you are allowed to have with you according to Saudi Arabia’s airport costume.
[vi] Make sure about the rules of Saudi Arabia with regard to carrying food in your packages at the airport.
- Hajj, The Holy Pilgrimage