Ustadh Amjad Tarsin gives key pointers on the importance of constructing a plan for Ramadan, in order to make the most of it, and how to do so.
Ramadan is a unique time of year. There’s no other time of year like it. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, he would push himself. He would strive and he would exert himself, Allah bless him and give him peace, in Ramadan that would surpass the way that he would exert himself outside of Ramadan. He would strive and exert himself, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the last ten nights of Ramadan more than he would exert himself in the rest of Ramadan.
There is this emphasis on action. Ramadan is a time that you step up your game as they say. You really pick up your slack and you strive and you exert yourself in a way that maybe you don’t exert yourself outside of Ramadan.
Three Point Plan for Ramadan
Part of our plan is we should get into this mental state where we say: Okay, I’m going to push my self a little harder. I’m going to cut out certain things from my life so that I can push myself a little bit harder. My weekends are going to be different. My school schedule or work schedule. My sleep schedule. I’m going to try to work it out in such a way that I can make the most of them. All of these things really make a difference.
As we mentioned, Ramadan is a madrasa. It’s like an intensive course, but it’s also like a marathon. It’s a month long. If it’s in the summer, it can be physically draining. But the thing that’s beautiful about Ramadan is that – I’m sure we’ve all felt this – after the first two or three days fasting actually becomes quite easy. And Ramadan comes with its own energy. It’s a blessing from Allah Most High.
Pace Yourself for the Long Run
If we were going to run a marathon or take an exam, we would prepare ourselves. We would say: Okay, the first X number of miles I’m going to go at this speed. The next number of miles I’m going to go at that speed. I’m going to take a little break. I’m going to slow down in the middle. Whatever it may be, you pace yourself.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “The most beloved actions to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it’s a few.” So the point of Ramadan is not to push yourself so hard and then it is over you just give up.
Build for Consistency
Allah says that “fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed on those before you so that you can grow in taqwa.” (Sura al Baqara 2:183) Let’s look at a couple of the layers of the the spiritual breezes and the mercies that Allah unites in this month.
Firstly, it’s the month of the Quran and it’s a month where, insha Allah, everyone in the Umma reconnects with the Qur’an on some level. The Qur’an is the center of everything for us. So we reconnect with the Qur’an. We come together as a community. And we stand for the majority of the night in prayer.
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Whoever fasts in Ramadan with faith, expecting and hoping for reward from Allah, then all their previous sins are forgiven. And whoever stands in Ramadan with faith, expecting and hoping for reward from Allah, then all their previous sins are forgiven.
So one of the aspects of Ramadan is the recitation of the Qur’an both individually and collectively in tarawih and reconnecting with it.
The Virtues of Recitation
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal had a dream of Allah and because the dream is a spiritual vision one can can see Allah. Imam Ahmad had many dreams about Allah. In one of his dreams he asked Allah: “O Allah, what is the the most beloved act to you>” And Allah said: “The recitation of My Book.” Then Imam Ahmed asked: “With understanding or without understanding?” And Allah said: “With understanding and with out understanding.”
This doesn’t mean that without understanding is as good as with understanding. But there’s a virtue, even if without understanding we are reciting the Qur’an with reverence, with love, with some sort of blessed intention, wanting something Allah. There’s great reward in that. For every letter there’s ten hasanat, there’s ten rewards. And then Allah multiplies that.
There was a woman who who had a lot of ta‘dhim (reverence) but she couldn’t read Arabic. She sometimes would just open up the Mushaf and look at it and touch the pages. Not that that’s as far as we should aspire, but she had that love and reverence for the Qur’an. She didn’t say: Oh, I don’t understand it so I’m not even going to look at it. No, she would look at and say how beautiful it is, and she would just look at the words and read whatever she could with that kind of of reverence for the Book of Allah Most High.
Plan Beyond Ramadan
Coming back to putting this within our plan. We should devise a way that we can recite the Qur’an regularly for the rest of the year. That’s something that we have to put in our minds from the jump. One way to look at Ramadan is that it’s like a honeymoon with the Qur’an, but after the honeymoon you still have to keep the love alive. Now you’re here after the honeymoon. You’re tied together. You have that pact and you have that union. And you have to keep it alive and the way to do that is to keep up consistency in small things.
It’s easy to recite the Qur’an in Ramadan and sometimes we recite great amounts of it or we set goals for ourselves. Whether it’s one khatm or two khatms, but the goal that we should also have is that we should have a long term relationship with the Qur’an. It’s something that we need every single day of our lives. So we should build that relationship during the honeymoon that is Ramadan, and build it to last.
Qiyam al Layl
Another aspect is standing in prayer. Subhan Allah, Qiyam al Layl becomes so easy in Ramadan and that is a proof that it is blessed. If you told people get up for Qiyam al Layl any other month of the year even in sacred days like the ten days of Ashura or the ten days of Muharram or the ten days of Dhu’l Hijja, or whatever it may be, it’s hard. But you tell them to do so in Ramadan and it’s like: I’m here!
The soul is almost rejuvenated like Habib Umar says: “Even smelling the sweet breezes of Ramadan is a blessing.” It is as if the soul is immediately rejuvenated when Ramadan enters. So coming together, increasing in our nafila, increasing in our extra acts of worship, as Habib Kadhim mentioned, is the way to increase our love for Allah.
We ask Allah for that, but the way that we do, the way that we take the means is bhy engaging in extra acts of worship. When one of the Sahaba asked the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, when the Prophet said, “Ask me anything you want. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, I ask you for your companionship in Paradise. I just want to be with you in the Garden.” And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Help me against your nafs with a lot of sujud (prostration).”
So you have people in our great and illustrious history like our master Zayn al Abidin, the great-grandson of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was known to do a thousand rak‘at of sujud a day. and they called him Zayn al Abidin: the adornment of worshipers, Allah be well pleased with him.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
If we want to get to the core of Ramadan, it’s a time where you just roll up your sleeves and you get to work. You just get busy. Get up and pray some rak‘ats. Recite the Qur‘an. If you can’t do that – in the case of our sisters, at certain times of the month they might not be able to – do those things then make dua. Say: la ilaha illa Allah. Say: Astaghfirullah. Turn to Allah Most High with your heart. Listen to a good lesson. Keep yourself in good company. Even duas that you are making in those days are especially powerful. Do whatever keeps you busy with whatever good you can muster.
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