A well-prepared welcome to Ramadan

ramadanRamadan is just around the corner, and we are still busy in our day to day routine. Well, this article is for the “Rush- Hour personalities”; those who don’t find much time to spend on Ramadan preparation, or are lazy enough to do so. Either way, if you just start working from the first night of moon sighting, you will still be able to spend Ramadan in an effective sinless way. But firstly, we should know the significance of the first night.

Why is the first night of Ramadan important?

It is reported from Prophet (sa):“Surely Paradise is decorated the whole year for the Ramadan to come. When the first night of the Ramadan comes, a wind called “Musira” blows from the bottom of the skies. Leaves of the trees of Paradise, and the handles of Paradise doors, shake strongly; and therefore, such a nice sound is heard that listeners have never heard a more beautiful sound than that.Thus, the Hur of Paradise appear standing at the highest point of Paradise and say:“Is there anybody who wants to marry? Allah (swt) marries him.”Then Hur says: “O the keeper of Paradise! What night is tonight?”The keeper replies with respect: “Tonight is the first night of the month of Ramadan. The doors of Paradise were opened for those from the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) who observed fasting.” (At Targheeb wa’t-arheeb)

In another Hadeeth of Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, the Prophet (sa) said: “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious Jinn are chained up; and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller cries out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist. And Allah (swt) has those whom He frees from the Fire, and that happens every night.”

It is the first night where the preparation for Ramadan begins in the unseen world. Every one welcomes Ramadan. Hell is shut down and the doors of Paradise open up for the believers. The whole year before Ramadan, a believer is caught up in the tangled web of deception created by Shaytan, trying to fight his way out of it. But, he could not find time and strength to worship Allah (swt) as it should be done. The first night of Ramadan is indeed a glad tiding for the believers to revive their Iman. In the first night of Ramadan, Allah (swt) chains up the mischievous Jinn and devils to ease His servants, so that they can take complete advantage of this blessed month, and can proceed with their good deeds or worship uninterrupted.

What to do on first night of Ramadan?

1. Be grateful to Allah (swt)

The very first thing to do on this night is to thank Allah (swt) that He gave us life, and another chance to accumulate the blessings of this month. Considering the uncertainty of our lives, we should know that we might not live up to the next Ramadan. So if, Allah (swt) has chosen us to live through this Ramadan, then one should take complete advantage of this opportunity.

2. Sale on rewards- Make the most of it!

Second step is to chalk out a plan for the whole Ramadan. Plan will include the complete time table of Salah, Suhur, Aftar, Taraweeh, Quranic recitation, Nawafil (voluntarily prayers), Lailatul Qadr, Itekaf, Extra deeds (Dhikr, Tahajjud, Dua, charity, volunteer welfare work etc). Each and every minute of our day should be planned in order to avoid any time wastage or miss out the blessings of this month.

3. Avoid T.V. “The Viral”

Third step is very crucial, i.e. to lock away our usual entertainment gadgets. Television is the most common ‘Shaytan’ inhabiting our houses. Other cyber Shaytan along with television are the shield against the blessings of this month. One might say that there are several Islamic programs on T.V. regarding Ramadan, and they seem quite helpful; but trust me, they are of no use if Allah’s (swt) blessings are tossed away from your roof top. Hence, on the first night of Ramadan, shut away your television sets in your store rooms. Islamic lectures and Fiqh of fasting could either be listened in recording, or read in authentic Islamic books and magazines. If you must watch T.V. programs, or lectures regarding Ramadan, then do it all before the first night of the blessed month. And when the first night approaches, cut off all the distractions.

4. Motivate the children to do good deeds

Our fourth step includes motivating our children. First night can be the best opportunity to think through the plans of guiding and inciting the younger members of our family for Ramadan. The elders of the house should lead the younger members, and assist them in spending their time in worship and good deeds. Special attention should be given to children who have reached puberty, and it is their first month of fasting.

It might be a very hard experience for them- especially when Ramadan is in summer and the time duration of fasting has increased. Help them to recite Quran, engage them in positive activities and focus on Nawafil. If some particular child doesn’t have a habit of prayer prior to Ramadan, then help him/her in developing the habit of praying five times a day. Try not to push them hard for extra volunteer prayers, for that would scare them away even from obligatory prayers.

5. Charity is the best policy

Fifth step will be regarding Zakat and charity. As it is the month of blessings, we should try to give away as much charity as possible apart from Zakat. On the first night of Ramadan, sort out your clothes, shoes and other useful accessories that are extra than your usual need, and are in good condition, give them out in charity. Preparing Suhur and Aftar for others can also be the best charity.

6. Ramadan resolution for a big revolution

Sixth step can be very significant, where one can make a resolution, an oath to him/herself. It can either be a tiny thing or a much bigger promise depending on the stamina and level of Iman. That resolution can include the commencement of any virtue; letting go of any bad habit (sin), or taking up any good habit starting from this Ramadan till the rest of your life. One bad habit left, or one good habit added every Ramadan could lead to a revolution in one’s life. And if, every person of this Ummah starts practicing this, it can yield a much bigger result on a mass scale.

Pray Before You are Prayed Upon

last dayAnd the day draws to an end…

I think of how my life would change if I found out that this is the last month of my life. A state of perfection cannot be achieved in such a short time. Thus, I would prefer to live a life without regrets of not fulfilling my duties to my Lord, to the people and to myself. As Muslims, we know that this life will end and we will be answerable for every word we speak, every action we do and every prayer we may recite.

However, if I know the end is near, I will lose interest in going to places, stop eating frantically or stocking up whatever possible for family. Rather, I’ll try to be more content with what I have, treasure the people in my life and ask for their forgiveness, finish my incomplete prayers and finally, prepare for the ultimate journey by repenting to the Almighty.

I would leave a will for my children and mentees, taking inspiration from the ten precious advices Luqman (as) the wise, offered his son. Allah (swt) liked them so much that he honoured them to be a part of the Quran. We as Muslim parents should communicate this valuable advice to our children, family, and members of society. There cannot be a better legacy to leave for one’s mentees and children.

Moreover, if we follow and implement this advice, then Insha’Allah we all will be on the straight path leading to Paradise.

Try doing this exercise yourself!

This short and thought provoking exercise influences our entire way of living. It makes us reflect on how ready we are to present ourselves to Allah (swt)! Amazingly, the more I think, the more I tend to realize that nothing can be more important than asking for forgiveness when we know that the day is soon coming to an end. Is not repentance and humility what we were sent here for? Aren’t we astray from the right path and disillusioned/distracted by the worldly charms?

May Allah (swt) forgive us and guide us towards His path. Ameen

A Whiff of Fancy

rollercoster2I can still remember that day down to the smallest detail at 1:08 in the morning, on the 11th of September 2004 when he said, “After you graduate from grade school, we will go to Enchanted Kingdom, there we will ride on a Roller Coaster and Carousel, let’s see on which of these rides we’ll spew!” I stared at him questioningly then he answered, “Never mind. Isn’t it obvious? Of course it would be the one that can lift and pull you up to the highest peak and move back and forth along the same section of the track!” he replied with pupils unfocused but a smile so serene, “Hindi rin…(Maybe not…)”

That promise was never brought to reality because four months later, my Daddy passed away. Since then I was left with this question, “What is the essence of making promises if they are made to be broken?” That simple promise of my Dad was like a whiff of perfume — it brought memories, bliss and excitement, but as it does, just like a whiff of perfume, it faded away so quickly. I still wonder if I could ever have the chance to see him again and tell him everything I should have said before.

A fearful fact is the undeniable truth that this day could be our last. It is better to be prepared to face our Creator on a daily basis rather than wait or guess when our last day might be

September 11, 2004, my warrior had flown away from me. I found it hard to have the strength to let him go. Things happened so fast, fate took him away and left me vulnerable to misery. In a blink of an eye, his promise as well as his presence vanished out of sight. This unexplainable amalgam of hatred and longing was always there and I cannot deny the fact that I was broken.

Years went by and I became a lifeless robot, doing things just for the sake of finishing them. Then it started to intensify when I saw a carousel, it almost crushed my heart and broke me into pieces. Back then, I never believed that time is a big healer. I always thought it depends. I always believed that sometimes you only get to be healed when you decide to be cured. But Allah is so good and time indeed is a healer. During those times when memories weakened me and I felt like giving up, it was as if a small voice spoke to me and reminded of the people around me – of the family and friends that I had. It occurred to me that I was apparently gifted… that I was blessed. I realized that life should not be spent on crying over spilled milk. Yes, my father was gone but I still had a mother, a sister and a brother who could ride with me on a roller coaster and carousel. I realized that Allah was teaching me to trust in His timing. I should not be in a hurry. I should not be impatient. I should not try to make things happen in my strength because God has a timetable for all our heart’s desires. I learned that I should let God do it in His way and what I can really do is to trust Him and surrender my whole life to Him.

A fearful fact is the undeniable truth that this day could be our last. It is better to be prepared to face our Creator on a daily basis rather than wait or guess when our last day might be – for life is random. Who knows what will happen next? We’ll never know for sure.

I realized that Allah was teaching me to trust in His timing. I should not be in a hurry. I should not be impatient. I should not try to make things happen in my strength because God has a timetable for all our heart’s desires. 

I am Giselle M. Manabat, 20 years old. Though I already accepted the fact, for a hundred times over, that my father’s gone, I am still a girl who weeps like a frightened child and seeks for her father in the darkness of the night. I put in mind that his promise had been a fantasy and will always be a fantasy. But it still would be a pleasure if one day he would come back to me and bring that promise into reality. I still wish, deep in my heart, that one day, against all odds, he would be coming back to the door he walked out of… and I guess, I will patiently wait for that day to come, forever and always…

image courtesy: en.wikipedia.org