Nighat Ansari and Sadaf Azhar
‘O you who believe, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous’ (Al Baqarah 2:183)
Fasting in Ramadan is a rigorous physical and spiritual exercise to help us become ‘Muttaqi’. But who are the ‘Muttaqeen’?
Muttaqueen are people who live with Allah (swt) and are ever mindful of Allah (swt), wary of committing any sin, big or small. The people of Taqwa become astute and aware of the Devil’s tactic of making evil seem attractive.
Like the weight watchers who count calories in every morsel they take, the Muttaqeen weigh the consequences, benefit and purpose of each deed they commit.
The Prophet (sa) was asked to define Taqwa, so he pointed towards his heart, indicating that mindfulness of Allah resided in the heart. Omar (ra) was asked about Taqwa and he likened it to carefully protecting one’s clothes from being torn on a path riddled with thorn bushes. You wanted to emerge from it with your clothes unscratched and in the same way, you wanted to meet Allah (swt) unscathed on the Day of Judgment. As Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “… Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you…” (Al Hujurat 49:13)
How is Taqwa gained?
Taqwa is gained in two ways: through doing certain actions and through abstaining from certain actions. Let us set ourselves certain goals for Ramadan that will help us attain a higher level of Taqwa.
- Fulfill all your obligatory acts of worship such as the daily prayers and regular fasting. Then increase the potential of being rewarded manifold in this month by engaging in supererogatory acts of worship (Nawaafil) such as the late night prayer (Taraweeh).
- Abstain from unimportant actions or those that are of no benefit in this world and the Hereafter such as endlessly scrolling on your smartphone. These actions waste precious time and effort- they are the ‘time guzzlers’.
- See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. This should be your motto for Ramadan. Therefore abstain from gossiping and chatting in person or on your phones mindlessly. Connect with Allah (swt) your Creator, instead of socializing with His creations.
- Feed your soul and not your tummy. Instead of attending Iftar parties, send Iftar boxes to neighbours, family and friends and focus on maintaining a schedule of your prayers. Attending Iftar parties disturbs your worship and tires your spiritual state too.
- Engage in an internal chat. Before Ramadan, cleanse your heart of envy, jealousy, grudges and try to forgive others. Just as you want to be forgiven for your dark sins by Allah (swt), ask Allah (swt) to enable you to move on and forget other people’s vices.
- Treat Ramadan as the month of Quran. Surah Yusuf describes the Quran as a ‘reminder’ for all mankind. Focus on reciting it, understanding it’s message (Best done with a proficient Quran teacher online or on site) and pondering over it. Try to revise, memorize and apply it.
- Ramadan is also a month for Duas. Pray for yourself and for others, use Dua books to ask for the blessings and protection that the Prophets (as) and our pious predecessors sought. Remember that as long as you remain engaged in mindful worship and prayer, the angels continue to pray for you.
- Prepare to pray Taraweeh regularly. Allah (swt) has promised to forgive the sins of the one who fasts and then stands in night prayer. Strengthen your relationship with Allah (swt) through supererogatory prayers (Nawafil/Taraweeh).
‘So when you have finished (your duties), then stand up for worship.’ (Ash-Sharh 94:7).
Ramadan ends with the sighting of the Shawwal moon. But mindfulness of Allah (swt) and our efforts to please Him must continue. The ‘fast’ from what displeases Allah (swt) and what He has forbidden is to continue till our worldly life is snuffed out.
‘So fear Allah as much as you are able..’ (At Taghabun 64:16)