‘This is a month, the first part of which brings Allah’s Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah’s forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from hellfire’. (Bukhari)
Ramadan is two or one day away. As as we all know, life is very uncertain & unfortunately many will have passed away before the coming of this holy month and many more may not witness the next after this. Sincerely speaking, it may well be our very last Ramadan.
Therefore, we should treat this Ramadan as our last and do our utmost to ensure that we maximise each precious second in it to ensure that we gain maximum benefit from it.
The following are 12 ways we can maximise and make it the best ever:
1. Renew And Purifying Your Intentions
“Verily actions are judged by intention.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
It is crucial that we purify & correct our intentions before doing any acts of worship. This is because we may have other underlying intentions in our hearts without even realising it. For instance, we may have in our hearts that we fast because we don’t want to look bad in front of our family or friends or because others fast etc.
So before doing any good deed we need to align & focus our intention to ONLY please Allah. By doing this, we will increase the sincerity in our worship & acts of virtues. This also enables us to earn greater rewards for whatever good deed we are doing.
Ibn Al-Mubaarak said: “Maybe a small action is made great by its intention, and maybe a great action is made small by its intention.”
Even daily routines like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking up, travelling etc can be a source of great reward by having the right intentions. Having good Intentions is easy & great rewards can be gained without making any hard physical effort. By just spending a couple of seconds having the right intention in our hearts we can turn a whole day to a day of worship. It is like turning dust into gold.
2. Schedule & Monitor Daily Worship
One of the best ways that we can maximise each day in Ramadan is to plan & schedule our time effectively. By doing so we will have clearly defined goals and targets which we can strive towards achieving each day.
This way, we can also check & monitor our daily progress & make adjustments & improvements accordingly.
3. Avoid Distractions
There will be many things getting in our way & distracting us from our worship. But we must take all necessary precautions & measures in order to avoid any possible distractions.
The first thing we must do is to avoid major distractions like TV for a month or at least as much as possible. Putting away games consoles. If we meet with friends then not get into useless & idle discussions. Not going to places like the mall or high street’s unless it is absolutely necessary.
We must also not spend hours on end cooking a table full of food every single day for Iftaar for this is contrary to the purpose of Ramadan. We should spend as little time as possible on things other than worship. We should fulfil our daily duties as quickly as possible & spend as much time as possible in worshipping Allah.
4. Avoid Eating Excessively
“The test of Adam (AS) was food and it is your test until Qiyamah. Al-Hassan Al-Basri (RA)
Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib (RA) said: I heard the Prophet (SAW) saying: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”
There is no doubt that excessive eating is not only a cause of many diseases but is also a major factor in stopping us from maximising our daily worship.
Ibrahim al-Nakha’i (RA), one of the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) mentioned: “The people ruined before you were done in by three characteristics: too much talking, too much eating, and too much sleeping.”
There is nothing worse than fasting the whole day & when time comes to open our fast we end up over eating until we can’t move. Surely this will make us heavy & lazy in worship & make it harder for us to hard to get up for Sehri.
So let us control the amount we eat & instead have smaller meals. Have some fruit & dates for Iftaar then pray Maghrib & then have a small meal until we are satisfied. After Tarawee we can have another small bite to eat. In this way we are not over eating but spreading out what we eat. We will not feel heavy or lazy but satisfied & full of energy which we can utilise for worship.
5. Recite The Qur’an Abundantly
Ramadan is the month of Qur’an so it should be recited in abundance.
Outside of Ramadan, there are 10 rewards for reciting each letter of the Qur’an. But, in Ramadan ALL good deeds are multiplied by 70 or more.
Can you imagine how much reward we would gain for reciting the entire Qur’an just once? How about twice? Subhaanallah!
Therefore we should concentrate most of our efforts this Ramadan in reciting the Qur’an. We should make a target of how much Qur’an we will recite each day. For e.g. 1 Juz (chapter) half a Juz, 4 pages etc. We should aim to complete the Qur’an at least once by the end of Ramadan or as many times as we can.
Along with recitation we should also learn the meanings of what we are reciting & contemplate over the verses. We must try & implement what we learn into our daily lives. That is where the true reward is of reciting the Qur’an.
Note: We should try & recite Surah Yasin everyday particularly after Fajr time. We should also recite Surah Mulk before we go to sleep & Surah Kahf every Jumma.
Other Surahs we should recite much of are Surah’s Zilzalah, Al Kaafirun & Al Ikhlas
Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas & Anas Ibn Malik (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, ‘Whoever recited Surah Zilzilah (99) would get the reward of reciting half the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Kaafirun (109) would get a reward as if reading a quarter of the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Ikhlas (112) would get a reward as if reading one third of the Qur’an’. (At-Tirmidhi 2818/A)
6. Incorporate The Sunnah In Your Daily Activities
Allah (SWT) instructs the Prophet(SAW) to inform the Muslims that following in his (the Propjhet’s) footsteps means obeying and loving Allah.
By following the Sunnah in every aspect of our daily lives, everything we do will become worship, even going to the toilet, having a bath, dressing & undressing etc.
Annas (RA) reports the Prophet (SAW) advised, “Whoever cherishes my Sunnah, indeed he cherishes me & whoever loves me will be with me in Jannah.” (Tirmidhi: 2678: Ibid)
So let us cherish the Sunnah & revive it this Ramadan.
Sunnahs of cleanliness, monitoring Salat time and getting to the mosque before the Imam, voluntary good deeds etc. should be observed.
7. Observe Nafil (Voluntary) prayers
What better way of drawing closer to Allah this Ramadan than by doing voluntary prayers:
Allah says in Hadith Qudsi: ….and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary deeds) until I love him, [Bukhari]
Want the company of the Prophet (SAW) in Jannah? Then increase in Nafil prayers.
The following are Sunnah & Nafil prayers we can pray everyday in Ramadan & throughout our lives:
1. Pray 12 Raka’ahs of Sunnah daily: – 2 Sunnah of Fajr, 4 Sunnah & 2 Sunnah of Dhuhr and 2 Sunnah of Maghrib.
Umm Habibah (RA) narrated she heard the Prophet (SAW) saying: “A house will be built in Paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve units of Prayers other than the obligatory ones in day and night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” (Muslim)
2. Salaatul Duhaa (Can be prayed from 20 minutes after sunrise up until 20 minutes before Dhuhr begins)
So we should remain seated after Fajr prayer & recite the Qur’an or do Dhikr up until 20 minutes after Sunrise and pray Salaatul Duhaa. If not then we can pray it anytime before midday.
‘Salat al-Dhuhaa consists of 2 to 12 Rakaats and it is preferable to perform 8 Rakaats.’ (Raddul Mukhtaar vol.1 pg.505)
The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: Whoever prayed twelve rakaats (before midday), then Allah will, as a reward, prepare a palace of gold for him in Paradise. [Mishkat, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah]
7. Pray Tahajjud
Allah Most High said, “Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (The recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed… It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate.” [Qur’an, 17: 78-79]
Imam Abu Sa’id al-Khadimi said,
“There is scholarly consensus (ijma`) that among the best of virtuous acts is the night vigil prayer.”
Scholars agree that the minimal night prayer is 2 rakats and its optimal recommended amount is 8 raka’ahs, because this was the general practice of the Messenger of Allah (SAW).
During Ramadan, we should aim to pray Tahajjud every night. We can do so by waking up a little earlier for Sahoor(pre-dawn meal), making Wudu & praying a minimum of 2 Raka’ah, but best to pray 8 Raka’ah.
Tahajjud is very key during Ramadan because Allah descends towards the heaven of the earth and prayers are mostly granted.
Abu Huraira reports that during that night, Allah (SWT) proclaims: Who is that who supplicates for Me, and I grant his supplication? Who is that who begs Me for anything and I grant it to him? And who is that who seeks My forgiveness, and I forgive him? (Bukhari, Muslim).
Ibn Mas`ud (RA) was told, “I cannot pray at night.” He said, “Your sins have prevented you.”
8. Doing Excessive Dhikr (Remembrance) Of Allah
Utter regret for each second wasted without remembering Allah:
Mu`adh ibn Jabal (RA) said that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The People of Paradise will not regret anything except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by in which they made no remembrance of Allah.”
The highest ranks in Jannah are for those who remembered Allah the most:
Therefore we should remember Allah as much as we can & glorify him night & day, not just in Ramadan but until our very last breath. What better time to start remembering Allah more than in this most blessed month.
We should remember Allah in our hearts & not just by our tongues. We should also contemplate over his magnificence & his creations & imagine him in front of us as we glorify & remember him.
The following are 7 Dhikr, supported by Hadith that we can recite throughout the day & night in Ramadan:
Note: We should try & aim to recite each of these 7 Dhikr a 100 times each which makes a total of 700 a day minimum.
1. Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee – Recite this abundantly during the last ten nights of Ramadan.
4. Allahu Akbar
5. Laa ilaaha illallah
6. LA HAWLA WA LA QUWWATA ILLA BILLAH-HIL ALIYYIL ADHEEM
7. Asthaghfirullah-halladhee Laa ilaaha illa-huwal Hayyul Qayyuumu Wa athoobu Ilay
9. Dua & Repentance
Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:”When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.” [2:186]
The place of Dua is so high in front of Allah that the Prophet (SAW) has said: “Nothing is more honourable to Allah the Most High than Du`a.”
Allah loves repentance & loves those who turn to him in sincere repentance:
Truly Allah loves those who turn [to Him] in repentance… (Qur’an 2:222)
Many of us rush our Dua’s & quite often our hearts are not present whilst we are making dua to Allah. That is why we lose out on much of the benefits & blessings of Dua.
So, we should not let our minds wander whilst in Dua & we should concentrate more. Let us imagine Almighty Allah in front of us & so we should humble ourselves in front of him in a state of meekness & humility.
Also, a key condition of Allah’s acceptance of a repentance is staying true to it and never revert to the sins. Let’s keep this in mind.
10. Behaving In The Best Of Ways & Controlling Our Tongues
The Prophet (SAW) used to say: “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (al-Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad had exemplary manners & was the best towards others. Surely he is the best example for us to follow & so we should also do our utmost to behave in the best of ways towards others and show exemplary manners like he did.
He said: “There is none heavier in the scales of the Hereafter than good character (Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud).
So if good character & manners are the heaviest on the scales in normal times then can you imagine how much more heavier they will be if we behave with good character and manners during the blessed month of Ramadan?
So let us be the best towards our parents & family, towards our friends & those we know & don’t know. Let us be the best towards all Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Ramadan is a time where we must control our desires (Nafs) as well as our tongues. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Fasting is not (abstaining) from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban)
Therefore we must protect our tongues at all times from vain speech and foul language. Protecting the tongue is preventing it from lying, back-biting, slander, tale-carrying, false speech and other things that have been forbidden in the Qur’an & Sunnah.
11. Break Your Back More In The Last 10 Nights Of Ramadan
Allah’s Messenger used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time.” (Muslim).
Aisha (RA) reported: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (SAW) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray all the night, & used to keep his family awake for the prayers. (Bukhari).
Remember the Night of Majesty is in the last 10 days. A night which the Quran confirms is better than a thousand months [Q97vs3]
Therefore we should strive to stay up on all of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. If we can’t do all 10 nights then at least on the odd numbered nights of the last ten days. If we still can’t manage that then let us pray on whatever nights we can, at least on the 27th night.
If we pray on all of the last ten nights then we have a far better chance of catching this most powerful night & gain the rewards of over 83 YEARS OF WORSHIP! Subhaanallah!
We should also engage in I’tikaf.
I`tikaf is worshipping Allah in seclusion in the Masjid or for women in her designated place at home. It is done with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. If we cannot do it throughout all 10 days then we can do whatever Allah allows us to do.
May He ease our affairs.
12. Charity & Generosity
Ramadan is a time of generosity, giving & remembering those who have less than us. The Prophet (SAW)became even more generous in Ramadan than he already was:
Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was the most generous of the men; and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibril visited him every night and recited the Qur’an to him. During this period, the generosity of Messenger of Allah (SAw) waxed faster than the rain bearing wind. (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).
The Prophet (SAW) said, “The best charity is that given in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmithi).
He also said, “He who feeds a fasting person will gain the same reward as he will, without decreasing from the fasting person’s rewards.” (Ahmad).
We should strive to feed as many fasting people as possible especially those less off than us.
Charity should be paid secretly: The Prophet (SAW) said: “Righteous deeds protect a person from an evil end; a charity spent in secret extinguishes Allah’s wrath; and maintaining good ties of kinship increases ones lifespan.” (Tabaraani)
Therefore during Ramadan let us give as much as we can in the path of Allah & know that we will get SO much more in return in this world & the Hereafter.
May Allah preserve our lives. May He bestow us with the piety, zeal and strength to be able to maximise this holy month that has come upon us.