Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life. Image credit: euthman
The month of Ramadan is a gift from our Lord. Its days are the sweetest of days and its nights are the most rewarding. Allah gives us this gift so we may purify ourselves, fortify our character, and aspire to greater spiritual heights, thereby attaining eternal bliss. It is a time for us to clean our slates and be forgiven our sins. It is a real opportunity for us to renew our commitment to our faith, perfect our moral character, and earn Allah’s pleasure.
This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would give glad tidings to his Companions on the arrival of Ramadan:
The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month, wherein Allah has enjoined fasting. It is a time when the gates of Paradise are opened, those of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained. In it is a night greater than a thousand months. Whoever is denied its goodness is truly bereft. [Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Nasâ’î]
Ibn Rajab says:
How can there be anything but glad tidings for the believer to hear that the gates of Paradise are open? How can there be anything but glad tidings for the sinner to hear that the gates of Hell are closed? How can any sane person not embrace the glad tidings that the devils are chained? How can this time of year even be compared to any other time?
Three Simple Steps
There are three simple steps we should take if we wish to make Ramadan a starting point to bettering our lives.
1. First, start out by feeling more responsible about how you behave in Ramadan.
In light of the great opportunities that Ramadan presents us with, we should feel an acute sense of responsibility about everything we say and do in Ramadan. This is the first critical step. We are all bound by the deeds that we do, and we will be held accountable by Allah to fulfill our duties and shun sinful deeds.
2. Work to infuse yourself with the spirit of this special month.
Ramadan has its own incomparable atmosphere. No other time of year is quite like it. Allah has singled out Ramadan for many blessings. He has given the month a number of distinctions. The most emphatic of these is when the Prophet declared that: “Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith, seeking Allah’s reward, will be forgiven all previous sins.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
This is an immense opportunity to renew our faith. The chance to put our accumulated sins behind us really should inspire us and invigorate us.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Our faith gets worn out and shabby just like our clothing, so ask Allah to renew your faith.” [Sahîh al-Jâmi` al-Saghîr (1590)]
The special atmosphere of Ramadan helps us to put our faith into practice, ad it is through practice that we truly reform our inner selves. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Knowledge comes by way of learning, a patient character comes by practicing patience, striving for good brings good, and shunning evil protects one from evil.”
3. Set for yourself practical and attainable Ramadan resolutions.
We should consider what we wish to accomplish in the blessed days and nights of Ramadan. We should be confident about ourselves and desire to do as much as we can, but at the same time be realistic about our time and our capabilities. We should set for ourselves genuinely reachable goals.
Pick up a pen and paper and write down what you want to accomplish this Ramadan. Plan out your Ramadan schedule so to your goals and aims will be perfectly clear to you and as well as how you are going to fit those goals into your already busy schedule. It is important to plan well, since as the old saying goes: “Whoever plans poorly, plans for failure.”
Be honest with yourself. Write down what you wish to achieve in all aspects of your life: in your faith, character, interpersonal dealings, cultural development, et cetera. Avoid negative statements. Be positive in your choice of words, like: “I want to do so and so.” “I want to achieve such and such.”
Ramadan is a month wherein it is easy to perform good deeds. We observe the fast on a daily basis for the sake of our Lord. It is a time when worship and the remembrance of Allah become a believer’s habit. The fast schedules our daily activities. We start our day with our pre-dawn meal and end it by breaking our fasts. We balance out our bodily nourishment with our spiritual enrichment.
Ramadan is a practical course for us in moral development, charity, and good conduct. We are reminded to help the less fortunate and to strive against our selfish tendencies. We must make sure to make use of what we learn in this course after the course comes to an end.
Ibn Rajab identifies two kinds of resolve: The first is the resolve we have to undertake a course of action. This is the resolve that gets things going. The second kind of resolve is the resolve to persevere. This is the resolve that gets us to our goals.
The devils are chained for a whole moth. In this time, we can accustom ourselves to improving our religious observance and our character. We should keep in mind that our Lord is our Lord in Ramadan and throughout the year. What we achieve in Ramadan is a real achievement when it becomes part and parcel of our lives.