Ustazah Noorsakinah spent 12 years of her studies at Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah. She later furthered her studies in the Faculty of Human Science at the International Islamic University Malaysia, majoring in Psychology.
Ramadan is always a high-time for most Muslims to strive in becoming a better self. On top of the obligatory 5 daily prayers, Ramadan is when most of us strive to perform supplementary Ibadah such as Tarawih prayers, feed others and give charity and other good deeds that gain Allah’s pleasure. Inevitably, it is also a month that challenges us spiritually, mentally and physically.
Ramadan is a marathon of doing good deeds with a series of challenges but are we fully prepared for it? Let us explore the 7 tips for us to be Ramadan-ready:
1. Get to know about Ramadan
Ramadan is indeed a gift for us. As we discover more about Ramadan, we will realise that Allah has opened for us multiple doors to ease our paths in striving to be a righteous Muslim, which ultimately, is the purpose of Ramadan as mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 183:
"يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ."
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.
To achieve it, we ought to know the do’s and don'ts to ensure that we maximise the golden opportunities to do good and avoid the acts that may discount its blessings and rewards. If you are unsure of where to start, do check out Muslim.Sg for a suite of Ramadan content!
2. Double up our Istighfar (the act of seeking forgiveness from Allah)
We tend to overlook our actions and this might be one of the factors that prevents us from consistently doing good. Acknowledging this will help us realise that we are constantly in need of His forgiveness. Practising istighfar consistently is one of the good steps to begin our spiritual journey in this blessed month.
Beyond reciting it, we should also take this opportunity to do a stock take on ourselves. Be in a state of deep contemplation and do self-reflections. In the spirit of becoming a better Muslim, let us reflect on our mistakes and ask for Allah’s forgiveness in hope that He will grant us strength to do good and be consistent with it, insya’Allah.
3. Let the Quran be your best companion
Reading the Quran is a habit that we can gradually develop in this month of Ramadan. With just a week left to Ramadan, now it is the best time for us start by internalising the Quran and its meaning.
But what if I am not fluent in reading Quran? In a hadith narrated by ‘Aishah, the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
الَّذِي يَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ وَهُوَ مَاهِرٌ بِهِ مَعَ السَّفَرَةِ الْكِرَامِ الْبَرَرَة وَالَّذِي يَقْرَؤُهُ قَالَ هِشَامٌ وَهُوَ شَدِيدٌ عَلَيْهِ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ شَاقٌّ فَلَهُ أَجْرَان
"The one who recites the Qur'an and he is proficient with it, then he is with the noble and blessed Angels (As-Safaratil-Kiramil-Bararah), and the one who recites it" - Hisham said: "And it is hard for him" - Shu'bah said: "And it is difficult for him, - then he gets two rewards."
Striving to read the Quran in the best manner is highly encouraged. However, we should not be disheartened to read the Quran due to our lack of ability to read it with precision. We will be rewarded by Allah s.w.t. for each letter that we read as mentioned in the hadith reported by Ibn Mas'ud r.a.:
: مَنْ قَرَأَ حَرَفًا مِنْ كِتَابِ اللهِ فَلَُه حَسَنَة، وَالحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا لاَ أَقُولُ آلم حَرْفٌ، وَلَكِن أَلِفٌ حَرْفٌ، وَلَامٌ حَرْفٌ، وَمِيمٌ حَرْفٌ
"Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter."
Also, take an opportunity to understand the message of the Quran. Contemplate on its meanings and find time to learn and study the tafsir (Quranic exegesis). Check out for relevant classes such as The Living Sources module by ADIL or tune in to Muslim.SG YouTube for weekly Ramadan Quran Reflection video series.
4. Say good things only
During Ramadan, we may find our patience and sincerity being tested. How do we deal with such difficult situations without complaining?
One of the ways is to train ourselves to see good in others and every situation and complain less. In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a., the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤمِن بِاللهِ وَاليَومِ الآخِرِ، فَليَقُلْ خَيرًا أَو لِيَصْمُت
"And he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent."
Infact, Allah s.w.t command us to leave any doubts as mentioned in Surah Al-Hujurat verse 12:
ۖ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ
ۚ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا
ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”
While it is healthy to express our opinions and feelings, let us not be the one who spreads negative vibes. Spread positivity and always think before we say things to others.
5. Practice conscious eating habit
It is not that we are unconscious while we eat, however, we may have not been observant of how satiated we feel as we enjoy our food which may cause excessive eating. At times, we are also guilty of buying more food than we need as we give in to our cravings which resulted to excessive waste of food. Ramadan is the time that we practise conscious eating habit to ensure that we do not eat excessively and reduce food wastage.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w always consume food in moderation. Miqdam bin Madikarib mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ حَسْبُ الآدَمِيِّ لُقَيْمَاتٌ يُقِمْن
صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ غَلَبَتِ الآدَمِيَّ نَفْسُهُ فَثُلُثٌ لِلطَّعَامِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلشَّرَابِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلنَّفَسِ
"A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air."
Let us enjoy food moderately and spare more time for ‘ibadah!
6. Share blessings with others
The notion of sharing our blessings with others is entrenched in Islam. One of the many essences of Ramadan is for us to feel empathy towards those who are less fortunate and lend a hand in any possible ways. One of the ways is to feed a fasting person as narrated by Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِهِمْ مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يَنْقُصَ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَيْئًا
“Whoever gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will have a reward like theirs, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.”
Sharing blessings with others brings joy in the hearts of the giver and the receiver. Give whatever we have in hand and worry not about the quantity as what matters most is a charity that is given out of sincerity.
7. Keep our goals realistic and start now!
Making a list of Ramadan goals is definitely an excellent step in preparing ourselves for Ramadan. It is also important that we keep our goals realistic and achievable.
We only aim to read the Quran daily in Ramadan, but may not have spared time to read a page of it in our usual routine. We only aim to pray more supplementary prayers in Ramadan but we have not even been consistent in doing our 5 daily prayers. We only aim to be productive in Ramadan but we have not been managing our time well.
Change requires time, effort and strong determination. If we are strongly determined to reap the most out of this Ramadan, keep our goals simple and achievable. What matters most is the consistency and patience in doing it throughout Ramadan and beyond.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w mentioned in a hadith narrated by ‘Aisha r.a.:
سَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا، وَاعْلَمُوا أَنْ لَنْ يُدْخِلَ أَحَدَكُمْ عَمَلُهُ الْجَنَّةَ، وَأَنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ أَدْوَمُهَا إِلَى اللَّهِ، وَإِنْ قَلَّ
"Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little."
May Allah bless us in the month of Sya’ban and allow us to meet the month of Ramadan. Amin.