From among Allah’s greatest blessings to this ummah is the beloved month of Ramadan. The one month in the year in which Muslims are required to fast from dawn to sunset and reap the spiritual rewards. Regarding this month, it is mentioned in the Qur’an that, “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop Taqwa” (Surah Baqara 2:183)
The above verse indicates that the purpose of fasting is to grow spiritually and increase in Taqwa. Taqwa literally means a shield or protection, and in Islam it refers to the quality of God-consciousness. It means to be aware of God at all times and to strive to live such a life in which one does not do anything to displease Him. This quality of Taqwa is highly praised in the Qur’an and is regarded as the primary quality which God looks at for judging who are the best of His Creation, “Indeed the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one with the most Taqwa” (Surah Hujaraat 49:13)
Thus the gaining of Taqwa is no small feat and a great achievement in of itself, at the same time being a means of achieving the pleasure of Allah. This leads to the question then as to why many of us don’t feel this rise in Taqwa during Ramadan. One of the main reasons for this is that very often we do not approach Ramadan with the right mindset. We need to reflect and ask ourselves the following questions, “What do I want to accomplish this Ramadan?” “How can I increase my Taqwa this Ramadan?” and “What can I do to make this Ramadan special?”
Without such internal questioning and reflection, we end up treating Ramadan and fasting as just another ritual. When ritualized, fasting becomes a series of habits without much spiritual benefit. Many Muslims overeat for both the pre-dawn meal and the breaking of the fast, while sleeping much of the day away. Habits like these can seriously jeopardize the spiritual benefits of fasting. Now that we know the goal of fasting and the importance of planning to achieve it, let us look at some practical tips to make this
Ramadan more spiritual and beneficial:
1. Purify your intention: The prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every deed is judged by its intentions,” (Saheeh Bukhari, 1:1: 1) If we want to benefit from Ramadan then we first need to make a strong intention that we will fast this Ramadan for the sake of Allah seeking an increase in Taqwa, doing whatever we can to become closer to Him. With this intention, it will be easier to keep our eye on our goals and work towards them.
2. Set specific goals and work towards them:
Just saying we want more Taqwa won’t help us get it unless we have a specific plan on how we can achieve it. Set some goals this Ramadan and work on achieving them. Examples of such goals which can assist in increasing our Taqwa include: Reciting the entire Quran with understanding, reading beneficial books, not overeating, giving up bad habits among others. Each person knows their own areas which need improvement and should set their goals accordingly.
3. Ask Allah for His Assistance and do your best:
Finally, we should realize that without Allah’s assistance, nothing is possible. Make dua, ask Allah to help you accomplish your goals this Ramadan then go out there and do your best, knowing that Allah is there to assist you every step of the way.
I pray these few points assist in making this a memorable and life-changing Ramadan for us all.