Ramadan is the blessed month of fasting. But fasting isn’t simply about abstinence and sacrifice. When we fast, we are also meant to examine our spiritual, emotional and physical states, and work towards bettering ourselves. We do this so we can increase our Taqwa – devotion to God. It’s important to understand that Allah (SWT) has designed this month to change our hearts, not to change our schedules.
This is why Ramadan is also a time to change bad habits and introduce good ones. We’ve all experienced this. In this month, we make extra effort to be regular and timeous with our prayers; we try to stop smoking; we limit idle time, while trying to engage in more productive and spiritual activities.
Here is a list of spiritual activities and practices which go hand-in-hand with the 30 days of fasting as a means to cleanse and better ourselves.
Since Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed, it is an ideal time to increase our recitations and spend time engaging and learning about it. The Quran is a guide for all mankind until the end of time. It is a manual on how to lead an ideal life as a Muslim.
‘The best among you [Muslims] are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.’ (Bukhari)
Some of us may find it daunting to complete the Quran in Ramadan, so it’s best to set realistic expectations. Try reading a few pages after every Salaah or before going to bed at night. Reading extra Quran will help you feel love for Allah’s word.
Waking up for Tahajjud is a challenge for most of us but in Ramadan, we do rise to make Suhoor. So why not wake up just ten minutes earlier, and before breakfast, make wudhu and pray this highly beneficial Salaah?
‘Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari).
Taraweeh is also considered a night prayer. It is one of the most auspicious and anticipated events of Ramadan and is unique to this month. If you can pray this extra Salaah in congregation, even better, but even if you pray this at home, there are many rewards. By doing so, you’ll be following one of the most meritorious Sunnahs of our Prophet (PBUH). Taraweeh is Sunnah Mustahab – highly recommended.
Sadaqah is voluntary charitable acts towards others given purely for Allah’s pleasure. It includes giving money to those in need, acts of love and compassion, such as smiling at others or helping someone with whatever you can do to assist them. One of the doors opened by Allah in Ramadan is to gain rewards through Sadaqah, and we are encouraged to give generously. We would also be fulfilling another Sunnah as the Prophet was most generous, especially in Ramadan.
The Prophet has said, ‘The best charity is that given in Ramadan.’ (Tirmidhi)
Your Sadaqah donations help ARF to implement hundreds of humanitarian projects in African countries. With your Sadaqah we deliver food aid, water projects, education programmes, medical aid and orphan sponsorship programmes. Find out more.
With so many Muslim people in need all over the world, contributing towards a poor person’s iftar is another easy way to gain Allah’s blessings. Prophet Muhammad has said:
‘If a person gives iftar to a fasting person in this month, his sins will be forgiven. And he will be given as many rewards as has that fasting person.’ (Tirmidhi, 807).
Moreover, we are also told that to give someone water, our sins will be forgiven:
‘He who gives water as iftar to a fasting person in Ramadan becomes as sinless as the day his mother bore him.’ (Bayhaqi)
African Relief Fund (ARF) implements food distribution and water projects in African countries throughout the year, but in Ramadan, we increase our efforts by distributing food parcels and providing warm iftars to many underprivileged communities. Find out more about how you can feed the fasting and give water through ARF’s projects here.
One of the most distinguishing features of Ramadan is forgiveness. We are promised forgiveness if we seek it sincerely. We should make extra time to make Istighfaar after every Salaah, if possible, and at night as we get ready for bed. The best night to ask for forgiveness is the night of Laylat Al-Qadr – which could be any of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.’ (Bukhari)
We should also ask those whom we have wronged for forgiveness while we make the intention of forgiving others. Letting go of old hurts and moving on is very liberating. If we make a sincere intention to forgive and forget, we can change our lives for the better.
Zakat does not have to be paid in Ramadan but many people choose to pay their dues during this month because all rewards are multiplied in Ramadan. Zakat is compulsory on every Muslim who has surplus wealth, to the value of Nisab, after all his expenses have been paid.
‘Righteousness in the sight of God dwells in one who, despite his love for it, gives of his wealth in charity to close relatives and orphans and to the needy and the wayfarer …’ (Quran, 2:177)
Paying your Zakat to a reputable organisation like African Relief Fund gives you peace of mind, knowing that all of it will be used according to Islamic laws and distributed to those who are eligible to receive it. Your Zakat is used to fund our many projects. Without Allah’s help and your Zakat, we wouldn’t be able to do our work to make the lives of needy people in Somalia better. Read more about our projects here.
In Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity. As the fourth pillar of Islam, it is an important tenet of our faith. But sometimes, we are unable to fast because we have a medical condition, like diabetes, or are ill or travelling. In these cases, Allah in his mercy allows us not to fast, but we need to make up these fasts when we can. If we cannot make up these fasts due to a long period of illness, for example, then we must pay Fidya to compensate for the missed fasts.
‘And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day).’ (Quran, 2:184).
The amount of Fidya payable is equal to the cost of one meal (£5). If however, we miss or break a fast without a valid reason, then we need to pay a penalty called Kaffara (£150).
You can pay your Fidya or Kaffara to ARF and we will use these funds in our Food Pack Distribution as well as providing Warm Iftars for needy communities.
Fitrana is a compulsory charity that is payable on every member of your household if everyone has been fed and you still have sufficient food for one day. Fitrana (or Zakatul Fitr) can be paid towards the end of Ramadan but must be paid before midday on Eid-ul-Fitr. This is so that everyone, including the needy, can enjoy the day and mark the end of Ramadan with a hearty meal.
‘The zakat al-fitr has to be paid by people living in the desert (i.e. nomadic people) just as it has to be paid by people living in villages (i.e. settled people), because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, made the Zakatul Fitr at the end of Ramadan obligatory on every Muslim, whether freeman or slave, male or female.’ (Imam Malik Muwatta).
Don’t delay. Pay your Fitrana to ARF and we will ensure that it is distributed to needy Muslims before the Eid Salaah.