When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave us the command to fast, He also revealed the guideline – things to do in this blessed month.
Let’s look at the ayaat of fasting in the Qur’an:
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. [Al-Baqarah 2: 183]
From the ayaah above we learn that the goal is to attain taqwa [righteousness]. Taqwa is the foundation of every good deed. It is keeping away from sins fearing a Day when we will stand before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answerable for our deeds. It also means increasing our good deeds and hastening to perform them.
Next, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us:
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. [Al-Baqarah 2: 184]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala assures us this is a sacrifice that we make for only a few limited days. It is not obligatory upon us to fast the entire year but a limited number of days once a year. Fasting in itself brings several physical and spiritual benefits. Our digestive system (most importantly the liver) gets some rest (if we don’t make up for it at Iftaar time) and spiritually we are more drawn towards Allah (alhumdulillah).
Keeping the duration and benefits in mind we should not leave any fast without a legitimate reason. Women and the patients who have to leave fasting due to their health conditions must make up for the missed firsts later. Do it as soon as possible because we don’t know when our time will be up and these are obligatory fasts not optional.
Here, we must also stress that we need to study the Fiqh of Fasting.
Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrates to us what is expected from us in this month. He says,
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion… [Al-Baqarah 2: 185]
Ramadan is the month when the Qur’an was revealed therefore, Ramadan is the month of Qur’an. Abandon all other activities and give most of your time to the Book of Allah. There are various ways of getting associated with the Qur’an especially in the Ramadan, and of course carrying it forward in other months as well. We will, in sha Allah, share examples how you can remain connected with the Qur’an.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: Qur’an is a guidance for the people…in it are clear proofs and the criterion to judge between the right and wrong, the permissible and the forbidden and the truth and falsehood. How can this be achieved? This is when we study the Qur’an.
Further in the ayah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala outlines some more things to do during this month. He says,
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [Al-Baqarah 2: 185]
Glorify Allah – for which He has guided us. This is for all the Muslims whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed with the true guidance. And especially those, who do not just identify themselves as Muslims but also learn religion. They are special people – chosen by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for guidance and understanding of His religion.
Do Shukr. Be grateful for the blessing of Islam and the blessing of guidance. Born Muslims should especially do abundant shukr for being born into Muslim families without any effort on our part. The reverts, alhumdulillah, were chosen by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for guidance. May we be able to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala through our deeds and conduct, ameen.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says,
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ
أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ
فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
And when My servants ask you concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [Al-Baqarah 2: 186]
The times of acceptance of supplications increases in Ramadan. We must not let go of this opportunity and make abundant supplications. A little more than what we usually do. But remember the acceptance of our du’as depends on our obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If there is anything that we are doing that displeases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then we must immediately quit it. Make du’a to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to help you leave whatever wrong you are doing.
After the Qur’an, we look in the ahadeeth (Prophetic traditions) what can be done in the month of Ramadan to attain the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. One such thing is feeding other people. You can feed your family (but keep your meal simple and nutritious. Do not spend the entire day planning menu and cooking recipes). Send food to your neighbors, and especially to the poor and the needy. The food quality should be such that you too will eat it. Do not send burnt or stale food. Secondly, spend in charity and be generous. Give sadaqah for different projects – for the welfare of people as well as for the promotion of Allah’s Deen. You can also give out authentic reading material to people.
To learn how you can connect with the Qur’an and bring others on this journey, check the next post, in sha Allah.
Adapted from this lecture.