As the flowers begin to bud, the trees begin to grow their delicate, green leaves, and the other signs of a beautiful spring emerge, we are transitioning into a month of mental, spiritual, and physical rejuvenation. Ramadan is a time – honoured by Qur’an – that will be, for many, a time in which the frozen lands of stunted spiritual growth will warm and soften, and the seeds of good character, generosity, and increased worship will be planted and reaped.
“So observe the effects of the mercy of Allah – how He gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed, that [same one] will give life to the dead, and He is over all things competent.” – Surah al Rum: 50.
This will likely be the first of multiple articles. I want to start by giving a list of five practical advices for us to reflect on and implement in our daily lives.
1. Our Relationship with Allah
I encourage myself and you to have a good opinion of our Lord. A believer is to always have husnal dhann of Allah ta’aala and to think well of Him. While we have made mistakes in the past that we regret, hopelessness is to not dwell in the same heart that possess faith. Allah says, which may mean:
“O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yusuf (Joseph) and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” (Surah Yusuf: 87)
On this note, we are to have lofty aspirations as we enter Ramadan; direct your heart to Him and have hope that He will grant you even more than you can imagine – He gives based on His generosity, not on the worthiness of the slave. Don’t dwell in the past, nor worry about the future; keep your presence in the present. Reflect on this statement of a great scholar of the past, who wrote:
“Let not the intention of your aspiration shift to what is other than He, for one’s hopes cannot outstrip the Generous.”
Our Shaykh Muhammad al-Ninowy, founder of Madina Institute Global, wrote: “A change in your thinking of Allah Ta’aala (husn al-dhann) is a change in your destiny.”
2. Our Relationship with Al-Nabi Al-Akram ﷺ
Send salawaat in abundance onto the Noble Prophet ﷺ. It is immense in its positive effects on you and a means by which you attain the pleasure of your Lord, who said, which may mean:
“Verily, Allah and His angels confer blessings on the prophet: O you who believe! Confer blessings on him, and greet him with a goodly salutation.” (Surah al-Ahzab: 56)
Also, open the channels of your heart to give to, and receive love from, the Prophet. We should all have a deep connection and a loving relationship with the Prophet, who is (which may mean):
“[…] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful” (Surah Tawba: 128)
3. Relationship with the Masjid
Spend time at the masjid during (and outside!) Ramadan. There is a beautiful atmosphere of collectiveness, warmth, and love when the community breaks their fasts together, prays together, and accompanies each other on the spiritual journey.
On a personal note, I found there to be a very special, illuminating feeling at the Madina Atlanta location; the community ate together, prayed together, and some stayed late into the early hours of the morning sipping tea and talking. I encourage the reader to listen to the recordings of this year’s tarawih prayers, as well as Shaykh Muhammad’s daily reminder, in addition to being a member of their nearest Madina location, when applicable. Keep your eyes out for the Madina Atlanta, Madina Canada, Madina UK, and the other Madina pages for updates.
We should increase in worship this month, but not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively. I recommend increasing in the reading of the Qur’an. If you are only reading a page a day now, increase to two pages; if you’re not reading at all, increase to one page a day. Whatever you are currently reading, try to increase the amount in a fashion that you can still consistently read. Having said that, I encourage you and myself to work on increasing the quality of our worship: focus on acquiring concentration in prayer, make supplications from the bottom of your heart, shed a tear in the last third of the night, read the Qur’an with presence. Allah says, which may mean:
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (Surah al-Mulk: 2)
5. Working on Yourself
Ramadan is a month of transformation. What this means is that we should not be the same people we were when we entered it; we should be better in character, more generous in our giving, and the like. I recommend picking one character trait you want to drop, such as lying, and pick a character trait you need to adopt, like generosity, and try your best the entire month to drop and gain those characteristics, respectively. Allah says, which may mean:
“He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself” (Surah A’la: 14)
These are points I wanted to share with you, and, on behalf of the Madina family across the world, I wish you a Ramadan Kareem!
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