Imam Ahmad Hamid
Ramadan is the month that offers great rewards without any discrimination. Let us take a different look at Ramadan. Let us make it personal, interactive, and demonstrate the teachings and philosophy of Ramadan practically.
Ramadan comes as a loving bosom companion bringing gifts of joy, happiness, and the means for us to vanquish the devils that plague us throughout our lives. It places the keys of the gates of heavens in our hands and offer opportunities for us to inherit limitless acres of land in Jannah. Ramadan has set up permanent sign posts giving directions to our journey.
Ramadan is definitely a family friend, defender, and savior when we consider the words of Allah: “O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.” (Q66:6). Such words instil a particular type of fear. One of the main objectives of Ramadan is to save our family. It will be really great for us to be united with our family members in Jannah.
Organize your family, relatives, friends, neighbors in activities to get some Hasanaat in Ramadan. Influence them to have a new insight into Ramadan. Make them your buddies. Use every means of communication- facebook, instagram, email, snap shot, twitter – to make them see the beauty and grandeur of Ramadan. Make Ramadan practical… something that we can experience and make an integral part of our lives.
The entire objective of Ramadan is to attain Tawqa. Quickly, look back in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Try to identify the goals and objectives we set and the ones we did not achieve. Can we afford to make the same mistakes again in 2018? Look at the way Allah wants us to relate to him. “I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” (Sahih Bukhari) These words express care and love. Allah wants us to inherit Jannah.
Life is a continuous progressive road. There is no reverse gear. Whether at home, in the Masjid or wherever we meet with Muslims and non-Muslims, let us take a group approach. Let us literally demonstrate the message of Ramadan in a practical way.
Suhur: Wake up your family members and friends. Encourage them to set their phones on alarm. Reward every young family member who gets up for Suhur whether they fast or not. Call friends or relatives and enquire whether they have started. Engage them in a short conversation at Suhur time. Say the dua collectively to begin the fast. If we can afford it, offer food and drink to Muslims to begin or break the fast.
We are eager to meet to break the fast. Try something new. How about meeting to start the fast, that is, to take suhur with friends and family in a Masjid?
Fast (Siyam): Encourage the youngest to the oldest to fast. Enquire about the health and welfare of Muslims and non-Muslims whom you know, and if possible make visits to friends and family. Go break the fast with relatives and friends. Sit in a circle at the Masjid to share your food. This adds to the joy and satisfaction of observing the fast for long hours.
It makes you feel wanted and happy to be in the Masjid. This has great blessings and builds everlasting brotherhood. Enjoy the lighter moments. The Prophet (S) did not ban humor and laughter. He himself indulged in humor.
Salah: We deny ourselves the rewards of fasting by not praying the five daily prayers. Let us make a real effort to pray regularly and use Ramadan to get into the habit. Let us use our phone to remind one another about the time of Salaah. With deliberation invite relatives and friends to pray with you. Maghrib is a good time when they can also break the fast with you. Invite your friends and relatives to your Iftar and dinner at the Masjid. Pick up a friend and take him to the Masjid for Salaah. Engage in congregational dua repeatedly and as much as you can.
Rewards: Reward a relative, friend or family member for each Salaah they observed. This works well for the young kids. This type of rewards is motivating. Make a friend or a relative pay a fine for missing a Salaah. Keep a count of all the Salaah you prayed. This will help to show your progress and the changes you are undergoing. Approach each action with humility and intention to please Allah only.
Taraweeh: Get your friends and family to go to the Masjid for Taraweeh. Do not burden them with numbers. If they wish to pray eight rakaats, that is a good start. If they want to attend Maghrib only, that is excellent. It is just the beginning.
Jumuah: Make special efforts to pray Jumuah and get others to join you. Take leave. Take time off. Make special requests. Meet the Imaams and Presidents. Engage them in a conversation.
LilatulQadr: Even at home try to search for the night in the last ten days of Ramadan. Put your trust in Allah. Communicate with your friends on this matter. Go to a mosque with your friends and walk with refreshments for the nights you spend there.
Quran, the Greatest Book: In the Quran there is no doubt. This is probably the only religious book that begins with this profound claim. It is guidance for all of mankind. It is divine revelation and there are blessings for reciting even a single letter of the Quran. Select those whom you can teach to read the Quran. Take ten minutes of their time each day in Ramadan. This can be done in the Masjid. Get the young ones to sit around and offer Islamic advice.
Make an instant resolution to recite the entire Quran at least once during Ramadan. Set out the schedule. Recite one juz/parah per day. Compete and struggle to complete one juz per day. There are 30 juzs. Do it as a group and check up on each other on the recital and completion per day. Arrange your hours. On an average, one continuous reading of one juz will not take 90 minutes at slow speed. Reward those who complete a reading with gifts and praise. Pay a fine if you fail to complete a reading for the day or at the end of the month you did not complete the recital of the Quran.
Feeding the Poor: Use the fines for charitable work, e.g., feeding the poor. There are great blessings in feeding the poor. Prepare meals and visit nursing homes. Get the young and old involved. It will be everlasting experience. Very often after Iftar and dinner food is left and taken home. Change this. The person who provides the Iftar and dinner should take the food remaining and share it to the homeless and people in the street. This is an extension of providing iftar and dinner and getting Hasanaat.
Zakaat & Sadaqatul Fitr: Make your Zakaah and Sadqatul Fitr work for you. Start with your closest relatives. Search out the poor families in your community or Masjid. Organize such actions as a group. You can give Zakaah, Sadqatul Fitr, and monetary gifts to them. How many people remember them? The poor usually feel neglected and look differently at the people who have. The people with means have a responsibility to the poor. Giving Zakaah to your relatives has an everlasting relationship. I know people who remember their families who were kind to them in Guyana. Now, they are well off and remember their poor families in Guyana.
Youths: The Imam and Masjid administration can encourage the youths to make short nightly presentation on Ramadan based on their age and ability. On Eid day organize a party for them at the Masjid before they go home (pizza, cake, soda, ice cream, chips).
Role Model: The Prophet (S) was the best role model. “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” (Q33:21) Being a role model is not easy. We have to set and maintain high standards not through words but by action. Role models have to set the examples. Be the role model as a father, mother, teacher, or in any other capacity. Let your role depict Ramadan in practice. When your words and conduct influence people, you share in the blessings they get for their good actions. Become the role model for someone. Set your standards, goals, and objectives.