By: Om Mohammed
Most of us, when planning to travel anywhere for any length of time, will make some sort of a plan before commencing, whether that plan be in writing, or perhaps notes on a map, or perhaps only mentally. Either way, we will make some sort of plan before traveling. In most cases, it is quite hard to find accommodation, much less other amenities if one takes up the course of travel without any plans or reservations or having prepared sufficient sustenance for the course of the travel.
This life we are all experiencing at this moment, is in essence a state of travel for us all. But how many of us make any plans from day to day for our daily lives, let alone any plans or preparation for our final and eternal existence?
Allah Almighty said: “”O my people! Truly, this life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.””(Qur’an 39: 40-39)
We see from this verse that Allah reminds us of the superficial quality of this world as compared to that of eternity, and in essence prompts us on to making a plan for this life so that we do not waste it in frivolous activities which will benefit us little other than giving temporary pleasures.
We are on the verge of yet another Ramadan. How many Ramadans have you witnessed? And how many of those Ramadans have you made preparation for, in ways other than, of course, fighting your way through the supermarket aisles looking for various goodies and supplies for the kitchen pantry?
A plan sets out for us clarity on what the main goal is, with sub-steps of smaller goals which, when accomplished, help one to finally achieve the main ultimate goal. I humbly present to you a very simple yet powerfully effective two-step plan on how to gain the highest benefit out of this blessed month soon to embark upon us all.
1 – Achieving piety: and this is truly the highest prize resulting from proper conduct during this month, and is the result to be achieved from the fast, if properly followed, as Allah says: “O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Qur’an 2:183).
Surely, Allah is not in need of any of this creation, nor any of our deeds or sacrifices, for He is the Creator and Sustainer of all, never was He created by anything else, nor does He need any such sustenance as we need. Verily, it is we that are in need of Him, His vast blessings, and His mercy and His guidance, and hence the act of fasting is a means by which we can attain piety through patience learned by abstaining from food and drink during certain prescribed periods, and also refraining from fighting or other such vices which distract one from the benefits of piety, which include mercy towards our fellow man and fellow creations. Surely, one of the benefits of the month of fasting is that it serves to build one’s ability at self-restraint, by which one can summon the power, by the grace of Allah, at other times, to reject temptations of sinful ways of life.
2 – Closer proximity to Allah by way of increasing good deeds, and decreasing the bad deeds, and this is the great result from the gaining of piety.
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was first revealed, and the month in which the Quran was reviewed annually by Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings upon him) and Angel Jibreel (peace be upon him). Therefore, since the first generations of Muslims, and until today, it is an annual practice to review the Quran throughout this month, seeking Allah’s forgiveness and guidance. It is also a generally accepted practice that the Muslims will increase the nightly prayers during this month, again seeking Allah’s forgiveness and guidance. Both methods of worship, in addition of course to the fast, are ways that bring one closer to Allah, for each of these forms of worship are means toward wiping away sins. As Allah says: “Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds.” (Qur’an 123:114).
Ramadan is a month of great blessings, during which reward for deeds are increased tremendously. The chances for great reward even for the smallest thing is so immense during this month, as well as at other times, but the reward promised during this month so increased that it is senseless to not take heed of this fantastic opportunity to increase one’s scale in the side of the good.
Allah is so magnanimously gracious and merciful, that He has promised us reward of the fasting person if we should provide for them the nourishment with which to break his fast, without reducing the reward of that fasting person one iota. We have been told to “fear the fire, even if by a portion of a date”. The nourishment to provide for the fasting person to break his fast need not be anything tremendously complicated or costly. It could be simply a glass of refreshing cool water, or a cup of warm delicious coffee, or even a portion of a date. Whatever it is, it should be offered with the sincere prayer to please Allah by replenishing the fasting person’s dwindling supply of bodily sustenance from a day of fasting.
The same could be said of the many other uncountable methods of seeking reward by various forms of good deeds, such as giving (whatever one can) to the needy: clothing, money, food, housing, medical assistance, or anything else that others may be in need of which they themselves need, but cannot afford or for some other reason cannot attain.
These two small yet highly significant points for how to conform to the proper outlook and actions for Ramadan should put you on the right path toward living a life more suitable to what Allah has designed for you, in preparation for the ultimate journey, in which you will need the best of provisions, as He has said: “And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!” (Qur’an 2:197).