The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”[Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Allah promises us that He will forgive all our sins if we fast under two conditions: that we do it with sincere faith and we do it to please Him. What does it mean to have sincere faith while fasting? Does it mean that we simply fulfill the physical action of refraining from food, drink, and intercourse? If so, what will that gain us? Allah says in the Qur’an that fasting was prescribed to us so that we may become righteous (2:183). But how does fasting lead to righteousness?
Even while our stomach is wrenching from hunger, while our tongues are so dry from thirst, we know to refrain from reaching for that glass of water. If it was left to our body to decide, it would tell our brain that we need nourishment – it would tell our brain that it has the physical ability to pick up that piece of bread and put it in our mouth and that it just needs the brain’s okay to do so.
Luckily though, something comes in between our body and our brain. This thing can help us or hinder us depending on how we cultivate it. It makes the difference between our worshiping Allah or our succumbing to this life. This is our nafs (soul). Our nafs knows that we’re not eating and drinking for a higher purpose even when our body doesn’t. But this decision of the nafs needs help.
The only way for us to survive the hunger and thirst is to ignore our physical body; in doing this, all our attention and energy goes to our spiritual selves.
Fasting is no longer about starving ourselves then; rather it’s about developing our Iman and strengthening our taqwa through the constant perseverance and humbleness of gaining kushuu (reverence and devotion to Allah) through our fasts.
The hadith states that in order for all our sins to be forgiven, we must also know with complete certainty that Allah will accept our fasts as us worshiping Him.
Here are a few ways we can achieve victory during Ramadan:
1. Du`a’ is the weapon of the believer A perfect example that gives us the principles of making du`a’ is “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire” (2:201). Allah teaches us that we should make du`a’ for both this life and the hereafter.
Using this lesson, make a list of things we want from Allah to ask in our du`a’s. If we consistently make these du`a’s during the best times (i.e. right before iftar, in the last third of the night, between adhan and iqama, during sujood, right after fard prayer, etc) and with complete certainty that Allah is listening, Allah is sure to accept them in one form or another.
2. 99 names Memorize and understand Allah’s names and attributes. Allah loves it when we call on His names while making du`a’. Here is a link to a detailed definition of each of Allah’s names.
3. Night of Qadr Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: I asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?’ He said: ‘Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.’“(Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi).
4. Dhikr is the fortress of the believer Constantly be in the remembrance of Allah, even by remembering Allah throughout everyday activities.
5. Positive environment Surround ourselves in a positive environment that constantly reminds us of Allah. We can start with our own computer by unsubscribing from websites that take us away from Allah and subscribing to websites that bring us closer to Him (i.e. suhaibwebb.com, muslimmatters.org, onelegacyradio.com, bayyinah.com)
6. Read a book that will help to get closer to Allah. Suggestions: In the Early Hours, Fortress of the Muslim, Don’t be Sad – all of these books can be found on this website.
7. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an Make the Qur’an our best friend. Read it, reflect upon it, and respond to it.
8. Pray 2 raka’at Tahajjud by waking up even 10 minutes before suhoor. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
9. Thank Allah through showing our gratitude to Him by engaging in charity, volunteering, help at a masjid, etc.
10. Da`wah Use Ramadan as a Da`wah opportunity. With enthusiasm, tell someone about Ramadan – they’ll listen in awe and probably pass it on.
11. Stay healthy Physically, fasting is meant to cleanse our body. We can let it do so by not eating too much unhealthy food and increasing in our water supply.
12. Success? The way to know whether our Ramadan is successful or not is to see if we continue our habits throughout the year. Even if we come out of Ramadan better than we were before Ramadan, that shows success.
Share your Ramadan suggestions in the comment box below. Until then, stay thirsty my friends.