The Global Magazine for Muslim Women

Ramadan: Reaping and Sowing Virtues by Nur Soliman

By Nur Soliman

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” (Narrated by Tabarani).

Even for those who may have become weak and not devoted much effort, or perhaps relaxed their efforts to strengthen their iman and increase ‘ibada, or worship, everyone feels the magic of Ramadan as it approaches. Many of us feel this deep-seeded, overwhelmingly heartfelt wish for this Ramadan to be the best and most special yet, and for us to make it so. We keep Ramadan in our minds and hearts as the days go by, and as the moon waxes and wanes, shines bright and slims to its crescent shape, we all secretly become excited for that special month.  Year after year, we remember that this “month of Christmases,” as it can be called, is our chance to once again show that we can improve ourselves in the sight of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), and attain his rida.

A beautiful hadith narrated by both Tabarani (Book 1/259, No. 2346) and Ahmad (No. 837) reads, “Oh the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with Him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), used to say the following when the month of Rajab began. ‘Oh Allah! Bless us in Rajab and Sha’ban, and bring us, O Allah, to Ramadan!’” The plea at the end to bring Ramadan upon us, I think, is particularly beautiful. It reflects so much of that happiness that this month approaches, and also this need in our hearts to have this chance from heaven to make it to the next Ramadan.

Every time we reach Rajab and Sha’baan, I start wondering if I’m going to make it a special and new Ramadan, and if I can perform better and not let my weaknesses fail me. Ever since last year, I’ve been keeping Imam Tahir Anwar’s ‘Five Simple Ways to Prepare for Ramadan’ as my ‘handbook’. I think it’s a fantastic, if simple, resource to maintain and to keep up a robust, active iman, dedication, and energy to making this Ramadan more sacred and special than the last. Imam Tahir Anwar, a London-born imam, now teaches at the Averroes Institute, a Muslim high school in the Bay Area, as well as Zaytuna College, the first liberal-arts Muslim college in the United States. When I first read this list of his, I felt inspired by this written-down, extremely simple ‘guide’ as it were, to maintaining a consciousness and hyper-awareness about how to prepare myself for this holy ninth month.

I won’t reproduce Imam Tahir’s list here, but I will summarize the five points. The first is to make a sincere niyyah, intention, that you really want for this to be a special and sacred Ramadan. The second is to make a plan, i.e. how you want this Ramadan to be spent, and what you mean to accomplish during those days. The third is to make a list of du’aa you would like to make, the prayers you wish to make for yourself, your family, loved ones, and the ummah, in this life and the next. The fourth is to serve (khidma), to “go beyond just yourself” and contribute your time, effort, and resources to helping your community. The fifth is charity, and calculating how much of your money  and assets you can pay out in zakat (alms) and sadaqa (voluntary charity).

What I like best about this list is that you can develop your very own personal list of things you would like to accomplish this month. What do you want to do most this Ramadan?  What would make you feel like you have truly accomplished something in way of sowing, reaping, and harvesting in yourself a sense of iman, deep faith and devotion to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He)? What will give you the effort needed to abstain from the indulgences of the dunya and resisting your own natural human fallibilities and foibles in order to increase your acts of worship and goodness in ‘ibada, reading of the Holy Book, acts of kindness, generosity, and goodness towards your family, your loved ones, and those in need of charity, kindness, acknowledgement, and assistance? How will you find time to re-orient yourself, come back to the center of things after the dunya has taken you a little far, during the last twelve months, and find that place that gave you true peace of heart and strength of faith?

In the second chapter of the Qur’an, Surat al-Baqara, Allah (SWT) tells us about Ramadan: “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. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. 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” (Qur’an 2:185).

What is truly beautiful, then, about Ramadan, is not the hardship, not the difficulty of abstinence, but the reward of guidance and light, of huda wa nur, and that we may be grateful for this blessed opportunity to become closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), to feel His nearness and infinite strength and greatness, and to keep this in our hearts, untainted and unblemished, pristine and whole, for another year at least. May we be blessed with a truly sacred, special, and rewarding Ramadan, and may we all find that we become closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), through ‘ibada, iman, and ihsan, Ameen.

Your sister,

Nur Soliman

The Gems of Ramadan

By Modest Beautiful Muslima Magazine in MBMuslima Magazine

20 pages, published 11/17/2012

“What is truly beautiful, then, about Ramadan, is not the hardship, not the difficulty of abstinence, but the reward of guidance and light, of huda wa nur, and that we may be grateful for this blessed opportunity to become closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), to feel His nearness and infinite strength and greatness, and to keep this in our hearts, untainted and unblemished, pristine and whole, for another year at least.” -Your…
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