Ramadan: A New Reality
By Musa Bukhari
We are living in unprecedented times. The blessed last 10 days of Ramadan are here, but the month has already been radically different one for the entire globe. Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, our reality has been put on pause. We aren’t able to pray tarawiḥ, do itikaf, or visit our families due to the a lockdown.
However, there is still so much we can do. Allah has made the human being resilient and so we have to navigate through this in the best way we can. One of the ways we can benefit from the multiplied blessings of Ramadan is by giving in charity. There are many different types of charity that you can provide through Human Appeal this year – from providing olive trees in Palestine, to supporting a hospital in Syria, to helping to rebuild mosques in Pakistan. Explore all our Ramadan projects.
This Ramadan, we’re releasing articles and reflections with this particular circumstance in mind. We aim to assist in providing content that will aid your spiritual growth in practical ways, protect your health and provide opportunities for us to reflect and do good.
Introduction to Ramadan
For 6 months of the year before the start of Ramadan our pious predecessors would make duʿāʾ that they would be allowed to witness the blessed month.
“Allāhumma balignā Ramadan.”
“Oh Allāh! Let us reach the month of Ramadan.”
For the remaining 6 months after Ramadan was over, they would pray for acceptance of their deeds and worship.
Linguistically, the word Ramadan comes the Arabic root word ‘ramaḍ’ which means ‘that which is intensely heated by the sun.’ The scholars have interpreted this to mean that due to this month, the sins of the believers would burn of.
“Every act of the son of ʾĀdam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise the voice; or if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him he should say: I am fasting. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muḥammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allāh on the Day of Judgement than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two (occasions) of joy, one when he breaks the fast, he is glad with the breaking of (the fast) and one when he meets his Lord he is glad with his fast. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)
Practical Steps of Ramadan
“The Prophet (pbuh) used to break his fast before praying by eating fresh dates, and if there were no fresh dates he would eat dried dates; if there were no dried dates, he would have a few sips of water.” (ʾAbū Dāwūd)
During this month, Muslims specifically abstain from consuming food and drink and sexual intimacy from sunrise to sunset. Before sunrise, a simple pre-dawn meal known as Ṣaḥūr is encouraged. At
the time of sunset, Muslims break their fast and it is advised to do so with dates. Please bear in mind we must wash our hands thoroughly throughout the day and especially when breaking the fast. This will help protect us and it is also a Sunnah from our Prophet (pbuh) we can follow.
“People will continue in goodness as long as they hasten to break their fast.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)Donate Now
When Is Ramadan 2020?
Ramadan is expected to begin on the evening of Thursday 23rd April and conclude on Saturday 23rd May. ʻĪd al-Fiṭr is expected to start on the evening of Saturday 23rd May, however this is subject to the official sighting of the moon.Donate Now
Virtues of Giving Charity in Ramadan
Ramadan is the month where giving in charity is encouraged. It is month where good deeds are multiplied. The Prophet (pbuh) was already generous, but it was to a greater degree in Ramadan.
“Spend, O son of ʾĀdam and I shall spend on you.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)Donate Now
What Is the Goal of Ramadan?
Often when discussing Ramadan, many Muslims misconstrue the meaning of it. It is often stated as the month where Muslims “remember the poor”. Whilst this is a virtuous result of the month, it is not the primary goal that is emphasised in the Qurʾān.
“You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” (2:183)
Considering the fact that food and drink and sexual intimacy are abstained from for a certain amount of time, you would think we would be depleted and anxious at the prospect of the arrival of Ramadan. Yet you find the millions who observe this month joyous and in anticipation for its arrival with eagerness. We need Ramadan in order to hone in on our focus of the afterlife and remind ourselves what is important. What will truly matter when you leave this world?
Ponder over your life, and ask yourself if you are living with Allāh at the centre of your life. The time in isolation can be a time in solitude, something recommended in our faith and a practice of the Prophet (pbuh) before his prophethood was announced. Use the time to think deeply and align yourself in word and deed.Donate Now
How Can Ramadan Help Us?
Ramaḍān is the perfect training ground for our spiritual development. If we examine deeper, we will see how Ramaḍān teaches us about our state as human beings. How we react to the moments in our lives that test us, having to let go of things that we love and break attachments with things that do not serve us in the long-term. We learn that when Allāh takes something away from us, we return to Him and it is here we witness a great miracle. That He only takes to give a greater return.Donate Now
The Transformative Power of Ramadan.
“What is the purification of the soul?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The one who knows Allāh is with him wherever he is.”
Ramadan is an opportunity to purify ourselves and actively focus on the internal aspects of our character. All that we do externally is having an effect on we internally, whether we are aware of it or not. This process of purification of the soul is known as Tazkiya, and interestingly, it shares the same root of the word Zakat, which means “that which purifies”. Our wealth is purified when a percentage of it is given to the poor and needy. The process of Tazkiya is for it to transform our soul in order for it to become more aligned with Allāh.
One of the ways this is done is during the month of Ramadan. We train ourselves to abstain from what we have commanded to abstain from. What makes this process attainable is the remembrance of Allāh.
“The true mujāhid is the one who fights against his own soul.” (al- Tirmidhī)
This leads us to the primary goal of Ramadan: Taqwa. Often times Taqwa is translated as “fear of Allāh” or “piety”. The root meaning of Taqwa is “to shield/protect yourself”. What is Allāh asking you to protect yourself from? It is a protection from anything that is an obstacle to your relationship with Him.
In the context of fasting, the more you restrict yourself from things that are normally permissible, the more you will stand a chance at restricting what is impermissible. Simply, if you become more conscious of your external factors, you will be more likely to purify your internal state of being. When food and drink is restricted, it opens the pathway to humility and trust. Truly knowing that He alone deserves our worship and we can be more mindful of Him when many of the distractions are removed. Thus succeeding in a greater chance of obtaining Taqwa. It is in this month that we learn that the pinnacle of our success is dependent on our connection to Him.
ʿĀʾisha (ra) reported:
“I asked the Messenger of Allāh (pbuh) about the plague and he said, ‘It is a punishment which Allāh sends upon whomsoever He wills, but Allāh has made it as a mercy to the believers. Anyone who remains in a town which is plagued with a plague, maintaining patience, expecting the reward from Allāh and knowing that nothing will befall him other than what Allāh has foreordained for him, he would receive a reward of a martyr’.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)
May Allāh protect us and our families from the trials affecting the world right now. May He make this a means for us to become closer to Him. May this Ramadan be a means of deeper inward cleansing and purification, and may we leave the month better than when we entered it, forgiven and in a state of perpetual purity.Donate Now