The best way to make this Ramadhan a most profitable and successful one is to fix yourselves a daily routine. Within a few days you will see the barakah in time created through such a routine and feel peace at heart by doing everything at their appointed times.
1) First and foremost, we should aim to begin our day by rising early and performing the night prayer- Tahajud. There is no time more pleasing to Allah in which he waits for His servants to call upon Him than the time of Tahajud salaah. For those of us who have a busy schedule, this is probably one of the only times throughout the day and night that we have no disturbances. This is the time to share with Allah! Now in Ramadhan it’s even easier to perform this optional prayer as we wake up during the last portion of the night for Sehri. Thus even if we rise 15- 20 minutes earlier than usual it will give us the perfect chance to perform Tahajud salaah and make dua before partaking of Sehri.
With regards to this prayer, Abu Umamah al-Bahili (radhiallahu anhu) reports that Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam)said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” (Tirmidhi)
Subhanallah! What more could we wish for? Who is there that does not desire to become pious like our pious elders? Who is there that does not want to draw closer to their Lord? Surely we all desire that our sins are forgiven and wish that it would be easier to refrain from sin. Well know that it is with the performance of Tahajud salaah that we can truly be granted all this and more. Also, after performing Tahajud salaah try and make a heartfelt dua! Cry, weep, beg Allah and ask for whatever you’ve ever wanted to ask for.
2) Thereafter, partake of the Suhoor which is vital for a successful fast. It has been said, “Verily Allah and his angels send mercy upon those who eat Suhoor.” (Tabrani).
In fact,Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) said, “Eat Suhoor because in it lie great blessings.” (Bukhari) Subhanallah! We are informed that by simply eating at this time you will be earning yourselves immense reward!
In his commentary on Sahih Bukhari, Ibn Hajar (rahmatullah alaihi) has mentioned various benefits with regards to the partaking of the Suhoor meal:
- It provides strength for worship
- It promotes greater sincerity in Ibadah
- It aids in the elimination of bad temper, which normally comes about as a result of hunger.
- Sehri is the time when prayers are accepted.
- At the time of Sehri, one gets the opportunity to remember Allah, make zikr and lift up one’s hands to Him in prayer.
3) After the performance of Fajr salaah you may be very tempted to jump back into bed but it is one of the best times for the recitation of the Quran, so try and use this time to recite some Quran. Also recite Surah Yasin, pray your morning duas, azkaars and tasbihaat and try and see if you can stay awake till sunrise. As 15 – 20 minutes after sunrise you can offer 2-4 rakaats of Ishraaq salaah. This would be an ideal way to spend the mornings of your Ramadhan this year. It was the habit of the Salaf (Pious predecessors) and brings much peace and satisfaction.
With regards to Ishraaq salaah, Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) is reported to have said that Allah says, “O son of Adam, perform 4 rakaats of salaah (Ishraaq) in the early part of the day. I shall help you in accomplishing all your responsibilities during the rest of the day.” (Mishkat)
In another narration, Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) is also reported to have said, “He who performs Fajr salaah with Jamaat and remains seated in the same place while engaging in Dhikr until after sunrise and thereafter performs 2 rakaats nafil salaah (Ishraaq), he will obtain the reward of one Hajj and one Umrah.” (Tirmidhi)
4) Then, if you wish, you could jump back into your cosy bed for a little more sleep! Now some of us upon rising will have to get ready and attend school/college, some will be preparing for work. The female folk will begin another day, busy with cooking, cleaning, washing etc… But remember whoever we are and whatever responsibilities we may have, in fulfilling them there is always a chance to reap reward therefore strive to make good intentions when doing so.
After all, Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) himself had apportioned the work that pertains to matters outside the home (which includes earning for the family) to Ali (radhiallahu anhu) while the work pertaining to aspects inside the home were allotted to the Queen of Jannah, Fatima (radhiallahu anha). Surely when our men folk and womenfolk are following this practice stipulated by the Best of Creation there is a chance for them to earn immense reward like the blessed daughter and son in law of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam)! Therefore carry out such responsibilities with faith and loyalty and an earnest heart and Insha Allah these acts will also be regarded as acts of Ibadah.
5) Try to spare some time during the morning to offer Duha salaah. The Mustahab (preferred) time of performing this prayer is after 1/4 of the day has passed. Otherwise it can be read from after sunrise up until a little before midday. (Tahawi)
With regards to this prayer, in one hadith Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) is reported to have said, “That person who performs 2 rakaats of Duha salaah, he will not be counted from among the neglectful ones and the one who performs 4 rakaats of Duha he will be recorded from the worshippers and the one that reads 6 rakaats, it will suffice for him on behalf of any optional act for that day and the one that performs 8 rakaats, Allah will count him to be from among the obedient ones and the one the performs 12 rakaats Allah will build for him a house in Jannah.” (Tabrani)
6) Next perform Zohar after which there may be time to recite Quran and perform any other Ibadah you desire. If you kept yourselves awake after Tahajud you may choose to take a short nap (Qaylullah) as was the practice of the blessed Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) and the Sahabah (radhiallahu anhum).
7) Before we know it, Asr time will have started. Now, the time between Asr and Maghrib is the most valuable time for a fasting person. Unfortunately, it is spent in vain by most people, especially our womenfolk, who seem to pass much of this time in the kitchen. By all means, it is necessary to prepare the Iftaar but leave valuable time before Iftaar to spend in Ibadah. The best way to do this is to go into the kitchen a little earlier, keep everything well prepared and then leave some time before Maghrib to make Ibadah and dua.
Make it a must to daily make dua for at least 10-15 minutes before Iftaar, in seclusion, begging Allah for the best of both worlds. Remember it has been said, “Not a single dua made by a fasting person at the time of breaking the fast is rejected.” This is our chance – Allah’s attention, His mercy, His love, His compassion reach their climax at this time. He refuses no one and turns no soul away at such a time. Pray for the best of both worlds and pour your problems out before the One who is ever ready to listen. Of course, our sustenance e.t.c must be halaal for the acceptance of our duas, for a person that fasts and then breaks his fast with haraam food is like a sick person who takes medicine as a cure, but also adds a little poison, which destroys him.
8) At the time of Iftaar recite the dua and preferably break the fast with dates and zam zam water. Thereafter perform Maghrib and then eat a full meal because to delay Maghrib salaah without a valid reason is disliked. Remember do not eat too much after looking at the luxurious food spread on the table as very soon you will be standing up for 17 rakaats of Esha and 20 rakaats of Taraweeh.
9) After Maghrib there is a great optional salaah known as Awabeen. One can perform between 6-20 rakaats of Awabeen. However, the Ulama have stated that if one is unable to perform all 6 rakaats then the 2 sunnah and 2 nafil we usually pray in Maghrib can be included as part of the Awabeen – so that’s 4 rakaats done – leaving only another 2 rakaats nafil to be performed.
With regards to the virtues of Awabeen, it has been narrated in Tirmidhi that the performing of 6 rakaats without indulging in worldly affairs will derive reward equivalent to 12 years nafil prayers. Whilst in a hadith of Tabrani we are told the performer of 6 rakaats will have all his sins wiped away even though they may have been equal to the foam on the waves of the sea. Glad tidings to those who acknowledge the virtue of this salaah and make it a daily habit to perform Awabeen!
Beware of over eating!
A very important point to mention here is with regards to over eating during Iftaar! We often end up eating more in Ramadhan than we would on a normal day out of Ramadhan, especially considering the amount of extra dishes and delicacies we have before us in the Holy month. The big question is does all this over eating not defeat the whole purpose of our fast? Could such fasting still secure us the full reward?
In fact Imam Ghazaali (rahmatullah alaihi) posed a very similar question: “When the object of fasting is to conquer our carnal passions in opposition to shaytaan, how can this possibly be done by eating excessively at Iftaar? Actually in that case we have only altered the times of eating, and not really fasted. The result is that, instead of lessening the carnal desires, they are instead considerably increased.”
Also, apart from hunger, fasting gives us an opportunity to appreciate the condition of the poor and destitute and helps create a sympathetic feeling towards them. With the excessive amount we eat at Iftaar the essence of sympathising with the poor seems to be lost. Read the following story carefully. Once a person went to Bishr Haafi (rahmatullah alaihi), whom he found shivering in the cold, in spite of having warm clothes lying at his side. That person inquired: “Is this a time for taking off the clothes?” Bishr replied: “There are numerous poor and needy ones; I am unable to sympathise with them; the least I could do is to be in their condition.” Subhanallah! This should also be our attitude towards fasting.
10) Finally, fix a time in the evening for the recital of surah Sajdah, surah Mulk etc. It has been said that Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) would never sleep without reciting them. Also, remember to recite your evening azkaars, tasbihaat and duas and complete your daily ma’moolat (spiritual portion of supplications).
Of course there may be a chance in the evening to recite more Quran and there are always speeches, programmes e.t.c being held in the Masajid for the men folk and for women to listen from home. Therefore take advantage of such programmes as they will prove very beneficial Insha Allah.
By: Sister Arifa (UK)