|1. Voluntary Fasts and Moderation in Eating
The blessed & most beautiful month is near and what better time to prepare for it than right now. The Sahabah (companions of Rasul) used to prepare for Ramadan the months in advance. So if we really want to make the best of this Ramadan then we need to prepare for it now! WE never know for how long we would live. Then there is NO doubt that we must make the best of it for the reward of EVERY good act in the month of Ramadan is multiplied many times over: The Prophet (S) said: “Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he/she is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he/she is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
What better way of preparing ourselves to fast for 29 or 30 consecutive days in Ramadan than to fast the voluntary fasts.
Fasting Monday and Thursday: Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, (S) would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: “The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other.” He says: “leave them for later”. (Ahmad)
Another is to fast the white days (13, 14 & the 15th of each Islamic month): Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: “The Messenger of Allah (S) said “O Abu Tharr! If you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th [these are call the al-ayaam al-beedh, the white days]”. (Ahmad, an-Nasa’i & Tirmithi)
2. Reciting Qur’an
Ramadan was the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed so it is the month of the Qur’an. We should devote much of this blessed month reciting the Qur’an.
Allah the exalted says: “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
We should set ourselves realistic targets for how much we should begin to recite each day for e.g. we will recite 1 or 2 pages a day, half a juz (chapter), or 1 juz etc. We should recite however much we can manage and then build up gradually.
3. Praying Voluntary (Nafil) prayers
In Ramadan every voluntary prayer carries the reward of a Fard prayer in normal times and there is nothing more rewarding than a Fard prayer so one can imagine the immense rewards that are available in Ramadan for every voluntary prayer we pray.
The Prophet (S) said: “Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he/she is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he/she is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
4. Sincere Repentance and Making Du’a
Ramadan is the month where we can gain mercy and forgiveness from Allah for all of our sins past and present. We should know that Allah is most merciful and most forgiving and loves to forgive. Many of us do not spend as much time as we should do in Du’a. Even if we do we rush our Du’a and our hearts and minds are not present whilst supplicating to Allah. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: “When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.”
5. Controlling the tongue and Improving character & manners:
Ramadan is a time where we must control our desires (nafs) as well as our tongues. Rasulallah (S) said: “Fasting is not (abstaining) from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Ibn Khuzaimah & Ibn Hibban)
Rasulallah (S) said: “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech.” (Bukhari)
Rasulullah (S) said: “There is none heavier in the scales of the Hereafter than good character.” (Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud).