A Ramadan Message: A Time for Growth in Love, Devotion and Lasting Change
The time for Ramadan is here again, so once more we will be actively involved in Ibadah, or acts of devotion, including fasting, prayers, Taraweeh, late night prayers, Qur’an recitation, and other forms of worship. However, before we become too engaged in our Ibadah, let’s remember our larger goals for this month so that we can make the most of the coming days and weeks. Therefore, as part of our Ibadah and obedience to Allah this Ramadan, let us seek to improve our relationship with Allah by asking for His forgiveness and blessing, getting a broader perspective on doing good, striving to excel in all good acts, and making lasting changes in our inner and outer lives.
Drawing Nearer to Allah
First and foremost to remember as we engage in the various Ibadah during Ramadan is that these acts of devotion offer us the opportunity to get closer to Allah and to increase the love we have for Him in our hearts. As Muslims, our faith requires that our love for Allah and his Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wasallam – May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) supersedes any love we have for any other object or creation. Many scholars agree on the basis of sound ahadith that Allah creates the individual—his soul and his heart—in such a way that his natural tendency is to love Allah. However, as a person’s heart is gradually intruded upon by doubts, desires, and temptations, that love has to be rekindled from time to time through both faith and knowledge.
Ramadan provides us with the perfect opportunity to increase the love we have in our hearts for Allah by devoting this period to perfecting our Ibadah. For example, as-Salah (prayer) is one of the key Ibadah we will engage in during Ramadan, so during this time, we can focus on increasing the quality and khushu of our prayers. For those new to Islam, “khushu” refers to the soft, silent, humble, devoted state of the heart in prayer as it stands or bows before Allah. We can improve this state during that Ibadah by perfectly focusing our hearts and minds on our prayerful recitations and on Allah.
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“When one of you stands in prayer, he is conversing with his Lord, so let one of you know what he is saying to his Lord and do not raise your voices above one another in reciting when praying.”
Narrated by Ahmad (4928) and classed as saheeh by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot in Tahqeeq al-Musnad
The importance of prayer is also evident from this Hadith, in which Abu Hurairah quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying:
“Whoever goes to the mosque in the morning and evening, Allah will prepare for him an honorable place in Paradise every time he goes and comes.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 631, and Muslim, 669
We should use the same principle when engaging in other Ibadah such as reciting the Qur’an, performing Dhikr (the remembrance of Allah), giving charity, and other devotions. Let’s make sure, therefore, that our intentions when performing Ibadah are solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah and that we devote our worshipful efforts to increasing our love for Him in our hearts.
Broaden the scope of your good deeds
In Islam, the practice of good deeds extends beyond the realm of such Ibadah as prayer and fasting. Unfortunately, for many devout Muslims, the broader definition of good deeds is often lost. Many Muslims are quite steadfast in prayer and fasting, but they tend to be less committed to other moral standards stressed by both Allah and His Prophet (SAW). Ramadan provides us with an excellent opportunity to broaden our horizons when doing good deeds, as we have repeatedly learned from both the Qur’an and the Hadith but rarely practice in our lives.
Such opportunities include:
Visiting the sick
Repairing family relationships and other personal ties
Being kind and respectful to our spouses
Paying our respects at funerals
Helping others in their time of need
Other acts of kindness and devotion