It wasn’t too long ago when we were talking about Ramadhan last year. Now before we know it, another Ramadhan is about to knock on our door once again, in shaa Allah. Witnessing the month of Ramadhan is a blessing, but sadly, we don’t always take full advantage of this blessed month. I believe the best way to make the most of it is by first making sure that our intentions are pure, then planning should come next in line. While planning, we should remember not to overwhelm ourselves because small deeds with consistency are much better than doing a lot but giving up later on. That being said, this is also the time we should try to challenge ourselves a bit more than the rest of the year.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (r.a.) said: “The prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa salaam) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel (a.s.) met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Quran, and when he met him, he would be more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (i.e. in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).”
Al Bukhari and Muslim
Even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who did the most when it came to worship still did a bit more during Ramadhan. Challenging ourselves doesn’t have to be something extremely difficult. We all know what we can easily handle; so just add a bit of push, one step at a time. If you find yourself gradually able to do a bit more, go for it; just make sure that you can stay consistent at a reasonable pace.
Now here are ten ways we could challenge ourselves this Ramadhan, in shaa Allah.
1. Improving the obligatory acts of worship
What better way to get closer to Allah than by first doing what He has commanded us to do? Worship is obeying Allah. So, it wouldn’t make sense to do extra good deeds while completely ignoring what we were first commanded to do.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam) said, “…My slave does not draw closer to Me by anything more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave continues to draw closer to Me by doing naafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him, and if I love him I will be his hearing with which he hears, his vision with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks…”
While making sure that our obligatory acts of worship are improving, we can also add voluntary acts of worships such as the two units of prayer before Fajr, the four before Dhuhr, two after Dhuhr, two after Maghrib, two after ‘Isha, Tahajjud/Qiyyamu Layl (the night prayer), and getting in the habit of saying our morning and evening adhkar (supplications for protection, repenting, sending salutations upon the Prophet peace be upon him, and more).
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2. Going to the masjid for every salah
If you’re a man, try going to the masjid for the five daily prayers as much as possible. This is something Muslim men should strive to do all year-round, but especially during Ramadhan. If it was never a habit for you, why not try it this Ramadhan in shaa Allah?
The prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam) said, “Whoever walks to [perform] an obligatory prayer in congregation, it is like Hajj [in terms of rewards], and whoever walks to [perform] a voluntary prayer, it is like a voluntary ‘Umrah [in terms of rewards].”
At-Tabarani, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad
3. Reading the Qur’an
Ramadhan is the month within which the Qur’an was revealed. Reading the Qur’an is also an act of worship that Allah loves. So we should take advantage of this time to get closer to Allah by reading His words. To make it even better, we could also try to understand what we read as much as we’re able to. Using translation (if needed) and reading the Tafsir (explanation) could help us connect with the Qur’an, in shaa Allah.
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…”
Al Baqarah 2:185
4. Memorizing the Qur’an
Needless to say, memorizing the Qur’an is a great virtue. Some people have the ability to memorize a full page or more a day, and some people can memorize an ayah (verse) a day. Do whatever you can do. And to make it even better, try memorizing it with the meaning. If that makes you take longer to memorize, it may be much better than memorizing a lot and not connecting with the Qur’an. Whichever way you go about it, do what works best for you, in shaa Allah.
5. Avoiding sins as much as possible and repenting a lot
We’re all human beings, so we do make mistakes and sin at times. But, we shouldn’t take ‘being human’ as an excuse to carelessly sin. Remember, Allah knows our intentions, so we have to be sincere with ourselves. Besides, with Ramadhan being such a blessed month, this is the time to strive to make a change. If you’re used to free-mixing, zina (fornication), backbiting, using foul language, clubbing, using riba (usury/interest), smoking, drinking, listening to music, wearing tight clothes, or other frowned upon acts that you may be used to doing, this is the time to strive hard to give it all up. It is true that Allah is Merciful, but He’s also severe in punishing. He knows the difference between those who are sincere and those who are just mocking around. Let’s try to replace all the bad deeds with acts of worship that Allah loves.
“And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated.Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them, Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.”Surah Al Furqaan 25:68-70
6. Forgive everyone
This may be difficult at times, but it’s worth trying. How about going to sleep every night with a purified heart? You can try to forgive everyone who may have hurt you one way or another. Not only would it benefit you in this world by setting your heart free, it would also benefit you on the Day of Judgement in shaa Allah.
“And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” Surah Ash-Shuraa 42:37
We all want Allah to have mercy on us and forgive us. So, shouldn’t we also be merciful to each other?
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”At-Tirmidhi
7. Giving charity
Although giving charity throughout the year is very important and rewarding, we should try to do it even more during Ramadhan. Allah loves those who spend and help others for His sake, so giving charity during this month of multiplied rewards is a perfect opportunity to gain the pleasure of Allah.
“And whatever good you [believers] spend is for yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah. And whatever you spend of good – it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.”Al Baqarah 2:272
We should also note that giving charity does not decrease wealth. If that’s a fear for anyone, then fear not. You never know if the worldly opportunities that just came to you were as a result of you giving charity maybe months ago. We should have full trust in Allah and give charity for His sake; if we’re able to.
“Charity does not decrease wealth.”
Not everyone is able to help others financially or by feeding them, but that shouldn’t discourage us from helping others in ways we’re able to.
8. Feed fasting believers
Another way you can challenge yourself this Ramadhaan is by feeding those breaking their fast at iftar. You could organize an iftar and invite family, friends, and neighbors to break their fast. Also, if you know people in your area who may not have families to spend Ramadhan with, this may be a perfect opportunity for you to invite them over. Even if all you can do is share your iftar with one person, do that. Allah looks at our efforts, not how much we can afford to give.
The prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever feeds a person who is breaking his fast will earn the same reward as his (for his fasting) without decreasing anything from the reward of the fasting person.”
9. Volunteering your time
Ramadhan is not the time to sleep all day because we’re hungry. It may be a bit challenging, but we shouldn’t give ourselves the excuse to do nothing. So much could be done throughout the day, and it isn’t only limited to reading the Qur’an (although that should be a focus). This is also the time to bring alive what we’ve learned from reading the Qur’an. Islam is about belief and actions, so we must try our best to bring the Qur’an alive through our actions as much as we’re able to. We all have different capacities, so we should be our own competitors.
We can volunteer our time in our local communities by visiting the sick, cleaning our streets, helping to tutor a student, teaching someone how to read the Qur’an or to learn Tajweed, organizing an Islamic study circle (halaqah), and many more! Be creative, think of any service you can offer, and go for it, in shaa Allah!
10. Doing I’tikaaf
The whole month of Ramadhan is blessed, and the last ten days are even more blessed. Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Decree) is in one of those nights. Rewards are multiplied because this night is better than a thousand months! Subhanallah!
“The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.” Surah Al Qadr 97:3
The last ten days of Ramadhan is a great opportunity to increase our acts of worship even more. Who wouldn’t want to get the reward of a thousand months in just one day? I’m sure we’d all love to benefit from it in shaa Allah. One way to make sure we don’t miss this night is by going into I’tikaaf (seclusion in worship).
Abu Huraira (r.a.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa salaam) said, “There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it the gates of heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and every devil is chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.”
So, it is clear that it’s a night not to be missed. We should strive as hard as we can to fully benefit from the whole of Ramadhan, especially Laylatul Qadr.
Ali Ibn Hussain (r.a.) narrated from his father that the prophet (s.a.w.) said, “He who observes the ten days I’tikaf during Ramadhan will obtain the reward of two Hajj & two Umrah.”
If you’re able to do I’tikaaf in the masjid during these last ten nights, not only would your chances of catching Laylatul Qadr increase by the will of Allah, you would also gain the reward of two (2) Hajj and two (2) ‘Umrah! Subhanallah, Allah is very generous!
Ask your local masjid (or make research) about the virtues and rules of I’tikaaf to learn more about it in shaa Allah.
This list was put together to share some ideas of what we could do to increase our rewards during the month of Ramadhan, but of course, there are many more things we could do. Let’s also not forget to make lots of ad’iyah (supplications) to Allah, sincerely, as this is the month when du’as may get answered even more. It is a reminder for all of us (including myself). May Allah allow us to witness the month of Ramadhan and finish it successfully.
Click HERE to get a free Ramadhan planner printable to help you schedule your Ramadhan activities better, in shaa Allah.
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