How to Prepare for Ramadaan
The Muhaddith of Egypt, al-‘allaamah Ahmad Muhammad Shaakir, may Allaah have mercy upon him
The month of Ramadaan has almost approached you – the month of fasting, the month of worship, the month of the elevation of the soul and its purification.
You may reach tomorrow morning as fasting people – have you made the necessary preparations for meeting it? Have you taken yourselves into account, counting the good you have done, praising Allah for it and asking Him to increase upon it, or the evil you have done so that you can be sorry for it and repent to Allaah and seek His forgiveness from it and asking Him to protect you from returning to it?
This is how the month of Ramadaan is to be received. I fear that many people understand that Ramadan is to be received with official celebrations; preparing for excellence in food and drink; preparing different kinds of cuisine and drink; preparing different types of games and amusement for the late evenings and not thinking beyond this!
O respected people! Allaah has legislated fasting for you as a purification of your souls and as a means of protection for the soul against the tyranny of the body and its desires – He did not legislate it solely that you taste the pangs of hunger and thirst of drink. For this reason the messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alahi wa sallam said, “Whoever does not give up lying speech (false statements) and acting on those lies and evil actions, etc., Allaah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink.” [al-Bukhaari: 1903].
Allaah prescribed upon us fasting the day of Ramadaan and standing its night; He made it a month of worship with remembrance of Allaah, recitation of the Qur’aan and frequent prayer – especially the night prayer, the reward for which He has made the greatest reward.
And in the authentic hadeeth on the authority of the messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Every action of the son of Aadam is multiplied – a good deed is worth tenfold to 700 times its value. Allaah says, ‘Except for fasting, which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it. [the son of Aadam] leaves their desires and subsistence for my sake’. There are two pleasures for the person observing the fast – one at the time of breaking the fast and the other at the time when he will meet his lord. And the breath of the fasting person is sweeter smelling for Allaah than the fragrance of musk.” [Muslim: 1151].
O respected people, indeed I see many of that which we have taken as customs during fasting that negates its reality – rather that which diminishes its reward – rather that which increases an individual in sin. We have understood the standing of the night [qiyyaam al-layl] to be staying awake at night. We have begun spending our evenings in cafes, not thinking about anything other than amusement and games until very late at night. Then we eat whatever we wish to eat and awaken exhausted and tired – our chests tightened, our senses muddled and our manners ill to the extent that two people will not talk except that anger is flared up, turmoil ensues and coarse language follows – as is what you see the case being. You all know as you may excuse your companion as he is fasting. And I do not make anyone an exception to this – except those who Allaah has protected.
So look, ponder and compare this widespread irregular state when fasting with the saying of the messenger of Allaah sall Allaahu ‘alahi wa sallam, “So when it is the day of the fast of one of you, there is no sexual relations with one’s wife, nor behaving foolishly and impudently and if someone curses or fights with them, they should say, ‘I am fasting.’” [Muslim: 1151]. And this is because the fasting individual should have a tranquil soul, pleasing character, who put at the fore of their minds that fasting is a barrier for them against sin; against bad character; against disobedience; against idle speech and against evil talk and acting upon it.
And that which is befitting during this blessed month, if you pay heed to my advice, is that you adhere to your legislated way [Shariyyah] in your fasting – that you are moderate in your eating and drinking when breaking fast and at suhoor and that you dedicate your evenings, if you stay awake in the evenings, to reciting the Qur’aan and pondering over its meanings. And whosoever from you has the ability to stand in prayer, then they should do so. And that is that they pray what Allaah wills in their house or masjid. And this is the Salaati Taraaweeh, that has been changed from its original form. Those praying now flip speedily shortly after salaatil Ishaa, in a prayer that does not benefit, nor is accepted. The prayer is that which has humility and tranquillity in it and the more the person praying delays it till after the last third of the night, the better.
Then you should sleep that which Allaah wills you to sleep and then wake up before salaatil Fajr and eat a light meal for suhoor and then pray Fajr. Then, if you wish, you can sleep or begin going about your business and affairs.
As for those who eat just before going to bed and then wake until after the sun has risen, they have contravened the sunnah of Islaam with regards to the suhoor and I fear that their abandoning of the Fajr prayer will negate the reward they receive from their fast. So in reality, they have neither fasted, nor eaten. And Allaah has no need for them to leave their food and drink, as they have not followed His command, nor have they taken the sunnah of His prophet as they have purposefully left off Salatul Fajr in its correct time.
O respected people: The nations are presently melting in fire, as a punishment of that which they have disbelieved in from the favours of Allaah. And perhaps Allaah has protected the Islaamic states from much of that which afflicts other than them for a wisdom He knows and a great occurance He is saving for them – that He returns Islaam to its glory. That the Muslims are rulers of the world as they once were. However, this is if they are [true] Muslims, adhering to their religion, establishing His Shariyyah and seeking guidance by His guidance.
So seek lessons [from this] and fear your lord, for you may see those who dilute the Muslims with evil actions that I fear Allaah will blind them with punishment by reason of it. And you will see those outwardly declaring their evil deeds, not fearing Allaah or feeling shame from the people, or fearing the consequences of that which they do.
And from that which we see them doing, outwardly calling their lord to war, is their openly breaking fast in Ramadaan in the streets, public spaces and government buildings, claiming that they are seeking solace in that which they claim is freedom of the individual. But freedom is not like this and this is not how the nations should be in their adherence to their cultures and the manifest signs of their religion. This action harms the truthful Muslims in their consciousness and their hearts.
And Allaah has given success to the righteous one, the noble leader, he of the lofty rank, Mustapha an-Nuhaas, as he recently had a great book published in this regard, to preserve the nobility of the Muslims, ease their consciousness and lift the hurt from their hearts and ordered that none breaking fast in Ramadaan should openly declare their breaking of the fast – Muslim or non-Muslim – out of respect for this ummah’s right to adhere to the tenets of its faith and practices. His actions have been the actions of a man who knows what he wants and knows how to put matters in their rightful places.
Seeking His aid, and relying upon Him,
Ahmad Muhammad Shaakir
Source: Jamharatu Maqaalaatul ‘Allaamatish Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad Shaakir, Daar Riyadh 1426AH (1/421).
Full Arabic text http://ar.islamway.net/article/10853?ref=frnd accessed online 20th Sha’baan 1434AH (conforming to 29/06/13 CE).