Here is a trivia question: How many times does Allah mention “Ramadan” in the Quran? If you said once, then you guessed correctly. While fasting is cited on a few occasions, the name of the oft-awaited month of fasting, Ramadan, only appears in the following verse:
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the crescent of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
There are many lessons to extract from this verse. Initially, Allah sets Ramadan apart for being the month in which the Quran was revealed. Allah then explains the significance of the Quran for the believer – guidance, evidence, and a criterion or code of conduct to follow. The rest of the verse explains that Muslims must fast to honor this month, remembering Allah’s favors and worshipping Him in gratitude. This important act of worship and pillar of faith is never a burden; instead, it is a blessing that is supposed to be easy for the humble and sincere believer.
No one knew the value of Ramadan, how to exemplify it as an act of worship, and how to reap its countless blessings more that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. The following are ten hadith that we can use as reminders to level up our worship this Ramadan.
1. Hopeful beginning.
The believers should begin the month of Ramadan with pure intention, and hope for the Mercy of Allah, with confidence that the extra acts of worship will be easy. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, the jinn are restrained, and the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. A heavenly caller announces: ‘O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short!’ Allah will save them from the Hellfire and that is during every night of Ramadan.”
The odds are undoubtedly in our favor as we enter Ramadan. We should then be grateful servants and put forth our best effort.
2. Start with a Prophetic supplication.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, had a habit of supplicating at the beginning of the month. Talhah ibn Ubayd, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“Whenever the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, saw the crescent moon, he would say, ‘O Allah, bring it over us with blessings and faith, safety, and Islam. My Lord and your Lord is Allah.’”
We can memorize this supplication and recite it when we see the crescent moon of Ramadan or once we hear about the moonsighting.
3. Keep our eyes on the prize.
Imagine the month of Ramadan as a race. To cross the finish line, it is necessary to pace yourself, be steady, stay focused, and save your energy to sprint at the end. If we make a plan and know our mission – to fast, increase our charity, honor the Quran, and engage in extra acts of worship – then it is easier to stay ahead. Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“When the month of Ramadan arrived, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah Almighty has obligated you to fast. In it the gates of the heavens are opened, and in it the gates of Hellfire are closed, and in it the devils are chained, and in it is a night that is better than a thousand months. Thus, whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived.’”
If we pace ourselves throughout the month, and exert the most effort while seeking Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Decree, mentioned in the hadith, we will have completed a successful Ramadan, inshaAllah, God willing.
4. Don’t skip breakfast!
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While breaking the fast, or our iftar, may seem like the more meaningful dish during Ramadan, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, emphasized the benefits of the predawn or suhoor meal. He said,
“Take the pre-fasting meal. Verily, there is blessing in the pre-fasting meal.”
5. Mind your tongue.
Fasting means abstaining from biting a morsel of food or sipping on a drink, but we should also be mindful of what comes out of our mouths. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, gave a stern warning against using foul language or acting aggressively during Ramadan. He said:
“When one of you wakes up in the morning for fasting, then he should not use obscene language or behave foolishly. If anyone abuses him or fights with him, he should say twice: Indeed, I am fasting.”
It should be noted that the reason for stating, “I am fasting,” is not only to inform the other person, but also to practice mindfulness. By reminding ourselves that we are engaged in an act of worship, we learn to regulate our emotions.
6. A reward like no other.
Fasting is an intimate act of worship that cannot be perceived or measured except by Allah. Thus, Allah promises to reward it accordingly. Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“(Allah said), 'Every good deed of Adam's son is for him except fasting; it is for Me, and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.' Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.”
7. Do not be discouraged.
When reaching the midway point of Ramadan, many people get disheartened because they have not been able to achieve some of the goals they set for themselves. However, no well-intended efforts will go in vain. As long as we are sincere and consistent in the obligatory acts of worship, we can still hope for Allah’s reward. Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“A bedouin came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, show me a deed by which I may enter Paradise.’ The Prophet said, ‘Worship Allah and never associate anything with Him, establish the prescribed prayers, give the obligatory charity, and fast of the month of Ramadan.’ The man said, ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul, I will never add anything to it, nor will I lessen anything from it.’ When the man turned his back, the Prophet said, ‘Whoever is pleased to see a man from the people of Paradise should look to him.’”
In another narration, Amr ibn Murrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
“A man came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what do you think if I testify there is no God but Allah and you are the Messenger of Allah, I perform the five prayers, I pay the obligatory alms, I fast the month of Ramadan, and stand for prayer in it. Among whom will I be?’ The Prophet said, ‘Among the truthful and the martyrs.’”
(Sahih Ibn Hibban)
8. The gift that keeps on giving.
Ramadan is not only about fasting, praying, and reading the Quran, but also about thinking about the less fortunate. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“The best charity is that given in Ramadan.”
Considering that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said that even a smile can be charity, this is a good deed that we can easily achieve during this month. (Al-Tirmidhi) So, while we are fasting this month, let us make sure to smile at everyone we meet. InshaAllah, it will be counted as charity along with anything else given for the sake of Allah.
9. Pray hard.
There is a great reward for standing in prayer during the month of Ramadan. Human beings are flawed; consequently, we are guilty of committing sins throughout the year. The month of Ramadan is an opportunity to be cleansed of our bad deeds, so we can start fresh. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever stands in prayer during Ramadan due to faith and seeking reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
10. Extra credit.
Ramadan provides us with a unique opportunity to finish the month strong. By seeking Laylatul Qadr, or The Night of Power, in the last ten nights, worshippers can earn the ultimate prize. Even making the sincere intention to do so can be counted in their favor, insha’Allah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, this month has presented itself to you. There is a night within it that is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it has been deprived of all good. None is deprived of its good but that he is truly deprived.”
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
Just having the intention to seek Laylatul Qadr may be enough to end Ramadan in the best way – seeking the best reward.
The concept of fasting is a prescription for all of mankind and doing so during Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam. Everything that is a component of submission to Allah’s Will falls under a prescribed methodology of life for every single individual. Fasting is a medicine to heal our hearts, purify our bodies, and uplift our souls. Yet it is also an act of gratitude for Allah’s guidance. Thus, we must recognize this great blessing and commemorate the revelation of the Quran throughout the month.
Our fasting embodies this thankfulness because we obey Allah’s command and seek His reward while acknowledging His favors. Ramadan is the month in which the gates of Paradise are open (Tirmidhi), and it is a great opportunity to increase our good deeds. If we are blessed by Allah to live to experience another Ramadan, let us take full advantage of everything the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, taught us it has to offer.
Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.