The Ultimate Roadmap: Ramadan of the Righteous — Part two

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Published March 22, 2023

By Sh. Suleiman Hani

You can read part one of this article here.

The Station of Qur’an Recitation

The month of Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, in terms of its revelation as well as its increased recitation and study. The Muslim must therefore recite the Qur’an a great deal and pay particular attention to its meanings and ponder its miraculous nature. The angel Jibril (Gabriel) used to recite the Qur’an with the Prophet (s) during Ramadan. It was reported that Uthman Ibn Affaan (r) used to complete reciting the Qur’an once each day in Ramadan.

Some of the predecessors also completed the Qur’an in their night prayers every three nights, or every seven nights, or every ten nights. Others completed it every seven days and this was accomplished by reciting both during prayer and at other times of the day and night. During Ramadan, Imam Al-Shafi’i used to complete reciting the Qur’an once every day and once every night. AI-Aswad used to complete reciting the Qur’an every two nights. Qataada completed the Qur’an every three nights of Ramadan, but in the last ten days of Ramadan, he completed it every night.

Ibn Rajab says in Laṭā`if Al-Ma’ārif: “The prohibition of reciting the Quran in less than three days [found in some ahadith] refers to doing so regularly [throughout the year]. As for virtuous times, like Ramadan – especially the nights in which it is hoped Laylatu al-Qadr will occur – or virtuous places, like Makkah – for those who enter it and are not residents there, then it is recommended to increase in reciting the Qur’an, making the most of the time and the place. This is the position of [Imam] Aḥmad, Isḥāq [ibn Rāhūyah] and other Imams, and the practice of others [from the Salaf] indicates [they held the same position].”

When Ramadan came, al-Zuhri discontinued the study of hadith and concentrated on reciting the Qur’an. Similarly, Sufyan Al-Thawri put aside all other voluntary forms of beneficial knowledge and concentrated on the Qur’an. It was reported that Imam Malik would teach the people (year-round), then when the month of Ramaḍan would come, he would free up his time to fast and to recite the Qur’an.

The above examples may actually be discouraging to the individual who is new to Islam or who may not know how to read the Qur’an in Arabic at all. Whether you have been practicing Islam for decades but do not know how to read the Arabic, or you have just embraced Islam recently, know that your journey is unique to you and there is no reason to compare yourself to those who are more proficient in reading Qur’an. The examples provided in this article are simply meant as sources of inspiration and as a way of challenging yourself to learn consistently. In the meantime, do the best you can by attempting to read in Arabic, preferably with someone who can accurately correct and teach you. There are so many ways to increase your overall understanding and appreciation of the Qur’an: reading a translation and the tafsir (exegesis); listening to recitations of the Qur’an frequently; attending or finding online lectures about the meaning of the Qur’an; learning the basic Arabic letters through some free online resources (which, these days, has become easy and accessible). So, utilize all options available to you.

The key point is that the Qur’an is an inspiration, a light, a healing, and a guidance, as Allah SWT‎ has described it: “And thus We have sent to you an inspiration of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is faith. But We have made it a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you are indeed guiding to the Straight Path” (Qur’an 42: 52).

The Station of Weeping with the Quran’s Recitation

During this month in particular, focus on pondering the meanings of the Qur’an and not limiting yourself to reciting quickly on the tongue. The Qur’an was revealed as guidance, for reflection (tadabbur), and if you come across a verse that impacts you in a particular manner, then pause and reflect, repeat it as many times as necessary, and let it enter your heart with humility.

It was narrated that Abdullah b. Mas’ood (r) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to me, ‘Recite the Qur’an to me.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, shall I recite it to you when it was revealed to you?’ He said, ‘I like to hear it from someone else.’ So, I recited Surat al-Nisa’ to him, and when I reached this verse – ‘How then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you [O Muhammad] as a witness against these people?” [4:41] – he said, ‘That is enough for now.’ I turned to him and saw his eyes were streaming with tears.” (Bukhari)

It was related from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (s) said, “When the verse of the Qur’an that says ‘Do you then wonder at this recital, and you laugh at it and weep not’ [Qur’an 53:59-60] was revealed, the Companions residing in the Suffah, [in the Prophet’s mosque] wept until tears began to trickle down their cheeks.” When the Prophet (s) heard their weeping, he wept with them, and his weeping made us weep. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘The person who weeps in humility to Allah will not enter Hell’” (al-Bayhaqi).

One day, Abdullah b. Umar read surah Al-Mutaffifin until he reached “…the Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds…” [Qur’an 83:6]. He wept to such an extent that he fell to the ground and could not move on to the next verses.

The Station of Qiyam Prayer in Ramadan

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab used to pray at night what he wished, until it was in the middle of the night, when he would wake up his family to pray. Then he would say to them “al-salah, al-salah (prayer… prayer)”, and would recite this āyah: “Bid your people to pray and be diligent in it. We do not ask you to provide. It is We Who provide for you. And the ultimate outcome is for the righteous” (Qur’an 20:132).

During Ramadan, it is encouraged for one to pray qiyam after the isha prayer, such as with eight units of prayer (2 by 2) and then witr prayer (in odd units of 1, 3, 5, etc.). This night prayer in Ramadan is known as the taraweeh prayer, and there’s a particular reward for praying it in congregation. The Prophet (s) said, “Whoever stays with his imam until he completes the prayer, will have the night written for him as one who performed qiyam al-layl, (i.e., one who stood the night in prayer)” (al-Tirmidhi). It is not an obligation for women to pray this prayer at the mosque for the reward mentioned in the hadith, or for the man who is excused for valid reasons.

The Station of Generosity

The Prophet (s) was the most generous of people, and he was even more generous during Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah said, “The best charity is one given during Ramadan” (al-Tirmidhi). The Messenger of Allah (s) also said, “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward equal to that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward” (Ahmad). And further, he (s) said: “The likeness [i.e., in terms of rewards] of the one who comes to [the aid of] a widow and [the aid of] a destitute is like that of a mujahid [striver] in the cause of Allah or that of someone who spends the night in prayers and the day in fasting” (al-Mishkat).

The Station of Productivity

If you are a busy Muslim with a significant number of responsibilities, what should you do during Ramadan to maximize the opportunity? Among other strategies, consider the following:

WHAT do you want to accomplish? Be specific about your goals.
WHY do you want to accomplish them? What is your intention and motivation?
HOW do you plan to accomplish your goals? What is your strategy to do it and to measure it daily?

If you analyze your schedule closely, you might realize that time is being wasted here and there and isn’t as productive as you think. Being busy is not equal to being productive. Try the following:

1. Track your schedule to find wasted time or efficiency gaps.
2. Use a count-down timer frequently and know that the hours of Ramadan are limited.
3. Remove distractions when focusing on tasks, especially during Ramadan.
Additionally, be sincere in looking for every opportunity to decrease your worldly responsibilities during Ramadan, such as work projects, extracurricular activities, voluntary matters, educational goals, etc., postponing them until after Ramadan. Obviously, one cannot literally postpone all responsibilities in Ramadan nor are we expected to. The companions reached new heights in Ramadan with acts of worship, but at times they were attacked and had to engage in battle during Ramadan. So, whatever can wait of worldly matters until after Ramadan, try to postpone it.

If you cannot postpone it, consider incorporating supplications, dhikr (remembrance of Allah SWT), and recitation of the Qur’an throughout your day and night while taking care of your worldly activities. One brother remarked at how this one advice helped him to complete the recitation of the entire Qur’an for the first time in his life, despite not decreasing his worldly responsibilities. He recited Qur’an between tasks, even if it was a few minutes at a time. He also made du’a and dhikr and found it to be spiritually transformative while juggling worldly responsibilities.

Remember throughout Ramadan the importance of pairing one’s internal purification with external deeds of worship. Oftentimes, people focus so much on external acts of worship – even doing so in a robotic fashion – that they forget to cultivate sincerity and ihsaan within.

Some Muslims will depart this world during this holy month. Their passing comes at a blessed time when “the gates of heaven are opened, and the gates of the Hellfire are closed.” None of us knows when our final Ramadan will be, so we should be passionately motivated to make this Ramadan the best one ever.

Avatar photo Sh. Suleiman HaniAuthor Imam Suleiman Hani is the Director of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib Institute and a research scholar for Yaqeen Institute. He has master’s degree from the University of Jordan’s College of Shari’ah and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

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