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by Alveena Salim (Published in TheRevival Magazine)

Once again it’s that special time of year again. The month of mercy and forgiveness. The month in which your dua’s get accepted and sins get forgiven. The month in which there’s a buzz in the air and everyone feels good. The month in which the religious people who lived before spent six whole months anticipating.

The month in which the dust comes of your copy of the Qur’an and the Mosques start to get packed out. The month in which tasty samosa’s and pakora’s are served daily at Iftar time, and the month in which millions of people all over the world strengthen and revive their relationship with Allah. Yep you guessed it- Ramadan’s Back!!!

But what does Ramadan mean to YOU?

Does the thought of mum dragging you out of bed in the middle of the night bug you? Do you get irritated over the fact that you’ll have to lock off from your girl/boyfriend for a month? Are you dreading the thought of growing a beard/wearing a Hijaab for a month? Do you groan at the thought of reading Tarawih every night in your stuffy local Mosque?

Are you annoyed over the fact that you’ll have to put up with people’s smelly breath? Are you worrying over the fact that stuffing yourself silly at Iftari time will make you put on weight? Are you stressing over the fact that your stomach will rumble in class and you’ll have no strength or time to do your homework or assignments in the evening?

Are you getting annoyed over the fact that mum will make you visit at least 20 annoying aunties houses with food- minutes before its time to open your fast? Are you getting angry over the fact that there’ll be a ban on TV/films and rude songs? Are you getting agitated over the fact that you’ll have to put up with your cravings for a fag/joint? Are you dreading the tempers that will rise at Iftari time over that last samosa?

Is Ramadan a month of blessings for you or a headache?

What Do YOU Get Out Of Ramadan?

If you overlook these minor irritations, trust me you’ll realise that Ramadan really is the month of great benefits. So what do you get out of Ramadan?

First of all, the fast in the month of Ramadan is an act of worship which brings reward from Allah. It is mentioned in a Hadith Qudsi that Allah multiplies the rewards of His servants by ten times up to 700 times except for the reward of fasting. In other words, there is no limit for the reward of fasting….and I’m sure we could all really benefit from the extra bonus points!

Secondly, fasting is a means of self-purification. The month of Ramadan is the month to purify yourself and better our ways. Have you noticed that in Ramadan a person does not have the desire (or strength) to commit bad deeds?

A person does not fight, talk, or argue etc as much as usual. This is because the devils are locked up and is not tempting us to commit sins. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said:

‘When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and the rebellious jinns are chained, the gates of Hell are locked and the gates of Paradise are opened (Tirmidhi).

So this is the month in which it is easier to break bad habits. Have you been trying to give up smoking/listening to rude songs and swearing for some time now? Now is the time to do it! Have you been trying to get regular with your prayers?

Now is the time to get into practice! Have you been trying to cut of from your bad mates for some time? Now is the time to cut them off! Have you been meaning to grow a beard/start wearing a Hijaab? Now is the time to take that plunge! Have you been meaning to lock off for good from your girl/boyfriend? Now is the time to dump them!

Ramadan is the time to break bad habits, that is providing we WANT to change for the better. The devil is locked up and there’s an increase in the mercy of Allah-Who can think of a better time to sort themselves out?

The third benefit of Ramadan is that during this month a person can achieve self control. You see all sins that we commit is cos of our desires, and the fuel of which is food. When you eat less your desires will be weakened.

This is why it’s easier to avoid lying, back biting, swearing, doing fraud and chatting up members of the opposite sex when you’re fasting. But it’s important not to pig out at Iftari time and make up for all that you missed during the day. Trust me, if you do that you’ll just feel knackered and will be in no mood to read your Tarawih’s.

The fourth benefit of Ramadan is that this is the month of forgiveness and mercy. So if you have a dodgy shameful past and want to erase history and start again with a clean slate and if you want Allah to forgive all your sins and make it easy for you to live your life as a good Muslim- now is the time to beg for Allah’s forgiveness!

The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said “Every night Allah descends to the lowest heaven, when only one third of the night remains. He says “Is there any servant of mine who invokes me for anything so that I may answer his request? Is there anyone who begs Me for pardon and forgiveness, so that I may to forgive him?” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the month in which many people decide to take that plunge and change their life around. So take advantage of every special moment, especially the blessed night called Laila tul Qadr which falls in the last 10 days of Ramadan which is considered better then a thousand months- ask for whatever you want!…..No, don’t ask God to hook you up the fittest guy/gal in town or to sort you out with a lifetime supply of weed or to win the lottery!

One of the main benefits of Ramadan is to gain Taqwa, which is awareness and the fear of Allah. So how does fasting help us to gain Taqwa? When we refuse tasty halal food and drink from dawn to dusk for the sake of Allah, it becomes so much easier for us to avoid doing those things that are forbidden for us.

Think about it, if we can say ‘No’ to food and drink when we are fasting for the sake of Allah, we will find it easier to say ‘No’ to the next fit guy/girl who asks for our number.

We will find it easier to say ‘No’ to all the dodgy things that our mates want us to do. We will find it easier to say ‘No’ to the next person who offers us a fag/joint or asks us to meet them up in some dodgy place. That’s what Taqwa’s all about.

So how can you get the most out of Ramadan?

1.Become regular with your prayers and don’t miss your Sehri.

2.Read the Qur’an daily (with the english translation)…even if its a few lines.

3.Increase your knowledge about Islam. Grab a book and start listening/watching lectures of good Islamic scholars. Now is the time to make friends with the Imaam and ask him questions about Islam.

4.Give up swearing, cussing, backchattin’ and control your temper.

5.Give up all your dodgy undercover activities i.e. quit smoking fags/weed, fraud, dump your girl/boyfriend, quit listening to rude songs, quit watching dodgy programmes on TV etc etc.

If you can make these changes during Ramadan you can most definitely carry on these good practices for the rest of the year. So take advantage of this month properly, re-energize your batteries and reap its benefits for the rest of the year and maybe even for the rest of your life!

If you’re just gonna stop eating and drinking whilst fasting yet still do dodgy stuff, don’t follow and behave according to Islam, don’t try to become a better Muslim then you will get didley skwot out of fasting. The ProphetPeace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said:

‘If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during fast, Allah does not care if he abstains from his/her food and drink.’ (Bukhari)

So people, appreciate, welcome and respect this year’s Ramadan with good actions and have the intention to change ourselves for the better. Be a Muslim for life-Not just 30 days.

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