The Precious Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the most precious month of the year for Muslims, a month whose arrival should be greeted with joy, anticipation and commitment. Even those who are not as earnest in their worship at other times of the year often devote themselves fully to the worship of Allah during this blessed period.
It is a time when we can increase our pleas to our Creator to bestow His mercy and forgiveness upon us. One of the easiest ways, for example, is to seek His forgiveness for our transgressions, known as istighfar.
The dua for istighfar can be one word:
Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness of Allah),
or a longer version:
Astaghfirullaah aladhee laa ilaha illa huwal Hayyul Qayyoom wa atoobu ilayh
(I seek Allah’s forgiveness, there is no God but He, the Ever Living and the One who sustains, and I turn to Him in repentance.)
The sighting of the new moon heralding the start of Ramadan is followed by the first of the nightly congregational Taraweeh prayers, which are read only during Ramadan, at the time of Isha (night) salat. That can be followed by further worship, like reading the Qur’an, and sleep in readiness for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal which prepares us for that day’s fast.
The Blessings of Suhoor
There are many physical and spiritual benefits to suhoor. The final part of the night, it is not only the time when we will consume our last food or drink for the day but it is a Sunnah, a tradition of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him).
Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) said: “Eat suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” (Hadith Bukhari).
It was also a practice of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) to have suhoor shortly before the adhan for Fajr (morning) prayers.
This indicates that rather than eating at the beginning of the night – which is permissible – and then falling asleep, we should complete suhoor just before the Fajr adhan.
There is also the benefit that suhoor is the last third of the night, a time of great redemption and blessings if we indulge in worship by making duas and seeking our Lord’s forgiveness.
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) said it is during this time of night that Allah asks of His Creation: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Hadith Bukhari).
As well as the spiritual rewards of suhoor, we are also physically replenishing our energy banks so we have the stamina to maintain us, and ward off the tiredness that may strike us, during the day’s fast.
Dua for Fasting
Intent is the foundation of any act of worship. We may read salat, recite from the Qur’an, act piously or constantly make duas, but if we are not clear or are lacking in our intention – to please our Creator – then those acts can become virtually meaningless.
The same principle applies to Ramadan and fasting. Rather than treating it as a chore or duty, we should be clear in our hearts as to why we are carrying out such a sacrifice of our worldly needs and desires.
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) stated: “Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before Fajr, there is no fast for him.” (Hadith Ahmad)
The intent and commitment to worship by fasting in Ramadan has to be in our hearts, at suhoor when we start our fast and at iftar when we should read a dua before breaking fast to thank Allah for his blessings.
The dua that we recite on finishing our suhoor meal is not a Sunnah but scholars and the Ulama recommend it as it verbalises and confirms our intention. Whether we recite it silently or vocally, it is our commitment to Allah that we intend to fulfil our obligation to Him.
The most common dua for fasting is:
Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri ramadan
(I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan)
Having been granted all these precious gifts by our Creator, may the Almighty accept our sacrifices which we make for Him alone during the blessed month of Ramadan. Ameen.