Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, which is of paramount significance. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Islam is built upon five pillars: testifying that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing Prayer, paying the zakah, making the pilgrimage to the Sacred House (Hajj), and fasting the month of Ramadan.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Surely, the month of Ramadan is the best season for offering good deeds and gaining reward. It is the duty of every Muslim to prepare himself for that blessed month.
In addition, we cite some words of a khutbah (sermon) delivered by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, President of the Fiqh Council of North America, at the Islamic Society of Orange County, on 21 Sha`ban 1424/17 October 2003: Almighty Allah says: (O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, (fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent but he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also Clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during the month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way.”) (Al-Baqarah 2: 183-186)
Almighty Allah is giving us another opportunity in our life to witness the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a great time of Allah’s blessings and His mercy. Every Muslim should take full advantage of this time. We should get ready to welcome this month and receive it with happiness. Following are some ways to welcome this month:
1. Special du`aa’: Pray to Allah that this month reaches you while you are in the best of health and safety so that you can fast and do all your acts of devotion (`ibadat) with ease and enthusiasm. It is reported by Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say from the beginning of Rajab in his prayers: “O Allah bless us in Rajab, bless us in Sha`ban, and bless us in Ramadan.” (Reported by Ahmad)
When he used to see Ramadan’s crescent, he used to pray: “O Allah, make this crescent shine on us with safety, faith, security, Islam, and good fortune to do what is beloved and pleasing to our Lord. Our and your Lord is Allah.” (Reported by Ad-Darami)
2. Thanks and happiness: When the month comes, then you should be thankful to Allah and show happiness. The Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them all) used to greet each other on the beginning of Ramadan. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said giving the good news of the month to his Companions, “The month of Ramadan has come to you. It is a blessed month. Allah has made obligatory on you to fast during this month. The gates of heaven are opened in this month and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained. In this month there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whosoever is deprived of its blessings is indeed deprived.” (Reported by Ahmad)
3. Planning and determination: You should make a good plan for the whole month about how you are going to organize your days and evenings during Ramadan. Plan special schedules for your work so that you can pray on time, read the Qur’an, and take sahur and iftar on time. Have sincere intention and determination to take full advantage of this time. Also have a full determination and commitment that you will not do any sin or anything wrong during this time. Make sincere repentance and seek the forgiveness of those whom you might have offended. In this way you can benefit much more from your fasting and prayers.
4. Learn about the rules of fasting: Fiqh of fasting is very important so that you do not do anything that will spoil your fasts. Learn the way of Prophet Muhammad in fasting. That is the best way. Fast is not spoiled only by eating and drinking during the fast, but also by speaking bad words and doing wrong things. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever does not give up bad words and bad deeds, Allah has no need in that he leaves his food and his drink.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
5. Charity, generosity and kindness: The month of Ramadan is the month of kindness, charity, and generosity. Plan to invite your neighbors, co-workers, friends — Muslims and non-Muslims — to have iftar with you. Let your non-Muslim friends and neighbors know about this month and its blessings. Be more generous and help the poor and needy. Plan to give your zakah and sadaqah at this time and help others as much as you can. It is reported in a hadith: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the most generous person, but in Ramadan he used to be more generous when Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) used to meet him. Jibreel used to see him during Ramadan every night and he used to read the Qur’an with him. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was then more generous with goodness than the blowing wind. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)