بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, how can one jumpstart it?
Well, I thought of 6 ways – all of them being things which cause one’s iman (faith) to rise.
If the iman rises, then the deeds increase which in turn causes the iman to rise even further.
So, here’s what I would do to jumpstart things:
[Of course, there are other ways as well.]
1) Do istighfar (seeking forgiveness) and taubah (repentance)
There’s nothing like bad deeds to hold a person back.
And there’s nothing like repentance to get them going again.
2) Attend the circles of knowledge
This one is a real iman booster.
It’s not just the knowledge. It’s also the serene feeling that one gets in these circles. Also, this is where you meet righteous sisters – not in Deira City Centre*.
[*To non-UAEers: This is a positively horrid shopping mall.]
3) Dua (supplication)
Don’t ask Allah. BEG Him.
4) Read the books of tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)
Knowing Allah is the foundation of all good things. And the books of tawheed introduce us to Allah, His Majesty, His Name and His Attributes, His rights over us, etc.
If you want an iman boosting book, pick up a book on tawheed.
5) Think about death.
There’s nothing like death to get the blood rushing (no pun intended).
Just thinking of it should be enough for a person to rush to do good deeds.
6) Take a day off and focus exclusively on your ibaadah (worship)
Busy with lots of stuff? Try to take just ONE day off where you stay at home and essentially focus on your ibaadah.
It really makes a WORLD of difference.
For those who are always around people, if you can try to be alone for that day, then that would be better.
I’ve always noticed that when I have a quiet day to myself (or as much as I can manage, I suppose), I have time to reflect and think. I can also try to work out what to do next. It makes things so much easier.
So, those were my suggestions. What other ways would you recommend to jumpstart one’s Ramadan preparations?
Here’s a nice lecture that I came across today. It talks about seeking Allah’s Forgiveness outside of Ramadan.
Doing Istighfar Outside Ramadan by Abu Saifillaah Abdul Qaadir
You know, it’s amazing. We bawl like babies on Laylatul Qadr asking Allah to forgive our sins. Then a few days after that, we return back to our sorry states. And then we return the next year all ready to bawl like babies on Laylatul Qadr.
Is this really sincerity? Or do we just keep deluding ourselves?
You know, if we were really sincere (and I have no idea about your sincerity so I’m not judging you), we wouldn’t need to be standing in prayer, listening to the Imam’s dua in the last ten nights of Ramadan, in order to desperately ask for Allah’s Forgiveness. We’d do it every time we transgressed against the rights of Allah, regardless of whether we were on top of Burj Khalifah or in Masjid An-Nabawi. For the sincere person, the place doesn’t really matter because they know that Allah is watching them all the time and that He is the All-Hearer and All-Seer.
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqoon (the pious). Those who spend [in Allah’s Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinoon (the gooddoers). And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know. For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) :133-136]
And no, being from amongst the above mentioned people is not a dream. If it was not possible to do it, then Allah would not have mentioned it. So, ask Allah to make you from amongst them and then do the best that you can.
As long as you are still alive, it’s never too late for a fresh start.
Well, as the Month of Seeking Forgiveness is here, what is the best way to seek forgiveness?
Well, the best dua for that is the one called “Sayyidul Istighfar” (the best way of seeking forgiveness):
‘O Allaah, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am You servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favour upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You.’
Here’s an excellent explanation of this dua: The Most Excellent Manner of Seeking Forgiveness by Shaikh Abdur Razzaq Al-Abbad.
He starts off with a nice introduction about repentance and its conditions., and then goes onto to explain the wording of the dua. Excellent stuff.
(All his books and his father’s books are excellent, by the way. It must be something in those genes.)
So, I’m in a better mood today, alhamdulillah. [Read Part 1 and then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.]
I’ll try not to be catty today (at least not as much as yesterday). Yes, I’ll be Umm Muawiyah and not Umm Meowiyah.
[And I’ve learnt my lesson about writing when I’m half-asleep.]
So, where am I headed with these reminders? The first few were on where we should be going (i.e. aiming for the top), the next few will be on where we are today (i.e. our totally sad state of existence) and the ones after that will be some practical tips on how we can go from being the losers that we are today into being the winners that we want to be.
If we want to be the winners in the hereafter, we don’t just dream about it. We need to be obsessed with attaining it, do dua consistently, make a plan for getting there and then stick to the plan as much as possible. As I keep telling my students: “Paradise is not just going to fall into our laps. We have to earn it.”
So, now that 9 days have passed, let’s continue with our Ramadan assessment:
10) The Month of Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness)
Doing istighfaar is something that is a trait of the true believers.
The whole irony is that the more one increases in good deeds and decreases in sins, the more need one will feel to do istighfaar. And the more one increases in sins and decreases in good deeds, the less need one will feel to do istighfaar.
Some people may ask: “Maintain one’s fast in the face of sins? What do sins have to do with fasting? Fasting is about not eating or drinking.”
And this is why you will find many Muslims fasting the whole of Ramadan, only to find that they are the SAME people in Shawwal as they were in Shaban. Why? Because they thought fasting = not eating or drinking.
Here’s an article about this issue that we should all read:
[Here’s a very interesting excerpt:
“Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
As for the thing from one which must abstain when fasting, perhaps you will be surprised if I tell you that the thing from one which must abstain when fasting is sin. A person must abstain from sin when fasting because this is the primary aim of fasting, because Allaah, may He be blessed and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”