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By Uzma Awan

Our relationship with him is fascinating. He stood up all night praying for us 1400 years ago. He didn’t see us, we never met him but we are attached to one another by a special bond. Perhaps that’s what being an Ummah means. No matter how low we may be feeling, the moment someone shares with us an incident from the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) life we instantly brush off the blues and get motivated all over again. Ramadan is a time when despite our high goals and aspirations, we are not to be found slacking. Everyone wants to make the best use of their time, but it seems overwhelming. So let’s review how our beloved Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spent the blessed month of Ramadan. Worship and Remembrance of Allah We all know that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) found his solace and comfort in the worship and remembrance of his Creator. However, when the month of Ramadan approached he intensified his efforts. Humbly supplicating to his Lord, he sought help, support, victory and guidance. It was his spiritual power that kept him strong and motivated throughout the day and night. Why do we fall behind our religious commitments? It is because we lack spiritual power. A Muslim’s approach: As Ramadan visits us this summer, in the Northern Hemisphere, we will have to load up extra spiritual power this year. Whenever your nafs whispers, “You are not good enough to worship,” remind yourself of the following: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 21] In this ayah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) provides us the answer to becoming a Mutaqqi or righteous. The more we worship, the more God-fearing we will become. The Days of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) While we may sit inside air-conditioned offices and homes and still complain, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) busied himself with da’wah in the scorching heat of Arabia. He met people and counseled them regarding their day-to-day affairs. Not only that but he also participated in jihad while fasting. The battle of Badr and Tabouk were fought during this blessed month. When we compare this with our lives the mere commute between work and home seems arduous to us. A Muslim’s approach: When your motivation is declining or when your nafs whispers “rest a while, sleep a little more”, remind yourself of the following: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 183] This ayah In sha Allah will encourage you to not take fasting as a burden but rather something that was decreed on the previous generations as well. If they could achieve their goals so can we. Encouragement to Eat Suhoor Eating the pre-dawn meal is what distinguishes our fasts from those of the People of the Book. It is also our power meal that keeps us energized throughout the day. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Eat suhoor, for there are blessings in it.” [Bukhari] A lot of people skip suhoor because they either slept too late and could not wake up on time or did not plan their meal. Not planning at night makes them take the easy way out and simply skip it. A Muslim’s approach: A productive Muslim sleeps and wakes up early. He has his day well planned from the time he wakes up. Wake up before Fajr prayer to have your secret meeting with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and seek closeness and forgiveness from Him, to read some portion of the Qur’an before the hustle and bustle of life begins, and also to prepare a nutritious breakfast. Ask your family to join in and turn it into a family event. Do not forget to add dates to your diet. Read 10 Step Suhoor Guide for some inspiration. Hasten to Have Iftar The wisdom behind Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands is the best thing in our deen. Understanding that our energy levels are depleted by evening, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) practiced and advised his companions raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them) to hasten to have iftar. And since their focus was the hereafter, they did not adorn their table with extra food. They lived simple and frugal lives. Sometimes we get carried away by all-you-can-eat deals and different types of cuisines advertised on cooking channels. Our focus becomes the meal instead of the spirit of fasting. A Muslim’s approach: As soon as you have filled your bellies with what was needed, hasten to the masjid for the Maghrib prayer. Avoid having strong smelling food that can produce bad mouth odor. When you have performed Maghrib, return home for a light dinner. The food should be healthy and nutritious to help you stand during Qiyam-ul-Layl. Retreat and Seclusion in the Last Ten Days The last ten days of Ramadan were the most beloved and significant to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He would isolate himself from the world and only focus on his relationship with his Lord. This was his practice to attune his heart towards to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). During the last ten days of Ramadan, people are found in the shopping mall than at the masjid. Everyone is busy shopping for Eid, availing discounts and chasing new trends. A Muslim’s approach: Remembering that Ramadan is a guest that comes only once a year; limit worldly occupations and increase worship and supplications. Reflect on the life of the Hereafter and hasten to perform righteous deeds that will make you successful in the Hereafter. We should remind ourselves that we can shop, eat and rest all year long, Ramadan won’t be here forever. Plan your Eid shopping early. Forget about latest trends and styles and focus on what matters: the Hereafter. Often we are unable to follow our Prophet’s footsteps because we fall victim to our self-created excuses. We presume our lives are busy. But if we analyse our occupations, we realize most of the time is wasted on unnecessary and unimportant things. This Ramadan let’s work on our spiritual goals. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says: “Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and springs, accepting what their Lord has given them. Indeed, they were before that doers of good. They used to sleep but little of the night, and in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness.” [Quran: Chapter 51, Verses 15-18]

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) make us of those mentioned in the ayat, Ameen. *The article has been adapted from Aa’id Abdullah Qarni’s Book, “30 Lessons for Those who Fast.”

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