Welcoming Ramdhan

Welcoming Ramdhan

Attaining Taqwa (piety) is the main goal of Ramadhan. Failing to plan on how best to welcome, receive and utilise of the holy month leaves many losing steam midway. Sadly, much emphasis is usually on sumptuous meals

Allahumma Ballighna Ramadhan (O Allah, make us observe the month of Ramadhan!) This has been the dua (supplication) many of the pious predecessors and Muslims have generally been reciting since the month of Rajab as a way of preparing to welcome and receive the holy month of Ramadhan.

According to a hadith narrated on the authority of Anas ibn Maalik, when the month of Rajab came, the Prophet (SAW) said: “O Allah, bless Rajab and Shaban for us, and let us live till the coming of Ramadhan.” (Ahmad and At-Tabaraan)

From the above hadith, Muslims can learn that the recitation of the dua was some sort of preparation coupled by niyyah (intention) as well as pleading with Allah that they live and have another opportunity to make most of this blessed time/month from start to finish; since we have no guarantee that we may actually begin or finish it.

In different darsas (religious lectures), many speakers have referred to Ramadhan as a ‘seminar’; ‘workshop’ or ‘training’ whose outcome/results are supposed to manifest in our lives or keep us ‘in check’ until another year.  

That said, it would be worthwhile to discuss how present day Muslims welcome and receive Ramadhan.

Thus, if observations from previous Ramadhan months are anything to go by, Marhaba Life and Style can now report that many Muslims have different ideas on how best to welcome and receive the holy month.

Therefore, what happens is that many Muslims merely go through the motions and acts of Ramadhan without adequate preparation while others abandon the fast midway. In the process, many do not get to fully benefit from the fast.

So how do Muslims generally welcome Ramadhan?

According to  Anwar Bashir from Malindi, he has adhered to an age old ‘tradition’ common with many Muslims of stocking his household with foodstuff at the advent of Ramadhan.

In the process his ‘normal budget’ goes bust this season compared to other months. This leaves many wondering whether Ramadhan is a time to fast or feast.

A few years ago, Muslim youth from Kibra in Nairobi would host a ‘Mfungo party’ to welcome Ramadhan.

Complete with all fanfare that comes with a real party, the ‘mfungo bash’ have since been banned by local Imams from different mosques in the area. However, word has it that they are still going on undercover.

In Kayole, Nairobi, there has been a notable increase of nikahs (weddings) days and weeks leading up to Ramadhan according to Musa Ibrahim.

“Come Ramadhan, many Muslims in this area and elsewhere are usually in a sudden rush to marry. Nikahs are okay and one can marry anytime. Could such couples been previously cohabiting and the onset of Ramadhan necessitates that they  ‘legalise’ their relationship; else stay apart the entire Ramadhan period?”

For our Muslim mothers, wives and sisters, we need not to ‘carry forward baggages’. They have to bear in mind that since Ramadhan is a ‘class’ or ‘training’, participants/students for this matter may fail ‘graduate’ for having a ‘referral’ in terms of unsettled accounts accrued from past Ramadhan(s).

Since they have a tendency of accumulating days not fasted after being exempted for reasons such as breast feeding, observing menstrual cycles or reasons such as sickness among others; effort should have had by now been made to ‘settle these accounts’.

Another Marhaba Life and Style reader confides that he has already purchased three Kanzus in readiness for Swalah and Taraweeh (early night prayers) during Ramadhan. “I have to look my best at prayer times,”  he says.

For Omar Karanja from Pangani, he is wondering what all the fuss is about welcoming and receiving Ramadhan and says. “Ramadhan comes every year. One just needs to plan in advance.

Others feign ailments or pretend to be ailing to escape the fast.  “Nina ulcer”, “sukari.” ectc

According to Sheikh Athman Ahmad- the Imam of Landhies mosque, Nairobi, preparing to welcome and receive the holy month of Ramadhan requires psychological preparation and will power.

“Ramadhan is not a normal month and as usual, before one embarks on any ibadah (acts of worship); adequate preparation psychologically, physically and even emotionally is required. Ramadhan is no exception. It is a special month of dedicated ibadah where one does it with intention of neither pleasing fellow humans nor deriving benefits from them. Payment/rewards are from Allah (SWT) only.”

Sheikh Athman further explains that the commencement of Ramadhan heralds the disruption of normal daily routines that affects our prayers, times of eating, sleeping patterns among other activities.

Noting that fasting alone is a test and human beings by nature love to eat. The disruption normal routine like waking up to no breakfast, day without lunch or no late afternoon tea is bound to impact on any individual. Thus complaints of ‘I have a slight headache’ are common. However, as the fast progresses, the body gets accustomed and adopt.

Sheikh Athman notes that probably this is the reason why the first night of Taraweeh (early night prayers) in Ramadhan are characterised by an air of excitement.  “Faithful are yet to adjust psychologically, physically and even emotionally. Hence, their numbers keep dwindling as Taraweeh prayers progresses.”

He also advises faithful to make a list of what and how to benefit from the holy month. “This is a month of restraint and not only from eating but our actions, speech, behaviour among others. Israf (wastage) of time, excessive cooking, getting engrossed in cooking at the expense of prayers and playing games on our mobile phones should be discouraged.”

Abu Hamza-the Imam of Jeddah mosque, Kibra-Nairobi, stresses the importance of being healthy ready to embark on Ramadhan.

“Lately, we have been experiencing erratic weather patterns and it may impact negatively those not fit to withstand day-long hunger pangs,” he says.

Sheikh Abu Hamza further recommends that Muslim faithful be prepared to make financial commitment and sacrifice in welcoming and receiving Ramadhan.

“Have a schedule of mosques where you can attend a variety of darsas (religious lectures), prayers from your preferred Sheikhs, Imams and Ustadhs who could be scattered around the city. This could mean fueling your car, getting a taxi, boda boda motorcycles or using public transport.”

  When asked to comment about the many nikahs (weddings) before Ramadhan, Sheikh Abu Hamza says that not all couples conducting weddings around this time should be branded as ‘cohabiting couples’. “Let’s not be judgemental!.”

“Let’s remember that the main goal of Ramadhan as in Surah Baqara 2: 183, ‘O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous...’;  is about attaining Taqwa (piety). Additionally, Ramadhan is also about Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) for our sins. Thus these couples opt to marry for fear of not wishing to erode gains to be made this holy month or are seeking a new chapter with Allah.”

Finally, Sheikh Abu Hamza also wishes to warn of an emerging trend among youthful Muslims who seem to trivialise Ramadhan. 

 “Some Muslim youth are opting to skip the obligatory fast on flimsy grounds. To them, it is ‘fashionable’ to choose to fast or not and yet they have no valid reasons. The consequences of skipping the fast for no valid reason is  tantamount to having left Islam.”

Other ways of welcoming and receiving Ramadhan according to Imam An-Nawawi in his book Al-Athkaar says, “It is recommended for the person who experiences an obvious favor or is protected from an obvious curse that he prostrates in gratefulness to Allah or praises Him duly.”

Among the greatest blessings Allah grants the slave is guiding him to obedience and worship. When Ramadhan comes and a Muslim is in good health, this is a great blessing worthy of thankfulness and it requires the praise of Allah Who bestows it. All perfect and continuous praise be to Allah as suits the majesty of His Face and His Great Authority.

Some of us may begin the fast but fail to conclude it depending on Allah will-we have no guarantee.

Additionally, we should learn and understand the Fiqh rulings related to fasting in Ramadhan.

The believer has to worship Allah with knowledge, and is not excused for his ignorance of the obligations Allah prescribed for people. This includes fasting in Ramadhan. Muslims are obliged to learn the issues and rulings related to fasting before the coming of Ramadhan so that his/her fasting will be correct and accepted by Allah.

Lastly, Muslims should strive to open a new chapter/page with Allah (SWT); obeying and following the teachings of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and avoiding what he prohibited and warned against; parents, relatives, and one’s spouse and children by being dutiful to them and maintaining ties with them; being a righteous and useful person.

These are ideas on how a Muslim receives the month of Ramadhan is like a barren land which is in need of water, a patient when he sees the doctor and the lover when he receives his long-awaited absent loved one.

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