By Azhar Imtiyaz
Have you ever heard of a weekend warrior? They are employees who sit in cubicles and relax at a coffee station weighed down with donuts all week long. Then, on the weekend, they rip off their suits bearing their Reebok gear underneath and spend the entire weekend playing basketball, hang gliding, and mountain climbing. What happens? They break their knees, pull a dozen muscles, and are hospitalized on Sunday.
This is in relation to the physical body.
But, there are also people who should be known as Ramadan warriors. They are those that haven’t fasted all year long and then shock their bodies with a whole month. Or, haven’t prayed in the Masjid or haven’t woken up to pray in the night all year long. What happens to them? As one Muslim doctor said, “In normal days, we have about 5 – 7 patients a day. On the first day of Ramadan, the patients increase to over 50!”
Ramadan warriors were rare in our Islamic history. To illustrate, let’s all remember where we were at the beginning of Safar. We were probably praying for work to end, or just finished up with exams, or looking through brochures for a holiday getaway.
Interestingly, if we were sitting beside a tabi’i over a thousand years ago in a simple Masjid, we would have heard him raising his hands asking Allah to grant him the blessing of being around when a guest comes, a guest called Ramadan!
There are different ways that we could have ‘warm up’ for Ramadan. One of those ways would be by increasing the frequency of our Du’a. Allah says in the Qur’an, the verse before it is talking about Ramadan and the verse after it is speaking about Ramadan, and right in the middle we read:
“And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me – Indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be guided.” [2:186]
Goodness on earth is from Allah. And, one of the most exclusive blessings is Ramadan. So let us ask the Lord of Ramadan to help us find His Mercy in the coming days.
The early generations of the Ummah used to make du’a six months after Ramadan that Allah accept their deeds in this holy month. And for the next six months, they would make Du’a to Allah to grant them the blessing of being alive in the coming Ramadan.
Cleanliness: Whenever a guest comes, we prepare in advance for his arrival by vacuuming the carpet, dusting the shelves, and scrubbing the sinks. We should do this for our guest called Ramadan. But, the scrubbing should not just be of our physical surroundings, it should include the scrubbing of our sins.
Listen to the words of our Prophet (SAW) speaking about those people that don’t want to clean up for Ramadan, “Whoever doesn’t desist from speaking falsehood and acting upon it, Allah has no need that he desist from his food and drink.” [Bukhari]
Fasting in Sha’ban – The biggest downfall of the weekend warriors was that they were not properly warmed up for the exercise which caused the injuries. Similarly, when Fasting, some people only do it once a year making their bodies very foreign to going without food and drink.
From here we see the following Sunnah: Umm ul-Mu’minin ‘A’ishah(RA) observes, “Allah’s Messenger (SAW) never fasted an entire month other than Ramadan and I haven’t seen him fast more than he did in Sha’ban.”
A poet has said:
Oh ye who isn’t satisfied with his sins in Rajab
So much so that you continued disobedience in Sha’ban
The month of fasting has now come upon you
So do not convert it also to a month of disobedience.
One of the ways to prepare for Ramdan is to educate ourselves in the Fiqh of Ramadan. Let us briefly review what fasting is:
Fasting in Ramadan is not optional – it is a must. The evidence for this is found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah says:
“O you who believe! Observing as-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun (the pious).” [2:183]
The Prophet (saws) said: “Islam is built on five pillars (among which he mentioned) fasting in Ramdhan.” [Bukhari]
The Arabic word for fasting is Sawm. In Arabic it literally means to abstain from something. And, in Islamic Law it is to abstain from those things that break the fast starting from dawn (Fajr Prayer) and ending with sunset (Maghrib prayer) having first made the intention to do so.
—The author is an M.Pharma Scholar and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org