How to Attain the Fullest Blessings
What follows is a summary taken from various lectures delivered by Sayyidī al-Ḥabīb `Umar bin Hafīẓ (may Allāh preserve him and benefit us by him) on the subject of receiving the month of Ramaḍān. There are some additions for extra clarity.
We are about to receive the master of all months, the best of all months, the month in which gifts constantly pour forth from the ocean of divine generosity. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ once mentioned Ramaḍān and said out of veneration: “Do they realise what is coming to them and what they are receiving?” The believer should reflect upon his connection with his Lord, the One who has made this month an opportunity for him to receive His gifts and His forgiveness. We should receive this month in three ways.
Firstly, we should have joy upon its arrival.
Allah says: Say: “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice! That is better than the wealth they amass.” Take a look at the manifestations of Allah’s bounty in this noble month. Sayyidunā Salmān narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ spoke to us on the last day of Sha`bān saying: “O people, a great and blessed month has approached, a month in which there is a night greater than one thousand months. Allah made fasting in this month a compulsory act and made praying in the night a voluntary act. Whoever seeks to draw close to Allah in it with a good deed will be rewarded like someone who performed a compulsory action at another time. Whoever performs a compulsory action in it will be rewarded like someone who performed seventy compulsory actions at another time. It is the month of steadfastness (ṣabr) and the reward of steadfastness is Paradise. It is the month of charity. It is the month in which a believer’s provision is increased.”
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah made fasting Ramaḍān compulsory and made the night prayer recommended. Whoever fasts in it and prays in the night in a state of belief; seeking Allah’s reward, will be free of sins like the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺinformed us that in this month gates of the heavens are opened, meaning that it is easy for our actions, our prayers and our repentance to find acceptance with Allah. It has also been narrated that when Ramaḍān enters, Allah orders the angels who carry His throne to stop praising Him and to seek forgiveness for the Ummah of Muhammad..
The Prophet ﷺsaid: “My Ummah has been given in Ramaḍān five things that no prophet before me was given. The first is that on the first night of the month of Ramaḍān Allah gazes upon them and if Allah gazes upon someone, He will never punish them. The second is the smell emanating from their mouths in the latter part of the day is sweeter in Allah’s sight than the scent of musk. The third is that the angels seek forgiveness for them every day and night. The fourth is that Allah says to Paradise: ‘Prepare yourself and beautify yourself for My slaves, for they will soon find rest in My Abode in the place of My generosity after the hardship of this life. The fifth is that they will all be forgiven on the last night.”
Someone asked: “Is that Laylat al-Qadr?” He replied: “No, look at workers: when they finish their work they are given their wages in full.”
For more on Sayyidī al-Ḥabīb `Umar’s advice, along with a beneficial schedule outline to follow throughout the blessed month, please refer to our latest post on Muwasala.
May Allah grant us His Enabling Grace to attain the most of Ramaḍān, may He accept our endeavors and forgive us our sins and shortcomings.
What should our intentions be upon receiving Ramadan?
- We should intend to be in the state that Allah and His Messenger love for us to be in.
- We should seek to attain Allah’s pleasure and to strengthen our following of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ so that we attain his companionship.
- We should intend that a new door is opened to us in understanding the Qur’an and acting according to it.
- We should intend to avoid the inward things that nullify our fast just as we avoid the outward things.
- We should truly seek to raise our fast from the fast of the ordinary people to the fast of the elite and we should aspire to attain the fast of the elite of the elite even if only for a short time.
Although three dates are eaten at the start of Iftar every day during Ramadan for spiritual reasons, they also come with the added bonus of multiple health benefits. One of the most important aspects of fasting is getting the right amount of energy, and considering an average serving of dates contains 31 grams of carbohydrates, this is one of the perfect foods to give you a boost. Dates are also a great way of getting some much-needed fibre, which will aid and improve digestion throughout Ramadan. Add to that their high levels of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, and it quickly becomes apparent that dates are one of the healthiest fruits out there.
Boost your brain
No doubt you’ll be aware of the positive effects fasting can have on your mental wellbeing and spiritual focus, but the brain-boosting powers of Ramadan are even more significant than you might think. A study carried out by scientists in the USA found that the mental focus achieved during Ramadan increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. Likewise, a distinct reduction in the amount of the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan.
Ditch bad habits
Because you will be fasting during the day, Ramadan is the perfect time to ditch your bad habits for good. Vices such as smoking and sugary foods should not be indulged during Ramadan, and as you abstain from them your body will gradually acclimatise to their absence, until your addiction is kicked for good. It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group, which should be easy to find during Ramadan. Fasting’s ability to help you cut out bad habits is so significant that the UK’s National Health Service recommends it as the ideal time to ditch smoking.
We all know that weight loss is one of the possible physical outcomes of fasting during Ramadan, but there’s also a whole host of healthy changes going on behind the scenes. A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people observing Ramadan enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. What’s more, if you follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.
Lasting appetite reduction
One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight lost is often quickly put back on, sometimes even with a little added extra. This isn’t the case with Ramadan. The reduction in food consumed throughout fasting causes your stomach to gradually shrink, meaning you’ll need to eat less food to feel full. If you want to get into the habit of healthy eating then Ramadan is a great time to start. When it’s finished your appetite will be lower than it was before, and you’ll be far less likely to overindulge with your eating.
As well as being great for spiritually cleansing yourself, Ramadan acts as a fantastic detox for your body. By not eating or drinking throughout the day your body will be offered the rare chance to detoxify your digestive system throughout the month. When your body starts eating into fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away any harmful toxins that might be present in fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle.
Absorb more nutrients
By not eating throughout the day during Ramadan you’ll find that your metabolism becomes more efficient, meaning the amount of nutrients you absorb from food improves. This is because of an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which is produced by a combination of fasting and eating late at night, and allows your muscles to absorb more nutrients. This will lead to health benefits all around the body, as various areas are able to better absorb and make use of the nutrients they need to function.
The blessed prophet ﷺ said ask for four things during ramadhan to Allah jallah fil oulah.
1) for His Mercy
2) for His forgiveness
3) for His agreement
4) freedom from the fire
All of this can be found in the two supplications below, make that your regular daily litany until the end of ramadhan..
1.) اللْهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي ياكريم
“Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee ya kareem”
2.) اللهم إنا نسألك رضاك والجنة و نعوذ بك من سخاطك والنار
“Allahumma inna nas-aluka ridhaaka wal jannah, wa na’uudzu bika min saakhatika wan-naar”
1. Frequent supplication when fasting and breaking fast. The Prophet mentioned among the three whose supplication isn’t rejected by Allah: “the fasting person until they break their fast.” [Tirmidhi & Ibn Maja] Make a lot of supplication while fasting and at the time of breaking the fast (iftar). Make the Prophetic supplications–and your own, as well.
2. Three sunna supplications when breaking the fast
ذَهَبَ الظَّمأُ، وابْتَلَّتِ العُرُوقُ، وَثَبَتَ الأجْرُ إِنْ شاءَ اللَّهُ تَعالى
“The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened, and the reward is established–if Allah wills (dhahaba’d dhama’ wa’btallati’l `uruq wa thabata’l ajru in sha’ Allah).” [Abu Dawud]
الحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذي أعانَنِي فَصَمْتُ، وَرَزَقَنِي فأفْطَرْتُ
“All praise is due to Allah who assisted me, so I fasted; and who provided me, so I could break my fast (al-hamdu li’l Llah alladhi a`anani fa-sumt, wa razaqani fa-aftart).” [Ibn al-Sunni]
اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنا، وَعلى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنا، فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إنَّكَ أنْتَ السَّمِيعُ
“Allah, for you we fast, and by your provision, we break our fast. So accept from us, for You are indeed Hearing (Allahumma laka sumna, wa `ala rizqika aftarna, fa-taqabbal minna, innaka anta’s Samee`).” [Ibn al-Sunni]
3. Make your own supplication, asking Allah for the highest of matters in your life and religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The one fasting has a supplication at the time of breaking fast that will not be rejected.” [Ibn Maja] Ibn Ata’illah said: “The best of what you can seek from Allah is what He seeks from you.” Seek Allah’s closeness, love, pleasure, contentment, intimacy, and beholding. And ask for all your worldly needs. It is recommended to make plentiful supplication for the needs and concerns of others–family, friends, community, the umma, and all creation–both in general and in specific.
4. When breaking fast with others, say:
أفْطَرَ عِنْدَكُمُ الصَّائِمُونَ، وأكَلَ طَعَامَكُمُ الأبْرَارُ، وَصَلَّتْ عَلَيْكُمُ المَلاَئِكَةُ
“May fasting people [continue to] break their fast with you; may the virtuous eat your food; and may the angels bless you (aftara `indakum as-sa’imun, wa akala ta`amakumu’l abrar, wa sallat `alaykumu’l mala’ika).” [Abu Dawud, Nasa’i]
5. In seeking Laylat al-Qadr, say:
اللَّهُمَّ إنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ العَفْوَ فاعْفُ عَنِّي
“Allah, you are the Forgiving and love to forgive, so forgive me.” [Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja] It is recommended to recite this dua regularly, particularly (but not only) in the last ten days–by day and night.
Finally, remember Allah’s reminder:
“If My servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed Near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call. So let them answer My call and let them believe in believe in Me–in order that they be truly guided.” [Qur’an, 2.186]