Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Ramadan is often a time for family, unity and community cohesion. Ramadan is fast approaching and we are for the first time experiencing uncertainties that we could not have imagined. No taraweeh prayers and no Iftar gatherings are some of the differences that Muslims across the globe will experience.
There is no doubt however that we still able to reap blessings from within our homes with our families. Spending Ramadan confined to our homes can be a blessing in disguise, if we should choose to utilise it in this way. We have fewer reasons to engage in the worldly distractions and to use our increased spare time in prayer and worship, a time for reflection to spiritually develop ourselves.
The coronavirus lockdown is essentially teaching us the same principles we adhere to during Ramadan, to abstain and refrain from certain things but to use the same time to shift to a more positive mindset where we use out time effectively for the greater good.
Here, similarly, without the ordinary distractions of a busy packed schedule we can use Ramadan this year to gain further from the blessings of the month, to read and study our religion and to truly understand and absorb the teachings of Islam.
We can start by reading the Quran, understanding the meaning of the words of Allah, and to perhaps even commit Quranic verses to memory. There is also ample opportunity to recite Durood (salutation) upon the Messenger of Allah in abundance, an act of Worship that is always accepted in the court of Allah.
Taraweeh can also be offered at home. Families can use this time to pray together in congregational salah throughout the day and also offer the night prayer together. This can act as a way to strengthen the bond between family members in the home and what better way to do so than by practising religion?
Let’s also remind ourselves of why we should continue to give charity during the calamity. Instead of being fearful of our wealth, let's continue to do what defines Muslims. Let's continue to be compassionate, selfless and generous by helping those who are less fortunate than us. Charity protects us from trials and tribulations and charity increases our wealth. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stated, "Charity does not decrease your wealth", so be cautious in your spending but do not hesitate giving charity as many of us do during Ramadan where the rewards are so much greater.
We can take this God-given opportunity as one which opens many doors. We should use the time to make prayers, to give charity and to gain knowledge. The circumstances of the lockdown are giving us a chance to do the things we never though we would, and to leave the things we never thought we would. Let’s all aim to enlighten our souls, illuminate our homes and fill our hearts with joy during this period of uncertainty. Allah also tells us not to fear or be distressed in the Quran, because as long as we believe and perform good deeds for the sake of Him, we will not lose anything.
Adjusting to life during lockdown.
Right now, much of the world's population is in lockdown as we try to prevent the large scale spread of COVID-19. In doing so, we have been forced to adopt a change in our regular lifestyles to overcome the cloud of uncertainty we now live under. Whereas ordinarily we would check our phones for the daily forecast, now our phones are receiving daily notifications on the number of deaths that have occurred on that day. Though it is normal to feel emotional and anxious in these circumstances, it is also so important to maintain positivity in our thoughts and to believe that there are positives which we can gain from this too. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Amazing is the situation of the believer, for every situation of the believer is good” (Sahih Muslim).
First and foremost, be thankful for the safety of our homes. We are able to look after ourselves and others by staying home and adhering to the rules of the country in which you live. We should be grateful that we are able to be supported by the government, to maintain our halal earnings by working from home and to be able to access ample food supplies through this means and resources we have available to us. Though we are restricted in many ways, we do still hold the freedom and lifestyle that those who are more unfortunate than us, yearn for their whole lives.
It is therefore useful to also learn to adopt some practices which can help us develop as people so that we may become better people of faith once we are on the other side of this pandemic. 2020 can be a year of change for us where we can grow closer to Allah. The following are a few suggestions which can be implemented into our daily lives:
Pray – With so much more free time and so fewer distractions, praying can now be offered at ease. It is a perfect time to be within the comfort of our homes to adopt an obligatory practice which pleases our Lord and opens countless doors for us. Whereas usually we have excuses such as work and college commitments, now it has been easier for us to take some private time out to have a conversation with our Lord. It is important to always start with small steps. A habit develops slowly and likewise to begin firstly by praying the bare minimum Fardh (obligatory) of each prayer will enable you to push yourself with the emphasised Sunnah (Prophetic traditions) units of prayer. Prayer is a gift from our Creator, to speak with Him 5 times daily. We should take this gift with both hands and take each opportunity to prayer a blessing to cleanse and nourish our souls.
Learn – Islam has given great importance to the process of seeking knowledge. Allah says in the Quran on countless occasions that those who seek knowledge will be rewarded and the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim. With families around us now it is a great time to refresh and revise our knowledge of Islam. Take this opportunity to sit down with loved ones to teach other the countless life lessons we have in Islam. Teaching others is one of the good deeds that will help us obtain great rewards even after death. Use the time to therefore revise what you already know on Islamic rulings and create a timetable or a study planner for your family where you learn something new each day too. Should you have any questions you should make use of resources available to you, including the 'Ask a Scholar' page to ensure that your queries are answered.
Make Sincere Du'a – Life is busy. We understand. But now Allah, the Almighty, has given us an opportunity to take a break from the busy rushed lifestyle to focus on us and to really use our time wisely. Whereas usually we may have prayed and rushed to get back to work, a lesson or even household chores, now we have the opportunity to manage our time well and to actually focus on our words after our prayers to make sincere heartfelt Dua to our Lord. Our Lord, the one who has the ability to change our fate, to make the impossible possible. We must show gratefulness to our Creator remembering how lucky we are to be protected within the safety of our homes. Ask Allah to help those who are suffering in hospitals, ask Allah to help us gain closeness to Allah to help us attain what we have been working so hard to attain. Whatever it may be, we know that without a doubt Allah swt has told us He listens and responds to us. Speak to our Lord about your life with raw emotion and be comforted that your Du'a is surely heard. May Allah accept all our permissible supplications.
Recite the Quran – The Quran is the Holy Book and the unaltered word of God. Guiding and encouraging, consoling and assuring. If someone should ever want to connect with Allah by heart, then he should begin with connecting with the words of Allah. Do this in a way that is impacts the heart, for it is the heart that believes in Allah. The Quran has the miraculous ability to refresh, uplift and revitalise a person who believes in Allah and wishes to gain closeness to Him. Recitation of the Quran acts as a reminder of the real purpose of the revelation of the Quran. Are you in a time of need or difficulty? Where will you find an answer? The Quran. Allah says, “A Book (the Quran) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may receive admonition” (Quran, 38:29). Use the Quran as a means to gain divine blessings, tranquillity and guidance. We can say confidently that the recitation of the Quran brings great rewards from Allah, the all-merciful. It also has beneficial effects on human nature such as reducing perceived stress levels, reducing blood pressures and keeping heart rates under control. These are the words of the All Powerful, we can only gain goodness from their recitation. Take a few verses of the Quran each day and teach family members about their meaning and the lessons that can be gained from them. Perhaps you could memorise Surahs and recite these during your prayers.
Indulge in Zikr – Remembrance of Allah is the foundation of all good deeds. Whoever succeeds in it is blessed with the closeness of Him. The Quran states, "Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest" (13:28). We can use our time to have gatherings in our homes, whether that be with our immediate family members or through virtual means to take advantage of the technology we have, there is ample opportunity to sit down to ponder and reflect on our actions, our behaviours and our character, as people of faith. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is reported as telling a man, "Let your tongue always be busy with the remembrance of Allah" (Ahmad). Say Allah in abundance whilst reflecting. Say Lailaha illallah as an affirmation of tawheed. Say Astagfirullah to seek forgiveness.
Patience – In order to gain closeness to Allah one must observe patience. Likewise, where health has now entered the forefront of our minds and societal changes are occurring daily, it is good practice to ensure we are patient in our thoughts and our actions. The Prophet Muhammad saw gave an incentive like no other. He said, "Plague was a punishment which Allah used to send to whom He wished, but Allah made it a blessing for the believers. None (among the believers) remains patient in a land in which plague has broken out and considers that nothing will befall him except what Allah has ordained for him, but that Allah will grant him a reward similar to that of a martyr” (Bukhari). Even if we fall victim to the pandemic, we have gained Allah's pleasure, reward and the incredibly high status of a martyr. We are encouraged to remain patient, and to rely on Allah after taking all the necessary precautions. To be patient is therefore to stop ourselves from panicking whether that be through our speech in what we say or by our actions by for example, not stockpiling. This may also be the first time we are at home with our families for prolonged periods of time without breaks. It is human nature to sometimes become frustrated with one another but again, imagine if we taught one another with love and patience? Use this time to strengthen your family bonds, not break them.
Cleanliness – The Messenger of Allah said, "Cleanliness is half of faith" (Muslim). Washing hands, Wudhu (ablution), Ghusl and personal hygiene are all strong aspects of Islam. There are both spiritual and physical benefits in performing Wudhu regularly and we can use this time to revise our understanding on the rulings of cleanliness on Islam where cleanliness has become a form of protection. Why not discuss with your families the correct way to perform Wudhu and to ensure you are all doing so in the correct manner? You could also encourage each other to remain in a constant state of Wudhu. Islam also institutes basic hygiene measures that are preventative in the transmission of illnesses. "Whenever the Messenger of Allah sneezed, he would cover his mouth with his hand or a piece of cloth" (Tirmidhi). Likewise, the beauty of Islam is that it is a way of life. We are able to adopt practices which ensure we are living in a manner which can always be adhered to. Whether it be a plague 1000 years ago or in modern day society, Islam provides ample guidance on thorough hygienic practices – a hallmark of Islam. While it is evident that hygiene and health is given special attention by religion, the misfortune of a global pandemic is also a testing time calling for reflection and contemplation. We as people of faith can interpret the global condition as both a sign and a lesson. We must remain patient in the face of such a calamity, aim to rely solely on our Lord and remind ourselves that it is He alone who is in complete control of all affairs.
It is reported that Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, said that the Allah stated, "If he (an individual) walks towards me, I rush towards him". May we all use this time to reflect on who we have become and to ensure that going forwards we are in constant remembrance of Allah and the teachings of Islam throughout our daily lives.
May Allah keep us steadfast in our faith through these times of uncertainty.
آمین یا رب العالمین