From Now, We Prpare for Ramadan
By Sheikh Hany Hilmy
I seek refuge with Allah, the All-Hearing the All-Knowing from Satan, the outcast,
In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful,
All praise is due to Allah; we praise Him and ask for his Help, His Forgiveness, and we seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our souls and from our bad deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide and whoever Allah misguides, no one can guide him . I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone, and that Mohammed is his slave and messenger. Oh Allah, send Your prayers of mercy upon Mohammed and his family as You have sent upon Ibrahim and for Ibrahim’s family. You are the Most Praiseworthy, the Glorified. Oh Allah, send Your blessings upon Mohammed and his family as You set upon Ibrahim and for Ibrahim’s family. You are the Most Praiseworthy, the Glorified. I ask Allah to bestow mercy upon our gathering, and to protect us after we leave. I ask Allah to not leave any of us miserable, unblessed, or deprived. Oh Allah, shower us with your Mercy and forgive and pardon us for You are All-Knowing. Guide us and bless us, for You are the Almighty, the Most Generous…
I would like to ask you a question and I want the first answer that springs from your heart. Ignore the answer that comes from your mind and tongue. Let your heart be frank and truthful. I would like to help you get to know yourself. Our Lord, Glory be to Him, does not judge us by the shape of our bodies or by our wealth, but He looks to our hearts and deeds. So the question I would like to ask is what is in your heart? Is it the Love of our Lord? Are you concerned with your obedience and remembrance of Him? O is it this life that is controlling your heart and so you are distracted and in a state of carelessness? Let me ask you while we are still in the beginning of the month of Rajab, and the season of goodness, obedience, mercy, forgiveness and the release from Hellfire is approaching…what are you going to do in Ramadan this year? Have you thought about this question? Perhaps you have not thought about this subject at all? Do you sense that the time of reward is approaching and fear that you may not live to see this blessed month and so you supplicate “Oh Allah bless Rajab’s times, Oh Allah bless Sha’aban’s times, Oh Allah let us reach Ramadan” over and over?
The answers to these questions should be from your heart. What is your first most wish if our Lord blesses you this year and you reach Ramadan? What do you wish for the most? For example, is it to be released from the Hellfire? Is this the priority of your goals? Are you going to concentrate to fulfill this goal starting now? Would you like your Lord to bless you this year, so that you will be among the people of Paradise? To enter Paradise without being held accountable or suffering any torment. Would you like to come out of Ramadan this year with a pure heart without a trace of sin? Imagine having no trace of your previous sins, which you could not get rid of until now. Would you like this year to be a fresh start on your way to our Lord? A start upon guidance and straightness. What would you like? What is concerning you the most? Would you like our Lord to bless you this year, with an extraordinarily huge deed that will raise you grades? If so, do it this year with firmness and sincerity. Raise the flag of Anas Ibn Al Nadr and say (I am going to show Allah what I am going to do). Did this meaning enter your heart or we are lost? What is your faith project which you should plan for starting now? If your goal is unclear, it will be difficult to reach any high degree. To succeed you need three things: 1) A specific goal. 2) A clear goal. 3) focus.
We have many goals in life. Everyone wants and wants and wants. All what you are saying is useless unless you specify your goal. If you want to be released from hell fire this year, how are you going to do it? You have sixty days of Rajab and Sha’aban. Pray at least do two Rak’a during the night time and talk to our Lord. This should be your main supplication, “Oh Lord, Oh Lord release my neck from hell fire.” After that you are going to be told what the causes of release from hell fire are.
Run ahead to your goal and do not pause to turn around. So I must ask, who is going to answer this call? Who is going to raise his hand and answer this call to mercy? Whoever likes good deeds, come forward. Who is going to make a promise this year, to our Lord and struggle against his self’s desires so that he may be given the good news of Al Jannah? “Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties, for the price that theirs shall be the paradise. They fight in Allah’s cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is pending on him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Quran and who is truer to his covenant than Allah! Then, rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success.” Al Tawbah verse 111. Who is going to do the best to gain the satisfaction of our Lord? Who is prepared to sacrifice everything so that our Lord will accept and bless him among his righteous slaves? Can say now, after all this that “I am the one“? Yes, you are the one.
I want you to do to put in the back of your mind the idea that you were created to go to Paradise, and that you were created to worship God. Even if you commit mistakes and sins which could mislead you from the right path, you will always be able to go back to your God. Once you realize this, you will be able to challenge yourself and remember that your God is always there to forgive and cover your sins. God will replace your bad deeds with good ones, even the sins you committed in the past, can all be exchanged to good deeds. "In order that you may not b sad over matters that you fail to get" Al- Haeed verse 23.
First you need to fix your relationship with Allah, Glory be to Him, and straighten yourself. What is in the future, you do not know. So then why you are restless? Think about this for a moment. You need to start thinking: is this the way to happiness? Is this the way to success? Think right now of how you are going to please the Most Merciful? You must approach Ramadan from this angle. You have to distinguish between the wish and the hope. You may wish to do what I am talking about right now, but there is a difference between hoping and wishing. Al Hasan said: "Faith is not in wishing or pretending but faith is instilled in the heart and accompanied with the right deeds".
If you want to know what is in your heart, you must know what you are doing. It was said that good deeds are the result of good conditions and good conditions are the result of good status.
The saying above, good deeds are the result of good conditions means having a strong relationship with God will be reflected in your deeds. You will always find yourself in the straight path. You will always be sure that you perform your prayers in the right way and read the Quran and supplications. If you are stressed out or in trouble, you will always raise your hands and supplicate to God. You will feel the meanings of these supplications. If you do not feel that, then you have a corrupted relationship with our Lord. Thus, good deeds are the result of good conditions. You will not reach this point until you are sure that God is residing in your heart. Once you are in a good condition then you will reach a certain place in your relationship with God. Once you reach this point, then God will instill His place in your heart by allowing you to know Him with His attributes and names. Once you know Him this way, then your relationship with God will be stronger and you will fear Him because He is the Most Glorious, and you will appreciate Him because He is the Greatest, the Most High and the Immense. You will fear Him because He is the Revengeful, and the Proud and the Sublime. If all these meanings are in the bottom of your heart, then you will be in a better condition and your deeds will be good. Do you now recognize the direction this path is going? First, you have to know God properly. By Allah, if we all know Allah truly, all our deeds and relations will be in the best shape. Whatever sins or corruption we go through is because of our ignorance of God.
Thus, the issue here is not a matter of wishes. There is a big difference between wishing, as opposed to asking from Allah with full certainty that He will embrace you with His generosity. The wish is always accompanied with laziness and you will always find that the person who keeps wishing always slacks and hardly makes an effort to achieve his goal. It is the opposite in the hoping situation because if people put their trust in Allah, they would perform good deeds. Those who are willing to make an effort gradually to please God, will reach that goal step by step. Make sure that you do not listen to Satan. He is going to whisper different things to you, such as “you are not the one for this way” and “do not you know what you did before? Do not be so tough, take it easy.” Make sure that you do not listen to him.
Know all that has passed is gone and dead, and that you are now a new person. You must challenge yourself and approach Ramadan this year with a different heart and a different mentality (No one will race me to Allah). This is going to be your motto.
Can you do it this way? Can you say “I am the one”. Is there any reason why not? If you say “I do not have the ability!”, then know that no one has the ability to do it by him/herself. God is the only One who will support you to reach to this point. It is with God's mercy that we can challenge ourselves and strive to do good deeds to please Him. Even if you were the master of wisdom and the master of righteousness, you will not be able to do anything without God's ability. If you feel that you still cannot receive Allah’s Mercy, then you will not be able to for only one reason. That reason is if you do not want to. But if you do want to get there, then you will have to start and make an effort. You just can’t be lazy or say that I can't do it!
If you want paradise or the way to God, you must first approach God, in order for Him to approach you. Ibn Bishr said in Safwat Al Safwa: "I was passing by the mountains of Sham until I got to a place where I found a young man with a skinny body and a thin skin. I saluted him and he answered back. I was wondering to myself if I can ask him to preach to me and so that I will preach to others. He told me, before I asked him this question, “preach to yourself by yourself and release yourself from your prison and do not get busy in preaching others.” This is a golden saying:
First preach to yourself, by yourself. You have to check yourself first if you were doing the right things in your life. See if you are reluctant with God or lazy in performing your rituals.
Second, release yourself from your prison. Is life taking you away with lusts and fun? Is life controlling your heart and are the fun and good times throwing you left and right? Or are you a prisoner to your desires in this life?
Thirdly, do not make yourself busy by preaching to others. Stop watching what others are doing even if it is your relatives, wife, sons, or parents. Fix yourself first.
Ibn Masood said: "When God loves a slave of His, He will choose him to work for Him and not for his wife, or kids or money. And keep remembering God when you are alone all the time, He will protect you from the sins.” Then he cried and said: People became busy with insignificant and temporary things and bodies lived on hoping and wishing". We all become busy with trifling things and we all know that life is going to end. Purify yourself first only then work on your family. If you do bad deeds and do not know how to rid yourself of them, remember to pray to God in isolation. Talk to Him alone, and this will protect you from committing other sins. Then Ibn Masood said Oh Bishr: "God has slaves whose hearts are mixed with sadness, which made them stay up at night, and kept them thirsty during the day, crying all the time". God described them in His Book: “They used to sleep but little by night. And in the hours before dawn, they were asking for forgiveness.” (Athariyat verses 17,18)
Therefore, seriousness and hard work are the keys to forgiveness. We have to work hard and be sincere in our sayings and deeds to achieve this goal. This will only happen by God's will and ability.
In order for you to achieve this, you need an incentive to remind you all the time that your goal is to please God; an incentive that always renews to keep you busy in remembering Allah. If you remember death, you will have an incentive. If you remember Ramadan, you will have the same. If you have faith inside of you, you will work day and night to please God. You will pursue the main purpose for which you were created, which is to please your God.
To be Continued .....