Ramadan; Yes, it’s an exciting time as we feel more relaxed and chilled out, and more so that we get to fill our bellies at iftaar (and then again at suhoor)! However, besides all the food, what else should we be doing in this blessed month?
Many of us, I’m sure, try our best to pray as much as we can, but we may feel as though we don’t really know why we should pray more in Ramadan compared to the other months. Further, we don’t know what we should be praying; are there any particular Du’as or Surahs, any special Ibadah (worship)?
The speciality of Ramadan
To answer the first question, what makes Ramadan more significant and special than the remaining eleven months?
It is recorded in a Hadith of Bukhari, that Nabi ﷺ said:
إِذَا دَخَلَ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ فُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ، وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ جَهَنَّمَ، وَسُلْسِلَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ.
In this blessed month the doors of Jannah (Heaven) are opened, and the doors of Jahannam (Hell) are closed, and all the Shayaateen are locked up
This is perhaps why we may feel less encouraged to commit sin and become more engaged in praying during Ramadan.
Further, Imām Qurtubi narrates:
إنما سمي رمضان لأنه يرمض الذنوب أي يحرقها با لأعمال الصالحة
“It (this month) was named Ramaḍān because it burns the sins of people with righteous deeds.”
Above all, Allah Ta’ala says:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِى أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an” (2:185)
Now we know the significance of Ramadan, let’s answer the second question: What should I be reading? Albeit Ibadah (worship) is of many types (the details of which we will not go into here), there are some Du’as in particular that we can read throughout Ramadan.
We know that Allah Ta’ala does everything in the best way possible and makes everything easier for us. Similarly, Allah Ta’ala has separated Ramadan into three different sections, and each part is important for a certain thing.
The three stages of Ramadan
Stage 1: The first ten days
Allah Ta’ala has fixed the first ten days of Ramadan to reflect upon His mercy. Thus, we can pray the following D’ua:
رَّبِّ اغْفِرْ وَارْحَمْ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
“My Lord, forgive and have mercy, and You are the best of the merciful”
Stage 2: The second ten days
The next ten days are fixed for seeking forgiveness from the Almighty from all our sins, whether they may be major sins or minor. For this section of Ramadan, the following D’ua could be prayed:
أسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ رَبي مِنْ كُلِ ذَنبٍ وَأتُوبُ إلَيهِ
“I seek forgiveness from my Lord for every sin and to Him I turn (in repentance)”
Stage 3: The final ten days
The last ten days are for protection from the fire of Hell. This is the most important section of Ramadan as Laylatul Qadr falls upon the last few days of Ramadan. Also, the last ten days are when the servants of Allah sit in I’tikaaf and try to maximise their prayers.
What is Laylatul Qadr?
Laylatul Qadr is one of the most important nights of Ramadan and falls upon an odd date. It has been mentioned in the Quran that:
لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
“This night of Qadr is better than a thousand months” (97:3)
Subhan’Allah! It was also on this night that the Quran was revealed.
What do we mean by I’tikaaf?
I’tikaaf is to be done for the last ten days of Ramadan. It is when we sit in one place/room for the entire period of the last ten days and try to engage in as much prayers and worship as we can and try to become closer to Allah the Almighty.
It is best for women to complete I’tikaaf in their homes, and for men it is better to complete it in the masjid.
Sitting in I’tikaaf is Sunnah as it was also done by our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It allows us to separate ourselves from everything else in the world for some time and gives us peace and tranquility.
In the last ten days it is encouraged to pray the D’ua:
اَللَّهُمَّ أَجِرْنِي مِنَ النَّارِ
“O Allah, save me from the Fire”
Why should we separate Ramadan into stages?
The three sections of Ramadan help with our Ibaadah (worship) as we are more aware of what to ask for and what each section signifies.
It helps us to navigate our way through Ramadan should we feel overwhelmed.
We should try our best to pray these Du’as as much as possible. They are very small, and we can easily memorise them with a little effort, thus we should try and learn them so we can pray them wherever we may be. The Du’as should be constantly on our tongue.