“Taqwa” translates into “being conscious of God” and “Al-Muttaqin” refers to those who practice Taqwa.
Ramadan is the celebration of a prayer fulfilled; made by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his eldest son, Prophet Ismael (AS) as they were building the Kaaba. It’s English translation (not-word-per-word) is as follows:
“Make both of us Muslim before you and from our future generations, give us at least one Muslim nation and from that same nation, give us a messenger who will recite your revelations.”
The Holy Quran (God’s revelations) was sent down to Prophet Mohamed (SAW), a descendant of both Prophets Ismael (AS) and Ibrahmin (AS) on Laylat al Qadr (the Night of Decree) during the month of Ramadan.
So, instead of celebrating and engaging with God’s words for just a night, we get to do that for a whole month; how beautiful is that?
Ramadan is all about the Quran; read it, listen to it, turn its ayat into supplications. Be engaged, understand, and most imporantly, fill your heart with love for God’s words.
The Quran is divided into 30 juz(s), that is approximately 600 pages. If you read 4 pages after every salah, then you would have read 20 pages by the end of the day. Do that every day for 30 days and you will be able to complete the Quran. (START TOMORROW, I mean that LITERALLY).
Having said that, I am going to disengage from Ramadan and turn my focus to fasting.
It is important to comprehend that the purpose of fasting is different from that of Ramadan. We usually get the two mixed up (guilty of that myself) and I’m here to clarify things out:
FASTING and Your Taqwa
“To those of you who believe, fasting was made mandatory upon you, just as it was on those who came much before you, so that you may develop a sense of Taqwa“
Taqwa comes from the Arabic root letters wa’ka’ya (meaning to shield or to protect); so, the idea here, is to have a sense of protecting oneself. You may think of Taqwa as what you do as a result of fear rather than fear itself. An example could be as simple as you locking your front door in the fear of someone breaking in; you are taking precautions in order to protect yourself.
To me, Tawqa is the act of protecting oneself from trouble or against one’s own shortcomings while being conscious of God.
Let me just get side-tracked a bit: What do you need in order to be a good muslim?
In order to be a good Muslim, you need to: worship your creator, be of good character, and constantly seek knowledge. Praying, fasting, and doing good deeds are examples of worship. However, being in contact with God daily through prayer is essential. It protects you from the unseen: your own “nafs” (yourself / desires) and the “shytaan” (the devil) –> the act of prayer, another example of Taqwa.
Nafs <– (versus) –> Shytaan
Q: Don’t you sometimes, have these voices in your head coming from nowhere?
A: Well, those voices are the nafs and the shytaan.
Q: So, how can you differentiate between the two?
A: Honestly, the only example I can think of is being distracted by thoughts during prayer. Sometimes, as I pray, my thoughts take me back to work (which, despite being wrong is normal, because I think about work all the time). However, at other times also while being in prayer, I get random thoughts, like having ice cream in the middle of winter or how my hamster Kiwi would love to have some strawberries (for the record, such thoughts aren’t my usual).
So, in a nutshell, distractions or stuff you don’t usually do/think of = shytaan and usual thoughts/actions = nafs.
Q: And, why is Ramadan so special in this regards?
A: Because there is no more shytaan; everything you do this month will be on you (your nafs).
All I’m trying to say is that Ramadan makes it EASIER for a believer to develop a sense of Taqwa with the act of fasting and with the fact that the shytaan is out of the picture.
How does fasting lead to Taqwa?
IMAGINE THIS: A couple of hours has gone by as you are fasting, your throat is starting to feel itchy and your stomach is singing a song, as a result, your mind starts to complain. Just for the record, those feelings are normal but they also mean that your mind is telling you to disobey God. But then, your heart takes control and tells your mind to shut up and wait for maghrib time.
Your heart tells you to wait and withstand not having your basic needs met in order to please God. This, by itself, is a form of training; fasting trains you to put your consciousness of God first before your own desires.
During the first days of Ramadan, you may be in the “heart” vs. “mind” situation and that is okay. However, as your heart takes the lead, your Taqwa will start to surface and that my friend, is when miracles come into effect. In the end, you will be conscious of God long after Ramadan, because by then, you would have already passed the hard part.
I will rap this up even though I have so much more to say:
The Prophet (SAW) said, “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of mercy are opened, and gates of Hell are locked and devils are chained”. (Muslim Book 6, No. 2361)
Hence, I pray that you take full advantage of this Holy month in order to protect your Taqwa for the rest of the year. I also pray that if you feel lost, that you find the strength within you to pray for yourself, and find your way back to your creator.
On a personal note, this Ramadan will be the first Ramadan that I’ll actually get to witness and experience. Unfortunately, I slept through my previous Ramadans; however, the last one, was kind of miraculous, I prayed to God for Taqwa and my prayer got fulfilled.
I credit all of the knowledge gained in order to write this post to: