Every year, save this one, just before Ramadan I do a little intensive course for reminders about the history and sunnahs of Ramadan (I can’t tell you how many years it took me to remember iftar is at Mahgrib-wishfill thinking that it’s at asr!) and I always learn lots of new stuff that I’ve been wondering about from previous years. I also do an eid course the night or so before. I think having five (free-schooled!) kids has put me into some kind of new bracket were wishful thinking has become far too regularly the norm. I mean, I need to do more advanced planning for just about everything because my time has become severally limited and this Ramadan I really felt the crunch. Last year I did have five kids, but one was abroad, so this was the first with all five.
Anyway. I also really came to understand this:
“Allah likes the deeds best which a worshipper can carry out constantly.” –Bukhari and Muslim
Immediately before Ramadan I hear people making big plans for all the ibadah they want to cram into those 720 hours of the month and I tend to use that as a marker for my own abilities. I’m not going to do that anymore. Many people, myself included, drop off by the end of the month and don’t or barely have the energy left to finish out their plans during those crucial last ten days. This year I saw many people make it out to the mosques just for what they suspected was Laylat al Qadr and some who had been going regularly up until then stopped for the last few days! So, herein is where I do some long term strategic planning…
1) Keep Up The Fasting: Again, five kids—that’s four years of being pregnant and ten years of breastfeeding! AlhumdiAllah, so while I have done ok to continue Monday and Thursday fasting some years, others were not possible—this year looks good, so here I go! Insha Allah. Regular fasting always keeps me much more aware and active in my deen, and it is easiest for me to just keep at the habit right after Ramadan—the brilliance of Shawwal, eh.
2) Increasing My Naafils: I often get this guilty, nagging idea that I should increase them during Ramadan-wrong! That’s when I am adding other prayers, plus fasting, plus other acts of worship. I should regularly be doing my naafils!
3) And During My Naafils, Learning More Duas & Surahs: I have heard alternating opinions about holding the Quran while praying in fards and naafils, and I may have used these contradictions as an excuse to just not to do it, so I finally did a little research of my own and feel good about holding the Quran or a copy of Fortress of the Believer while praying my naafils at least and here are some proofs:
Reading from the Mus-haf during an obligatory prayer
What is the ruling on an imam who reads from the Mus-haf when leading prayers in congregation?
Praise be to Allaah. There is nothing wrong with reading Qur’aan from the Mus-haf during a naafil prayer, such as qiyaam al-layl. But in the case of obligatory prayers, it is makrooh to do that, because in most cases there is no need for it. But if there is a need, then there is nothing wrong with reading from the Mus-haf in that case.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni, 1/335:
Ahmad said: There is nothing wrong will leading the people in praying qiyaam whilst looking at the Mus-haf. It was said to him: What about obligatory prayers? He said: I have not heard anything concerning that. Al-Qaadi said: It is makrooh in obligatory prayers, but there is nothing wrong with it in voluntary prayers if one has not memorized (Qur’aan), but if one has memorized Qur’aan then it is also makrooh. He said: Ahmad was asked about leading the prayers whilst reading from the Mus-haf in Ramadaan. He said: If that is necessary (it may be done)… and it was narrated from Ibn Haamid that it is equally permissible in both naafil and obligatory prayers.
The evidence for it being permissible is the report narrated by Abu Bakr al-Athram and Ibn Abi Dawood with their isnaads from ‘Aa’ishah, according to which she would be led in prayer by a slave of hers who read from the Mus-haf.
Al-Zuhri was asked about a man who read from the Mus-haf in Ramadaan. He said: The best ones among us used to read from the Mus-hafs…
Reading from the Mus-haf has been permitted because of the need to listen to the Qur’aan and recite it in night prayers (qiyaam).
The ruling on it being makrooh applies only to those who have memorized Qur’aan, because they will be needlessly distracted from proper focus in prayer (khushoo’) by that, and from looking at the place of prostration. And it is makrooh in obligatory prayers in general, because usually there is no need for it.
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Majmoo’ (4/27):
If a person reads Qur’aan from the Mus-haf, this does not invalidate his prayer, whether he has memorized the Qur’aan or not; in fact that is obligatory if he has not memorized al-Faatihah.
What we have mentioned, that reading from the Mus-haf does not invalidate the prayer, is our view and the view of Maalik, Abu Yoosuf, Muhammad and Ahmad.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: Is it permissible for the imam to read from the Mus-haf during the five daily prayers, especially Fajr when lengthy reading is required and there is the fear of making mistakes or forgetting?
That is permissible if there is a need for it, just as it is permissible to read from the Mus-haf in Taraweeh for one who has not memorized the Qur’aan. Dhakwaan, the freed slave of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) used to lead her in prayer in Ramadaan, reading from the Mus-haf, as was narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh in a mu’allaq majzoom report. It is Sunnah to recite at length in Fajr prayer, so if the imam has not memorized al-Mufassal or anything else from the rest of the Qur’aan, it is permissible for him to recite from the Mus-haf. But it is prescribed for him to strive to memorize the Qur’aan, or at least to memorize al-Mufassal, so that he will not need to read from the Mus-haf. Al-Mufassal refers to the portion of the Qur’aan that starts with Soorat Qaf, up to the end of the Qur’aan. Whoever strives to memorize, Allaah will make it easy for him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)”
“And We have indeed made the Qur’aan easy to understand and remember; then is there any one who will remember (or receive admonition)?”
[al-Qamar 54:17] And Allaah is the Source of strength. Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 11/117
And Allaah knows best…
4) Tahajudd: I have really neglected my tahajudd the last couple Ramadans. Bebeh #5 is an especially light sleeper and would usually wake if I get up, which means a couple hours of hanging out trying to get her back to sleep. Well, she’s two now and a little more agreeable to hang out with during unreasonable hours, so I feel it is a good time to start doing at least some tahajudds. Currently planning to at least do them before having suhoor on Mondays and Thursdays and possibly on nights when I randomly wake up, which is pretty frequent.
This is a thorough enough list for me to tackle over the coming year, and then next year I shouldn’t even have to make any Ramadan Ibadah Resolutions—so as to avoid a biddah 😉