In the Glorious Qur’ān, Allāh ta‘ālā time and again instructs the believers to live a life of taqwā:

O you who believe! Fear (disobedience to) Allāh as He (i.e. disobeying Him) should be feared and do not die except as Muslims. (3:102)

O you who believe! Fear (disobedience to) Allāh ta‘ālā and be with the truthful (pious). (9:119)

O you who believe! Fear (disobedience to) Allāh ta‘ālā and every soul must consider what it has sent forth for tomorrow (the Hereafter); and fear (disobedience to) Allāh S; indeed, Allāh is fully aware of what you do. (59:18)

O you who believe! Fear (disobedience to) Allāh ta‘ālā and speak with upright words. (33:70)

From this it is evident that one of the key directives of the Qur’ān, which Allāh ta‘ālā sent as the ultimate guidance for mankind, is to adopt taqwā. The word taqwā is derived from the word wiqāyah which means a shield or barrier. Thus, taqwā means to create a shield or barrier between ourselves and disobedience to Allāh ta‘ālā, keeping our lives pure from each and every sin. Allāh ta‘ālā says,

Leave external sins (carried out by the body) and internal sins (of the heart). (6:120)

We must ensure that we perform salāh, give zakāh, perform hajj and fast in the month of Ramadhān. We must eat, wear, spend and use only that which is halāl. We must abstain from lying, deceiving, backbiting, slandering, talebearing, adultery, fornication, alcohol, drugs etc. We must purify our hearts from all debasing qualities such as hatred, jealousy and arrogance.

When a person purifies his life from sin, he becomes the walī (special friend) of Allāh ta‘ālā, after which he need not fear anything in this world or the Hereafter. He will not fear anything as he is an obedient servant of Allāh ta‘ālā. It is just like a law-abiding citizen who is declared a person of interest by the police in a particular crime and wanted for questioning; he will not fear anything as he knows that he is innocent.

Such a person who abstains from sin is a walī and also a muttaqī (a person of taqwā). These are two words that refer to the same person – one who abstains from all sins.

Everybody Has the Ability to Adopt Taqwā

We often find ourselves feeling weak and thinking that we cannot abstain from sins. We should remember that Allāh ta‘ālā has not commanded us to do anything that we are not able to do nor has He commanded us to abstain from anything that we are unable to stay away from. Allāh ta‘ālā states,

Allāh does not enforce a soul (to do anything) beyond its capacity. (2:286)

A person with an average level of intellect and nobility will not instruct someone to do something he is not capable of. A father who needs groceries weighing 5kg will send his 15 year old son to the shop but not his 3 year old child as he knows that the young child does not have the ability. Similarly, Allāh ta‘ālā will never tell us to do something we are incapable of doing. He has told us to become His muttaqī servants because He knows we have the ability to abstain from every sin.

Thus, we need to fight the whispers of Shaytān within our hearts which tell us that we are unable to abstain from sins. Let us respond to these whispers by telling ourselves: ‘I can become a muttaqī servant of Allāh ta‘ālā because Allāh ta‘ālā has given me the ability to do so, and inshā’allāh, through the Fadhl of Allāh ta‘ālā, I will become one and remain one until I breathe my last.’

Practical Steps to Fight Addiction

Many of us will still feel that we have certain sins in our lives that we are addicted to and cannot leave. We are made to feel by Shaytān that we will be able to leave sins, but not all. In this case, we should use the following prescription:

  1. Let us start by at least resolving to remove all sins from our lives. The thought of addiction should not stop us from at least resolving.
  2. After making a firm resolution, let us try to put an immediate stop to all the sins that are easy to leave. Shunning these sins will remove an immense amount of darkness from our hearts and bring about spiritual strength.
  3. Thereafter make a list of those sins that are difficult to leave, and try to slowly, one by one, purify our lives from them.
  4. For support, contact and connect yourself to a Shaykh (expert in the field of tazkiyah) who will be able to guide you on how to leave sins. Under his guidance you will be able to overcome the hurdles you face. In the initial stages, one may not be able to follow all the Shaykh’s instructions, but things will slowly fall into place, and after some time, one will, inshā’allāh, become a muttaqī servant of Allāh ta‘ālā.

Ramadhān is the Best Time for Adopting Taqwā

Allāh ta‘ālā has placed special barakah in the month of Ramadhān, due to which it becomes very easy to become the muttaqī servant of Allāh ta‘ālā. Ramadhān is a training ground for us to inculcate the skill and ability of refraining from sin. This can be substantiated from the following verse in which Allāh ta‘ālā Himself states that He has made Ramadhān for this purpose. Allāh ta‘ālā says,

O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those (nations) before you, so that you may adopt taqwā. (2:183)

If we strive sincerely in Ramadhān, then living a life of taqwā after Ramadhān will become relatively easy. Let us strive during this blessed month by observing the following guidelines:

  1. Observe all the fasts of Ramadhān.
  2. Perform the full 20 raka‘āt of tarāwīh daily.
  3. Completely abstain from disobedience to Allāh ta‘ālā.
  4. Completely abstain from futile activities.
  5. Abstain from unnecessary gatherings, be they at home or in the masjid, as they lead us to futile activities and sins.
  6. Value every moment by spending as much time as possible in dhikrullāh, tawbah, du‘ā, recitation of the Glorious Qur’ān, etc.
  7. Sit in the company of a pious Shaykh. During every night of Ramadhān, Sayyidunā Jibrīl ‘alahis salām would visit Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and they would both recite Qur’ān to each other. (Al-Bukhārī) The ‘Ulamā have deduced many points from this action of Sayyidunā Jibrīl ‘alahis salām and our Beloved Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, one of which is that in Ramadhān a person should strive more to acquire good company.
  8. Spend as much time as possible in the masjid. When in the masjid, we should seclude ourselves and sit away from individuals we know. This will assist us in gaining seclusion of the mind which is of utmost importance for acquiring the Proximity of Allāh ta‘ālā. Choosing a masjid where there is a presence of pious people will be even more beneficial. If one is associated to a Shaykh, then one should try to perform ṣalāh in the masjid his Shaykh attends and spend as much time as possible in his company.
  9. Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam instructed us to do four things abundantly in Ramadhān, two for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā and two that we cannot do without: Recite the kalimah ‘lā ilāha illallāh’; ask Allāh ta‘ālā for forgiveness; ask for Jannah and seek refuge from the fire of Jahannam. (Ibn Khuzaymah)  

Start from Now

Following the above guidelines will make this blessed month fruitful for us, inshā’allāh. However, in order for us to take full advantage of Ramadhān, we need to start well in advance. Once Rajab starts, there remains only two months until Ramadhān and this time should be used in preparation for the coming special season of spirituality. Some pious predecessors would prepare for Ramadhān half a year in advance.

Our Beloved Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam who possessed the highest level of love for Allāh ta‘ālā and was ever-eager and always desirous to leave this world and meet his beloved Creator, would suddenly change his preference upon the commencement of Rajab and supplicate to live until the blessed month of Ramadhān since it has already drawn so near:

O Allāh ta‘ālā grant us barakah in the months of Rajab and Sha‘bān and make us reach the month of Ramadhān.

We should start changing our routine. From now, we should enter the first gear by doing tawbah from all sins and increasing our ‘ibādah, and then gradually progress into second gear and third gear by following the relevant guidelines listed above, so that by the start of Ramadhān, our car is in its fifth-gear on the highway of taqwā. If we do not start preparing from now, our car will be slow at the beginning of Ramadhān, and by the time we build up to fifth-gear, Ramadhān would already have gone.

A Final Point

Let us resolve to utilise the blessed month of Ramadhān and benefit fully. Those of us who remain firm will pull through the whole month. However, some of us may slip during the course of Ramadhān. We should try our utmost not to slip, but if we do slip by sinning or wasting time, we must not become despondent. We should tell ourselves that some days of Ramadhān still remain, hence we still have time to make up for the loss and reap the fruits of the blessed month. Even if we continue to slip throughout Ramadhān we should not lose hope. Even on the very last day we should believe that we still have one full day of this blessed month to mend our ways and connect to the Merciful Creator. We should never give up as it is Shaytān who tries to make us despondent and lead us to destruction.

May Allāh ta‘ālā grant us all the tawfīq to prepare well for the blessed month of Ramadhān and bless us with its benefits. Āmīn.

Riyādul Jannah, Vol. 33 No. 2, 2023