Illustration by Ziauddin
Illustration by Ziauddin

My dear friends, let us suppose that someone gives you the news that a supermarket in your city has announced a promotion scheme for one day. On that particular day, for everything you buy from the outlet, the store will give you a voucher for ten times the amount you have spent. You can use this voucher for free shopping whenever you want to. The only restriction is that you can cross each of their aisles only once. You are free to take from their shelves as much as you can carry, in your hands, pockets or shopping cart.

What would most of us do? We will cancel all our earlier plans and try to reach the supermarket as early as possible, so that we can get the best options, wear a coat, jacket or pair of trousers with multiple and deep pockets, and try to fill our shopping carts with the most valuable things at the store. We will try to choose wisely as we know that once we have crossed an aisle, we cannot go back to it a second time.

As we walk out of the store with our overflowing carts and our vouchers, we will feel overjoyed at the golden opportunity and also be thankful from the depth of our hearts to the owners of the supermarket.

Now let’s compare this situation with the blessed month of Ramazan. In this month of fasting, the Almighty Allah, in His Infinite Benevolence, opens His treasures, both of this World and the Hereafter, for all of us to gather as much as we can. In this precious month, Allah has decreed that the reward of our good deeds be multiplied manifolds. When we say nafil (optional) prayers, we get a reward equivalent to obligatory (farz) prayers and the return for obligatory prayers is increased multiple times of what we get in normal days.

This is only an example, as the way in which Allah showers His blessings on His fasting servants for their good deeds, which cannot be encompassed in words.

It is up to us how we can make the most of this month and gather from Allah’s bounties as much as we possibly can. If we compare our Book of Deeds with a shopping cart, we should plan wisely so that it is overflowing with good actions and our heart is content with the realisation that we have tried our best to win Allah’s pleasure.

There are also many other ways in which we can please our Creator and add as much to our cart of good deeds as possible. Here are some tips on how to make this Holy month most rewarding.

Be regular in your prayers

I am sure you all know that a fast is not complete without obligatory prayers. Hopefully, you all are regular in your Salah, but if it is not so, make a resolve in this month that from now on you will not miss your prayers.

Try to pray as soon as the Salah time begins. In addition to this, fix some time each day to recite the Holy Quran. Try to read the meanings of the verses and seek help from an elder if you do not understand something. Allah rewards those who ponder on the Quran and seeks guidance from it.

Understand the essence of fasting

When we begin our fast before the Fajr azaan, we all know that eating or drinking is prohibited till the time of Maghrib prayers. But is this all what Allah expects from us when we fast?

Fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink, it goes beyond. Besides refraining from food, drink, etc., we also should try to keep away from bad deeds, like quarrelling with someone, telling lies or spending our time on useless activities.

Be kind and compassionate

Allah is kind and wants His creations to be kind to each other. Ramazan is a month when we can physically feel the sufferings of those less blessed than us. When your stomach growls with hunger and your lips are parched with thirst, you can understand how the poor feel when they have nothing to eat.

Make it a point to share your Iftar delicacies with your helpers. If they go home early, pack a box with dates, fruits and foodstuff they can enjoy with their children. You and your siblings can pool an amount from your pocket money for Ramazan giveaways. A bottle of juice or sherbet, a bag of flour/sugar or a box of dates will bring a happy smile on their faces and will please Allah too.

Be patient and grateful

In the long summer days, it is not easy, especially for children, to stay away from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Allah knows very well that we are fasting only to obey and please Him.

So do not complain that you are feeling hungry or thirsty. You should feel grateful that only after a few hours you will be able to eat and drink to your heart’s fill. Be thankful to Allah for His blessings and appreciate your parents as they work hard to provide you with worldly comforts.

Don’t be over-demanding

Illustration by Ziauddin
Illustration by Ziauddin

Many children, in their craving for food, make a long list of goodies they want for Iftar. Remember that your mum is fasting too. Besides cooking, she has other household chores to perform as well as look after you and your siblings.

Never make a long face at the Iftar table if something you demanded is missing. Rather, keep a cheerful demeanour and tell your mother that it is okay to keep the Iftar simple, so that she gets some time to pray or rest. Allah will love your gesture and your cart of good deeds will become fuller.

Assess yourself at the end of each day of Ramazan

As you retire for the day, revise in your mind all that you did that day. Did you help your mum by taking care of a younger sibling so that she could take a short nap? In the same way, laying and clearing the table at Iftar and Sehri is the least you can do to help her.

Were you kind to your maid and made her workload easier? Did you share a plate of your Iftar snacks with your driver, gardener or the street guard? Did you quarrel with a friend during your fast? Were you rude or disobedient to an elder?

By giving honest answers to questions like these, you will be able to assess how productive for your cart of good deeds your day was. If you feel you did not do enough to make the most of the day, make new resolves for the next day.

Continue with the good deeds the rest of the year

During the month of fasting, we all are naturally inclined to do good and stay away from bad deeds. But once the month is over, we go back to our old ways and the routine before Ramazan.

This year, I suggest that you make a notebook in which you write every day what changes you want to bring in yourself for the rest of the coming year. There are so many good deeds that we do in Ramazan, which we can easily do the rest of the year too.

I also make a few resolves every year and, to give you an idea, I am sharing some of them with you:

• I shall not waste my time on fruitless activities.

• I shall try to say my Salah on time and also pray the nafil prayers.

• I shall try to read the Quran with its meaning and interpretations, so that I may understand what Allah expects me to do.

• I shall seek Allah’s forgiveness for my sins 100 times every day.

• I shall not lose my temper on trivial things.

• I shall be kinder to my servants and not scold them on insignificant issues.

• I will carve out more time for my family and friends.

These are just a few examples and these may vary from person to person, according to age and circumstances. Even if you achieve half of your goals, you will find yourself a much better person in a few months.

Shop wisely for Eid

Another good you can do is to keep your expenditures under control. You all deserve new clothes, shoes and accessories for Eid, but remember that Allah does not approve of extravaganza. Shop for your needs and not for your wants.

Once we step into a shopping mall or market, we are attracted by many things which we do not need. Instead of giving in to your whims and wasting your parents’ money on these useless things, you can request them instead to buy clothes, shoes and toys for your maid or driver’s children.

Allah is Generous and He rewards those who are generous to His servants. In fact, in the Quran, giving away in charity is often likened to giving a loan to Allah. And who can repay a loan better than Him? He will fill our cart of good deeds beyond our wildest expectations if we help the poor to fulfil their basic requirements.

Ask Allah for whatever you want

Supplicating to Allah or making dua for your needs is an act which Allah loves and it is also a form of worship, because only He can fulfil our desires. Don’t be hesitant or feel awkward for asking for something as small as a chocolate or as big as a new car for your dad or a bigger house for your family.

Remember that the All-Giving never tires of His servants’ demands. Allah will either fulfil your prayers with the things you have asked for, or give you something that is better for, or add to your book of good deeds and you will get that reward in the Hereafter.

Although there is a lot more to write, but space and word limitations stop me. I will just remind you about the make belief shopping at the supermarket, where you could not go back to an aisle once you crossed it. This month too shall pass quickly and you can’t go back in time. Instead of whiling away your fast in useless activities, try to make the most of this blessed month.

Each day is precious and we cannot go back to it once it has passed. For Ramazan, the filling of our carts with good deeds is a reward Allah has promised to us. All we have to do is to be obedient to Him, do what He has ordained us to do and refrain from that He has prohibited.

A happy and blessed Ramazan to all my readers.

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 9th, 2022

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