We are experts in ‘what our bodies need’. We know what to eat and what not to eat, we can wax on for hours about appropriate exercises for weight loss, strengthening, and/or flexibility. We have read many articles about the negative effects of hormones on our systems and the dangers of the genetically modified grain of wheat. We plan careful diets for our children that include natural yogurt bites and sugarless snacks. When thinking about our priorities we always include ‘me time’, which generally includes some type of physical relaxation.
What do we know about our spiritual selves? What should we take in? How do we get in ‘spiritual shape’? What weakens the spirit? What makes us ill? How can we plan for health? What do our hearts and souls need?
For eleven months of every year we focus on our physical health, our material well-being, and our worldly matters – and in this one month of Ramadan, we focus on our spiritual selves.
The fasting of Ramadan purifies the soul of the heaviness of the sin of the past year. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The five [daily] prayers, and from one Friday prayer to the next, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiation for sins committed in between, provided one stays away from the major sins.” (Saḥīḥ Muslim)
“.الصلوات الخمس والجمعة إلى الجمعة ورمضان إلى رمضان مكفرات لما بينهن ما اجتنبت الكبائر”
As our bodies grow weak, our souls grow stronger. The removal of the sin of a full year is no small feat, and as they are peeled off one after another, our souls connect more deeply to the Divine, feel lighter, and begin to grow stronger.
The extra prayers of Ramadan further the sin-removal process. Much like spot removal in the laundry, the tarāwīḥ prayers scrub away at the stubborn sins of a lifetime. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever stands (in prayer) in Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Muslim)
“.من صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا، غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه”
Our hearts and souls have been withered into weakness the past eleven months. The fasting and praying of Ramadan can revive and quench us.
The month of Ramadan is almost here and just as we would plan if we were embarking upon a new diet, it is time to plan for the health of our hearts and souls.
Food and nutrition for the soul:
Ramadan is the month of Quran and the best nutrition is reciting the Quran. The Prophet ﷺ would recite it with Angel Jibrīl every Ramadan, and in his last Ramadan, he recited it twice. Allah (swt) tells us that Ramadan is the month wherein the Quran was revealed (2:184) and historically our scholars and people of God would spend many hours reciting the Quran in Ramadan.
How many times will you complete the Quran this month? (stay tuned for the Rabata Quran Khitma Project – where we will encourage each other and make duʿāʾ together after each ten days of Ramadan.)
Exercise and strengthening the spirit:
Ramadan is a month of fasting and worship, and the best exercise for the soul is extra prayers. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whosoever tries drawing nearer to Allah by performing any virtuous deed in this month, for him shall be such reward as if he had performed a farḍ (obligatory observance) in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a farḍ for him shall be the reward of seventy farḍ in any other time of the year.” (Ibn Khuzayma & al-Bayhaqī)
“من تقرب فيه بخصلة من الخير كان كمن أدّى فريضة فيما سواه، ومن أدى فيه فريضة كان كمن أدى سبعين فريضة فيما سواه”
So the more we pray, the stronger our spirits grow.
Avoiding the ‘bad food’:
Ramadan is a month of caring for others. It is of utmost importance that we do not become selfish in Ramadan. To complete the regime of spiritual health, we need to reach out to others in charity and in kindness. Aisha (r) said, “The Prophet was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan… [he] used to be more generous than the fast wind.” )Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī(
“كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس، وكان أجود ما يكون في رمضان حين يلقاه جبريل، وكان يلقاه في كل ليلة من رمضان فيدارسه القرآن، فلرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة”
As we plan for our spiritual health, let us plan to reach out to the lonely in the community, to break the fast of as many people as possible, and to do good, kind acts of service for others.
Alhamdulillah for the blessing of this month – the month of health and wealth of the heart and soul. Allahu Akbar.