I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I wrote last week regarding preparing for Ramadan. Specifically about what kind of Ibadah I want to focus on. There’re so many different ways of worshiping Allah, so I thought I’d start by detailing some and some of the benefits of them:

1) Tarawih

This is the obvious Ramadan Ibadah. It consists of praying 8 rakahs (or, if you’re of a different opinion, up to 20 rakahs) after Isha prayer and before Shaf’ and Witr every night during Ramadan. It’s a tradition that started in the time of the prophet, but one which is not obligatory. Mosques usually pray it in congregation, reciting 1/30 of the Qur’an every night, but you can also pray Tarawih at home reciting whatever you know of the Qur’an.

2) Reading Qur’an

This is another obvious and common Ramadan Ibadah. It’s origins lie in the fact that the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) (AS) came to the prophet during Ramadan and made him recite the whole Qur’an back to him. Again, this isn’t a Fard (obligatory) activity, but it’s a good one for several reasons, including:

– The blessings of reading the Qur’an are great, and even more so during Ramadan.

– It strengthens our Iman, whether by reminding us of peoples gone by, or of Allah’s perfect mercy, or of His justice, or simply with the beauty of some of the analogies and metaphors found in the Qur’an.

– The more I read it, the more familiar I am with it and the better I can incorporate it into my life, Inshallah.

– The Qur’an is the fundamental source of this whole religion and therefore contains all the fundamental beliefs / laws that we must hold.

The problem with reading the Qur’an is that it’s not like any other book (in the first place it’s a revelation from Allah and secondly it was revealed for all people of all times for all times) and this can make it hard to remain focused on some of the verses or even pages. Basically, I find that I lose my concentration really easily. But I honestly believe that this is simply a matter of familiarity. If I read the Qur’an more, I would be more used to the Qur’anic style, and therefore would be better able to concentrate and focus on the meaning of the verses.

3) Listening to the Qur’an.

This is something that I should do regularly because, again, it familiarises me with the Qur’an, whilst also keeping the shayateen (Jinn / devils) at bay and encouraging the angels to enter and stay in the house. Good all round.

4) Praying Qiyam ul-layl.

This actually isn’t any different from Tarawih. In fact, tarawih is just the name given to the Qiyam ul-layl prayed during Ramadan after Isha. So, technically, I’ve already covered most of the benefits of this whilst talking about Tarawih. But praying Qiyam ul-layl during the last third of the night is the best time to do so, as Allah comes down to the lowest heaven and looks to bestow His mercy on those who ask for it.

5) Making Dua.

Dua is something that should be a regular part of my life anyway. But it isn’t. It’s simple and easy and can be said whilst doing something else. Basically, it can transform the simplest task into a sincere act of worship. And there are so many beautiful dua’s for all occasions and needs and wants.

6) Praying with more sincerity.

This is probably the most important thing on this list. Prayer without sincerity is pointless, yet too often I pray just going through the motions and my prayers don’t really go further than the ceiling. The more sincere my prayers, the more likely they are to be answered. Which is the whole point of praying in the first place.

7) Avoiding gossip / backbiting.

Too often I think of Ibadah as what I should be doing, but rarely remember that not doing things I shouldn’t do, especially if it’s hard for me (i.e. it‘s something I like – such as celeb gossip!), is also a form of Ibadah. Now, I’m totally addicted to celebrity gossip sites and although I try not to backbite, it’s something I catch myself doing every now and then. Backbiting is insidious – I really have to watch myself for it to actually catch it.

8 ) Stopping the TV.

Not Islamic channels, of course, but maybe some of my beloved dramas? While I love watching me some Criminal Minds, I really think that time is wasted for me during Ramadan. Ramadan is only one month long – and I don’t want to waste any of it doing something that I can’t get reward from. And it’s not like it’s only on once a week – the channels do all their repeats of the best shows during Ramadan, so I could catch up on an entire series in one month. And it’s not just Criminal Minds, it’s the CSI’s, Numb3rs, etc, etc, etc. that’s a lot of TV and a lot of empty, reward-less time. So, it’s either cut the TV entirely, or only watch Islamic programmes. That is, of course, if I can find anything on the Islamic channels that I can get my teeth into, but then that’s another matter entirely.

9) Revising the Qur’an I’ve already memorised.

This is important because the punishment for one who has memorised the Qur’an and forgotten it is severe, to put it mildly. And unfortunately, I can’t remember all of the Qur’an that I’ve learnt. Also, if I revise the Qur’an that I’ve memorised, then I can use it whilst praying Tarawih / Qiyam ul-Layl.

10) Memorising new Surahs.

This is something that I personally can’t / won’t be doing. Unless by some miracle I’ve revised all the Qur’an that I’ve already learnt by Ramadan, I just won’t have the time to learn anything new – not if I’m still revising. And I’m 99% sure that I’ll still be revising Qur’an during Ramadan, and that’s ok. But memorising new surahs is always a good Ibadah anyway, because the more Qur’an we know, the more we’ll have to intercede for us on Judgement day and in the grave.

11) Reading / learning the 99 names of Allah.

The reward for learning the 99 names of Allah is Jannah, according to an authentic hadith. The benefit of learning the 99 names of Allah and, of course, their meanings is that when making dua, you can call upon Allah using the most appropriate name for your need. So for example, if I’m asking for more money then I can call upon Him saying ‘Ar-Razaq’ the provider. Also, it’s a fairly straightforward list, which shouldn’t take that long to learn.

I’m sure there’s more that I could be doing (I’m pretty certain the list doesn’t end at 11, lol!) but I’m all out at the moment.

What other Ibadahs could I be focusing on? Why?