Athletes train hard to win. They base their entire schedule - including sleep, meals and social life - around their training.
Getting up early mornings and forgoing get-togethers with friends and family due to the demand of their sport becomes a routine sacrifice for them. All of this stems from the burning desire to win, to succeed, to surpass. An athlete knows well that winning is not usually a matter or working hard; it is a matter of working harder. Thus every devote athlete strives to reach above and beyond the limits of his or her competitors, knowing that this extra exertion will bear fruit at the finish line.
When someone signs up to participate in a race, they know that they have to prepare well ahead of time. Let's say there is a race participant who does not practice during the training season, when asked how he expects to win the race without training and practising like other competitors, he says that when the race begins he will exert more energy and run harder than everyone else, and that is how he plans to win.
This person needs to be explained that training and practice is what enables a person to work harder at the time of the competition. To dream about running faster without training accordingly is fruitless.
Ramadan is the ultimate season of competition for beleivers - The Spiritual Olympics, if you will. The competition is global and the stakes are high. But the bar of excellence set by Islam is much higher and far more noble than the standard maintained in worldly competitions. This competition is based on attaining spiritual perfection, which is much higher an achievment than mastering the feat of jumping, throwing, or the like.
Seocndly, the aim of a Muslim is not to achieve recognition of his or her devotions in this world, but to receive acknowledgment of his or her success at the ultimate and absolute awards ceremony held on the Day of Judgment.
With such a noble event drawing near, it makes sense for all registered participants (Muslims) to start limbering up their spiritual muscles and working on the speed, endurance, and technique with which they preform their deeds.
Aisha (ra) narrates: I never saw the Prophet (pbuh) fasting more frequently in any month than the month of Sha'ban - Bukhari.
The Prophet (pbuh) - also used to pray: O Allah! Bless the months of Rajab and Sha'ban for us, and enable us to reach Ramadan.
These Prophetic actions and prayers indicate the importance of due preparation for the month of Ramadan before it arrives.
Let us start our own preperations from now by paying attention to our religious obligations. We need to assess the condition of our Salat, Zakat, recitation of Quran, dealings and behaviour. Sincere repentance for our short comings throughout the year (or throughout our lives in general), and the resolution to gain the nearness and friendship of Allah for once and for all is the minimum training required to acheive a winning position in this great event.
Let us train hard today, and be ready to compete when the time comes (Inshallah).
- Mufti Aasim Rashid (As seen in Al Ameen newspaper)