The righteous servants of Allah used to welcome the month of Ramadan with repentance and true determination to reap its benefits and fully utilize its precious time. Our Salaf (pious predecessors) were the best in this vein. Here are some of their deeds in Ramadan:
Praying Qiyaam Al-Layl:
The Messenger of Allah said: "He who observes the qiyam of the month of Ramadan with sincere faith and hope for the reward of Allah will have his past sins forgiven." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. Also, Allah Says what means: "And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer]." [Qur'an 25: 63-64]
Thus, waking up in the night to pray Qiyaam al-Layl, i.e. performing prayer during the night, was a regular act of the Prophet and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them. 'Aa'ishah may Allah be pleased with her said, "Do not abandon Qiyaam Al-Layl, for the Messenger of Allah never left it. If he was not well or he felt heavy, he prayed sitting."
'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to pray at night what he wished, until it was in the middle of the night, when he would awaken his family to pray; then he would say to them "prayer… prayer", and would recite this verse of the Qur'an which means: "And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness." [Quran 20:132]
Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, used to recite (what means):" Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]?..." [Quran 39:9]. He said that was referring to 'Uthmaan Ibn Affaan may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Abi Haatim said Ibn 'Umar said that it was due to the length of the prayer of the commander of the faithful, 'Uthmaan, at night and his recitation to the extent that he might have recited the entire Quran in one Rak'ah!
Giving charity (Sadaqah):
The Prophet was the most generous of people, and he was most generous during Ramadan. He was more generous with good deeds than the blowing wind. He said: "The best charity is one given during Ramadan." [Al-Tirmithi]
The Messenger of Allah also said: "Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward equal to that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward." [Ahmad and Al-Nasaa'i]
In a hadith narrated by Salman al-Farisi, the Prophet said: "Whoever feeds a fasting person, will be recompensed with forgiveness of sins and salvation from Hell. He will receive the same reward as the fasting person without causing him any reduction (in his reward)." (The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them) said, "Messenger of Allah, not all of us can find something to feed a fasting person." The Prophet said, "Allah will give this reward to the one who feeds a fasting person with a sip of milk or a piece of date or a sip of water. And Allah will make who ever quenches the thirst of a fasting person to drink from my cistern a drink so that he will never feel thirsty until he enters Paradise (where there is no thirst)."
The Salaf (pious predecessors) used to guarantee feeding others and they gave it priority over many acts of worship, and it is equally rewarded whether you feed a hungry person or a good Muslim brother of yours. Hence, poverty is not a condition for feeding a person. The Messenger of Allah said: "When a believer feeds a hungry believer, Allah will feed him from the fruits of Paradise. And when he quenches the thirst of a believer, Allah will make him drink from the pure sealed wine of Paradise." [At-Tirmithi]
Some of our pious predecessors said, "For me to invite ten of my friends and feed them with a meal that they like is better for me than freeing ten of the descendants of Ismaa'eel (Prophet Ishmael, may Allah exalt his mention)." Many among the Salaf used to leave their food for breaking the fast for others. Among them were Abdullaah Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), Daawood at-Taa'i, Maalik Ibn Dinaar and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on them.
Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, did not break his fast except with the orphans and the needy. Sometimes, if he learned that his family had turned back the orphans and the needy, he would not break the fast that night. Also among the Salaf were those who fed their brother Muslims while they still continued to fast. They also served them and attended to their well-being. Among them were AI-Hassan Al-Basri and Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubaarak.
Abu Al-Sawar Al-'Adwi said, "Some men from Banu Adiy tribe used to pray in the mosque. None of them ever broke the fast alone with his food. If he found someone to share with, he would eat with him, if not, he would take it to the mosque, so that others would eat with him and he would eat with others. Feeding other people is an act of worship which triggers many other acts of worship. Ties of love and brotherliness are strengthened between you and the person you feed and that may lead you to Paradise."