Ramadan is only 4 weeks away…but are you ready?
Let’s get ready to make this the best Ramadan ever!
Many of us begin the month with high hopes; ambitions to improve our state and connection to Allah (swt), but before long we lose momentum. The motivation starts to fade and we slip back into old habits.
Why does this happen? One of the reasons for this is that we don’t prepare for this special month ahead of time, and this is a problem. This blog post will give you Four Simple Steps to Get Ready for Ramadan… Start Now!
The sahaba and righteous believers of the past, would make dua’ for five months after Ramadan, asking Allah (swt) to accept their fasts; and in the six months prior to Ramadan, they would pray to reach Ramadan in good health. Just as the great believers of the past took steps to prepare, we too must follow their example and start preparing for Ramadan to ensure we get the most from it.
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi, may Allah bless him with mercy, said: “Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Shaban is the month to irrigate the crop; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest.”
How To Prepare For Ramadan:
Ramadan is not just about fasting, but it also a time for increasing our acts of worship. It is worth beginning this increase gradually now, so that once Ramadan is upon us, you will be able to maintain it.
• Make dua’
Improve your connection with the Divine, by increasing in repentance and making sincere dua’ “Allahumma baarik lanaa fi Rajab wa Sha’baan wa ballighnaa Ramadaan” (O Allah, let Rajab and Shaban be blessed, and let us reach Ramadan.)
• Fast in Shaban (the month before Ramadan)
Fasting before Ramadan begins is a great way to get your body accustomed to it, and gives you an idea of the practical impact fasting will have on you and your family.
• Start Fasting
Whether it is making up missed fasts from the previous Ramadan,fasting Mondays and Thursdays (as per the Sunnah), or the ‘White Days’ (13,14,15th Islamic month), fasting in Shaban is a Prophetic Sunnah. Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Shaban.’ He said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.’” (Narrated by al-Nasaai)
• Increase in Recitation of Quran
Ramadan is the month of the Quran and a time when many Muslims aim to read the complete Quran. Whatever your goals are for Ramadan, it is a good idea to begin now. Slowly increase the amount of Quran you recite each day in the build up to Ramadan. Some may struggle to read the Quran in Arabic, but they should still try to read as much as they can and as best as they can. “Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Try to also spend some time reading a translation of the Quran or a book of Tafsir to give you a better understanding of the meaning and a deeper connection to the book of Allah (swt). Even if it’s just one verse or even one ayah, it is better to read it with understanding. Ibn Taymiyah said, “Whoever contemplates [tadabbur] upon the Qur’an [with the condition] of seeking guidance from it, [then] the path of truth will be made clear.” Source: Aqeedah tul Wasityah
Shaykh Al Hussary is excellent to learn from with his slow and steady recitation. For more advanced readers, Shaykh Al Efasy has a faster and more melodious recitation.
Remember, if you want to ‘talk’ to Allah, and feel a connection with Him (swt) all you need to do is pray Salah and make dua’. If you want Allah to ‘talk’ to you, and connect with you, then read Quran and reflect upon it.
• Improve your Salah
If you struggle to pray the five prayers on time, or find it difficult to wake up for Fajr, use this month to improve on this. If you already are consistent in your prayers, then perhaps you can start to incorporate more Sunnah or nafl (optional) prayers. Now is also good time to start waking up for Tahajjud (2 rakahs between Midnight and Fajr), to get your body used to waking up early for suhoor when Ramadan begins.
Take some time now to understand the meaning of the Salah. It is only by understanding the words we say in the prayer that we can grasp the true essence of Salah and develop a deeper connection to it. We strongly recommend Meaningful Prayer Online, by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda.
Planning is key to ensuring that you do not waste time in Ramadan. If you can make the necessary arrangements now, you will have more time to devote to Quran, Salah or to simply rest after a long day fasting. Investing a little effort now will make things so much easier during this blessed, but busy month.
• Write out your goals for the month, and plan how you will use your time to achieve them. Don’t be tempted to be overzealous, but rather make sure these targets are realistically achievable. It may help to write them down and display them somewhere visible as a daily reminder.
Examples of some of these goals could be:
1. Pray on time
2. Memorise two new short surahs (with understanding of their message) [Tip: Play Quran in your home, or even in your car on the way to school, can be a great way for the whole family to learn Quran together. Get the children involved and ask them to test you! Test each other and reward yourselves with treats once you’ve mastered them!]
3. Read a page of Quran every day and ponder on its meaning
4. Try not to raise your voice or get angry (at children, family, work colleagues,other drivers)
5. Smile more
6. Be more thankful for what you have, and not dwell on what you don’t have.
• Head to the shops and stock up on essentials, so that during Ramadan you are not wasting time grocery shopping. For the same reason, try to purchase all Eid gifts in advance too.
• Minimise the time spent in the kitchen by preparing some freezer meals in advance. You can even chop your garlic, onions and vegetables now, and store them in the freezer. It may not seem like much now, but when you have been fasting all day, you’ll be so glad you took these small steps.
• You can calculate your Zakat during the month of Shaban. You may also wish to calculate how much money you can give as Sadaqah in the coming month.
• If you will be attending the Taraweeh Salah at the mosque, make sure you have all the clothes that you, your husband, and children will need. Does your daughter have a hijab, or shoes that are easy to slip on and off? Do you need to get a bigger thobe for your son? Start preparing for this now.
• Complete any tasks that could distract you during Ramadan. Do you have a project due? Or are you in the middle decorating or planting a garden? Whatever it is, make sure it’s finished before the start of Ramadan.
3. Take steps to stop bad habits
Before Ramadan begins, endeavor to change some bad habits you may have developed. If you are eating unhealthily, try to slowly change your diet now. If you are a social media junkie, try to curb the time you spend browsing on your phone before Ramadan begins. Whether its smoking, drinking too much coffee, watching TV or even backbiting and losing your temper, now is the time to tackle these issues.
Ramadan has a buzz about it like no other. The build-up to Ramadan is something that the whole family will enjoy.
Here are a few things you can do to create an exciting atmosphere in the home.
• Read about Ramadan; its significance and the rulings, as well as reading Ramadan picture books and books about Islam with your children before the month begins.
• Create a countdown calendar. Visually seeing the approach of Ramadan is a fun way to get the whole family excited.
• Decorate the home for Ramadan.
• Call or visit family members to wish them a Blessed month.
• Ramadan can alter a family’s daily routine, such as afternoon naps, late bed-time etc. Slowly introducing these changes now will give your children time to adjust.
• Talk! Nothing gets children more excited than seeing their parents excited too! Talk to them about Ramadan, your memories of it and what they have to look forward to.
• Make Laylatul-Qadr Special! Read about it together, plan a special meal, and stay up late. What could be more special than making dua’ together as a family late into the night?!
These are my 4 Simple Steps to Get Ready for Ramadan…. Start NOW!
Let’s make this your best Ramadan yet Insha’Allah!
Is there anything you do to prepare for Ramadan? What new practices do you like to start in Rajab and Shaban? What are your goals for Ramadan?
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