“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it ,and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” 1Ramadan is around the corner! This time, I will be fasting insha’Allah. Yes, this year I want to fast and will fast insha’Allah. I missed fasting last year due to active chemotherapy but this year Alhamdullilah I will be fasting with you insha’Allah.
And like you, I too want to maximize the benefits of this month, as who knows what is going to happen next year? Now, to maximize the benefits of anything, it is very important to plan, as failing to plan is planning to fail.
Planning is a Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah . He meticulously planned everything and relied on Allah for guidance and accomplishment of his goals. For example, he planned his hijra to Medina from asking Ali to sleep in his place to choosing Abu Bakr as his companion for the trip to packing supplies and finding the right guide.
I now truly understand the implication of the hadith in which the Messenger of Allah says, ” Tie up the camel and trust in Allah.” 2
I can hear you saying , “What, you didn’t understand”? And I am embarrassed to say, I thought I understood but I was wrong. And so, I want to start afresh and make some awesome plans for Ramadan, and set goals and develop some habits, to make this Ramadan all about tasting the sweetness of faith and feeling the mercy of my Lord.
So, are you ready to join me in my planning?
Let’s begin. Bismillah. In the name of Allah!
Hmm, so what do you think are the major acts that we should all do: obligatory as well as voluntary to achieve our goal? Fasting, Salah, reading Quran, making Du’a , giving in charity, repentance, doing and/or increasing in general good deeds, reviving and/or strengthening family ties and so much more.
Experts say (and I agree) that it takes 30 days for a habit to form. There is almost a month before Ramadan begins–give or take a few days. So, let’s begin now to make habits for Ramadan so that during the month of Ramadan, you and I can focus on acting upon those habits with excellence rather than stressing ourselves out in trying to set them!
1) Renew Intention— To have the best Ramadan EVER, make dua and beg Allah to make it the best. Maximize your intention now!
2) Fasting — The Prophet used to fast in the first half of Sha’baan. You can also fast some days in the month of Shab’aan to get into the “mode” of fasting. And this could also be an awesome opportunity to make up missed fasts from previous years, if you have any. However, I would like to remind you that the Messenger of Allah said,: “When a half of Sha’ban remains, then do not fast.” 3
3) Salah —This Ramadan, you could be aiming to:
a) Pray all 5 prayers,
b) To pray on time
c) To pray at the ‘awwal time(i.e., right after the adhaan is called out)
d) To offer complete salah, all sunnahs and nawafils, etc.
Now is the perfect time to start doing these aforementioned acts so that you don’t feel overwhelmed to begin your voluntary units of prayer while fasting in Ramadan. Set your alarm 15 minutes before Fajr to offer tahajjud, so that when Ramadan begins, you don’t find it too difficult to get up for suhoor.
4) Reading Qur’an — The rewards for reading Qur’an are manifold in the month of Ramadan. Some of us can read the whole Qur’an 2-3 times in Ramadan. But some of us find it tough to finish it even once. Start early. Begin reciting from today. Keep your mushaf or your phones with the Qur’an app handy at Fajr, so that right after Salah, you can start reciting. This will get you in the habit of reading Qur’an and also give you a head-start insha’Allah!
5) Making Du’a — Ramadan is a month when Allah answers many du’as. Get your du’as ready. Organize all the dua’s mentioned in the Quran in one place and the masnoon du’as in another. Begin reciting the morning and evening du’as from now so that the habit of reciting them is already set before Ramadan. Grab a small empty notebook and write all the duas that you want to make for yourself, your family, your loved ones, the ummah and for the ones departed from this world in your own language in that book. Write down duas for dreams that you want to accomplish. They may seem impossible right now but remember, “impossible” is a word only in our dictionary. For Allah , everything is possible.
6) Repentance — Repentance erases our sins and increases our capabilities. If you are not in the habit of seeking repentance, then now is the time to do it. Do istigfhfar right after every Salah.
7) Charity — Charity brings with it many rewards, more so in the month of Ramadan. Set aside clothes, furniture and/or books that you can donate. Many of us prefer to give our zakat during the month of Ramadan. If that is the case, then set aside money now. Else, you might find it tough to take out the sum during the month.
8) Plan your Menu and Groceries –Try to plan your menus and buy the groceries beforehand. Freeze snacks and casseroles to reduce cooking time during Ramadan.
9) Go shopping — Yes, go shopping. Get your Eid clothes ready for yourself and your family. There will be get-together parties that are either casual or formal in nature after Eid. Get your wardrobe ready now. Don’t waste time in the markets during Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah said, “The dearest parts on the face of the earth near Allah are its mosques, and the most hated parts near Allah are its markets.”
10) Plan your day in Ramadan — Chalk a daily plan while you will be fasting. Block time for reading Quran, reflection on what you read and time for sharing it with your family. Plan your day around Salah.
11) Get Kids activities and supplies for Ramadan — For many of us, our children will be home from school this Ramadan inshaAllah. Plan your halal fun activities and get the supplies right now so that you are not running to get glue, clay, paper, etc. during Ramadan.
11) Organize your Call List — Ramadan is a great time to reach out to family and friends who we haven’t been in touch with for some time now. Get your list ready with phone numbers. Start calling people now so that by the time Eid approaches, you have reached out to all of them insha’Allah.
12) Begin Social Media Detox Diet — I usually don’t stay away from social media (including Facebook and whatsapp) during Ramadan. In fact, I try to share something beneficial on these platforms as much as I can, without stressing myself out in Ramadan. Yet, it would be great to Unfollow or Unlike pages that distract you during Ramadan. Those posts are huge time wasters and time is precious, especially in Ramadan.
13) Revamp your Audio Files in the Car — Get CD’s or download Qur’an du’as and lectures in USB’s so you can listen to them while driving. One Ramadan, my husband and I almost finished half of the lectures of each juz while driving to the masjids and doing the errands.
These “plans” are what I am planning to get done before Ramadan this year. I am sure you might be having some great ideas too! Please share them with us so that we can benefit from your experience as well! We would love to hear from you. You can comment using Facebook and Google+ as well. Just see comments section
I pray that this Ramadan is indeed the best we have yet. May Allah accept our worship and forgive us our sins, and may we live to witness another amazing Ramadan next year. Ameen