The long awaited month of Ramadhan is at our doorstep. It’s now only a few days away. Excitement is in the air, and hearts are yearning for this beloved guest who comes only once a year. It is like a garden full of luscious fruits: a time for us to gain the most rewards by doing good deeds and staying away from bad ones, establishing a stronger relationship with Allah. If you have some misconceptions that only a certain group of people benefit during Ramadhan, you are wrong. Ramadhan is for every Muslim. The other months are in the past; the promising future is Ramadhan, waiting for you to make the best out of it.
In order to fully benefit from this holy month of Ramadhan, we must prepare. We need to be ready in all the ways we can. All the preparations revolve around getting the most rewards and forgiveness from Allah and drawing ourselves closer to Him.
Here are some tips on how to prepare.
1. Reading verses and hadiths on Ramadhan
Reading authentic sayings of the Prophet (SAW) and Qur’anic verses about Ramadhan refreshes your mind on notions about Ramadhan and gives you guidelines on what is expected from you. You will find yourself motivated, excited, and thinking of ways to earn the most rewards. Reading verses and hadiths about Ramadhan will be the foundation of an action plan.
Below are are a few Ramadhan-specific verses and hadith:
It was narrated by Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever fasts in Ramadhan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim).
It was narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas that,
Allah’s Messenger was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibril (Gabriel) met him. Jibril used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an. Allah’s Messenger was the most generous person, even more generous than the fair winds (Sahih Bukhari 6).
It was narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to false speech” (Sahih Bukhari 6057).
2. Fitting extra acts of worship in your schedule
From now on, familiarize yourself with the good deeds you can do during Ramadhan and start making space for them in your schedule. Your top priority should be perfecting your acts of worship.
The Prophet said: “Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadhan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times” (Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah 1887).
Drawing a timetable is a wonderful way to keep yourself on track during Ramadhan. The timetable can consist of numbering the days, listing all the acts of worship you want to do, and leaving space for a tick, when you succeed in performing the act, or a cross, when you don't.
Your daily list of ibaadah for Ramadhan can include:
voluntary prayers before and after the obligatory ones
reading the holy Qur’an with contemplation
praying Dhuha (a supererogatory prayer of 2 - 8 units performed in the morning, mid-morning, or late morning and just before noon)
praying Taraweh (special Ramadhan prayers done after Isha prayers)
praying Witr (an odd numbered prayer that the Prophet practiced, even when traveling, and highly encouraged Muslims to practice as well. It can be prayed anytime after Isha until Fajr prayer)
praying Tahajjud (prayers offered as a minimum of two rakaat and can be repeated as much as desired. Tahajjud is prayed during the third last part of the night before Fajr)
saying Dhikr, remembrance of Allah
A list of weekly acts could be:
feeding a fasting person
Prior plans should be made to make it possible to perform these acts. For example, You can be mindful of your free time in order to fit in making supplications or reading Qur’an.
Unfortunately, many women miss Taraweh prayers which are very important. Looking for a masjid close-by to pray and finding a babysitter from now could help ensure you make it to Taraweh payers.
3. Making a food plan
A lot of ladies spend hours and hours in the kitchen preparing numerous meals, which mostly end up in the fridge or even in the bin. This rigorous cooking leaves them weary, exhausted, and unable to attend Taraweh or wake up early for Tahajjud.
A food plan can help you spend less hours in the kitchen. Drawing up menus for Ramadhan can help you stay organised and prepared. It can help you buy the ingredients that you need and stock them in the fridge. Foods that can be prepared beforehand, such as samosas and spring rolls, should be made, wrapped, and frozen, to be taken out and fried when needed. Garlic and ginger can be blended with a little water and oil and refrigerated in an airtight container. Similarly, they can be crushed and frozen in ice-cube makers.
Those with househelps should ask their house helps to prepare ingredients in advance during Ramadhan so that you can spend less time in the kitchen. The time then spent in the kitchen could be made more beneficial by listening to the Qur’an or doing Dhikr.
4. Eid shopping
I know it sounds frivolous to mention Eid even before Ramadhan has started, but if you are to do any Eid shopping, now is the perfect time. Here’s why: I've found myself at crowded Eastleigh faced with fluctuating prices during Ramadhan, reaching home barely able to breathe with a whole day lost in shopping instead of worship and asking myself why I didn't do my shopping earlier. Doing it now is cheaper and more convenient. If it’s not possible now, try to do it before the last ten days of Ramadhan when everyone is rushing to do their shopping.
5. Practice makes perfect
We can start by simple acts such as being more keen on Dhikr and making sure that not a day passes without reading a page from the Qur’an. More attention should be given to staying away from juicy gossip and lies. Additionally, waking up an extra early for Suhur and Tahajjud can be hectic if our bodies aren't used to it, so you could start waking up to pray Tahajjud before Fajr if you usually don’t as a warm up.
Lastly, develop a resilient attitude in yourself, one that will get you on back your toes in case you slack off and give up in the middle of Ramadhan.
May Allah make us among those who benefit the most this Ramadhan.