With less than a month left until the month of mercy: Ramadhan, I wanted to post about preparing for the best month of the year. There are many articles on the same but I wanted to offer a practical approach to preparing which has worked for me and friends.
When we plan holidays or weddings we put much effort in organising our plans, schedules and finances. We prepare for holidays by booking tickets, getting visas, ensuring we have any vaccinations, saving up, and planning each minute and meal.We put hours, days and sometimes months into organising a wedding, that only lasts just one day or in some cases a few. This takes time and effort yet we are more than happy to do so as we have the end goal in mind: a relaxing holiday or a picture perfect wedding. We exert all this effort and stress ourselves to meticulously plan holidays and weddings for just a few days of enjoyment but for Ramadhan our preparation is very little in comparison.
I wanted to ask if you prepare for Ramadhan the same way you prepare for a holiday or wedding. Do you budget the same way? Do you ensure you have saved enough to give in charity? Do you try to make your Ramadhan even better by giving in charity or ensuring you have enough food at home, or taking your family out for iftar one day? If so, why not?
Why do we fall short when it comes to Ramadhan? These questions all lead to a core question: what is your intention for Ramadhan?
We have been told in the Quran and Sunnah of the importance of this blessed month. Ramadhan is the month of mercy, a time where Allah readily accepts our du’a, a time we are given the chance to change ourselves, to draw near to Him and to rectify our wrongs.
Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing prayer; paying zakaah; fasting Ramadaan; and Hajj to the House (the Ka’bah).”al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari, 8; Muslim, 16)
Ramadhan is a pillar of Islam. The pillars uphold the faith and a weak pillar can only lead to a damage on a high scale. We cannot afford damage to our emaan (faith). Not all of us have used the last few months to prepare adequately and we only have a short time left. However as believers we can only think positively and act immediately so we may see the fruits of our actions.
I have gathered some tips to help us all prepare for Ramadhan so we can sow the seeds now and reap the rewards in Ramadhan. May Allah azza wa jal allow us to reach Ramadhan and forgive us our sins and make us of those whom he frees from the fire and accept our deeds Ameen
“Glad tidings to he who rectifies himself before Ramadhan (arrives).”Amr ibn Qays (May Allah be pleased with him) [Al Lataa’if al maarof: 138]
Preparing for Ramadhan:
What is your intention for Ramadhan? Ironically, our intention can unintentionally change, therefore we must take due measure to ensure it is always for Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala (The Most Glorified, The Most High).
With all these devices and apps at our disposable we have numerous ways to aid us in renewing our intention. The most simple way I find beneficial is: a recurring alarm/google reminder with the message: “What is your intention right now?”. Not only does this prevent me from sin it also gives me two minutes to remind myself of my end goal: Jannah. This reminder can be set as often as you would like.
2. Du’a is worship
Constantly make du’a (prayer) to Allah to keep you sincere, to forgive you and your family, to allow you to witness Ramadhan and to accept your deeds. Du’a is worship so busy yourself with du’a whenever you can.
3. Clean your slate: forgive others and seek forgiveness
Allah, may He be exalted, urges us in His Book to forgive people and be patient with their annoyance, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good”[Aal ‘Imraan 3:134]
Before Ramadhan, we should try our best to make amends with people, by forgiving them and seeking forgiveness. What I notice is that, just before Ramadhan we receive an influx of messages requesting forgiveness, which leads to the recipients questioning the sincerity behind this and rightfully so. This act of broadcasting a message requesting for forgiveness can be likened to starting a new relationship on the wrong foot because, your intention is already questioned. We want to better the bonds of brother and sisterhood not further ruin them therefore we must act with foresight and wisely.
Creating a list of potential people you think you have wronged before Ramadhan and approaching them personally can make a huge difference. A personal message asking if you’ve upset them and if you can talk about it as opposed to a “sorry, forgive me”, is a mature and open way to navigate friendships and other relationships. Talking can lift burdens that weigh heavy on your shoulders without you consciously aware of it’s effect.
Not only is it importance to seek forgiveness and to forgive but ensuring you are debt free before Ramadhan is key. If you have taken a loan from someone, try your utmost best to return this before they ask you or speak to them about this.
4. A conversation with the Al Mujeeb (The Responder to Prayers): Create a du’a (prayer) list.
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright”[ Surah al-Baqarah 2:186]
Get a book for your du’a list and pour your heart out. List all those who you would like to make du’a for after sending blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ your general adi’yah (plural for du’a) for repentance, for the Ummah and for your family. Make du’a for them. List the du’as that you have memorised, or memorise du’a beforehand. Then use this after your salah and at du’a acceptance times before Ramadhan and during Ramadhan and even after Ramadhan. Your list will grow!
5. Get into the habit of reciting the Qur’an every day
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.”(Surah AL Baqarah: 184)
Personally for me, I prefer reciting in the morning so that as I get tired throughout the day, and lazy I know that I have at least recited and can afford to relax after a long day. Not only does reciting in the morning ensure that I have recited my daily portion but it also instils happiness within my heart. Everyone’s timetable is different so you need to see what suits you best.
“Reciting a single verse with contemplation and understanding is better than reciting the entire Qur’aan without any contemplation or understanding. Moreover, it is healthier for the heart.”Ibn Al Qayyim (Miftaah Daar al- Sa’aadah pg. 535)
Accompany your recitation with reading and reflection on translation. Watch lectures on gems from the Qur’an or tafsir and take time to contemplate on the words of Allah azza wa jal.
6. Abandon bad habits, sins and that which leads you to sin
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them.”(Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2749)
We all sin in different ways as human beings. We are not perfect and were not made to be perfect. List the sins/bad habits you wish to leave or which you feel that leaving would aid you in getting closer to Allah. This can be: music, foul language, watching pornographic material, backbiting etc. Think of realistic ways that work for you to help you abandon these and work on this in the last few days of Ramadhan.
“Regardless of how great and numerous the sins of a servant may be, the pardon and forgiveness of Allah is much greater.” – Ibn Rajab
7. Focus on good deeds
Huthayfah ibn Qadarah (rh): “If you obey Allaah in private, He’ll rectify your heart, whether you wish for it or not.”[Sifat us-Safwah. Vol 4. Pg 270]
Make your daily timetable, chores, duties and responsibilities revolve around your salah and good deeds. Allot timings for dhikr (remembrance of Allah), du’a and specific deeds.
For example, on your commute to work, university or school, glorify Allah, seek forgiveness using a counter or tasbih if you wish and recite. Focus on completing your sunnah prayers and strive to do one special good deeds a day, like giving chocolates to a neighbour, helping a family member our with something, being kind to someone and giving in charity.
Developing these good habits from now will make it easy to always perform such deeds consistently.
Begin with these tips to pave the way for you to complete sincere deeds for the sake of Allah. If you enjoyed this post, then do share and we pray that you implement that which will benefit you in this life and the next. Remember, small acts done consistently are great in impact on one’s heart and soul.