Top 12 tips for preparing for Ramadan.
Start with the intention of wanting to have a productive, fruitful and blessed Ramadan and increase in worship and spirituality. We all know that when Ramadan comes, we want to pray more, recite more Quran, become more spiritual beings and kick bad habits. During Ramadan we strive hard to do this, yet afterwards, we tend to fall back into our old ways. If we prepare and organise for this blessed month and set ourselves goals, we can help ourselves to retain the goodness of Ramadan for the rest of the year inshAllah.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Ramadan is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from the fire.” Here are top ten tips to help you prepare for Ramadan. If you prepare your mind for this blessed month, you will find you can maximise the time you have in Ramadan to benefit you. Have the intention to become a better person in Ramadan, to kick bad habits and to improve yourself spiritually and as a person.
1. Use your time wisely
Start thinking about how you are using your time. Reflect on how long you use your phone, computer, TV, What’s App, Social Media, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and so on. Go to your phone settings and see how much time you are spending on each app, and cut it down each day before Ramadan. You want your mind to be freer for worship in this blessed month and not spending time fruitlessly on social media. Instead of watching TV in the evenings, start reading a book on Islam or attend prayers at the local masjid when you can. Don’t take your phone with you when you pray and don’t leave it near you, as you may be tempted to check it straight after salah. Focus your mind on the Almighty and the hereafter, you never know if this will be your final Ramadan.
2. Checking emails and messages
Turn off your phone notifications, and check them all at once at certain times in a day. Don’t be tempted to pick up the phone to check your messages because chances are once you start checking them and replying to them, you get into unnecessary conversations.
3. Cut down on your tea and coffee
Start minimising the amount of tea and coffee you drink leading up to Ramadan. This will help with headaches that may occur at the beginning of Ramadan due to lessened amounts of caffeine.
4. Regulate your sleep
Try sleeping less in the lead up to Ramadan, so it’s easier for you to wake up for suhoor and worship during parts of the night. The best time to pray and make dua is in Tahajjud time which is in the last third of the night before Fajr Salah. Regulate your sleep so you are sleeping and waking up at the same time each day. If you get into a habit of sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, your body clock will automatically start waking you up at this time, you will feel fresher and you won’t be so dependent on an alarm clock.
5. Start reciting more Quran
Many people try and finish reading a Quran in Ramadan, then forget making this a daily habit after Ramadan. Try reciting a portion of Quran daily, even if it is 2 pages, but make this a regular daily habit. Continue this for 40 days so this becomes an established habit that you may then increase. Do not burden yourself with too much, as you may end up doing nothing. Take things easy and a little done regularly is better than a lot done at once and then left.
6. Stock up on your Eid gifts before Ramadan
Many people end up Eid shopping during Ramadan, or towards the end of Ramadan, especially in the last ten days. This is a special time, when in fact it should be spent on more worship and prayers. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for and start searching before Ramadan. Chances are you will have more time to look around, you are likely to buy a better gift and may even save money by shopping around, rather than rushing in Ramadan.
7. Don’t organise unnecessary Iftar invites
Many people start doing huge iftaar invites, so sisters (and brothers- although unfortunately, it is mainly the sisters) cooking and shopping for most of the day in preparation for the iftar party. There are 11 months outside of Ramadan where dinner parties can take place. Remember the month of Ramadan is a precious time. So use it wisely. It is very good to feed people in Ramadan and for them to break their fast as the Prophet (saw) has said, “Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, will have a reward equal to his, without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person.” (Tirmidhi) So if you want to gain this reward, you can donate money to charity to feed the poor fasting people in Ramadan, or find poor people who are fasting and donate a meal to them.
8. Eat well and exercise
Fasting helps detox the body, so it is useful if you prepare yourself to gain the full benefits of fasting, not only spiritually but physically. Prior to Ramadan, start eating and drinking healthily. Cut down on sugary foods, desserts and drinks and eat nutritious and wholesome food. By doing this, your body we feel healthier and better able to cope with fasting. Many people feel very lethargic during Ramadan due to low iron levels, ensure you are eating properly prior to Ramadan and also during Ramadan to ensure your iron levels are at their optimum. Drink plenty of fluids before Ramadan and avoid fizzy and sugary drinks.
Engage in some form of exercise prior to Ramadan, this will help energize your body and help give you that boost of strength needed for Ramadan.
9. Outline a Ramadan goal plan
Write a list of things you wish to accomplish in Ramadan. Don’t just keep these ideas in your head but actually write them down. Perhaps your goal may be to read a whole Quran, or to pray tahajjud every night. Every night, look at your planner for the following day to ensure you meet your goals. This is an amazing habit to keep, even after Ramadan. Prepare a dua list of duas you may wish to recite in this blessed month. If you do not understand the Quran, perhaps make it your goal to read a part of the translation each day too. Another goal could be how much charity you intend to give in Ramadan. You may want to allocate a certain amount daily (no matter how small) in Ramadan for the same or different charities. You can also plan how much you want to teach your children in Ramadan.
10. Start voluntary fasting
You can start voluntary or intermittent fasting in Shabaan leading up to Ramadan, so this gets you into the habit and you won’t feel so tired at the beginning of Ramadan.
11. Give the house a spring clean before Ramadan
Reduce clutter and give old items such as clothing or old toys to charity. It will make things easier for you in Ramadan, so you do not need to spend unnecessary time cleaning.
12. Meal plan in advance
Meal plan healthy nutritious meals in advance. If you wish to make a dietary lifestyle change, what better way than to start in Ramadan? You will find by eating healthier in Ramadan, you will have more focus, energy and clarity. Your body will detox in Ramadan, so it is essential you are eating optimal nutritional value foods, rather than filling it with sugars and high calories non-nutritional meals.
Try to implement the above 12 tips prior to Ramadan, so when Ramadan arrives, you can make the most of it.
Wishing you all a wonderful, blessed and productive Ramadan with all your prayers accepted. Ameen.