Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
As I sit down to write this article, Ramadan is exactly 23 days away. Let us take a minute now to sit down and think, how have I prepared for the coming of Ramadan? We prepare for days and months for a wedding, for our convocation ceremonies, for the birth of our first born. But Ramadan is far more important than all these events combined, because it is the gateway to Allah’s pleasure.
It is the month when the Quran came down, that book which Allah called Huda, or Guidance, and the distinguisher between right and wrong– the survival guide in the harsh and competitive jungle of this world.
Ramadan is the month in which Allah wants us to put that extra effort into really getting rid of the debris of sins and errors we accumulated throughout the previous eleven months, to wash them away with istighfar, polish and shine our hearts and then fill them up to the brim with the purity of the Quran.
Ramadan is supposed to be a 30-day crash course of spirituality. Even the shayateen are locked up in order to facilitate this process. So what have we prepared to go through this course of spiritual cleansing? Here are some things we may do just before Ramadan in order to be better prepared to utilize this precious time to the maximum. (Tweak the action plan as much as you need in order to suit yourself. The point is having an action plan and going with it.)
23 Days Left: Start ‘Rehearsals’
The Prophet (saws) didn’t fast on any month other than Ramadan as much as the month before Ramadan. You don’t have to fast every day starting from now. Just do whatever you can according to your own abilities and limitations.
You could do every Monday/Wednesday, or every alternate day (the fasting of Dawud). The point is you won’t be giving your body a shock by doing your first fast on day 1 of Ramadan and then doing a 30-day marathon without the slightest warning to your body. Let your body adjust beforehand. You will also be getting the extra rewards of fasting on the month of Sha’ban by following the sunnah.
18 Days Left: Research on Ramadan
Know as much as you can about this sacred month before it actually appears. There are two aspects of this research: 1. The virtues of Ramadan 2. The fiqh of fasting. You need to have knowledge in both these areas in order to really taste the sweetness of this month. Even if you have prior knowledge in these topics, revise, because we forget very easily. That’s especially true for me when it comes to fiqh rulings, and so revising and relearning is essential.
This is why it’s an excellent idea to utilize the opportunities given by some institutes that offer special Ramadan lectures, conferences and courses. I believe that the best time to do these courses is before Ramadan, not during the month. Understand Quran is offering you this amazing Ramadan package only for $97.
10 Days Left: Take your time to make an elaborate and succinct action plan for Ramadan.
Now that you have researched about Ramadan and the things which you can do during this month to improve your spiritual self, take your time to make an action plan for Ramadan. Keep in mind the areas in which you excel, and schedule to push yourself an extra mileage on this month on those areas.
If you’re especially good at memorizing, schedule to memorize one (or even two) pages of the Quran a day. Also keep in mind your limitations. If you’re a beginner of Quran recitation, do NOT push yourself to recite one juz a day. You’ll soon get burnt out and leave the whole thing alone out of sheer frustration. Don’t let that happen.
Make your plans in such a way as to help you not just earn rewards, but to develop lasting habits. If you’re planning to memorize half a page Quran a day, intend to make it a habit and continue doing it after Ramadan is over.
6 Days Left: Get together any materials that you might need.
Now you know quite a bit about Ramadan, and you have a shining action plan to lead you through it. Now prepare everything you need and keep them handy. Download that complete lecture series you have scheduled to finish. Buy those tafsir books you intend to read. If you don’t have a physical paper mus-haf, and intend to depend on your tablet or laptop copy, get a real mus-haf, now!
1 Day Left: Do not neglect the excitement of moonsighting!
Moonsighting is a custom which is becoming extinct with the advent TV news, internet and social networks… oh and also the rise in the number and density of skyscrapers that take away your right of looking at the sky. You just sit there waiting for the news reporter to announce that Ramadan is tomorrow, then you go to bed early so that you can get up for suhur.
Seriously, we need to revive the ritual of moonsighting, with all its anticipation and excitement. Try it out this year and see how cool it is to see with your own eyes the dawn of Ramadan.