Get ready… get set… go Ramadan
ATHLETES recommend starting a training program 8 to 10 weeks prior to a long marathon.
Teachers encourage students to start studying for their SATs or IGCSE’s at least four to six months before the actual test date.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the most important time of year. It is the month of fasting, prayer, generosity, feeding the poor, family togetherness; and a time when good deeds are rewarded tenfold, seventyfold, and possibly more.
It will take preparation and training to be able to fast the long, hot summer days this Ramadan, to ignore the enticing TV programs that will air in Ramadan, to disregard the special summer sales at the mall, and to stand in prayer late into the night.
About the special time of Ramadan, Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America, said, “This is a season of virtues and blessings. Ramadan is meant for our moral and spiritual training and for the purification of our bodies, minds, and souls. It is a special time to get closer to Allah and to seek His blessings and bounties. It teaches us piety, self-discipline, and patience. It is a time to seek Allah’s forgiveness and to forgive each other.”
With only about 8 days left for the month of blessings, mercy, and forgiveness, the time is right for some serious planning and time management.
Pre-Ramadan Preparation Tips:
Make a sincere intention to fast Ramadan, and to maximize your rewards by spending its days and nights in worship: prayer, supplication, reading the Holy Qur’an, and studying the meanings of its verses. Remind yourself again and again that you are fasting in obedience to Allah.
Plan your menu for Ramadan from now and get done with your grocery shopping on dry items that can be stored. Do not waste the precious moments of Ramadan in overcrowded supermarkets for food items that you can buy from now. Stock up on Ramadan essentials such as dates, lentils, oats, sambusa dough, apricot-paste for juice, Arabic coffee, and other family favorites. This will save you energy and money, and will free some time for you to tell your young children stories of the Prophets rather than do frazzled grocery shopping during Ramadan.
Sambusa can be prepared in bulk this week and frozen. All you have to do is bake or fry each day as needed and they will still taste crispy and delicious. Make all sorts of sambusa; try fillings for sambusa such as cheese with fresh parsley and mint leaves, ground beef with onions and cilantro, curried potatoes, carrots, and peas.
Get your Eid shopping out of the way from now; buy Eid clothes and gifts for the entire family before Ramadan begins. None wants to miss out on the prayers at the mosque on a blessed Ramadan night, just to shop for Eid clothes. Get all your gifts bought, packed, wrapped, and labeled for each child for Eid.
Turn the TV screen facing the wall in your living room. Sadly, most TV programs (except for a rare few) that are being advertised to air in Ramadan tend to encourage moral degradation. If you do have some enlightening and inspiring religious or educational shows that you like, you can always watch them later on YouTube. Ramadan only lasts 30 days, whereas we have a remaining 335 days for entertainment.
Organize and write down a personalized supplication or dua list. Mark and gather all the duas that you want to make in Ramadan. If the supplications are not in one book make your own print-outs. Have them on-hand to read at peak spiritual times, such as after each prayer, right before breaking the fast, after taraweeh prayers, during late-night prayers, and at the suhoor or pre-dawn meal. Make a list of loved people you want to make prayers for: family, friends from long ago that you remember fondly, relatives, teachers, and others.
Think, reflect, and plan to improve the moral and spiritual condition of your own self and your family. Think about your bad habits; now is the time to change. Ramadan is the best time to quit smoking, to perform your prayers on exact time, and to do something for the good of the Muslim nation and for all of humanity; to make this world a better place for everyone.
Analyze yourself and your routine. Understand your routine, the times of day when your energy levels are high and low. Optimize your high energy levels, which are normally in the morning, for reading Qur’an, spending time with children. This week, try waking up before dawn prayer to eat a light snack, supplicate and pray. That will make it physically easy on your body to maintain this regimen once Ramadan starts.
Increase your stamina and tolerance during the long, hot fasting days in Ramadan by starting to eat less from now. Train yourself to stay a little hungry for part of the day, and you can also exercise to increase your stamina.
Make a goal list: make realistic goals of how much of the Holy Qur’an you want to read each day. For example, if you aim for finishing one section each day, which is about 20 pages, you can break it into smaller parts and read 4 pages after each obligatory prayer. Praise Allah, say blessings on the Prophet, and say a prayer for your children when you are driving, cooking, cleaning, waiting in line, and at almost any time.
Ramadan brings families closer together, and goodness begins in the home. Be kind to your spouse, children, family, and extended family. Spend more quality time with your family members. Plan to share the breaking of the fast meal together and to pray together as much as you can. Ramadan should bring you closer to each other. Allah’s special mercy comes on the families that are united, harmonious and peaceful.
Self improvement and good conduct should be the focus of your attention this week to get you ready for Ramadan. Fasting should transform you and should make you a different, better person. Try to be extra kind and courteous during this month. Avoid quarreling and disputing. Reconcile and forgive. Do not get involved in backbiting, lying, or cheating. Be good to your friends and neighbors. Let your non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers know that this is a blessed and sacred time, through your words, behavior, and actions. Let your actions and pleasant demeanor speak about the sacredness of Ramadan.