Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar holds great virtue as it is a month in which Allah (swt) bestows His countless mercy, forgiveness and blessings upon the Ummah. It is said that the Prophet (saw) used to fast the whole month of Sha'ban in preparation of Ramadan.
Here are ten ways you can start preparing for the holy month:
1. Make a Ramadan countdown: Set a digital reminder on your phone or mark the start of Ramadan on your calendar. Not only is this is a great way of working out how many days are left until the holy month begins, but it will also help create excitement with your family ahead of the month.
2. Set Ramadan resolutions: Set some personal goals for the month of Ramadan that you would like to achieve during this month. For example, set a target on the number of Quran completions you would like to make, or make an intention to perform voluntary prayers and engage in Thikr every day. At the end of the month, you can review your progress and make a solid intention to carry on with your goals and make them a daily habit, Insha Allah.
3. Fasting: The Prophet (saw) gave a lot of importance to fasting in the month of Shaban.
As such, if you need to make up for any missed fasts ahead of Ramadan, do it in Shaban, or follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and fast voluntarily.
4. Eat moderately: It is important to prepare your body for fasting. Reduce the number of meals you have per day and limit the portions of your meals. Make sure to keep hydrated and include plenty of nutritional foods in your diet.
5. Increase your knowledge: Listen to Ramadan podcasts or watch videos of scholars to learn about the importance of the first, middle, and the best ten nights of Ramadan as well as The Night of Power - Laylatul Qadr. You can also research the lifestyle of the Prophet (saw) and his companions and find out more about what they did in the holy month so that you can incorporate these Sunnah practices into your daily routine.
6. Make sincere Tawbah: The Prophet (saw) said, “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent” [Tirmidhi].
Tawbah is a beautiful act of repenting and asking for sincere forgiveness from Allah for all your minor and major sins. Doing so will not only help strengthen your Imaan but will also help build your connection with the Almighty. Spend the last few days of Shabaan repenting for any sins you may have committed and make a strong intention to never commit the sin again as you into Ramadan.
7. Make abundant Dua: Dua is the best weapon of a Mu’min. Make abundant Dua to Allah and ask Him for good health during Ramadan. The Messenger (saw) explained that Dua will be accepted in three situations- when your body starts shaking, when you have fear in your heart and when you have tears in your eyes [Bukhari]. Try and make Dua at the time of Tahajjud as this is when Duas are readily accepted.
8. Improve your character: The Prophet (saw) narrated, “The best amongst you is those who have the best manners and character” [Bukhari]. Set a resolution to be kinder and more generous during the month of Ramadan by giving charity and being helpful towards the elderly, your neighbors and the community you live in. Consider carrying out one small act of kindness every day and work on improving different aspects of your character every week.
9. Offer voluntary prayers: Make an effort to engage in Nafl and Sunnah salah each day. Wake up in the last third of the night and offer Tahajjud salah or read Salat al-Tawbah. You can even engage in Thikr of Allah (swt). Remember, Ramadan is a month of worship, and every good deed counts!
10. Give charity:
Make a Sadaqah box for your house, volunteer with a local charity, donate clothes and shoes to the needy, or simply smile when you meet another Muslim - every act of charity counts! This is a month of giving, so try to give as much charity as you can.
A good way of giving to charity is supporting our Iftar meals campaign and helping to provide Iftar and Suhoor meals to Rohingya refugees who have lost their homes to raging fires in their refugee camp. By providing them with a nutritious and warm Iftar meal, you can ensure that they too can share in the blessings of Ramadan.
We pray that Almighty Allah grants us all good health to reach the month of Ramadan and may we all reap the blessings of this sacred month, Insha'Allah Ameen!
Allahumma Balighna Ramadan!