Everyone’s favourite month of the year is almost here. Yes, it’s Ramadhan! Attaining the satisfaction of our Creator will be the top priority of Muslims especially during Ramadhan and insyaAllah for the remaining months in our lives.
With that being said, here’s a list of ways you can prepare yourself to ensure your iman (faith in Arabic) is at its peak once Ramadhan arrives.
1. Create a Ramadhan countdown
Setting a countdown is always a good way to get yourself excited for what’s to come. Many Muslim friends of ours set countdown dates for important life events such as holiday, weddings and many more. Why not countdown to this sacred month of Ramadhan too? By setting a countdown, you’re mentally settling a timeline to ready yourself for Ramadhan. You may also use it as a gauge as to how prepared you are for Ramadhan
2. Set SMART Ramadhan goals
Setting SMART goals might seem like old news for some. SMART goals is actually a tool used for work, school and even for home. Why not also use it for Ramadhan.
SMART goals are an acronym which stands for:
Specific: What, Who, When, Where, Why of your goal
Measurable: Provide tangible means of calculating this goal
Attainable: How can I achieve this goal? Actions to be taken by you
Relevant: Given the environment and time frame, is it worthwhile?
Time-based: Set a timeline to realize how long you have to achieve this.
It’s encouraged to set about three to five goals, adhering to each of the values above. An example of a Ramadhan SMART goal would be:
To pray tarawih with my family at home for at least 20 days throughout Ramadhan 2019, by limiting my iftar sessions out and coming back home on time after work.
3. Be in control physically and mentally this pre-Ramadhan
Jumping right into Ramadhan and fasting from food, drinks and everything else in between might be tough for some. It’s best to prep your body and mind before you welcome this blessed month. We can even learn to curb some of the bad eating habits like cutting down the urge to have coffee every morning.
A mental exercise that’ll be beneficial for all would be to practise mindfulness, a way to control your thoughts. It’s only natural for humans to err and have negative thoughts lingering in our head. Start yourself easy by gradually disallowing your mind from overthinking by actively taking charge. Each time a thought comes creeping in, make istighfar (the act of seeking forgiveness in Arabic) and think of something more positive!
4. Educate yourself about Ramadhan
Another activity which will come in handy once Ramadhan arrives is to carry out some research. Try gaining beneficial information from reliable sources about Ramadhan; such as the best dua to make in prayer, the best time for night prayer and the importance of the last 10 nights in Ramadhan. By having awareness, you’ll be more proactive in carrying out good deeds in throughout the month!
5. Fast voluntarily
By surrendering food and drinks during the day cold turkey might leave an impact on your body. It’s encouraged to inform your body that fasting’s about to begin by voluntarily fasting the Sunnah. Start off easy by fasting every Mondays and Thursday This allows your body to adjust and adapt it for the month-long fast.
For those who still have fasts due from the year before, this is the best time to complete it. Complete your qada’ fasts and practise the sunnah once you’re done.
6. Read and reflect on the meaning of the Quran
Also known as the month of the Quran, it’s only right that we try to rekindle our connection with it. A common practice Muslims try to emulate is to recite the Quran throughout the entire month of Ramadhan. For those who aren’t able to, don’t be discouraged. Instead of reading, you may also opt for listening to the Quran. There are many apps that allow you to download surahs and read the Tafseer.
Not only is it important to read, but also to fully understand the meaning behind each verse. There are profound meanings found in even the simplest of surahs such as Al- Fatihah. For those who are familiar with Spotify, you may find many Islamic scholars such as Nouman Ali Khan who go deeper into the meanings of each chapter in the Quran.
7. Attend knowledgeable gatherings/ events
Nowadays, there are many Muslim organisations conducting events, aimed to bring Muslims closer to the deen. Local organisations such as the Muslim Youth Forum, Safinah Institute and Yameen are just some examples that conduct Ramadhan-related gatherings. You’ll not only gain new knowledge but also surround yourself in a stimulating environment that will motivate you further to make this your best Ramadhan yet.
These are just some tips to hype up your spirit for Ramadhan. It’s always good to remind yourself that this isn’t a race of faith. No one’s competing to see who can be a better Muslim this Ramadhan. It’s important to remember that your faith is a private race between you and your past, with only one Judge.
How can you improve from your past Ramadhan? The key is to begin with small consistent steps. Start inculcating these habits to prepare for this Ramadhan, it might be the start of an entire lifestyle change in the long run.