Ramadan is just around the corner and I’m sure you’re excited about improving yourself spiritually. But why wait until Ramadan starts to do more righteous deeds? As Muslims, we should be developing ourselves all year round. Treat Ramadan as a launch phase for your new and improved self, and not the beginning of your training session. It’s like running a marathon where all the conditions, like weather and terrain, are in your favour. The devils are chained, tranquility and serenity fill the air, motivation is high because of associated rewards, and you’re fasting so desires are less. Basically, the conditions are set up for your success. The real challenge is to keep up the pace when the conditions are not in your favour, i.e. after Ramadan.
Let the training begin. Here’s a list of habits you should be working on NOW to achieve those long lasting changes Ramadan intends to serve!
1. Desiring Ramadan
Knowing the virtues of Ramadan isn’t enough. You have to yearn for it and really look forward to the immense rewards attached to it, or else you’ll just be left with the pain of fasting. The companions would spend the 6 months prior to Ramadan making dua that Allaah allows them to live to witness Ramadan, and the 6 months after it praying for the acceptance of the good deeds they did during Ramadan. We need this type of yearning!
2. Reciting Quran
Ramadan is the month of the Quran and on everyone’s Ramadan goals’ list is to complete the Quran cover to cover once, twice, or thrice. However, the Quran is no simple book. It’s heavy. So don’t expect to suddenly make it your companion if you’ve been neglecting it all year. This is the time to start listening to and reading the Quran, so when Ramadan arrives, achieving that goal becomes realistic.
3. Istighfar (seeking forgiveness)
It’s possible to leave Ramadan with a clean slate, but don’t wait until Ramadan starts. Start seeking forgiveness and repenting now.
You’ll need a bag full of patience this Ramadan. The hours will be longer, temperature higher, and your kids are on holiday. Start increasing your tolerance level by being patient on the road. Be patient when you cook. Be patient when you worship. Be patient with your loved ones. And most importantly be patient with yourself.
You don’t just run a marathon without training in advance. This month, Shaban, is the time for training your mind and stomach for the long fast ahead. Aisha said, “I never saw the Messenger of Allah fasting an entire month except in Ramadhan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’ban”. (Narrated in Bukhari and Muslim)
6. Making Dua
Dua is worship and Allaah becomes angry with those who don’t call upon him. Sometimes we become so busy that we don’t take time out of her day to raise our hands to praise and ask Allaah. It’s true that duas made in Ramadan are more likely to be answered, but Allaah hears you all the time so don’t wait!
7. Remembering Allaah through dhikr
Making dhikr (remembrances) is really easy on the tongue and can be done anywhere and anytime. Get into the habit of keeping your tongue moist with the rememberance of Allaah, so when Ramadan comes you’ll be doubling up on rewards that are already magnified.
8. Praying on time
Of course prayer has its prescribed time limits, but try getting into the habit of praying at the earliest time possible. We were created to worship, so lets start organizing our day around Salah and not scrummaging to fit salah into our busy schedule. It’s not easy as a mom, but practice makes perfect.
9. Praying voluntary prayers
Did you know that the rawaatib prayers (voluntary prayers connected to the fard prayers) is more valuable than the night prayer prayed in the debts of the night? Before you make a commitment to pray taraweeh this Ramadan, commit to praying your sunnah prayers first!
10. Holding your tongue
The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, yet the most destructive to our good deeds. Start training it now to speak righteous words in place of offensive language, backbiting, gossip, and idle talk. “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech,”[Bukhari].
This is a short list and is by no means limited to pre-Ramadan preparations. Start developing or enhancing these habits now with the goal of strengthening them in Ramadan and inshaa Allaah these habit will stay all year round.