It’s a few weeks to the month of Ramadan, and as usual, many Muslims are already looking forward to the spiritual high that comes with the blessed month. One thing you may have noticed with the coming of Ramadan is not just that people look forward to the spiritual high (or eeman boost), but that they are also filled with the fear of fasting, hope for answered duas, and motivation to do as many good deeds as possible.
We all know that the month of Ramadan is when we strive to attain the peak of perfection in our worship. And even though we try our best during this month to be better Muslims, many of us leave the month highly unsatisfied with how much ibaadah we were able to perform.
You planned to read the whole Quran once, but in between the demands of your work, you were only able to read 10 chapters. Or you planned to stand up for qiyamul layl every night, but most days, you are so knocked out that you don’t wake up till the suhoor is almost over.
One of the major reasons why many of us experience this discrepancy between what we planned and what we achieved in the month of Ramadan is that these acts of worship were not really a habit for us before Ramadan. They were things that we have left specially for the month of Ramadan so that we can gain more rewards from Allah (ta’ala).
This shouldn’t be so. If we want a transformational and highly satisfying Ramadan, we should plan for it months in advance. If you haven’t started your planning already, here are four things that you can start doing now to have a spiritually satisfying Ramadan, in sha’a Allah.
Read and Revise the Quran
One of the best things that you can start doing right now to prepare yourself for Ramadan is to revise all the portions of the Quran that you have memorized. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a few surahs from the last juz, or if it is a much bigger portion of the Quran.
You can memorize more portions if you have the opportunity, but put a lot of focus on the surahs that you already know. Revise so that you are sure that you still remember every verse, and that your tajweed is correct.
Also, strive to read more of the pages that you have not memorized, so that the words of the Quran become more familiar to you and your recitation becomes smoother. It’s a bit like reading a textbook for a forthcoming examination. If you are just opening the textbook a day to the exam, you won’t be familiar with much of what is in the book when the exams come, compared to if you had been reading the book several weeks before the exam.
The reciters of the Quran who lead salah during the long nights of Ramadan do not switch on their reciter mode only when it’s Ramadan. These people read and revise the Quran all year round. They wake up at night to read as much of the Quran as Allah (ta’ala) has destined for them, and they intensify these efforts as Ramadan approaches.
The Quran gets smoother on our tongues with practice and by the permission of Allah (ta’ala). This practice is one of the things that we should do more of as the month of Ramadan approaches.
Increase the Sunnah Salah
Many of us only pray the five compulsory daily salahs, without praying any nawaafil. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we are tired and our bones are achy during tarawih in Ramadan. At the very least, the number of rakahs that you pray during tarawih is already close to the number of nawaafil salah that is recommended on a daily basis. So, if you had been praying some nawaafil on a regular basis, it may become easier to stand for long on the nights of Ramadan, in sha’a Allah.
Even if we can’t pray all the recommended nawaafil before/after the obligatory salahs, we should strive to pray as much of it as we can. If you weren’t already, start with the two rakahs before the Fajr salah, then two rakahs of salatul dua after the sun has risen, and then one or three rakahs of Witr salah after the Ishai’ salah. This already gives you at least five rakahs of extra salah during the day.
Remember, there is a reward for praying the nawaafil outside of Ramadan too!
Fast as Much as You Can
It is not surprising that many of us do not fast outside of the month of Ramadan. Striving against our desires is not something easy for us to do, and eating is one of such desires. Many people get hungry easily, and some get weak due to fasting.
But let’s look at it this way: if you are in excellent health and can fast for 29/30 days at a stretch, that means that you can fast for at least a day or two every month, at the barest minimum.
The problem some of us have is that we have come to see fasting as something that we only do in Ramadan, so we don’t feel inspired to fast outside of the month.
Fasting outside of the month of Ramadan is not only rewarding in the sight of Allah (ta’ala), it also helps you get used to that act of worship, such that when Ramadan comes, your body doesn’t feel tired easily from fasting.
In the coming weeks, in sha’a Allah, try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays as much as you are able to, firstly as an act of worship to Allah (ta’ala), and to prepare your body for the fast of Ramadan.
Be Productive about Your Time
Ramadan is the time where you see people announce a social media break. It’s the time where we limit our social engagements, the parties we attend, and the places we hang out at. While this is a very productive thing to do, I believe that we should take this step even before Ramadan arrives.
If you are used to spending your free time on meaningless activities, it will be difficult to switch off completely during Ramadan. That is why you will find that many of the people who announce social media breaks during Ramadan find themselves scrolling through a social media app while breaking their fast at iftar, or checking Twitter while waiting for their sahur to be ready.
If you want to break a habit during Ramadan, it’s best to start cutting back on the habit before Ramadan.
If you spend about five hours on social media on a daily basis purely for entertainment, in the weeks leading to Ramadan, try to limit this time to about an hour. With this, when the month of Ramadan comes, you will find it easier to even cut back further on things that are not productive, so that you can have more time for ibaadah that will earn you rewards, in sha’a Allah.
The ibaadah that we want to do in the month of Ramadan is not ibaadah that have been prescribed for Ramadan alone. Fasting, praying nawaafil salah, giving charity, reciting the Quran are acts of worship that Muslims are encouraged to make a part of their daily lives. So, there is no reason for us to leave them till Ramadan comes because we believe that the reward of worship during that month is more.
To have a spiritually satisfying Ramadan where we meet and exceed all our ibaadah goals for the month, we should make all these ibaadah a part of us even before Ramadan comes.