A lot of us yearn to prepare for Ramadan, but we have no idea how to start. Below are a few tips to insha’Allah (Allah willing) help prepare our minds and hearts for this upcoming Month of Mercy.
Make the Intention
Simple to do, with a powerful impact. Maybe you want to prepare for Ramadan, but between school, work, family, and your other activities, you just have no idea how to fit in ‘prepare for Ramadan’ time. Instead of separating ‘prepare for Ramadan’ from your daily activities, make your daily activities a MEANS of preparation for Ramadan.
For example, perhaps your mom asked you to pick up your brother from school on the day you finally had time to read a few extra pages of Qur’an. Instead of feeling upset as if you have lost a great opportunity to prepare for Ramadan, make the intention that you are picking up your brother to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) and prepare for Ramadan by obeying your mother, helping your family members, building ties of kinship…and the list continues.
The point is that preparing for Ramadan does not have to be some magnificent, enormous, extra-special thing that needs to be done at a certain time of the day. Many of your daily actions can be turned into Ramadan preparation actions with a sincere intention insha’Allah.
Do these Easy-to-Reap-Reward Actions
1. Ask Allah to forgive your brothers and sisters. “Whoever seeks forgiveness for believing men and believing women, Allah will write for him a good deed for each believing man and believing woman.” [at-Tabarani, classed as hasan by al-Albani]
2. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah radi allahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) said “The Messenger of Allah Sallallahu 'alyhi wa salaam said: ‘Whoever says subhan Allah wa bi hamdih (praise and glory be to Allah) 100 times, morning and evening, his sins will be erased even if they are like the foam on the sea.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
3. If a person says, “Subhan Allah (glory be to Allah),” 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away. [Muslim 2073]
4. Remember Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) when you go shopping. “Whoever enters a market and says: “Laa ilaha illallah wahdahu la shareeka lah, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu yuhyi wa yumeetu wa huwa hayyun laa yamoot, bi yadihil khair, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadeer.” [There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, alone without partner, to Him belongs dominion and praise; He causes life and death and He is the Living and does not die; in His Hand is all the good, and He is over all things competent] Allah will write for them a million good deeds and erase a million bad deeds and raise him a million levels.” [at-Tirmidhi, classed as hasan by al-Albani]
Up Your Worship
To help condition your heart for this blessed month, intensify your worship before Ramadan begins. Just a small, consistent amount is enough. The Prophet Sallallahu 'alyhi wa salaam told us: “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
For example, say I always pray 2 rak`at (units )of sunnah (compulsory prayer) after ishaa’ (the night prayer) from this day until Ramadan begins—and even through Ramadan, let me make the intention that I will now pray 2 extra rak`at of sunnah after ishaa’. And every time I pray these extra 2 rak`at, which are more than what I normally pray, let me remember that I am doing these with the intention of asking Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) to help me be prepared to strive and exert my utmost effort during Ramadan.
Make a Du`a’ (prayer) List Today
This is THE MONTH to ask for EVERYTHING, both related to this life and the Next. Let us not wait until the last 10 nights to make special du`a’, and then once `Eid passes realize that we completely forgot about fifty other things we needed to make du`a’ for. Let’s start making our lists now, and add to it as more things come our way. Insha’Allah this should help us remember to make constant du`a’ in this month where dua`a’ is accepted, and help our hearts pour out to the One Who can make those du`a’ happen, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Write out Your Objectives for Ramadan
Praying all of your fard (obligatory) prayers? Praying all of your sunnahs? Reading the entire Qur’an? Giving $1 in charity a day? Making itikaaf (a time for reflection and prayer in seclusion) in the masjid? Leaving one serious sin that you’ve been trying to get away from for some time now? Sincerely turning back to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala)? Write out a list, put it somewhere you will see it, and make du`a’ for your success in fulfilling your objectives.
Make a Plan!
Look at your objectives and try to plan out how to realize them in this month. For example, perhaps you are really struggling to pray your sunnah prayers. In this month, realize the enormity of the ajr (reward) of praying the sunnah prayers. Think that perhaps these sunnah will be the deeds that will be heavy on your scale of good deeds when you are intensely in need of them—on Yawm al-Qiyamah, the Day of Judgment. Therefore, fight to keep doing them all throughout Ramadan. If you can’t pray your 2 rak`at after dhuhr (the afternoon prayer) right away, make sure to do them as soon as you get the chance.
Your plan might look something like this:
Objective: Pray all of my fardh prayers.
Method: Envision myself on the Day of Judgment seeing the weight of praying my sunnah consistently during this month. Make sure to pray sunnah immediately after salah (prayer). If I cannot, do it as soon as the opportunity arises—don’t let myself put it off!
Another example is that of finishing the Qur’an:
Objective: Finish the entire Qur’an in this month.
Method: Read 4 pages of the Qur’an after every salah. 5 prayers X 4 pages = 20 pages. 20 pages= about 1 juz. 1 juz X 30= the entire Qur’an.
So many Muslims have passed away since last month. So many people have not made it to Ramadan this year. Last year was their very last Ramadan. Will you make it to this Ramadan? Will this be your last Ramadan?
Aim to strive this Ramadan. With a very small amount of effort, such as just making a small intention or adding a few extra acts of worship, we pray that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) will help our hearts soften and honor us with making it easy to turn to Him and open up to Him.
May Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) make us of the successful in Ramadan, and make it easy for us to turn to Him completely and perpetually. Ameen.