Follow the three Ps: Plan, prepare, practice
By Fatima Jehan
Ramadan is an awesome month in an of itself. But to make it more amazing we need to work on it beforehand. As a student prepares for his exams, every Muslim should get himself well equipped for Ramadan. Ramadan comes from the root word ‘ramada’, which means extreme heat. Just as a goldsmith beats gold in intense heat to change it to his desired shape, we need to shape ourselves to how Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) desires his servants to be. Once we strive to be successful in one Ramadan and continue in the coming ones, we automatically become better and more closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). As Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) says in his Noble Qur’an,
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” [Qur’an 2:183].
Every Ramadan starts with full vigor, but it always happens that by the end of the month you stay dissatisfied about what you were able to achieve. And not to forget, you cannot blame the shaytaan this time around as he and all his associates are chained. Whatever you will be doing is your responsibility.
However, do not despair. Such mistakes can be avoided through being well-organised and meticulously planning. Let me suggest three steps:
And these three steps have three aspects:
1) Personal: Remember: Plan your Ramadan first before you move towards your family. Jot down your weaknesses. Prioritise the ones that you want to kick out this Ramadan. Prepare a journal for yourself with all the deeds you want to fulfill. Include in it the fard salaahs, nafl salaahs, azkaar, duas and every small deed you wish to do, so that nothing is left behind. Keep your plan in a written format as it would make it easy for you later on. This is the right time to rebuild on certain character traits that you’re weak in (eg: patience, trustworthiness etc.). Even plan your sleep pattern and diet so that your energy levels don’t go low at any time of the day. This is very important as it shouldn’t affect your ibadah.
2) Family: Plan this Ramadan with your family in such a way that it brings in spiritual upliftment and increases the attachment within each other. Make Ramadan workbooks for your children with lots of colouring and craft works. Make them colour every salah they pray. Stick stars for every fast they complete, whether they fast for the whole period of time or just a part of it. Help them make Ramadan greeting cards for their friends. Make it a form of dawah for them by writing at least one virtue of Ramadan in it. Encourage them verbally with good words and physically with hugs and kisses for every good deed they do during this month. Most importantly, sisters, do create some quality time with your spouse! Plan a few romantic, rewarding moments with him. Recite the Qur’an together, walk or drive to taraweeh together, make a dua list you want to make for your children together. You can even plan an umrah. It would be an amazing experience during this wonderful month.
3) Social: Plan your iftar parties beforehand. Make the list of invitees, groceries required and things to do. Try to organise halaqas within your community. Get sisters in groups and discuss how you are going to do dawah this Ramadan. Plan out charity work, events, and conventions for the benefit of your society.
1) Personal: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions would prepare for Ramadan six months in advance and then would reap its benefits in the remaining six months. If not for six months at least don’t waste the month of sha’ban. Once you have listed out your weaknesses, prepare yourself to fight them. Remove all those things at home that would distract you during Ramadan. Engage your mind by learning and understanding Arabic. Try to strengthen your relation with the Qur’an. This will help you taste the sweetness of recitation of the Glorious Qur’an during taraweeh. List the azkaar and duas that you don’t want to miss this Ramadan. Stick them in places where you hang around the most in your household like your kitchen. Do all the groceries and stock up your pantry so that you don’t waste time in shopping during Ramadan. Even get Eid gifts beforehand so that you don’t need to rush in the last ten important days of Ramadan.
2) Family: Teach your family the importance of this month and keep reminding them about the immense rewards they are going to receive. Prepare posters with your children with dua’s and hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) on Ramadan and stick them around the house. This creates a lot of motivation in children. Prepare lots of gifts and surprises for your children to encourage them to fast and pray during this month. Make a schedule within the family such that you block some time out for recitation of the Qur’an, praying salaah or driving to taraweeh together as a family.
3) Social: Encourage Muslims in your community to get involved in charity and social work during Ramadan. In case you’re planning events, split the work among your group so that you can complete the work well before the arrival of the month. Arrange for charity boxes at the street ends and outside mosques for collection of old clothes and other items for those in need.
1) Personal: Start from today! Keep track of not just your deeds but also your character. Fard prayers … those you won’t be missing but bring in the nafl prayers, too. Start your day with tahajjud. Make it a habit to pray duha and witr on a daily basis. See that you read at least a chapter from the Qur’an everyday. Use all of Sha’ban to increase your knowledge of Arabic. Learn the tafseer of at least a single ayah a day and try to apply it in your life. If you keep practicing till the end of Ramadan, these habits will get so deeply sown into your life that you will never be able to leave, in sha Allah.
2) Family: As a family, convert your household into a spiritual hub to welcome Ramadan. Sit with your children and recite the Qur’an. Talk about the lessons you came across. Check up on each other to stay on track. Start spending quality time with each other. Do the cooking and cleaning chores as a family. Husbands must give a chance to their wives to go to the masjid and pray and also get involved in communal activities. Pray the additional prayers together and if you are able to go to the masjid together, that’s more awesome!
3) Social: Get yourself involved with the poor and needy of your community. Know their needs and arrange for them. Organise shelters for the homeless. Attend classes in the community to build motivation among each other. Conduct events for children that encourage them to fast and pray during Ramadan. Distribute pamphlets and posters in the society about the importance of Ramadan.
As a whole there are lots of things that Ramadan can be loaded with. But remember: Don’t overload yourself! Keep your ibadah simple and consistent as Allah loves those who are consistent in their deeds. May Allah make us steadfast and successful in this Ramadan. All the best for the upcoming month!