Islamic Relief USA’s Nabeelah Naeem compiled these tips to help us prepare for Ramadan.
The Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) used to prepare for Ramadan six months in advance. So, if we really want to make the best of this Ramadan, then we need to prepare for it now! As we know, fasting is more than just abstaining from food but from indecent speech and lustful desires as well. Fasting pushes us to be cognizant of our actions, to be patient and to be moral individuals, thereby increasing our taqwa (God-consciousness). Here are some ways we can improve on different aspects of our life so we can fully benefit from Ramadan, a time when deeds are multiplied.
1. Fast Voluntarily:
This month—Shabaan—is the prime time to start fasting those extra fasts or making up your missed fasts from last Ramadan.
Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Shabaan.’ He said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.'” (Narrated by al-Nasaai)
The best way to prepare fasting for a whole month is to start fasting often, in order to gain control over your actions, stomach and desires.
Fast Mondays and Thursdays:
Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet (pbuh) would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: “The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other.” (Hasan)
Fast the White Days—13th, 14th and 15th of each Islamic month:
Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘Oh Abu Dharr! If you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, 14th and 15th (these are called Al-Ayaam Al-Beedh, the White Days).'” (Sahih)
The Prophet said, “(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me, and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.” (Bukhari)
2. Recite and Reflect Upon the Qur’an:
Start now to reflect on portions of the Qur’an to get closer to Allah and understand your responsibilities. Every single time you read the Qur’an, you will uncover more depths of meaning and benefit in this world and the hereafter.
Aishah (ra) related that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Indeed the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Muslim)
3. Follow the Sunnah and Pray Extra Prayers:
Learn more about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and follow him by emulating his actions.
“Say, [Oh Muhammad], If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 3:31)
4. Repent and Make Dua’a:
We all make mistakes, but alhamdulilah we can always repent.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “All the children of Adam constantly err, but the best of those who constantly err are those who constantly repent.” (Tirmidhi)
5. Give Charity:
This world can only be a better place if we help each other. In return, Allah rewards us in both worlds.
The Messenger (pbuh) said, “Allah is in the aid of His servant as long as His aide is in the assistances of others.” (Muslim)
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward?” (Qur’an 57:11)
The Prophet also said: “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
6. Improve Your Character:
Everyone can be a little bit more kind and work on different aspects of their character.
The Prophet (pbuh) used to say: “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (al-Bukhari)
7. Eat Healthy and Moderately:
With less time to eat in Ramadan, we really need to pay attention to what we eat. Now is the best time to research the nutritious value of the food we eat. While we fast, the food we eat before we start our fast or to break our fast needs to provide the optimal energy so we can accomplish our daily tasks and increase our worship.
Overeating too is hazardous.
Ash-Shafi’i said: “”I have not filled myself in 16 years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clean understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”
In order to take full advantage of this holy month, we need to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. Insha’Allah if we constantly try to improve ourselves, then when we reach Ramadan, we will be able to easily move to the next level spiritually.