Make Your Ramadan More Effective This Year

Download the Ramadan Planner 2010

You are about to embark on a remarkable journey, along with a billion other souls across the world, to challenge and push yourself to greater heights.  Coming soon is a remarkable season of goodness, intense spirituality and soaring faith, with unimaginable opportunities for reward and virtue.  But all of this requires adequate preparation and planning.  Don’t let Ramadan this year catch you by surprise.  Remember that failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

أتاكم رمضان شهرٌ مباركٌ ، فرض اللهُ عليكم صيامَه ، تـُفتـَحُ فيه أبواب السماء و تـُغلــَقُ فيه أبواب الجحيم و تـُغـَلُّ فيه مَرَدَة ُ الشياطين ، فيه ليلة هي خير من ألف شهر ، من حُرمَ خيرها فقد حُرِم

Ramadan has come upon you, a blessed month.  Allah has obligated for you its fasting.  In this month, the heavens’ gates are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained.  In this month there is a night that is better than a thousand months.  Whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived indeed.

[Sunan al-Nasā’i 2079, Musnad Ahmad 6851, 9133, 8631, authenticated by al-Albani]

This was the Prophetic welcome of Ramadan, with which he would congratulate his Companions and celebrate the arrival of the month of Ramadan.  His Companions were known to anticipate and plan for this season for half a year and then miss it for another half.

All of us should formally welcome Ramadan as well.  So gather your family, hold a meeting, and get everyone ready.   Many Muslim societies have a beautiful practice of decorating or renovating their homes prior to Ramadan, and each of us should also thing of creative ways to send a signal to our families, friends and neighbors that this time is indeed very special.

Here are 7 things you can do to make this Ramadan more powerful.

1. Prepare to Fast Properly

The central worship of this month is fasting (ṣiyām), which is to abstain from the things that nullify your fast (food, drink, sexual relations) from dawn to dusk.  Take the next few days to review the rulings and principles of fasting by:

2. Proper Food and Nutrition

Since the daylight hours are very long this year, maintaining proper food and nutrition will be even more essential, so:

    1. adequate hydration (plenty of water)
    2. minimizing carbohydrates (less sugar, sweets and samosas)
    3. maximizing protein (more lean meats, vegetables)
    4. taking advantage of suhoor (a proper meal in the morning will sustain you throughout the day)
    5. Avoid IBS (Iftar Binging Syndrome a.k.a. overeating)

3. Make Your Month a Month of Qurʼān

Remember that this month is all about the Noble Qurʼān, which came down from the heavens in this same season to change the destiny of humankind forever. Your month of Ramadan should also revolve around the Qurʼān.

  • Plan to read the entire Qurʼān in Arabic at least once in this month.
  • Try to read at least one commentary on the Qurʼān in the language you understand best.
  • Attend tafseer classes online or in person.

Remember this month is not about mere ritual and rites but about understanding the message of the Qurʼān and transforming our lives with it.

4. Build Your Ṣalāh Schedule

Salah is another important pillar of Islam and deserves more of our attention in this month. There are many things you can do to improve the state of your prayers.

  • Maximize your prayers in the masjid. Do the math: prayer in congregation=27x plus good deeds in Ramadan 70-700 x, etc. Do this by getting the prayer schedule from your local masjid and adjust your work schedule/lunch hour accordingly (if you have that option of course).
  • Get in the habit of performing extra prayers that we are not in the habit of praying (tahajjud, extra sunnahs, the Ḍuḥā prayer, etc.)

5. Taraweeh Prayer: The Gathering of the Community

Pay particular attention to this wonderful Ramadan tradition, endorsed and practiced by the Prophet and his Companions.

مَنْ قامَ رَمَضانَ، إِيماناً واحْتِساباً ، غُفِرَ له ما تَقدَّم مِنْ ذَنْبِه

Whoever stands for prayer in Ramadan with faith and anticipation, will have his previous sins forgiven. [al-Bukhārī and Muslim]

  • Try to attend the entire taraweeh session in one masjid, preferably where the entire Qurʼān is finished, it is recited with proper tajweed, and tafseer sessions are provided to highlight the message of what is being recited.
  • Try to read the verses in advance with their commentaries in order to make your experience more powerful. Remember that the Prophet said, Woe unto the one who recites [the verses] and does not reflect over their meaning. [Ibn Hibban]

6. The Power of Prayer (Du‘āh)

This month is a time to get your house in order and turn to Allah. It is very instructive that when Allah talks about fasting in the Qurʼān, he ends the discourse with an emotional appeal for us to call upon Him.

When my servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near. I answer the prayer of the one who calls upon Me. . . [2:186].

  • Make a list of your needs and aspirations, plus the people you want to pray for, prior to the month
  • Take advantage of the special times for duahs (last third of the night, Friday, between the Azan and Iqamah, in prostration, etc.)

7. The Ultimate Purpose Behind It All- Your Character

Finally, keep in mind that the ultimate aim of all of our acts of worship is the refinement of our character. The Prophet had much to say in this regard:

إِنَّمَا بُعِثتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ صَالِحَ الأَخلاق

I have been sent only for the refinement of character. [Musnad Aḥmad 8595]

مَن لَم يَدَع قَولَ الزُّورِ وَ العَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيسَ لِلهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَن يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَ شَرَابَهُ

Whoever does not give up false talk and acting by it, then Allah has no need for him to give up his food or drink. [al-Bukhārī 1770]

كَمْ مِنْ صَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ صِيَامِهِ إلاَّ الظَّمَأُ، وَكَمْ مِن قَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ قِيَامِهِ إلاَّ السَّهَرُ

How many are those who fast but only get out of it thirst, and those who pray but only get out of it fatigue! [Aḥmad, al-Dārimī, authenticated by Ibn Ḥajr, al-Albānī]

  • Before Ramadan begins, reach out to anyone you may have sour relations with and ask for forgiveness in order to start with a clean slate
  • Have your spouse or family member identify one bad habit that you should avoid, post it in your planner and get to work
  • Let them also identify one good habit for you to work on and adopt

May Allah facilitate and maximize the blessings of this month for all of us. Please remember me and my ailing mother in your prayers this year.

—Abu Zayd

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