Preparing Yourself For Ramadan!

As Salam Alaikum friends! I’ve been away a while and have gotten a writer’s block, unfortunately, but I’m back and I’ve missed you all! 🙂

Today’s post is about preparing for the wonderful month of Ramadan, which is quickly approaching. This year (2012), in the USA, Ramadan begins on Friday, July 20th. Note that most Muslims start observing the celebration the night before at sunset, which would be on the 19th, Insha’Allah.

Although Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

A little explanation about the holy month of Ramadan:

Observance of Ramadan is also mandated in the Quran’s second chapter, verses 183-185.

During the month of Ramadan, adult Muslims engage in ritual fasting from sunup to sundown. This practice, Sawm, which is the same as fasting, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse. Each evening, Muslims will break the fast at sundown with Iftar, a traditional meal often beginning with the eating of dates — an homage to a practice of Muhammad.

All Muslims are expected to observe the fast once they reach the age of puberty.

In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds that are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations — anger, cursing, greed, etc. As part of this, service to the community and to those in need is a major emphasis of activity throughout the month.

The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, takes place on the first day of the following month and celebrates the completion of the 30 days of fasting. On this day, morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebration among family and friends. Eid is a day of great thanksgiving for Muslims — an opportunity to show their gratitude for making it through the month of fasting and a chance to share their blessings with others.

There some exceptions as far as those who are not obligated to fast. People who are ill, pregnant and breastfeeding women (if they feel it would harm the baby), someone traveling, a woman during her menses (but must resume once menses ends), one who is not in a healthy state of mind, children, elderly if they are not healthy. Some of these reasons are only temporary and must be made up before the next Ramadan.

Preparing yourself for Ramadan:

Here are some ideas that may be of use to you as ways to help you prepare for fasting Ramadan.

1. To help condition your heart for this blessed month, intensify your worship before Ramadan begins. Just a small, consistent amount is enough. The Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 raka (units )of sunnah (compulsory prayer) after isha’ (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 raka of sunnah after isha’. And every time I pray these extra 2 raka, which are more than what I normally pray, let me remember that I am doing these with the intention of asking Allah (swt) to help me be prepared to strive and exert my utmost effort during Ramadan.

2. Make a Dua list! 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 dua, and then once `Eid passes realize that we completely forgot about fifty other things we needed to make dua’ 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 dua’ in this month where dua is accepted, and help our hearts pour out to the One Who can make those dua happen, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

3. 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 (swt)? Write out a list, put it somewhere you will see it, and make dua’ for your success in fulfilling your objectives.

4. 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 raka after dhuhr (the afternoon prayer) right away, make sure to do them as soon as you get the chance.

These are just some simple ways to ready yourself this year.

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 (swt) will help our hearts soften and honor us with making it easy to turn to Him and open up to Him.

May Allah (swt) make us of the successful in Ramadan, and make it easy for us to turn to Him completely and perpetually. Ameen.

Love, Amani

%d bloggers like this: