In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers.
When I was first asked to do this week’s tarbiyya, I really struggled to come up with a suitable topic. I wanted to write about something that would be pertinent and also be of some practical use. So I thought why not do something on Ramadan since it is just around the corner? Thus I decided to focus on Ramadan and specifically on how to prepare for this blessed month. Now there is a lot one can say on this topic, but I am not going to go into any detailed discussions. Instead I am going to offer some practical tips and suggestions which I believe we can all implement in our daily lives in the run-up to this much awaited month. These pieces of advice are really things that I would like to implement in my own life on a regular basis and not just as a pretext for Ramadan.
Eat less and stay healthy
Learning to moderate our food intake before Ramadan can be a very productive exercise. It can teach us to control our eating habits and make it easier for us to fast during Ramadan. Now I am not asking any of you to go on a diet or anything. All I am asking is that you reduce your food intake whilst making sure that you take in all the essential nutrients. In other words, make sure you have a balanced diet. Staying healthy and keeping fit is imperative for every Muslim.
We know very well that fasting in Ramadan is not just about abstaining from food and drink. Indeed, the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said:
“Perhaps a person fasting will receive nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst.” [Ibn Maajah, Ad-Daarimee, Ahmad, al-Baihaqee, Saheeh]
So whilst we are being abstemious we should also try to offer more supplications and voluntary prayers. If we cannot do this, then the least we should do is try to offer all the recommended sunnah prayers. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said:
“Whoever prays twelve Rak`at during the day and night will have a house built for him in Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Just imagine what a great investment you can make day in, day out – a house built for you in Jannah every single day! And this is not just for Ramadan. So now is a very good time to get into this habit.
Do more Zikr (Remembrance of Allah)
We know very well that Ramadan is the month of blessings when all of our rewards are multiplied manifold. Therefore we should try to make the most of this month and do as many good deeds as possible. In fact we should strive to spend this entire month in constant worship. One simple way of doing this is to continuously do Zikr (remembrance) of Allah (SWT) and to send benedictions on His Messenger (SAW). You can start doing this now. Do zikr whenever you are walking down the road or taking the bus/tube to somewhere. The idea is to keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah at all times. These remembrances can be the ones reported of the Prophet (pbuh) every morning and evening, or even recommended ones such as asking for forgiveness, thanking Allah, looking around at His creation and praising Him etc.
Read more Quran
Ramadan also happens to be the month when the Quran was first revealed to Mankind. As such we should try to read more and more Quran during this month and try to contemplate on its meanings. At the very least, we should all try to finish one complete recital of the Quran. All it takes is reading just 20 pages a day. If you read 4 pages after every prayer for 30 consecutive days, that’s one complete recital for you. And there is no reason why you cannot start now to prepare. It would be difficult going from reading no Qur’an to reading 20 pages, so we can train ourselves by slowly increasing the amount we read everyday until the blessed month.
Become more charitable
We know that the reward for giving charity is multiplied as Allah has mentioned in the Holy Quran. So you can only imagine how rewarding this act must be during Ramadan. However, parting with our wealth is a very difficult thing to do for many of us. Therefore we should try to get into the habit of giving Sadaqah (voluntary charity) even if it is in small amounts. You can start really small, perhaps just a pound or two (or its equivalent), and then go up incrementally. Inshallah by the time Ramadan comes you will be prepared to give away much more in charity. So don’t forget to carry some loose change with you at all times!
Watch less TV and listen to less music
In order to do as much ibadah as possible during Ramadan, it is important to stay away from things that would naturally distract us from it. Watching TV and listening to music are two obvious examples of this and we should try to limit these activities as best we can. Try to replace the music on your iPods and iPhones (I refuse to mention Blackberries and other devices!) with Quran recitation and/or Islamic lectures. And if you are going to watch TV then at least make sure it is something productive like watching the news or something. Try to give up on your favourite TV shows for at least a month starting now. This way our thoughts will be more focused, and instead of having images of the latest movie in our head or the lyrics to the newest song, our thought will be occupied with beneficial things.
Use the internet less frequently and talk less on the phone
Again try to keep your distractions to a minimum and your recreational activities at bay. I know many of us (ahem ahem!) spend copious amounts of time surfing the net, wasting our valuable time in futile activities. Try to put a limit on your daily usage of the Internet (not more than 2 hours!) and also try to restrict yourself from visiting certain sites. For those of you who are very sociable and spend a lot of time talking to your friends on the phone, try to curb that as well. Talking to family abroad is okay btw!
I have tried to give you some nasihah regarding Ramadan which Inshallah you will find beneficial. I know there are many other things that you can do in order to better prepare yourself for this Holy month. And I would like to hear some of your ideas as well. Please leave your thoughts on the comments section below.
Anything good I have said is from Allah (SWT) and anything bad is inevitably from my own shortcomings.