"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
Let’s Roll up our Sleeves and Warm-up for Ramadhan July 21, 2010
The countdown for the most blessed month of the year has begun. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and warm up.
We want to be in “Ramadan mode” before Ramadhan rather than waste the first week trying to get into it. It is too precious of a month to waste with that nonsense, and it goes by very fast. We want to reap maximum benefits from the very start. Believe me, you won’t accomplish much without preparation. Here are some tips to welcome Ramadhan in your life and home insha Allah:
Get into the fasting mode–the first day of fasting is hard for some of us Muslim folk. I personally experience a throbbing headache the first day, and it usually lasts throughout the first day and night. Consequently, enjoying the first day of taraweeh is not an option. With every sajdah I feel my brain banging against my skull. To avoid this and any other “adjustment” symptoms that your body goes through the first day of fasting, fast on Mondays and Thursdays during Sha’ban. Your body will adjust to fasting, and you will be able to make necessary changes to help your body adjust. Remember this coming Ramadhan falls in Summer, and we will be fasting long hours. So get a feel of how your body will react to it, and adjust your Sahoor regimen to prevent dehydration/constipation etc. Also, get into the habit of eating a light Iftar in preparation for taraweeh next month, so you can enjoy it rather than pant through every Sajdah. Check out this Ramadhan Health Guide. Here’s a nice pdf about Dates .
“Clean up! Clean up!”–clean your home thoroughly before Ramadhan. Clean out your refrigerator to make space for storing food if you don’t intend to cook everyday. Clean out your pantry and make a list of what food items you will need for the whole month including Eid. A tidy house means a tidy mind. Plus you will have more time in Ramadhan to do Ibadah insha Allah.
Lose your need to shop–fill up your pantry, refigerator and freezer with what you will need both for Ramadhan and Eid. You won’t be able to stock up on fresh produce and perishable foods, but those should reduce your need to go to the grocery store at a minimum. Even better shop at the local farmer’s market for fresher produce. Furthermore, it is customary to waste the last precious days of Ramadhan shopping for Eid . How could you when there is a day in the last ten days of the month that is worth more than a thousand months (80+ years)? Get your Eid shopping done in the month of Sha’baan.
Plan on keeping cooking to a minimum–Ramadhan specific dishes are in almost every culture, although it is a month that calls for simplicity. We’re meant to cut down and not over do it. We’re meant to eat less and not more. If you must make samboosa and other time consuming dishes, then prepare them beforehand and freeze. Intend to spend no more than an hour a day max in the kitchen during this blessed month and remind yourself to make dhikr (remembrance) or listen to either Qur’an or a lecture that will add to your knowledge and elevate your spiritually while you are cooking.
Put your heads together and your arms around each other–in other words make it a family affair. If a husband is reading this and thinking that this check-list is just for his wife, it isn’t! It is for you as well. Help her prepare for Ramadhan as well by fasting with her during Sha’baan to encourage her, help her with the cleaning, shopping (love being a Yemeni, because shopping is always on the men), samboosa making etc. If you can’t help her with any of these, then the least you can do is keep the kids occuppied while she does. If you have kids get them involved as well. If your kids are going to practice fasting this year, here’s something you can use for them.Make daily family time plans, such as committing to reading a part of the Seerah every day of Ramadhan, or a surah memorization challenge etc. Here are more activities that you can do with your kids: Ramadan Activities for Kids.
Has the Qur’an been complaining about you? If you are among those who fall into the category of “. . . my people had abandoned this Qur’an” (25:31) then it is time to apologize. Not verbally but in action. Start reading Qur’an daily, preferably after Salatul Fajr. Spend time listening to recitations from the Qur’an to find a reciter you feel comfortable with check out tvquran. To read along with a reciter with correct tajweed use Quran Explorer. Enjoy Qur’an by reading tafseer. This is the time to mend your relationship with the Qur’an, in hopes that it takes you on as a companion/friend. It needs to make its mind up about how serious you are about it. It befriends those who sincerely want to be friends with it. Set your reading/recitation schedule now so you are all set once Ramadhan begins, e.g read/recite 4 pages after each salaat to finish a juzu per day. I’ll let you do the math based on your goals ! Did I mention that I am an English teacher not a math teacher?
Acquire new habits— learn new habits from the sunnah such as: having wudu’u at all times, giving charity (small so that you can keep it up) on a daily basis, doing volunteer work (help at your local soup kitchen or food shelf etc. ), praying extra optional prayers such as the duha prayer, witr prayer, qiyam al layl, etc. Make time for tasbeeh (takbir, tahmid, tahlil) and other forms of dihikr. Memorize the different duas such as those of the morning and evening, entering the restroom, looking in the mirror, leaving the home etc. Review the fiqh (Islamic rulings) of fasting. Evaluatte yourself daily before going to bed and consequently repent for your mistakes and sins. Try to “fast” from the internet during the day so you seriously don’t suffer withdrawal symptons during Ramadhan and waste precious days from Ramadhan.
A daily moment of silence–specify an x number of hours a day for seclusion (khulwah) so that you may contemplate. Be creative with this, so that you can continue it after Ramadan. If it were me for instance, since I love reading I would make a list of books by Islamic scholars I would like to read such as: Ibn Al Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyah, Al Ghazali, and read them during my hours of seclusion. The aim being that through their works they will transfer me from my life to theirs–so that I am able to see the universe and everything in it through their eyes–and consequently connect with Allah the Creator as they did.
Clean your ears out–not with a Q tip! But with listening to Islamic literature before and during Ramadhan. Make a list of either lectures or series of lectures for Islamic scholars , Shuyookh or Da’ees. Decide on for instance listening to the whole series of “Ghurabaa” by Ali at Tamimi, Ahmed Jibreel’s “Legends of Islam,: or Abu Abdissalam’s “Heavenly Pearls.” All of these and more are available at Kalamullah . There are even more on Halal Tube. At this time especially it is crucial that you listen to material on the month of Ramadhan such as for instance one of my favorites: Waleed Basyouni’s “How to Make this your Best Ramadhan”. Also Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s “Preparing for Ramadan“.
Organise a Ramadan timetable – Stick it on the wall where you and everyone in your house can see it. Divide your schedule into the following sections:
1) Me and Salaat: if you already feel you are doing well with the five obligatory prayers (as regards to when you perform them and how), try and attain khushu’u. Plan on praying the 12 rakaas of sunnah. Add shurooq , dhuha and witr salaat. Try and get some Quiyam Al-Layl every night or every other night. Don’t forget the Taraweeh everyday, and Quiyam on the last ten days of Ramadhan. Listen and read about these forms of worship to motivate yourself.
2) Me and Dua: make a list of your duaas, yes, write them down. Focus on them throughout Ramadhan.
3) Me and Qur’an: intend to finish reading/reciting the whole Qur’an this Ramdahan. If you have taken a tajweed class, now is the time to practice, and if not then maybe this is a time to take it. Try and fit in some memorization as well. If you do not read Surat Al-Kahf every Friday do it this Ramadhan insha Allah. You can also gather as a family and have everyone read an x number of verses, or if you are a couple each of you read a page, it will bring you closer insha Allah.
4) Me and my family ties: call up all your parents, siblings and relatives or send them cards with short notes to establish connections, and tell them you are thinking of them this Radmadhan. Don’t forget that long lost aunt or uncle!
5) Me and Dawah: be a good example to others, be on your best behavior at work and other than work. Be productive, more than in other months. Show how happy you are to fast for Allah although it is hard and challenging. Don’t lose your temper, be sluggish and lazy, or full of excuses not to work hard because you are fasting. A suggestion for dawah would be taking a box of dates to work and placing it in an area where all your co-workers can help themselves. Place a note saying “We are celebrating Ramadhan this month” and people are bound to come and ask you about Ramadhan, that is a golden opportunity for dawah. If you have close non-muslim friends suggest that they fast for a day and invite them over for Iftar. Maybe even provide them with articles by non-muslims on the benefits of fasting. You can even give your neighbors a tray of iftar with a note about Ramadhan.
6) Me and Sadaqa: Plan on giving sadaqa everyday, even if just a dollar a day. Be attentive to the needs of people in your Muslim community and our local Islamic centers and masajed. . For instance you can buy a few copies of the Qur’an and place them in the masjed so you can reap the rewards of anyone who reads from them. Donate to the local food shelf.You can also prepare iftar and donate to the masjed or just provide them with dates and drinks. Invite Muslims to your home for iftar and let your intention be reaping the rewards rather than showing off your cooking skills.
7) Me and my bad habits: if there is a bad habit you would like to get rid of use the month of Ramadhan to do so–could be smoking, cursing, watching too much tv and the list can go on.
No one invites a guest without preparing to welcome him or her. Ramdahan is a guest. So, let’s all roll up our sleeves and start preparing for the most awaited guest of the whole year. Have a blessed Ramadhan!
Note that our souls are in the hands of its Creator, and should we not be destined to witness Ramadhan this year then know that by insha Allah sincerely intending to, and preparing for it we will insha Allah reap full rewards. O Allah help us to meet and spend Ramadhan in a deserving manner.