Ramadān is fast approaching and many times it can be very overwhelming thinking about all we need to do so here’s a compilation of things that should help you breathe easier inshā’Allāh.
1) Start by making a good intention to prepare yourself for this Ramadān.
Umar رضي الله عنه narrated that he heard the Prophet ﷺ said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions & every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” [Bukhari]
Make big intentions. Allāh ﷻ is so so merciful and even if you don’t get around to achieving all you wanted to, inshā’Allāh you’ll be rewarded.
2) Seek forgiveness from Allāh so you can start Ramadān with a purified heart.
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.” [Tirmidhi]
He ﷻ is so merciful so turn to Him, don’t feel like you’ve done too much or are too far off or whatever else. There are people who have done worse and have gotten forgiven so be sincere and call out to Him.
3) Forgive others so that Allāh may forgive you.
And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation – his reward lies with Allah.” [Surah ash-Shuraa: 40]
We never know who we hurt intentionally or unintentionally but don’t let your ego be the reason you’re not able to make the most out of Ramadān. Just like how you would want others and Allāh to forgive you, try to forgive others as well. We’re all human and things happen, you can still uphold boundaries but remember that letting go and forgiving is more for your peace of mind and less theirs. We don’t want things like resentment etc filling our hearts and minds this Ramadān.
If this is something you’re struggling with, I highly suggest taking this Cultivating Forgiveness workshop.
Reflect on how you been all year. Pick out your weak points & strong points. Focus on yourself and aim to become a better version of yourself إن شاء الله. Ask yourself, how are my prayers like? What are my behaviors towards others? What about my spiritual diseases and habits?
There’s an amazing book called A Handbook of Spiritual Medicine by Ibn Daud which goes over the many diseases of the heart, their symptoms, cures, ḥadīth and Quran to support etc.
5) Set realistic goals.
One way of doing this is to reflect on how you fared last Ramadan. Take a moment to think about what you did well last Ramadan and look into areas for improvement. Maybe your marital status change, maybe you’re working full time or are a student etc. Whatever the case may be, evaluate your situation and where you are in life and set goals accordingly.
6) Fast on Mondays and Thursdays.
According to ʿĀʾisha, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, “The Prophet used to try to fast on Mondays & Thursdays.” [Tirmidhi]. This is because, “Deeds are presented on Monday & Thursday, & I love that my deeds be presented while I am fasting.” [Tirmidhi]
This will also help our body get prepared for the act of fasting so we don’t physically crash on day 1, week 1 of Ramadān.
7) Get into the habit of reading the Quran daily.
Abu Umamah narrated that he heard the Prophet ﷺ said, “Read the Quran, for it will come as an intercessor (shafa’ah) for its reciters on the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]
If you haven’t already, try reading Quran daily so that it will soon become a habit and you won’t not have much trouble maintaining it during Ramadān. Look into the meanings and understanding what you’re reading. My teachers spoke highly about The Endless Banquet by Hamza Abdul Malik where the different Juz and verse are broken down thematically in a digestible and easy to understand manner. Work on your tajweed, if you’re unable to read, the Reading Quran workbook by Alimah Sarah offers gradual steps with QR codes on every chapter where she teaches the concepts.
Remember that the Quran is a key component of our Salah and relationship with our Creator. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said “One who is proficient in the Quran is associated with the noble, upright, recording angels; and he who falters in it, and finds it difficult for him, will have two rewards.” [Muslim]
8) Wake up for night prayers
Waking up for night prayers is not exclusively for the month of Ramadān but it’s definitely a rewarding act not to miss during the holy month.
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The most excellent prayer after that which is obligatory is the (voluntary) late night prayer.” [Muslim]
Even if you wake up and pray 10-30 minutes before the time for Fajr comes in, that still counts so do what works best for you but do something even if it’s just 2 rakat.
Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Our Lord Almighty descends to the lowest heaven in the last third of every night, saying: Who is calling upon Me that I may answer him? Who is asking from Me that I may give him? Who is seeking My forgiveness that I may forgive him?” [Bukhārī]
9) Give more to charity
Giving sadaqah helps us achieve taqwa. It is taqwa or the fear of Allāh that propels Muslims to obey Allāh’s commands and keeps us from doing evils and what is forbidden.
“You will never achieve taqwa until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allāh.” [Surah Aal Imran: 92]
Know that whatever we have is a blessing from Allāh ﷻ , we did absolutely nothing to deserve what we have and not be from those in need, so give whilst you have before you’re in a position where you’re unable to. Remember that $5 with genuine sincerity is better than mountains of gold given without sincerity or to show off etc.
10) Start making a du’ā list
There are many times when du’ā are accepted, during suhoor, after fard salah, right at iftār, while fasting, between adhan and iqamah etc. Let’s maximize the du’ā we make by making a list of things we have ready so we don’t blank and make a generic du’ā or none at all because we can’t remember what to ask for.
Ex: Ya Allāh, give me the ability to achieve all my goals in life and the next, that every du’ā I ever make or ever made gets accepted, bless me with wealth, righteous, happy, generous, kind, healthy children and a righteous spouse who’s perfect for me and I for them, grant us Afiya, put Barakah in our time, wealth, health and everything we do in life, keep us surrounded with people who you love and make us amongst those who you love etc.
I just want to end off by saying, it’s hard, I know. We’re all in this together. We have all these aspirations and goals when it comes to Ramadān but life is life, make the most with the intentions of whatever responsibilities you have. Check up on each other, help your friends and family, send food to others, attend halaqahs and taraweeh together etc.
My friend reminded me this morning saying ”Allāh loves deeds that are consistent regardless if they are a big deed or small deed.
The Prophet (saw) said “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.’ (Ibn Majah). He also said. “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small.” (Bukhari). Consistency then is key.
So even if you do a little (if you’ve got a jam packed tiresome schedule) do it consistently and InshAllah Allah will be more pleased with you. Rather than trying to do so much and you exhaust yourself from all other responsibilities.”
She also referenced an article which I really loved: ”In Ramadan we talked about our ibadah being like a personal relay race. In the same grain, now that Ramadan is over, we must remember that the race continues. Star athletes do not leave their training once the competition is over. To maintain their good form, skills and success, they must continue training every day. In fact, to excel in any field, you have to constantly work on your goals.
As Muslims, our race towards good and the pleasure of Allah never ends. While we may exert ourselves with more dedication during Ramadan, the other 11 months are just as important in building our relationship with Allah. Truly Ramadan carries its blessings when it comes to worship – we naturally gravitate towards giving our best, surprising even ourselves with what we are capable of with the long fasts, hours of prayer, and acts of service and charity.
After Ramadan, we may find our energy and enthusiasm waning – we need to remember that Allah still deserves the best that we can give in all seasons. These months after Ramadan may require even more effort from us. However, among the blessings of this deen is that Allah has given us so many avenues, big and small, to seek His rewards.
Even if we might not be able to engage at the same level as we did in Ramadan, we should still strive to continue our training.
You may not have taraweeh, but keep praying more than the obligatory even if it’s just 2 rakats of qiyam ul layl or sunnah a day. You might not finish a juz a day, but don’t let your Quran gather dust – keep reading even if it’s just a few ayat daily. Your obligation to fast is over, but earn the reward of voluntary fasts – if you can’t commit to every Monday and Thursday or the 13th,14th and 15th of the month (Al-Ayyam ul Beed), which the Prophet (saw) recommended, then at least attempt special days like the Day of Arafah or Ashura. Make dhikr and remember Allah even if it’s just in the morning and evening supplications that our Prophet taught us. Keep giving your time and what you have been blessed with – choose one favorite charity that you can support with an ongoing donation or find one place you can volunteer regularly.
What is inspiring is that the Prophet (saw) gave us so many examples of small things we can do to earn Allah’s pleasure. On a daily basis, we can find ways to be a better Muslims. Let’s be consistent and continue our race towards good until next Ramadan.”
My teacher also shared this with us yesterday which I find super beneficial as well:
May Allah let us reach the month of Ramadan.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي رَجَب، وَشَعْبَانَ، وَبَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَانَ
Allahumma barik lana fi Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighna Ramadan
“O Allāh make the months of Rajab & Sha’ban blessed for us and let us reach the month of Ramadān.”
Please keep me in your du’ās!