The month of Ramadan holds a greater virtue than other months. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ explained this in the following Hadith:
“O people, there comes upon you a great month, a most blessed month, in which lies a night greater in worth than one thousand months. Allah has made compulsory fasting in this month and has decreed wakefulness at night a sunnah. Whosoever draws nearer to Allah by performing any optional deed in this month, for him shall be such reward as if he had performed a compulsory deed in any other time of the year. And whoever performs a compulsory deed, for him shall be the reward of seventy compulsory deeds in any other time of the year. This indeed is the month of patience, and the reward of true patience is Jannah; it is the month of sympathy with one’s fellow men; it is the month wherein a true believer’s provision is increased.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
A successful person realises the importance of preparing in advance for any event or performance. The more you prepare, the better your outcome and reward will be. Take the example of a farmer who knows that healthy soil is the basis of healthy plants. The farmer will work on tilling his field to perfection in order to yield a healthy crop. He realizes that plants will not grow if the soil is lousy and thin. Similarly, if we want a successful harvest in the month of Ramadan we will have to prepare adequately beforehand, as a wise man said, spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation.
Here are 10 ways for every Muslim to prepare for Ramadan
Repentance is necessary at all times, but more so when a month of such high calibre is approaching, a time when a person must be at peace with his Lord and at peace with his fellow men.
Almighty Allah says:
“O you who believe, turn to Allah with sincere repentance, in the hope that your Lord will expiate from you your sins” (Quran 66:8).
By repenting sincerely one will enter the month ready for obedience and worship with peace of mind and contentment of heart. One of the best times to cry before Allah and repent is at Tahajjud (pre-dawn prayer). Allah’s special mercy descends at this time.
Show happiness and fervour at the approach of this great month as it is a season of goodness for a believer in which the doors of Paradise are opened and the doors of hellfire are shut.
Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahuanhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“When Ramadan approaches, the doors of Jannah are opened, the doors of hellfire are locked and the devils are chained” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Almighty Allah instructs us:
“Say, in the bounty of Allah and in his mercy; therein let them rejoice” (Quran 10:58).
Ubadah ibn Samit (radiyallahuanhu) reports that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to teach the Companions the following dua at the approach of the month of Ramadan:
O Allah! Safeguard me for Ramadan and safeguard Ramadan for me and accept it from me. (Kitabud-dua of Imam Tabarani, Hayatus Sahabah Vol. 3)
3. Race towards good
We know that in the blessed month of Ramadan, angels of mercy descend and the devils who lead towards sin are chained. Mercy, forgiveness and rewards rain down in abundance. We need to attract this mercy by making good intentions and acting upon them. Prepare a list of intentions comprising of deeds and goals you wish to accomplish in the month. Note it down and pin it up as a checklist and reminder. Share your ideas with family and friends and let everyone partner in the goodness.
Many who were here last Ramadan were not blessed with the good fortune of living to see another Ramadan. Ponder over how many Ramadan’s have passed and how many you may or may not have left. Let this pondering lead you to firmly resolve to take advantage of the upcoming days and nights of Ramadan.
Take some time off from your busy schedule to relax and replenish in order to renew your strength and energize for the hours of fasting, supplication and worship that the month of Ramadan requires.
6. Recite and learn
Ramadan is the month of the Quran. The Quran was revealed from the protected tablet to the lowest heaven in Ramadan. Frequent recitation of Quran draws blessings to oneself and encourages towards virtuous actions. Those who are well-versed in recitation are advised to increase recitation in the days leading up to Ramadan and those who are not familiar and struggling with recitation are required to put in all the effort that is needed to recite well. It is also important to familiarize oneself with the rules and etiquette of recitation as well as laws pertaining to the prescribed act of fasting.
7. Reach Out
Charity in Ramadan is better than charity at other times. The Prophet ﷺ was the most generous of people and he was most generous in Ramadan (Muslim). Use the time before Ramadan to enquire about individuals or families who require any assistance for iftar or suhur. Put some money aside for charity.
Zayd ibn Khalid al-Juhani (radiyallahuanhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“One who feeds a fasting person at iftar receives a reward similar to his without the reward of the fasting person decreasing in any way” (Ibn Majah).
Take out time to teach children about the beauty of Ramadan. Reach out to new Muslims in your community who will be fasting for the first time. Give them the encouragement, support and guidance they need.
8. Reduce and Rearrange
Cut down on things which steal valuable time. Fasting is not merely to abstain from food and drink, rather fasting demands that a person abstains from all evil deeds, speech, and obscenity. Prepare yourself for this spiritual fasting by eliminating bad habits. Rearrange your schedule to centre around Salah and other acts of worship. Consider Ramadan as a training ground to inculcate good habits which one can continue after the month has passed. If you desire a life of piety even after Ramadan, then build up your stamina and save yourself from sin now and for the duration of Ramadan.
9. Adopt righteous company
A man is known by the company he keeps. The easiest way to nurture a good habit is by spending time with one who practises it and the easiest way to increase an evil habit is by spending time with a person who practises it. Nurture righteousness in your soul before Ramadan. Spend more time in the Masjid. Spent time in the gatherings of pious scholars. Accompanying the righteous servants of Allah allows your heart to free itself from worldly thoughts and turns its focus towards Allah.
10. Clean the slate
If one has missed fasts from the previous Ramadan due to illness, travelling, menstruation, pregnancy or breastfeeding, the wisest thing to do is to pay back these obligatory fasts before Ramadan comes.
Abu Salma (radiyallahuanhu) narrates that he heard Aaisha (radiyallahuanha) saying:
“I had (missed) fasts from Ramadan and I could not fast in lieu of them except in the month of Shaban” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Together with the abovementioned preparations, a person must also take advantage of the night of Bara’ah. This is the fifteenth night of Shaban when Allah’s special mercy and forgiveness descends upon His fortunate servants. It is a night wherein freedom is granted to souls from the fire, forgiveness is guaranteed and requests are fulfilled. We must value these moments and use them to bring about a spiritual and moral transformation in our lives.