Preparing for an Amazing Ramadan
by Asma bint Shameem
Someone really, really important is coming to visit you. Surely, you would cook, clean, shop, prepare and plan everything for them, well ahead of time.
You would make sure they are comfortable and well taken care of. You would ascertain that everything is perfectly ready and adequately in place before they arrive.
Now imagine someone coming to visit you who is even more important than that....more precious, more valuable, more honourable. Wouldn't you prepare even more and give it the best you got?
Well, the best month of the year, the most blessed and most precious, has arrived.
The month that brings the fragrance of Jannah and the sweetness of Imaan....the tears of Taubah and the forgiveness of your Lord. And it's bringing with it a night that is equivalent in worship and reward, to more than a thousand months.
Wouldn't you want to prepare for that? Wouldn't you want to be ready for it with all your heart and soul so that you don't miss this great opportunity?
They say the more prepared you are for something, the easier it is for you to handle it and the greater the chances that you will be successful at it.
And what better opportunity to prepare for something than preparing for the blessed month of Ramadhaan.
This is a month of Rahmah and Barakah, a month of taubah and istighfaar, a great opportunity for training oneself... to give up your bad deeds and build on your good ones.
So what to do?
Prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for this great month.
The first thing to do is to purify your niyyah from now: you are going to fast because it is the order of Allaah and NOT because it is culture or your family does so, or even because you want to lose weight.
"O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa" [al-Baqarah, 2:183]
Next, be really excited for Ramadhaan and be absolutely determined to do your utmost best and exert yourself to the max for this magnificent month of Forgiveness and Mercy from your Lord. Race with one another and compete with each other for it.
Come on. Be excited. Be energized. Get electrified. Get all pumped up and feel vitalized.
After all, this is a time when the gates of Jannah are all open. WIDE open. And all the gates of Jahannum are closed. Yes, alhamdulillaah CLOSED.
And here is a chance for you to get all your sins forgiven.
Get invigorated and motivated. Realize that the month of Ramadhaan is a month of amazing ibaadah and intense dua, astounding khushoo' and remarkable hope, sincere taubah and extraordinary istighfaar.
And it is NOT a month of laziness or sleeping, cooking and feasting, or just being plain grouchy and irritable.
Don't let the thought of the heat or the long day get to you or dampen your spirit. It is only the Shaytaan trying to play with your mind and spoil this wonderful time for you.
Have full intention from now, to read as much of the Qur'aan as you can.
Love the Qur'aan. Build a close relationship with it. Realize that these are the Words of your Lord....Words that will take you to Jannah, your Ultimate Goal.
Don't just read it with your eyes. Read it with your heart. Let it sink in your soul. Savour the joy and cherish the delight in reading the Book of Allaah. Taste the sweetness of Imaan.
Don't be in a rush to quickly finish the reading. Rather, take your time to ponder over the words and understand the meanings.
Don't think..."when am I going to finish this Surah? Rather....when am I going to implement this in my life?" Remember, nothing is sweeter and more pleasurable than the ayaat of the Qur'aan that you can understand.
Prepare yourself to do plenty of sujood....long, drawn out sujood, in Taraweeh and Tahajjud. Feel close to your Rabb when you do that sajda.
Realize that this is most honourable position for you...placing the thing you value most, on the ground, humbled before your Creator. You are the slave and He is the Master. You are the 'abd and He is your Owner.
Resolve from today, to make a lot of dua. Make a dua list. Prepare it from now. And when you sit down to break your fast, or when you stand in front of your Creator in Salah, in Taraaweeh or in the middle of the night, or any time during the night or day, spread out those hands and ask al-Kareem, the Most Generous, the One Who gives to one and to all.
Make sincere, heartfelt dua whenever and wherever you can. Don't let a moment slip by. And don't forget to be thankful to the One Who gave you everything.
Be ready from now to do abundant istighfaar, lots and lots of it. Do it every single day.
In the darkness of the night, when the whole world is asleep, have full realization, that this is no ordinary time, no time to waste away sleeping. Ar-Rahmaan is calling. Wouldn't you want to respond??
So knock on the door of the Almighty. He is al-Ghafoor, the Oft-Forgiver and you are nothing....just a weak and sinful human being.
Bend your head with shame, and cry. Cry like you've never cried before. Ask for His forgiveness. Make firm resolve never, ever, to go back to your sins...never, ever to do those bad deeds again.
Go ahead...spread out those hands and be sincere and then be certain He will surely respond.
Train yourself from now to control those eyes and ears of yours, that tongue and those limbs. Remember your fasting will just be a kind of starvation if you don't keep them in check.
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allaah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” (Bukhaari)
And most importantly, have firm determination from this moment on, to continue all the good deeds and habits that you will develop during Ramadhaan to continue even after Ramadhaan is over.
Remember, you are not a good Muslim just during a special month of the year. Rather you are a Muslim throughout the three hundred and sixty five days.
Use this month of taqwa and training to coach and develop your nafs, to cultivate virtuous deeds and actions and to give up your bad ones.
Tell me, are you going to let all that hard work of fasting, waking up in the middle of the night, reading all that Qur'aan, standing up for Taraaweeh and prayers, and all that dua go to waste?
Get to know the rules of fasting from now, so that your fasting can be closest to the Sunnah and thus be more beloved and acceptable to Allaah.
Clarify any doubts that you may have and don't be afraid to ask a scholar.
Cleanse your heart of any anger, hatred, grudges, etc from now. And forgive everyone. That's because forgiveness is delayed for the one who has anger and grudge against his Muslim brother/sister.
The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said: “The gates of Paradise are opened on Monday and Thursday, and everyone who does not associate anything with Allaah is forgiven, except a man who has had an argument with his brother. It is said: ‘Wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile.” (Muslim)
Finish up on your Ramadhaan and Eid preparation, cooking, shopping, etc. from now so that you can free up all the time during Ramadhaan for Ibaadah.
If you are like most people who give their zakat during Ramadhaan, get it all calculated and worked out before the month starts.
To conclude, think positive and have firm resolve. Strive with all your effort to do your best so that this will be an amazing, hair-raising, awe-inspiring, heart-stopping experience of a life time. Your best Ramadhaan ever.
Set your goals at the highest.
Don't settle for anything less than JANNAH.