The beautiful month of Ramadan is upon us, but many brothers and sisters don’t know where to start in preparing for this holy time of the year. It can be a difficult adjustment to get used to your new Ramadan routine, and that is why we have come up with this list of 11 thing you can do to prepare now, for a more peaceful and meaningful Ramadan, inshallah.
1. Start Eating Healthier, and Less, NOW
Fasting, is a key element of Ramadan. Every year, most brothers and sisters (myself included) have the idea they are going to jump right into the fast and power through for the whole month. However, from my experience, especially during these long summer days, I often find myself struggling. That’s why, it’s important to alter your eating habits now for a smoother and more productive Ramadan inshallah. Cut out the snacks. Start filling your plate with nurturing foods that will sustain you. EAT BREAKFAST! And overall, start conditioning your body to be happy and energized with less.
2. Write Down Your Goals
Whatever your goals this Ramadan may be, write them down and post them somewhere in your house like your bathroom mirror or kitchen. Whether you want to make itikaf more regularly, pray all of your sunnah, or read the entire Qur’an, seeing your goals daily will help you to adhere to them and visualize their completion to make Ramadan more meaningful for you. This will also help you to stay motivated on difficult days.
3. Thoroughly Clean Your Home
No matter how much we try to fight it, during Ramadan, our energy levels sometimes feel very low. That’s why, it is important to clean your home before the beginning of Ramadan. Having a clean and organized living space can help us to feel peaceful and keep our minds clear. Having a clean home can help us to direct all of our time and attention to Allah (swt), because we are not stressing about all the things we need to get done.
4. Identify Bad Habits, and Make A Plan
Whether it’s smoking, overeating, or something else, Ramadan is a time of personal growth and devotion. That means, bad habits stop here. But if you think that you will have the same motivation to quit doing, whatever you’re doing, when it’s 1pm and you are tired and hungry, think again. Now is the time to reflect on yourself and acknowledge that breaking your habit is going to be a hurdle for you to get over this Ramadan. Stop now, make a plan for quitting, and stick to it.
5. Start Sleeping Earlier
Are you the kind of person that goes to sleep past midnight and then wakes up at the crack of dawn? If you are a night owl, it’s time to stop. During Ramadan, having an irregular sleeping pattern can negatively affect your concentration and intentions, making it much harder to stick to your goals. So before we start fasting, start going to bed right after you pray Isha for an easier and healthier time waking up for fajr in the morning.
6. Get Rid of the Snacks
Out of sight, out of mind. During Ramadan, especially if you are a home mom, it can be very difficult to fast when every time you walk into the kitchen, you see all your easy access favorite snack foods. Put them hidden in the back of the pantry, or better yet finish them now and only keep food that needs to be cooked into meals in your home. A raw chicken breast is much less appealing than your favorite cookies.
7. Motivate Yourself with a Letter
Every Ramadan, I have at least one day that I feel like giving up. The fasting has become difficult, my body is tired, my kids are not being sympathetic, and I just need some support. Of course, that’s what spouses are for, but maybe yours is struggling too or is at work or maybe you’re not married yet. That’s why writing an emergency motivational letter to yourself can be an awesome idea. Write down why you’re fasting in the first place, and why Ramadan is important to you. Remember, the Holy Qur’an says, “O you who believe! Observing al-sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” (Qur’an al-Baqarah 2:183)
8. Explain Ramadan to your Non-Muslim Friends
Especially for brothers and sisters living in the western world, Ramadan can be particularly challenging because you do not have support or understanding from the majority of your coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Before the start of Ramadan, explain to them what you will be doing and why. This can help to promote cross cultural understanding, and help you to know you have support.
9. Make a Dua List
Don’t wait until the last week of Ramadan to make special duas. Start now! Every year after Eid I realize I forgot so many things I needed to make dua for. So start making your list now, and keep adding to it and checking off items all throughout Ramadan. Insha’Allah this will help us remember to make constant dua this holy month and help our hearts pour out to Allah (swt).
10. Finish Your Large Commitments and Projects
Do not be distracted this Ramadan by daunting and incomplete tasks. This month is not a time to worry about worldly problems, it is a time to devote your heart and mind to Allah (swt). So finish the home renovation, write the essay, complete the work project, or do whatever you have to do so you can keep a clear and focused mind on what matters most.
11. Plan an Iftar Early
Hosting an iftar can be both an exciting and daunting task. So make sure to start early! Plan in advance which night you want it to take place, who to invite, what to cook, and any decor you want. Scrambling to plan an iftar during Ramadan (especially a large one) can add unnecessary stress to your life.
Ramadan comes each year with the promise of growth and forgiveness. Use this month long opportunity to revitalize your faith, seek forgiveness, and pray for others who have wronged you. This holy month is a time to show devotion, obedience, and discipline while surrounding yourself with good faith and good will. May Allah (swt) grant us the will and strength to fast this Ramadan, and may this be a month of blessings and forgiveness for all brothers and sisters.