The best month of the year is about to greet us again. A month that is endlessly filled with blessings, peace, and mercy — a month that not only strips our bodies, but our souls, from the superficial attachments that it clings to on a daily basis. Ramadan is no doubt the month that many Muslims, if not all, look forward to every year — but how many of us are prepared for it?
No, I’m not talking about mega-stocking up on your groceries and making sure that you have more than enough food to last you for a good few years, (though it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re having your favorite baklava for dessert!) but prepared as in how many of us are willing to change after Ramadan is over? I know what you’re thinking — Ramadan is just around the corner and you want me to think about what I should change after it’s over? Yet this is the mentality that many of us go through during this blessed month. Yes, we fast from sunrise to sunset and yes, we attend Taraweeh prayers and finish reading the Qur’an from cover to cover, but it is often that we simply pass through the motions and fail to create a deeper connection within ourselves. We focus on the glitter of the wrapping paper and the décor but fail to see the beauty that lies inside the gift. It is only once we near the end of Ramadan, that we are filled with regret and wish that we could have put in more effort to change ourselves for the better.
So do me a favor and don’t let that be you this year.
Here are three pre-Ramadan tips that I have picked up that I pray will be beneficial to us as we enter Ramadan insha’Allah:
1. Realize your hunger for Allah
I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. When Ramadan begins, the first few days of fasting are difficult, as our bodies are adapting to new eating habits. But once they go by, you’ll notice that fasting will become easier and the hunger that was nudging at you before will have quieted down. This is what you need to pay attention to, as it will not be the hunger and thirst of food and drink that you will be seeking to satisfy, but the hunger of the soul. Pick up on activities that will boost your Iman and have you seeking to get closer to Allah (SWT), even if they are small. Treasure and acknowledge this “spiritual” hunger, for you will find yourself continuously longing for it even after Ramadan is over.
2. Du’a, du’a, du’a!
I can’t emphasize how important supplication is in the month of Ramadan. There is nothing that stands between a worshipper and his Lord during supplication – it’s a one-to-one direct communication line, so what better way to strengthen your relationship with Allah (SWT) than consistently making supplication to Him during one of the blessed months of the year? Make a list of everything that you want to ask for and aim to consistently make du’a for those things at every opportunity you can manage. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me — indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (Qur’an, 2:186)
Remember to also balance your supplication by asking for things both in this world and the hereafter.
3. Don’t Forget Your Local Community
Ramadan is a time where many of us do the best we can to strengthen our own ibaadah (worship) and personal self-development, but that doesn’t mean we leave out the charitable services we can give to our local communities. Try to help out at an iftar at your local masjid (or, better, hold your own) or create a drive that will help raise funds for those who are less fortunate than us in other countries. Even something as small as passing out water bottles to those who are praying Taraweeh at the masjid is an act of charity. No good deed goes unrewarded, so try to not only focus on helping yourself, but others as well, insha’Allah.
It is said that it takes approximately 21 days to make or break a habit. Use Ramadan to your advantage and tackle a part of yourself that you wouldn’t dare approach at any other time of the year. Don’t miss this opportunity — the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained — for an entire month! What do you have to lose?
Ramadan Mubarak to all my fellow Muslims out there and may Allah (SWT) make it a successful one for us this year. Ameen.