We are getting ready to embrace another month of Ramadan very soon insha’Allah. Innumerable articles, lectures and reminders are getting circulated among Muslim Ummah delivering tips on preparation for the upcoming blessed month.
However, we still have a bunch of people amongst us who are unable to understand the importance of action plan for Ramadan. Even though we know all about the sacredness of the month of Ramadan and fasting, the question “Why should we prepare ourselves for Ramadan?” still remains unanswered in most of the cases.
Let’s imagine ourselves paying a friendly visit to one of the acclaimed institutions (such as the parliament in your country) to meet the highest of authorities (such as the President of your country) on a personal invitation. It’s obvious that we would never allow anyone to catch us casual during the meeting. Rather, we would put our best foot forward. We would exercise ample amount of effort to establish our eminence for our own benefit.
Our dignity is our identity and thus, we will never lose it for anything in this world. We would appear the best, wear the best of clothes and we would try our best to reserve a distinguishing seat for our self-esteem. We would plan and prepare ourselves in the best of ways, so that our declaration of attitude would turn to be the best among the crowd.
Being best from your side is not enough. We should be “someone” from the sight of the higher authority to proudly be a highlighting entity. To grab what is desired, we may wield efforts in learning the ethics of the institution in order to impress the hosts by making no mistakes. We would feed ourselves with continues practice, so that we may not become strangers to the environment during the meeting. Visiting such grand venues and meeting the most authorized personal in person is considered to be a matter of honor. Not all the doors get knocked by such honorary offers.
The best of such offers is granted to the true believer by his Lord. A true believer is honored by his Master, Allah with a final abode, which is the most marvelous place, which no human mind can ever imagine. A true Muslim is granted with a higher privilege, so much so that his master reveals His face to him in the garden of Jannah! All in all, for a believer, Jannah is one priceless blessing topped up with another breathtaking prerogative of being able to see his Creator’s face.
Did you know the beautiful abode of Jannah has eight gates and one of them is exclusively dedicated to the one who fasts?
Sahl b. Sa’d reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:
“In Paradise there is a gate which is called Rayyan through which only the people who fast would enter on the Day on Resurrection. None else would enter along with them. It would be proclaimed: Where are the people who fast that they should be admitted into it? And when the last of them would enter, it would be closed and no one would enter it.” 1
The above hadeeth clearly states that Allah has blessed the people who fast with exclusive blessings. Their status is being highlighted in the grand venue Jannah by letting them get in through a special gate allotted solely and wholly for them!
We prepare ourselves exercising ample amount of endeavor just to meet one of the fellow human beings who is granted a higher authority than us. How about facing the Lord of the worlds , with an exclusive entry made through Rayyan? We need proper planning, practicing and preparation strategies for Ramadan in order to become eligible enough to deserve that higher privilege.
Entering this best abode through the gate of Rayyan costs the devotion exercised in the month of Ramadan. It is not an overnight project. Of course, Ramadan is a BIG deal . That’s the reason even Prophet used to prepare himself for Ramadan! He used to fast most of the days during the month of Shaban.
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah used to fast (all of) Shaban except a little.” 2
He used to announce to the people about the arrival of this month and its major significance.
Prophet addressed the people :
“O people this blessed month is approaching you and Allah has ordained on you to fast in this month. Gates of the heaven will be opened in this month and gates of hell will be closed and the devil will be chained, and in this month there is a night which is better than a thousand months and whosoever is deprived of Allah’s blessing in this month, he is truly the deprived person.” 3
If Prophet Muhammad , who is the perfect human on Earth, needed to prepare himself for Ramadan; we all need to train ourselves for it more than anything! The companions of the noble Prophet are reported to have engaged themselves with Ramadan preparations prior to six months of it!
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” (Al-Baqarah, 2:183)
Practice makes perfect they say. Any action or deed should be practiced well before it gets executed on its due time. This can make the deed flawless. Acquiring righteousness or taqwah all of a sudden, along with the arrival of the new moon of the new month is impossible. It requires the involvement of ikhlas, time, effort, perfection in deeds and many such factors. If we are to starve, recite many verses, pray long units of night prayer, give charity and do all those big set of deeds without prior practice; chances are high that our deeds become prone to err and imperfection. That’s the reason we are encouraged to plan a schedule and prepare ourselves beforehand. Planning, preparing and practicing are important for every goal driven Muslim who wishes to make a wonderful Ramadan in his or her life.
- Nothing is possible unless and until Allah’s help comes along with us. Therefore, I personally suggest we start our goal-setting by purifying our intentions.
- Make a “to-do” list, which includes both spiritual and physical activities.
- Give importance for charitable work: We can schedule charity drives with family or friends.
In this phase, we should make the environment supportive for us so that we can smoothly convert our plans into action. Tips include:
- Remove any materials or equipment that can distract us from the remembrance of Allah and replace them with anything which can drag us closer to Allah .
- Having discussions with the members of the family and be supportive of each other in enjoining good and forbidding evil.
- Reading scholarly work and other journals, which are authentic and learn how to be productive during Ramadan.
- Concentrate more on perfecting Salah for that’s very important.
This phase basically falls for the period prior to Ramadan. We should exercise all the plans in this period. Plans may vary according to each individual, but let’s discuss a few examples.
- Fast voluntary sawm.
- Make it a habit to pray night prayers.
- Memorize chapters or verses from Qur’an with the meaning, so that we can recite them during Qiyamul-layl and other prayers.
- People who have health problems can consult their physicians and take advice about fasting including recommended food intake practices to be considered during Ramadan.
- Finish any possible household work prior to Ramadan (such as Eid shopping) which would consume our time during the days of Ramadan.
The list of above strategies can be entirely different, longer or shorter. Let’s scribble the strategies of our own plan; let’s prepare and practice them. Because if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail! Let’s strive and make du’a that we have a perfect Ramadan so that the gates of Rayyan get opened exclusively for us!
What are some tips or techniques we can include to make this Ramadan our most productive ever? Please share your suggestions in the comments section below. 🙂