Ramadan is a month of seeking forgiveness and accumulating maximum reward. A hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allāh be pleased with him) states that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said: ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me’. For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time of joy when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of Musk.” [Muslim]
We set high aims for this month but achieve only a little because we are not prepared. We continue juggling between our distractions and our priorities during the month and by the time we have a routine the month is nearing its end.
We have all heard the quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Ramadan preparations should begin at least thirty days before the month approaches. The sahabah (may Allāh be pleased with them) used to prepare six months in advance. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) trained himself for the tough month of fasting by fasting the first fifteen days of Sha’ban. This indicates that we need a plan to have a successful Ramadan.
Before we work on our schedule for Ramadan let’s first identify the areas that we need to work on. Ask yourself, “What are the actions that are dearer to Allah (glorified and exalted be He)?” These are salah, Qur’an, dhikr, dua, sadaqah, gaining and sharing knowledge and improving akh’laq (conduct). The next question to ponder upon is, “How can we get maximum benefit out of these actions?”
- Make a goal of performing every fard prayer at its prescribed time. The best tip to help you in this regard is to prepare for the salah a little before the adhan goes on.
- Add sunnah and voluntary prayers with each fard prayer that you perform (where applicable).
- Perform different extra voluntary prayers such as Duha and Tahajjud.
- Recite a quarter of a juz’ after every prayer.
- As you recite take out a few minutes to read and understand the tafsir of the ayah that you just recited.
- Work on your Arabic knowledge by identifying new words in the ayah and studying their syntax and morphology. Corpus Qur’an is an excellent website to study Arabic grammar. Another resource for understanding root words is Project Root List. Here you can search Arabic words by their root letters and find their meaning. Next time when a similar word appears you will have an idea of what it means.
- Keep your tongue moist with dhikr throughout the day. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us morning and evening adhkar that are beneficial for the dunya and in the hereafter.
- Besides the morning and evening adhkar do astaghfar as much as you can. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) sought Allah’s forgiveness and repentance more than seventy times a day. Sincere repentance is our key to Jannah and a means for increase in provision. Don’t ignore it.
- Prepare your dua list in advance. Write down everything that you really desire in your life, no matter how insignificant or silly it may appear to you.
- Memorize the masnoon duas. Understand their meaning so that when you recite the dua, you do so with full khushu’ and sincerity.
- Be creative and make dua cards for yourself and your family. Hang or place them around your house so that you are reminded to recite them.
- Besides the obligatory zakat keep some allowance for sadaqah.
- Give your time, your company or sincere advice to someone, is also a sadaqah.
- Look for opportunities to volunteer your time and skills.
Gaining and Sharing Knowledge
- Work on your tajweed or help a friend in improving theirs.
- Along with studying the tafsir, take out time to study the sahih ahadith books. Start from Sahih al-Bukhari.
- Purchase or download awe-inspiring and motivational books to strengthen your iman. Kalamullah.com is a resourceful website that offers free books, lectures and articles.
- Share your knowledge with others. Teach the tafsir that you learned with at least one more person; do so either verbally, through a Facebook status, a text message or an email.
- Teach a hadith or masnoon dua to your family. Ask them the lessons they can derive from it.
Improving Akh’laq (conduct)
- Utilizing the knowledge that you have acquired, start working on your character, righteousness and integrity.
- Commit to leave one bad habit and seek sincerity from Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Avoid gossiping and backbiting. Do not concern yourself with other’s private matters but concentrate on cleansing your soul.
Now that we have identified the areas we can work on to extract maximum benefit, let’s plan a schedule:
- Wake up for Tahajjud by reciting the masnoon dua for waking up. Wash yourself and use the siwak.
- Perform Tahajjud in a quiet place seeking Allah’s love and forgiveness. Complete your prayer by asking dua for your concerns and worries.
- Prepare or help the family in setting up suhur. Pick nutritious food and thank Allah for His blessings.
- Perform Fajr as early as possible. Recite a portion of the Qur’an and study its tafsir. Make morning adhkar, read one hadith and perform Duha. Get ready to start your day.
- Keep reciting adhkar or astaghfar as you dress up for work or school. Listen to a lecture during your commute. Try to talk less and do more dhikr throughout the day.
- Perform Dhuhr. Recite a portion of Qur’an along with its tafsir.
- Recite five masnoon dua’s and do astaghfar.
- If you are not at work try to squeeze in a power nap for 15 – 20 minutes i.e. qailulah. This will give you the energy to stand up during Qiyaam-ul-Layl.
- Before the Asr prayer take out a book and improve your Islamic knowledge by reading a page or two. Perform wudhu and get ready for the prayer.
- Recite the Qur’an portion for Asr along with its tafsir.
- Recite five masnoon dua’s and do astaghfar.
- Give sadaqah either through money, giving food to a poor person or removing something harmful from the path.
- Help the family with preparations for iftar while keeping your tongue busy with adhkar.
- When the time for Maghrib approaches go into seclusion, take out your dua list and earnestly pray for whatever you want.
- Make dua loudly at the iftar table so that if there are any young children at home they too can pick it up from their elders.
- Recite the masnoon dua for breaking fast. Start with dates and thank Allah for your provision. Do not eat too much and consume food in moderation.
- As you wait for the Isha adhan, sit with your family and share an ayah that you learned today or a hadith. Ask them what they learned or a good deed that they performed during the day. Share with them stories of the Prophets and how they used to worship Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
- Recite the fourth part of the juz’ before you leave for Isha prayer.
- Start preparing for the exclusive worship of Ramadan i.e. the Taraweeh prayers.
- Take your family along if there is an arrangement for women as well.
- Pray the Witr praye, recite Surah Mulk and go to bed in a state of ablution.
- Set an alarm for Tahajjud and recite the masnoon dua for sleeping. Contemplate on your life in this world, the Day of Judgment and the hereafter.
Make dua to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to accept your good deeds, and give you the strength to perform better. The deeds dearest to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) are the ones that are done consistently. Stay committed to your goals and do not become a “Ramadan Muslim” only!
About the Author:
Uzma Awan is a freelance writer having interests in health, nutrition, sustainability and Islam. She journals her quest for a sustainable lifestyle at Embracing Sustainability. She also has a Qur’an blog where she shares Qur’an tafseer.