5 steps you can take to ready yourself spiritually for Ramadhan
Children cheekily gobble Ramadhan advent calendar chocolates, whilst mothers tirelessly bake their fourth batch of crescent shaped cookies. The mosque-shaped lantern hangs near bedside tables, whilst freezers groan at full capacity. The preparation of Ramadhan is in full swing, but our hearts are tired, heavy and in need of rest.
There is nothing wrong in beautifying your home in preparation for Ramadhan, but, if we’re not careful, our spiritual preparation of Ramadhan can often be put on back burner as we worry about making our homes Instagram-worthy in time for the first night of Ramadhan.
We often rely on the fact that once Ramadhan starts, we will up your game and crack on with our extra Ibadah, and stack up those good deeds. However, if there is no plan in place, or preparation, then you will often burn out in the few days of Ramadhan. Therefore, it is important to take the steps needed to be steadfast, and build on your actions throughout the month.
There’s no better time to prepare for Ramadhan than in the very month we are in; Sha’ban. Sha’ban is where our deeds are raised to Allah, yet it is often a time that is overlooked. We should aim to introduce good habits into your daily routine in preparation for Ramadhan. It is also the perfect time to get into the habit of fasting by keeping any missed fasts, or keeping any additional fasts, especially on the Sunnah days of Monday and Thursday. Ibn Rajab said that Shaban is like an introduction to Ramadhan, so we should increase in good deeds in order to prepare our souls, so that they are disciplined upon obedience. If you are not use to extra worship it will be heavy upon you, so it’s important to practice now to make it easy.
We should aim to make this Ramadhan, better than our last, and to strive to adopt the good habits into our lives post Ramadhan. Let it not be a month in which our fasts and Ibadah is nothing more than mere hunger and sleepless night.
The Prophet (saw) said: “There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
To help you prepare for Ramadhan, here are 5 steps you can take to ready yourself spiritually for Ramadhan
1. Start with a clean slate
The Prophet (saw) said, “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi)
We all sin, that’s part and parcel of being human. However, what matters is what we do next. At times, you may feel distant from Allah, as you are ashamed to turn to Him as you have sinned. However, Allah is Most-Merciful, and Most-Forgiving. He is waiting for you to turn to Him, and He is ready to forgive His creation.
Before Ramadhan begins, turn to Him, and beg Him for forgiveness. Start the month of mercy with a clean slate, and you will feel lighter, and purified.
Seeking forgiveness also opens doors for us, enabling us to be more productive and achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves, as well as being the means of relieving our distress.
“If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud]
And as you reach out to Him for forgiveness, forgive others who have wronged you. Use this time to make amends, pardon and forgive others, and begin Ramadhan with a heart free of ill-will and broken ties. Allah loves those who forgive, and the reward for it is immense.
“The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (Quran, 42:40).
2. Read and reflect on the word of Allah
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” (Quran, 2:185)
In the month in which it was revealed, we should aim to read more Quran. The Quran is the word of Allah, and reading it provides us with many benefits, and great reward.
Reciting Quran is the shortest route for you to draw closer to Allah. The Sahaba saw attachment to the Qur’an as an indication of one’s religious commitment.
Ibn Mas’ud (ra) said “None of you needs to ask himself [about anything] except for the Qur’an: If he loves the Qur’an, he loves Allah, and if he detests the Qur’an, he detests Allah and His Messenger.”
And Uthman Ibn Affan (ra) said: “If our hearts were really clean, we would never become satiated with the words of Allah.”
With Ramadhan around the corner, whether it’s a few ayat, a page a day, or a juz, try to create a schedule and set aside some private time for you to connect with His Word. Whatever we read, we should also take time to understand its meaning and reflect over it so have your favourite translation and tafsir book to hand. If you are unable to dedicate enough time to reading tafsir, then you can listen to audio explanations when you are on the go, or performing tasks at home. You can also make it a habit to recite a page after each salah, which means you will read 5 pages each day, and you can gradually increase the amount. Though it may seem daunting, but by reading just four pages after each prayer, you will be able to complete a juz a day.
The Quran was revealed as a guidance for us. We should dedicate time and effort into understanding His word and reflecting on how you can benefit from each verse and surah. The Salaf would see the Qur’an as letters from their Lord, so try to see how you can apply the verses directly to your own life. What message does it have for you? What lesson can you take from it?
3. Pray like it’s your last
The first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment is salah. Although you may be praying your five obligatory prayers, the focus we have in those prayers is something we can all improve on.
If you stood up for prayer, and you were told it was going to be your last prayer, what would you be differently? Would you let your mind wander as you usually would? Would you focus on your recitation, and be fully present with each movement? Although it is a scary thought, each prayer you pray could be your last. We are not guaranteed another one.
Try to slow down, take a deep breath and think about what you are saying. Pray in such a way that you would be satisfied knowing it is your last. If you try and improve your focus in salah in Sha’ban, it will be easier for you to pray your voluntary prayers in Ramadhan.
If you find it difficult to focus in prayer, there are a few steps which you can take to help:
- Remove distractions
- Learn the meaning of prayer
- Slow down
- Prepare and plan what surah you may read
- Recite Ta’awwudh (seeking refuge with Allah from Shaytan)
If you are struggling with praying on time, setting reminders on your phone can help keep you on track. Getting into the habit of praying on time now, will make you it is easier for you in Ramadhan.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “O Messenger of Allah, which deeds are best?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Prayer on time.” (Mu’jam al-Kabir)
To get into the habit of praying more voluntary prayers in Ramadhan, try adding the Sunnah rawatib (12 recommended Sunnah prayers) to the obligatory ones in Shaban.
4. Be alone with your Lord
“It is upon you to perform night prayer, because it was the practice of the righteous people before you. It is a means of obtaining closeness to Allah the Exalted, it erases sins, it prevents wrongdoings, and it drives away sicknesses from the body.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The night is a time of stillness. To rise from your bed in the darkness, perform wudhu and kneel on a prayer mat calling out to Him, when slumber is calling, is truly an act of successful believer.
Performing the night prayer brings peace to your hearts, aids in solving everyday problems and drives away sickness from the body.
In Ramadhan, we will be waking up for Suhoor, therefore the night prayer is a great way to get use to waking in the early hours of the morning. Also, if we perform night prayers now in the weeks leading up to Ramadhan, we will get into the habit of performing them, and be able to increase the amount we do by the time we are in the blessed month of Ramadhan, when the reward will be immeasurable.
“Whoever stands in prayer during Ramadan due to faith and seeking reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
Praying to Allah at night helps you draw closer to Him, and it is a perfect way to enter Ramadhan with our bond strengthened, and our soul purified.
The Prophet Muhammad said: “The closest that the Lord is to His slave is in the later part of the night, so if you can be one of those who remember Allah at that time, then do so.” (at-Tirmidhi and al-Nisaa’i)
5. Make the right intention
“Actions are (judged) by intentions (niyyah), so each man will receive what he has intended for.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
The good deeds we do, and the reward we earn is intrinsically connected to the intention we have regarding them. As believers, it is important that we check, and recheck our intention. We should remind ourselves of why we are striving to prepare spiritually for Ramadhan, and the goodness it brings to us, and those around us.
Only with the correct intention are we able to reap the rewards of such actions, and without the correct intentions we are falling short of the benefit.
Even if you do what you may regard as little, it can become great if your intention is great. Do not disregard your actions, as you unaware of its weight on the scales on the Day of Judgement.
“It is very possible that a small deed will be magnified by its intention, and it is very possible that a large deed will be diminished by its intention.” (Abdullah ibn Mubarak)
In the days of Sha’ban, you can build your habit of giving Sadaqah, by helping HHUGS families prepare for Ramadhan. You can remind families they are not alone with Ramadhan Gift Hampers for just £35 per family or gift an iftar food pack for £50, to help them prepare for the month.
May Allah keep our intentions pure and grant us guidance to act upon them.
May Allah allow us to live to see Ramadhan, and may it be our best one yet. May it be a month where we grow closer to Him, purify our souls and raise our ranks in Jannah.