Set your intentions

Everything begins with intention, especially in Islam. The term “Niyyah” referring to intention in Arabic, has special value in Islam. This is because the value of your deeds will be judged by ALLAH SWT based upon what your intention was in the first place.

The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention.” [Bukhari]

Therefore, intentions are very important for us as humans when carrying out any task for the sake of Allah. Not to mention getting your mind prepared as well for such a Holy month that you are about to encounter will really put you in the best of moods for it and increase your enthusiasm for Ramadan.

Plan and Organize your days

After getting your intentions straight and getting yourself all riled up for the Holy month, it is as well important to plan and organize how you are going to spend your days.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

So Benjamin Franklin might not be a Muslim scholar, but he was a wise man and that quote is gold. The reality is if you want to achieve something in life, especially in a certain period of time, you have to plan. Without a plan, you are just going to leave everything to chance and maybes, which in all honestly will not benefit you in this situation. The month of ramadan comes only once a year and it is such a Holy month that you need to make a befitting plan to maximize it’s benefits.

Plan on how many chapters of the Qur’an you are going to recite. How many charity’s will you be donating to? Which shelters will you volunteer at? and how will you fuse in all these extra activities into your already existing daily routine. Sometimes it takes reducing some of your daily chores in order to do some more spiritually beneficial activities for the sake of Allah. You figure all this out even before Ramadan and everything works out well In sha Allah.

You can download a free Ramadan planner here. It has everything in place for you, Du’as you need to learn, daily routine, hadith of the day and virtues of Ramadan and many more. Download yours now.

Make a du’a list

Making a du’a list saves you a lot of time during prayers. Because you go into Ramadan having a list of things you want to pray for, that helps you because in every prayer you get to hit every prayer point without missing anyone and without spending a lot of time during prayer thinking of what to pray for. Even though a blanket prayer is very much okay in Islam, it would be great to have a list of specific things you would want to as Allah for.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Let one of you ask his Lord concerning his needs, all of them, until he asks him even for a shoestring when his breaks.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3973

There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it up above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.”[Tirmidhi]

Invoke Me, [i.e. believe and ask and supplicate to me] I will respond to you (your invocation) – (Surah Ghafir: 40)

Mind your language

Okay, I know ‘Mind your language’ is a name of a TV show, but that’s not what we are talking about here. This is about the little things we take for granted, like speech. The tongue is one of the easiest way to err.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else keep silent …”

Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If he wants to speak, then if what he wants to say is good and he is confident that he will be rewarded for it, whether it is obligatory or praiseworthy, then let him speak, but if it does not seem to him that it is good and he will be rewarded for it, then let him refrain from speaking, whether he thinks it is haram (impermissible) or makrooh (disliked) or permissible.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) told us, “Allah is not in need of anyone abandoning his food and drink who does not abandon lies and acting by them while fasting.” The quickest way to wreck your fast is by engaging in gossip and vain talk. This year, try to take your fast to a higher level by refraining from too much talk, especially the kind that can get you in trouble.

A lot of times as humans we take saying the wrong things for granted, but these are little things we need to watch out because it accumulates so quickly, especially during the month of Ramadan you want to use your tongue for good instead.

Use any free time for dhikr

Speaking of using your tongue for good. Dhikr is the remembrance of Allah by the use of tongue. And ye, even quart recitation is dhikr, but for this point I’m going to concentrate on other forms of remembrance of Allah, like doing the istigfar.

“Whoever does a lot of Istighfar (asking for forgiveness), Allah will provide him a way out of each concern he has, and will solve all his troubles, and will provide him with livelihood from sources that were not known to him” (Ahmad)

The Messenger once said to his companions, “Renew your faith.” He was asked how to accomplish that, and his response was, “Keep repeating There is no God except Allah.

Dhikr itself has so many virtues which is multiplied during the month of Ramadan.

This is something you can do during your lunch break, in the car, in bed before you fall asleep, for 10 minutes or even longer. It is very easy, very little, yet has an immense benefit.

It endows the person with Love of God which is the very spirit of Islam for God has opened a way of access to everything, and the way to Love is constancy in Remembrance.

It brings joy and happiness to the Heart.

You can read the 30 virtues of Dhikr here.

Actually time block

When it comes to important things in life, time doesn’t just create itself. One needs to actually create the time and time block for the worship of Allah. This is why planning in the first place is important. This is a time that comes once a year and it’s virtues are numerous, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we do not cancel out some other tasks that were not necessary in the day and replace them with meaningful acts of worship.

So after writing down your goals for the month, actually blocking out at least an hour a day in your calendar will make it more realistic to achieve. It minimizes distractions because you already have a set out time for this activity and nothing else comes in the way.

With your proper plan you now know all the tasks you are able to achieve within a particular day, which allows you have a productive day overall. You can use the Ramadan planner to really structure your days (download here) or you can just use your regular day planner to create these time blocks.

Be of service to others

Ramadan is a month of love and care. The benefits of giving is extraordinary, give in whatever capacity you can. You can give in terms of materialistic things, money, your time or knowledge.

There are so many ways you can be of service to others and doing this not only helps people and makes us a better community in general, it brings you closer to the creator. Action is the best form of da’wah to show how beautiful Islam is. You can visit the sick, you can help the elderly, you can send out gifts, visit the orphanage, give your neighbors some food, talk to a friend in need. There are several ways one can be of service.

“There is not a single day in which a servant wakes that two angels come down (from the Heavens). One of them says, O’ Allah! Give to the one that spends a substitute (for what he has spent). And the other one says, ‘O Allah! Give to the one that withholds (his money) destruction!” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

{Believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and spend of that whereof He has made you trustees. And such of you as believe and spend (in Allah’s way), theirs will be a great reward.} (57:7)

The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.(2:261)

The Prophet Muhammad said: “Charity extinguishes the sins like water extinguishes a fire.” (Ibn Majah)

Plan on how you read the Qur’an

Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. The Quran was revealed during the month of Ramadan and is one of the reasons the month is so sacred to Muslims. Making the month a Holy month which we fast and pray during.

“(It is) the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for mankind, clear proofs giving guidance, and the Criterion (for distinguishing right and wrong). So whoever of you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” [2:185]

Through this fasting and prayer, the most preferred acts of worship is actually reciting the Qur’an. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the Arabic text, read with translations, because it is important that you understand what you are reciting.

Abu Umaamah al-Baahili said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “Read the Qur’an, for it will come on the Day of Resurrection interceding for its companions.”

Imam Ahmad (6589) narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: O Lord, I kept him from his food and desires during the day; let me intercede for him. And the Qur’an will say: I kept him from sleeping during the night; let me intercede for him. And they will be allowed to intercede.”

It also doesn’t matter that your Arabic reading isn’t fluent, for Allah is very merciful and you get rewarded for reciting despite the challenge.

Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: The example of those who recite the Quran and memorize it is that of one who is with the ‘righteous and noble scribes’ (80:15); and the example of one who recites the Quran with great difficulty is that of one who receives a double reward.

May Allah let us witness the month of Ramadan and make the most out of it. Don’t forget to pray for the Muslim ummah, have a blessed Ramadan.

Let me know what your pre Ramadan rituals are in the comments, what do you normally do to prepare yourself for the month?

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