Right about now, the Web will be flooded with many articles extolling the virtues of preparing in advance for the blessed month of Ramadhaan. No doubt, it is beneficial to impart – and internalise – advice that is both practically sound and spiritually uplifting. But what I think is equally importance is the continuous sharing of such advice, in order to build communities of exemplary character.
Drawing on my own inward experiences, here’s what I can offer as preparatory advice for Ramadhaan:
- Hunt them habits
Start by assessing your habits, big and small, good and bad. If you dedicate an hour or two to this task alone, you’ll be surprised at what you come up with. During your analysis, it’s important to celebrate success, so acknowledge the good habits first, then delve into the not-so-good ones and understand why they happen. Aim to rectify your bad habits through capitalising on your good habits. Ask yourself: what motivates me to consistently maintain these positive traits, and how can I use them to overpower my weaknesses?
- Ease up on the caffeine
If you have any addictions, start to reduce your dependence on them well before Ramadhaan begins. This includes tea, coffee, energy drinks, smoking, and so on. While you’re at it, set a goal to reduce your dependence on these items in general, as Islam is the way of moderation.
- “And recite the Quran in slow measured rhythmic tones” (73:4)
Remember at all times that Ramadhaan is the Month of the Qur’aan. It is a time to revitalise your relationship with the Absolute Word of Allah The Most High, so use every spare moment to recite and reflect upon it. Tafseer videos are plentiful on YouTube, so set aside time to watch, listen, recite, and understand. Then make a firm commitment to recite the Glorious Qur’aan with consistency throughout the year.
- You won’t starve if you have one less samoosa
Often, as part of a family tradition, you may eat Ramadhaan-specific foods. There’s nothing wrong with this, but always remain cognisant of the fact that Ramadhaan is about fasting, not feasting, so the emphasis on food should be limited to a little more than the basics. Encourage healthy eating, i.e. more fruit, vegetables, water, fresh juice, and less processed, highly-spiced and sugared foods.
- The more you give, the more you will receive
The Prophet Muhammad (in whom Allah’s most choicest peace and blessings abide) was the most generous of all humankind, and even more so during Ramadhaan1, so gift giving should become second nature to you. In keeping with this spirit, focus on giving not only your wealth, but your time and effort as well, to family, friends, and the community at large, particularly for charitable causes.
- More dhikr’ing, less bickering (coined by my teacher Shaykh Faraz Rabbani)
Ramadhaan will send you on a dhikr high, and this can be easily tarnished with a single foul word. Take care with every word you speak. A Sufi saying states:
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself ‘Is it true?’ At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?'”
- Focus on the month’s true purpose: increased worship, servitude and obedience
This world is abound with distractions, from TV and video games to lengthy hours spent socialising and sleeping. Don’t lose yourself in frivolous activity under the guise of “I’m not sinning, therefore it’s good”, because this deprives you of opportunities through which you can better serve Allah and raise your rank with Him.
As a concluding remark, Ramadhaan is designed to regulate your body’s gratification in this world in order to prepare you for everlasting bliss in the Hereafter. Use this blessed month to ensure you don’t fall prey to the “seasonal Muslim” cycle where one casually practises Islam out of convenience, not out of obedience. Maintaining consistency in all of your positive habits will raise inside yourself an intense mode of consciousness of Allah The All-Compassionate, leading to easier obedience to His Command and His Ultimate Pleasure, Insha Allah (God-willing).
And in the end, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
Wassalaam (with peace),
 Al-Bukhari, 1902; Muslim, 2308: “The Messenger of Allah, peace upon him, was the most generous of people. He was especially generous in Ramadan when the Angel Gabriel would come and review the Qur’an with him. Gabriel would to review the Qur’an with him every night during the month of Ramadan. Verily, when Gabriel would come and review the Qur’an with him in Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah was more generous than the free-blowing wind.”
 Ramadan Prep… Clearing up the clutter once again! – by Abdullah Osman