بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yes, we’re almost in Shaban.
SHABAN THEN (i.e. in the good old days)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Insha-Allah, I’ll be starting a new series on preparing for Ramadan 2012 (much like the ones I had the previous 2 years).
I think that all of us need to work on the following ahead of Ramadan:
1) Ibaadah (worship)
This includes our prayers, fasting, charity, dua (supplication), adhkar (remembrance), reciting the Quran, etc.
2) Seeking knowledge
This is something that each and every one of us needs to do: seek knowledge.
Why? Because we need to worship Allah based on knowledge, not on our own fantasies, desires or logic.
So in order for us to worship Him based on knowledge, we need to learn this knowledge first. Simple, isn’t it?
Insha-Allah, the first few posts of this series will focus on this aspect because this is the main problem that most people have (from what I’ve seen anyway).
I’m going to cover learning Arabic (and understanding the Quran), as well as give an overview of the various sciences of Islam.
3) Health and Fitness
[Yes, I am rather obsessed with this topic. I’m sure you’ve noticed.]
So, we want to fast the whole day (without sleeping) and not end up stuffing our faces at iftar time.
We also want to then stand up in prayer the whole night without dozing off.
Okay, this is not going to happen if the only time we use the word “walk” in our daily lives is “I’m going to walk to the elevator.”
We need to MOVE. And we also need to eat properly.
This is our third major problem (after lack of knowledge and ibaadah). It’s one of the reasons why many of us are always tired. We’re just not fit enough.
So, in order for us NOT to sleepwalk through Ramadan, we have to start working on this aspect.
4) Logistics and planning
Okay, I wasn’t sure how to phrase this one. What I meant was all the other stuff that we need to take care of.
For example, suppose you are not sure what you’ll be doing come July and August (especially as this is holiday time for most people). You need to plan and make sure that the environment you’ll be in is conducive to having a proper Ramadan.
Many people want to have their summer holidays so they go abroad. Well, one needs to make sure that they aren’t going for Kenyan safaris during Ramadan, if you know what I mean.
So, those are the four areas that I plan to cover, inshaAllah.
[I had originally planned to make worksheets as I’ve found them to be very helpful, but seeing that most people have difficulty finding time to participate in polls and surveys, etc, I realised that it wouldn’t be very helpful because most people wouldn’t use them.]
Are there any others that you can think of? If so, please do share, barakallahu feekum.
As for the other series, yes, I plan to continue with them as well, insha-Allah. This will include the Lord of the Worlds series.
Are there any other things that you’d like me to focus on? Or any particular topics that you’d like me to address? As I’ve said before, this is our blog, not my blog.
[I’ve read all the previous suggestions and I plan to implement them, insha-Allah. I meant something else in addition to these.]
Lastly, please remember that if we truly want something, we will put in the effort. [Remember this post?]
PS. I don’t think I’ll be very consistent in posting for the next 2.5 months because of other work that I need to focus on. I’ll try, insha-Allah but no promises.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Which way, you ask?
Well, by finishing off any pending tasks before Ramadan comes.
For example, if you want to do spring cleaning, do NOT do it in Ramadan. Do it now.
If you want to shop for food or Eid clothes, do that in Shabaan, NOT in Ramadan.
If you have any work that has been pending for a long time, then do your best to finish it off BEFORE Ramadan. [That bit of advice was directed towards myself…]
What about if you have important stuff due in Ramadan?
For example, what if you’re taking a summer course and the exam is in Ramadan?
Well, why can’t you try to start studying before Ramadan so at least you’ll have to devote less time to studying in Ramadan?
So, how can you finish off all the pending work before Ramadan?
1) Take a piece of paper (or better yet, your Ramadan journal)
2) Write down each and every possible current pending task that you can think of even if it’s “Need to get around to visiting Mother-in-law”.
3) Write down any work that you might have to do in Ramadan (i.e. stuff that cannot be fully completed before Ramadan) and try to see if you can finish any part of it off before Ramadan rolls around.
4) Start doing them.
5) Finish them off before Ramadan.
“What about all the the cooking? That’s what takes up most of my time! How can I do that before Ramadan?”
Actually, there is a way around this problem.
A sister I know, who works night shifts and long hours, cooks two weeks worth of food for her family, stores them in containers (and labels them) and then puts them in the freezer.
She does this because she has too much work and so cannot cook on a daily basis so this reduces her workload considerably.
Now, you might say that this is not very healthy. Yes, but if you heat the food properly, it won’t kill you. It’s better than junk food, isn’t it? And it’s just for a month anyway.
So, I think that this is something that the sisters can do before Ramadan: cook ahead of time. This way, they could get some relief from their cooking duties before Ramadan.
[Of course, this can only be done if all the family members are okay with it.]
Oh and to all those who complain about all those dishes that need to be washed: use plastic plates (assuming that your family does not freak out) for this month.
And no, it’s not a waste of money. You’ll be buying those plastic plates so that you have more time to worship Allah.
That’s a good bargain if you ask me…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I was thinking about the areas that we mess up in the most during this great month. What are the things that we could (and should) do that would help us improve our Ramadan?
1) We can (and should) sleep less.
Yes, yes, I know. You might say: “Hey most of us sleep less during this month!”
I beg to differ. I think that people snooze more in this month (or at least that’s what the people in this part of the world do) than they do outside of it.
This is NOT the month of “catching up on our sleep”.
2) We can (and should) stop wasting our time with useless activities, and instead focus on our ibaadah (worship).
Want to surf the Internet? Well, do it after Ramadan.
Part of the reason that we waste our time is that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that fasting is only achieved by staying hungry and as we are staying hungry, we are in a state of worship.
Well, no, there’s much more to fasting than just starving.
3) We can (and should) eat healthy food.
Yes, we can. Really.
Just stand in front of the mirror and repeat it a hundred times. Mass repetition is known to help the brain accept an idea, no matter how impossible it sounds.
[Oh and we can (and should) eat less as well. That would really end many a woman’s kitchen nightmares….]
4) We can (and should) stop fighting with each other in the masjid.
Completely silly question: Is there any particular reason that we all single out Ramadan for masjid fights……..?
5) We can (and should) take it hour by hour and not think too far ahead.
One of the main reasons that many of us flunk in Ramadan is that we go all out in the first few days and then fizzle out early. Instead, we need to take things step by step.
Question to all of you (if you’re still around. Everyone seems to have disappeared?): What other things are there that we can (and should) do in order to have a great Ramadan?
The Greatest Month is 4.5 months away so we need to start preparing.
Before we start preparing, we need to know what our goals are.
Firstly, what kind of shape (spiritual, emotional, physical, etc) do we want to be in by the end of Shabaan?
Secondly, what goals do we have for the month of Ramadan itself?
For example, someone might want to memorise Juz Amma (30) and Juz Tabarak (29) by the end of Shabaan. In Ramadan, they might want to memorise Juz Qad Samia (28).
Or a person might want to get up for Fajr on time everyday. In Ramadan, their goal might be to wake up 40 minutes before the adhan of Fajr so that they can do a few rakahs of tahajjud (night prayer) and then eat suhoor (the pre-dawn meal).
So, we could take the following steps:
1) Get a dedicated notebook for this. (Check out last year’s post on keeping a Ramadan journal.)
2) Ask yourself what kind of position you want to have in the hereafter. Please be very ambitious and aim for the top!
3) In order to attain that position in the hereafter, what do you need to do in this dunya (wordly life)? What’s stopping you from doing these things and how can you deal with them?
4) What goals do you need to set this year in order to get that high level of iman in this dunya?
5) How do you see yourself at the first day of Eid? What would you liked to have achieved?
6) In order to have that awesome Eid, what must you have done in Ramadan?
7) In order to have had an awesome Ramadan, what must you have done in the months preceding Ramadan?
8) In order to attain all the above, where do you need to be NOW?
Phew…that was exhausting, wasn’t it?
We do need to think backwards though. It makes things clearer.
So, we need to visualise and then write.
After this, we need to do dua 1) that we reach Ramadan 2) for all the things that we want to attain. (Please read this post on preparing a dua list.)
Ramadan 2011, here we come, insha-Allah.
The early generations used to start preparing for Ramadan 6 months in advance.
6 months in advance.
Ramadan is 5.5 months away.
So, just how much have we prepared?
What are waiting for anyway? Shaban?
Well, if truth be told, yes we are…
Yes, Ramadan is a little over six months away.
So, we need to ask ourselves two main questions:
1) How much progress have we made since the end of Ramadan 2010?
2) What are our goals for the end of Ramadan 2011 and how much progress do we need to make before we reach them?
Some of the questions that we could ask ourselves before we make a list of goals for the next Ramadan are:
a) Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)
Has our knowledge and application of tawheed increased?
What else do we need to do to strengthen our aqeedah (creed)?
b) Salah (prayers)
How is the quality of our prayers?
Have we started doing any new prayers (e.g. Dhuha or Tahajjud) on a regular basis?
Has our Arabic improved?
Will we be able to understand the Taraweeh prayers come Ramadan?
d) The Quran
Has our relationship with the Book of Allah improved?
Do we recite it daily? And with tajweed (rules of recitation)?
How much can we understand without the use of a translation?
Have we memorised any new surahs? How much do we plan on memorising before next Ramadan?
Have we read the tafsir?
How much of the Quran do we apply?
Do we spend more on charity now?
Do we help the needy on a regular basis?
f) Adhkar (remembrance)
Have we increased in the remembrance of Allah?
Have we memorised any new adhkar?
Have we made up our missed fasts from previous Ramadans?
Do we do any of the optional fasts?
h) Seeking knowledge and doing dawah (calling to Islam)
Do we regularly attend Islamic lectures/classes?
Do we read beneficial books?
Do we spread this knowledge to others?
i) Akhlaq (Character)
Has our character improved?
Are our tongues more restrained?
Has our health improved?
Are we better equipped to handle the long qiyam al-layl prayers next Ramadan?
We don’t need to wait for Ramadan to make a change, nor should we wait for it. Rather, we should always be eager to improve no matter what time of year it is.
Another day, another lecture.
Here’s another series. It’s by a British brother (in case you prefer that accent).
I haven’t listened to it yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to soon, insha-Allah. Here’s a list of the topics that it covers.
[Note: I’d advise you to continue to listen to all these lectures even during Ramadan, not just before it. We need to be constantly reminded.]
The Month of Mercy by Brother Abu Abdissalam
Part 1 (Download)
Part 2 (Download)
Part 3 (Download)
Part 4 (Download)
Part 5 (Download)
Part 6 (Download)
Part 7 (Download)
I just discovered a nice series by Dr. Bilal Philips on making the most out of Ramadan. Only the first two sessions have been uploaded so far.
[I think it might continue throughout Ramadan.]
I’m currently listening to it. The first lecture talks about the goals that we need to set for this Ramadan. It’s a sorely-needed reminder.