The Missing Link in Your Ramadan Preparation
Days Until Ramadan 2020
by Shahbaz Mirza, Founder of Ramadan Legacy
Imagine you are training for the Olympics to compete in the 400 metre race. A few days before you race in the biggest sporting event held in the world: you start to look for where your running shoes are; go for a few warm up laps around your neighbourhood and finally start to eat the right foods. What sort of Olympic runner would you be? Where do you think you will rank in your race?
This is how we approach Ramadan, the biggest month and biggest blessing we receive every year. Thankfully it doesn’t come every 4 years like the Olympics, and Allah blesses us with the opportunity to attain clarity, purpose and meaning back into our lives on an annual basis.
If Ramadan is so important why do we treat it as a last minute thing? Well naturally we take it for granted, but this year with the coronavirus situation around the world and people being home-bound, we’ve finally started to appreciate the sweetness of practising our Deen.
It was reported by Imam Ibn Rajab in Lata`if al-Ma`arif that the Sahabah used to supplicate to God 6 months in advance of Ramadan to allow them to reach the blessed month (1). Why? Every single year I would think why on earth would they do that? Why would they plan so far in advance? How could I get to that level of spirituality? Well, now we know why. Because nothing is guaranteed in life, even the months of the year are not guaranteed for us. Blessings are not guaranteed for us. Ease is not guaranteed for us. To breathe is not guaranteed for us. Ramadan is not guaranteed for us. Except by God’s will.
Why Do We Miss Out On Blessings?
It always strikes me at how much we miss out on the blessings that Allah can bring to our lives through worshipping Him. There are certain du’as we can recite in the morning that protect us from the start to the end of the day, they heal us and bring barakah into our lives. If we sit after the Fajr prayer until the sun rises remembering Allah, then pray two rakah’s at the permissible time, then it is the reward of performing one hajj and umrah (2). Wow! That is completely mind blowing. But how many times have we done that?
We haven’t done it because it’s “only a Sunnah”, it’s not Fardh upon us. It’s voluntary therefore it’s out of sight and out of mind. But the reward of these voluntary acts of worship are so immense and great that it enhances the blessing and performance of our obligatory acts of worship.
Think about the Olympic runner who voluntarily trains for four years before he runs. They don’t have to, but the reward of doing so is the increased probability of getting that gold medal.
So How Do We Start?
1. Focus On The Neglected Month Before Ramadan
The month of Sha’ban has come, to honour the month of Ramadan. In this month where we are encouraged to fast as much as we can, is the same month our deeds are presented to Allah. Our Prophet (PBUH) reminded us of this to not neglect the beauty this month holds in preparation for Ramadan.
Usamah ibn Zaid narrated “I said to the Prophet, O Messenger of Allah! I did not see you fasting in any month as you do in the month of Sha’baan.” The Prophet said: “People neglect this month which is between Rajab and Ramadan; in this month the actions of the people are presented to Allah, so I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.” [Abu Dawood and an-Nasaa’i]
Why did the Prophet (PBUH) take out the time to remind us of this? It emphasises the importance of preparing for Ramadan and it also signifies and amplifies the status of being in a state of fasting. The Prophet (PBUH) wanted to be in a state of fasting when Allah was taking account of his deeds so that he could be in the highest state he could be. To be in a state of fasting is a station that gets you closer to Allah.
If you can’t fast in the month of Sha’ban then try going hungry, remove the luxury foods from your lifestyle and start eating less if your health permits you to do so.
2. Make Up For Your Missed Fasts
It’s a small point but it’s so important we often neglect it. The same way in which we need to make up our prayers, and our zakat if we have missed it, the same way we need to make up for our missed prayers. Reflect back to last year and look at how many fasts you have missed and set the goal to make them up before Ramadan. It will improve your health, prepare you for Ramadan but also bring you closer to Allah before the month of Ramadan begins.
3. Build An Islamic Routine
It’s hard right? An Islamic routine? But is it really? When Ramadan begins and all of a sudden you need to pray, read Qur’an, go to taraweeh, do dhikr, and be in a routine of performing worship then you might not hit the ground running as fast as what you wanted to unless you begin that routine now.
Identify the key areas in your daily Islamic life that need worked upon. The five areas I am working on at the moment are my:
These are areas I identified that needed worked upon before Ramadan begins so that I could go into the month strong. After I identified each area I decided to set a realistic goal in each of these areas so that I had something to work towards. So now my 5-point plan for the month of Sha’ban looks like this:
- Fasting: Make up for 4 missed fasts and fast each Thursday
- Qur’an: Read 50 verses a day with translation
- Prayers: Slow each done and sit still after each one
- Learning: Continue memorisation of Surah Kahf
- Dhikr: Send salawat to the Prophet before going to bed
Think back to the analogy of the Olympic runner. A year in advance of their race they start to begin their training programme, nutrition programme, physiology programme and make adjustments to their life so they can win that all-time gold medal.
What preparation have you made so you can also win that all-time gold medal? Not the one in this life, but the one that waits for us in the next life?
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