3 Top Tips To Jump Start Your Ramadan
By Shalisha Smith
Ramadan, the best month of the year! Every year this blessed month arrives, some of us enter it in a panic, followed by the overwhelm at the long hours of fasting and short hours of sleeping, then comes our second wind! We are on a roll! Then… Ramadan is over. It feels like it was all a dream as we bid farewell with sadness, feeling like we cheated ourselves of reaping it’s great benefits.
It is well known that the companions of the Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon him) would prepare for Ramadan 6 months in advance. As this blessed time approaches we get so excited at the opportunity to refuel our emaan, we often forget to put a plan in place and as the saying goes…
By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail!
Not everyone can live by a rigid plan, and many people find that after a while, when they slip up a little, they stop following their plan altogether. The wonderful thing about organising yourself by setting a plan for your goals, is that even if you slip off, you will know exactly what to do to get back on track.
Here are my 3 top tips to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually during the month of Shaaban so you are in full Ramadhan mode before it arrives!
1. Adjust Your Habits And Routines
One of the biggest adjustments to be made during Ramadan outside of the act of fasting, is the disruption to your regular everyday routines. Start reshaping your routines now to ensure you hit the floor running in the first week of Ramadan.
● TIME OFF WORK:Having a full day at work, attending taraweeh then waking up to eat sahoor (the pre dawn meal) everyday can take a toll on you. Begin fleshing out a schedule for the coming month. If you work full or part time, book your annual leave as soon in advance as possible. Depending on the the amount of days available, you could book 2 consecutive weeks off or space out the days in a way that allows you to work a 3 day week for the month.
● ROUTINE: If you’re used to eating sahoor with your eyes half closed or even worse missing it altogether because you slept through the alarm; then start altering your circadian rhythm now. Go to sleep later then you usually would and/or begin waking up half an hour before fajr to pray Tahajjud ( night prayer). This will allow your internal clock to have you on auto pilot and well adjusted to the sleep patterns needed throughout the month.You can also fast Mondays and Thursdays to get your body geared up for fasting.
● HABITS: There is nothing worse than the caffeine withdrawal headaches when you begin fasting. Coffee withdrawal symptoms usually last up to a week, so start cutting down on your caffeine intake now so that you are headache free when Ramadhan arrives. Start eating and snacking less on days that you are not fasting so the lack of food is not a shock to your system. The same can be done for any other habits you have that could impact your performance during Ramadhan.
2. Get Rid Of The Distractions
If you begin doing the things you know you will have to do, it allows you to enter Ramadan in a peaceful rather than panicked state, as well as removing the distractions, which will enable you to focus on the things that matter such as your Ibaadah, getting closer to Allah and His Book, improving your character and implementing good habits whilst getting rid of bad ones.
● RECIPE IDEAS: Choose recipes that can be made in bulk so you can limit cooking time to once or twice each week. For example, overnight oats, egg muffins or boiled eggs can be made to last 3 or 4 days if sealed in an airtight container in the fridge. You are then able to grab them out of the fridge at the time of sahoor with zero preparation.
● RAMADAN SHOP: Whether you have a big family or live alone meal prepping sahoor (meal before sunrise) and Iftar (meal after sunrise) is a huge game changer. Create a meal plan for ramadan by dividing the month into 4 weeks, for each week decide what you will have and what ingredients you will need for your sahoor and iftar each week. Do your ramadan shop for food and other essentials now to avoid busy supermarkets.
● EID SHOP: Buy your Eid gifts, decorations and your Eid outfit now so that you can mark it off of your to do list before ramadan even begins!
3. Define Your Ramadhan Objectives, Strategy and Tactics
The key to making your Ramadhan a success is having a clear objective of exactly what you hope to achieve out of this blessed month, a defined strategy of how you are going to achieve it, along with an arsenal of tactics to implement your strategy. It’s no secret that during the year we fall back into our bad habits of binge watching netflix or scrolling through social media more than we pick up the Qur’an. We are in a constant battle with ourselves when trying to do what we need to and doing what we want to.
● OBJECTIVE: Contemplate the state of your Ramadan last year. What did or did not go well? At what point was there a dip in your zeal, why did it occur? Be honest with yourself and really reflect on how your year has been so far and what habits you want to build on and/or get rid of. Write down your assessments and select 2 or 3 areas that you will focus on.
● STRATEGY: Decide exactly what your daily worship strategy will look like. Is there a particular surah you want to memorise? Do you want to learn the 99 names of Allah or maybe there is a particular aspect of Islam you want to learn about in more detail. Write this all down and ensure you have the necessary books, apps or classes at the ready. Think about what the best days and times are and schedule it in.
● TACTIC: You must prepare yourself with specific things you can do to counter the lethargy you will almost certainly feel while fasting at some point. As a new revert I remember thinking that my Ramadan days should be filled with nothing but reading the Qur’an in an attempt to get to the end. It is 100% true that Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an however, upon reflection I realised this process was the cause for my dip in zeal mid-Ramadan. We are humans, as humans we can be susceptible to apathy. Allah has created a variety of ways that we can worship Him during this month!
Here are a few tactics you could put in play to diversify your ibaadah and reinvigorate you:
1. Create a playlist of podcasts, lectures that you can listen to on your commute, whilst cooking or when you feel tempted to watch an episode of Game of Thrones while your fasting
2. Research charitable events that you could participate in or local food kitchens to assist in feeding the homeless.
3. Even as a revert with no muslim family there are always Iftar dinners being held at the masjid or by organisations such as SOLACE. Start looking out for these so you can get your social calendar lit in an environment that will be based on the remembrance of Allah
4. Make a list of 30 good deeds you could do no matter how small and choose one of these actions for each day of Ramadhan
5. Create a dua jar, write all the duas you want to make for yourself and others and pop them in the jar. When you have a visitor you can even ask them to write their own dua to put in the jar. Take the thinking out of dua and really connect with what your asking for during tahajjud or while your fasting.
I would love to find out your thoughts! How are you preparing for Ramadhan? What do you do to prevent the Ramadhan slump? Share in the comments below so others can benefit from your suggestions and maximise their Ramadhan and you can jump start on earning rewards!
About the author:
Shalisha Smith was born and raised in South London and reverted to Islam in 2009. She is a Freelance Virtual Assistant based in London, providing digital marketing support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Connect with her at: www.malikamai.com or on instagram: @malikamai_reads