How time has flown! There is less than a month to Ramadan, so we need to get cracking on that prep!
Everything here are direct points or inspiration from what I have read online (ProductiveMuslim.com has really good Ramadan planning as well)
1) Build your stamina – A lot of what follows comes under this main point. When we hear ‘stamina’ we immediately think of exercise, and while that is also a factor, it isn’t the only one. The point of building stamina is to get ourselves used to doing things we don’t normally do – or do as much of. The reason we feel a high at the beginning of Ramadan and then burn out in the middle is that we have rushed into it with full vigour without actually preparing ourselves for it.
a) Recite more Qur’an – we know Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an and we all rush to finish it, but we start to slow down, or push ourselves, or it becomes not so enjoyable only because we are not used to reciting so much. If you recite one page a day, try doubling it, and if your schedule allows more, try testing your limits.
b) Revise what you have memorised – there is nothing like Ramadan to give salah with khushoo‘ an actual shot, and nothing makes salah more enjoyable than reciting something other than the surahs from right at the end of the Qur’an! Revising what you have already memorised also makes way for new memorisation during Ramadan.
c) Ponder over the Qur’an – when we say “Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an”, it’s not just about finishing it. Rather it’s about connecting with it. Listen to lectures about the ayat, discuss it with friends and try to teach others to increase your pondering capabilities. You might be wondering, “Then what can I do IN Ramadan??” The problem with our thinking is that we separate the activities of Ramadan from the rest of the year, and they cannot overlap. But in getting used to doing it, we can continue on into Ramadan, and have it more enjoyable.
d) Wake up for tahajjud – this will not only get you used to waking up before Fajr which should make suhoor easier, but it builds your connection with Allah (swt) and is the most recommended for ‘me-time’ between an individual and his Rabb. It is also the best time to connect with and ponder over the Qur’an, and make du’a.
e) Build khushoo’ in salah – there are a lot of resources that can help you with that – The Meaningful Prayer by Abdul Nasir Jangda which is an online course, or the book 33 ways of developing Al-Khushoo’ Humility and Devotion in Prayer by Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid (published by IIPH) which is a really short concise and effective book.
f) Learn more du’as – and get used to asking them. There is nothing that wastes time more than sitting with your palms raised before Iftar and cracking your brains as to what you should ask in that most precious time. The du’as given to us by the Prophet (pbuh) are so beautiful and all-encompassing and generally not even things we think of..! AlHuda Sisters has a beautiful compilation called Precious Remembrance.
g) Make your own du’a list – it’s always handy to have all your du’as in one place to make the most of this beautiful month, so whenever someone tells you to make du’a for them, or you realise you need to ask for something, write it down so that it can be something you ask for constantly. I would recommend making a small book of du’as that is easy to carry around if you’re travelling – because the du’a of a traveller is one that is answered – or if you happen to go for Hajj.
h) Keep your tongue busy with dhikr – so that you’re not talking unnecessarily, but gaining reward instead
i) Work on boosting your eman – in any way that you see possible. Whether it be listening to speakers or connecting with the Qur’an or reading or surrounding yourself with good company who remind you of Allah (swt), the key to a good Ramadan is in our eman levels.
j) Exercise to build physical stamina – we are not used to standing for so long in salah and can become tired easily. Taking care of our body before Ramadan, eating healthy and possibly reducing food intake is a good way to prepare for the physical aspect of it.
2) Make a goal list – for each aspect of your preparation before Ramadan as well your goals in Ramdan itself. Most people work better when working towards something.
3) Analyse your routine and plan your days in Ramdan accordingly – depending on your energy levels and requirements in the day. Don’t push yourself to breaking point, but do push yourself to your limit because the last thing you want to do is leave Ramadan with a sense of regret that you could have done more.
4) Plan your Eid clothes and do all that shopping NOW – do not waste time during those precious nights where you can get sucked in very easily.
5) Plan your Ramadan – I’m not a minute-by-minute planner, but I do need to have some structure to my day. Put down how many pages of Qur’an you want to recite, the pages or surahs you want to ponder on, the lectures you want to listen to, what you need to prepare for Iftar, etc, so you’ll know how to use your time in the day. Plan it realistically, because what makes us fall behind on our goals is when we see them as non- achievable. Think about what if this your last Ramadan.
a) Focus on what you love – whether it be reading or watching things, find good alternatives for that. Don’t push yourself do something you dislike if you have more enjoyable options.
b) Plan your menstruating days – there are quite a few articles or posts out there that tell you what you can do when you can’t pray or recite, and it might seem you have so much more time with nothing to do. Plan for those days specifically so that you are not caught off-guard when the time comes. Examples are doing the Iftar in those days, memorising is allowed then, read more, listen more, etc.
I don’t believe I’ve covered everything. There are definitely more aspects to consider. This is my Ramadan prep for this time though. Maybe I’ll have more if I live to see next Ramdan, bi idhnillahi ta’alaa!