2 Months to Ramadan: Here’s 5 Ways to Prepare Yourself for the Month of Mercy05 Mar 2020
With the month of mercy only two months away, we are all eagerly anticipating its blessed arrival. It is a month of family, community, food, prayer and most importantly, God’s ultimate blessings.
Upon reflection, some of us may notice that in some years, we felt more spiritually connected, while other years felt routine, and didn’t affect us very much at all. What can we do to help this year’s Ramadan experience be as fulfilling as possible? Here are 5 steps you can take over the next 2 months to prepare for a Ramadan of true soul upliftment and spiritual cleanse.
1. Build Your Physical Stamina: Fast the Recommended Fasts of Rajab and Sha’ban
First thing’s first, build your stamina. Throughout the year, we tend to accustom ourselves to plenty of unhealthy habits, which have a negative impact on both our physical and spiritual stamina.
In terms of physical stamina, it is no debate that fasting in the holy month can be exhausting, especially during the first week. We’ve all experienced the coffee withdrawal headaches and pangs of hunger that hinder the joy and introspectiveness that we expect. Understandable. We’re tired, sluggish, and not as sharp during these initial days. The way we can overcome such a rough start is simple and certainly encouraged by Allah (swt). That is, to fast more often before the month commences. Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is highly recommended throughout the year, according to narrations. Not only this, but the two months before Ramadan (Rajab and Sha’ban) have their own unique prayers, practices, and highly recommended days of fasting. These are prime opportunities to strengthen our will-power and bodies in preparation for the blessed Month of Mercy. If we can fast optimally at the start of Ramadan, we can reap the benefits for the entire month by having the energy to do more for ourselves, spiritually and socially.
2. Get into the habit of praying with others
There are a variety of extra acts of worship afforded to us during the month of Ramadan. Among these, there are recommended prayers, supplications, and of course, reading the Holy Qur’an. Each of these acts are recommended daily, but to become spiritually capable of doing them requires great practice and real motivation and desire.
But what’s most beautiful about this month is that, for most of us, we don’t need to engage in these acts of worship alone! We can gather with our family at home or with our Muslim brothers and sisters at the mosque, and read the many prayers in communion. Psychological research shows that people are more likely to engage in an act when their friends or family are doing so. Positive social influence plays a huge role in motivating an individual to perform a certain act.
3. Make social media your companion!
Wait… what? Everyone usually talks about the down sides of social media, and how one should try a ‘social media cleanse’ every so often, especially during a spiritual month like Ramadan. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are loads of online Muslim-friendly communities across different social media platforms that you can enter and explore, which can help to motivate you and keep track of your daily acts of worship during the month. You can follow daily Qur’an accounts or even personal accounts that post regular spiritual and religious reminders as a great way to make the most of social media. Connecting with the global Muslim community is as unifying as going to a local mosque when everyone is in the spirit of the holy month. So start by exploring now – the world is at your fingertips!
4. Strengthen Your Connection with the Qur’an – Start Reading Early
Each year, some of us dedicate the time and effort to read the entire Qur’an within these blessed 30 days. It is no minor task or small feat to attempt to do so, and preparing from now can truly help you accomplish this endeavour. You can gather a group of friends or family who have the same intention, so that everyone can motivate each other and keep each other on track.
We should also get accustomed to reading the Qur’an for longer periods of time, because certainly to read the entire Quran within 30 days requires one to take out a larger portion of time each day, especially to read with concentration and reflection. Some of us don’t set out to read the entire Qur’an for all kinds of reasons, but we may still read a chapter or two every now and again. We can make the most of engaging with the book of Allah by becoming familiar with the chapters that are recommended during Ramadan, so when the time comes, we have a greater understanding and connection with the text to reflect and read effectively.
(Check out the series of weekly Qur’an reflections on Urban Muslimz!)
5. Slowly Introduce Some Lifestyle Changes
Some other suggestions to ready ourselves for the month of Mercy include gradually decreasing our caffeine intake as the month approaches, growing accustomed to drinking plenty of water before bed, and practicing waking up early for prayers and breakfast. An early start to our day is proven to be one of the most productive habits we can adopt in general, but especially in the holy month of Ramadan. With an early start, we can eat a light and nutritious breakfast before fasting and, of course, there’s the incentive of praying the morning prayer at its prime time. Starting our day with prayer and Qur’an is the perfect way to purify our intentions, and keep Allah (swt) in our mind throughout the fasting day.
If you’re an early bird, the peace and quiet will be conducive to connecting with the Qur’an or reading dua (invocational prayers). If you’re not an early bird, after praying the morning prayer, you can always have a few hours of sleep before going to work. You can make use of the commute to work to recite the Qur’an.
Adjusting to a routine like this takes practice, especially if it doesn’t come to us naturally. So implementing these changes now can truly ensure a smooth transition into the blessed month, allowing you to truly reap its benefits.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list and we may all have our own rituals we’ve perfected over the years to prepare ourselves. The Month of Mercy is upon us and the path leading us there (Rajab and Sha’ban) is full of opportunity and forgiveness.