One of the salaf said: “Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Sha’ban is the month to irrigate the crop; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest!”
With Rajab gone and Sha’baan about to come to an end, you may have not had a chance to really prepare yourself for Ramadan. Maybe you thought you didn’t need to but changed your mind now that you realize Ramadan is just around the corner. Whatever the case, it’s never too late to start preparing for the blessed month. So if you’re behind on your Ramadan preparations, here are 3 ways to jump start it (inshaa Allah).
Start with self-awareness
Imaam Fudayl Ibn Iyaad (rahimahullaah) said:”O miserable one! You are disobedient yet you see yourself as a good-doer; you are ignorant yet you see yourself as a scholar; you are miserly yet you see yourself as a generous person; you are an idiot yet you see yourself as a sensible person, and your lifespan is short yet your hopes are prolonged”. (Source: Siyar A’laam An-Nubulaa: 8/440)
Ramadan is a blessed month full of mercy and opportunities to please Allah through our worship and good deeds thus making it the perfect time for an honest self-assessment of ourselves and our relationship with Allah and the Quran. We sometimes perceive ourselves to be something we are actually not. Our self-perception determines our behavior, so if we think we are inadequate, we act that way. If we think we are the world’s greatest, we act that way. It’s important to put pen on paper and look inward to recognize our own short comings.
Reflect on your daily routine and habits
How many hours a day do you spend watching TV, browsing the internet or just wasting time? What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? What are some things you hate doing but do anyway without thinking because they have become habits?
Is your routine on auto pilot or is it intentional? What would an intentional routine look like for you?
Running on autopilot means we are driven by our schedules and obligations, and by desires and emotions. For instance, my first conscious act of the day is to check my email and social media and it’s become one of the things I have on autopilot.
An intentional routine is driven by priorities and purpose. Of course, we all have obligations but fulfilling our duties as a Muslim is actually a choice we make and one that we need to be intentional about.
You may know that one friend who is always way too busy to do anything. The one that complains that they just don’t have the time to pray or read the Quran. Subhanallah, it’s always a slap in the face when they track their daily activity only to find that they spend a couple hours watching TV and a few hours on social media and window shopping.
Many of us are not as busy as we think we are, we just have not prioritized what is important to us. Instead of going with the flow and running on autopilot, try to work out exactly what you do every day, how long you spend doing it and if it’s something you can get rid off in order to make more time for Worship. (You can use an app like Atracker to keep track of your daily activity)
Reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous Ramadans.
As simple as it may sound, Keep what worked, and ditch what didn’t! Every year if we aim to be only 50% better than the previous year we would make each year count and make every Ramadan a fulfilling one. Instead, we make the same mistakes over and over again, and fall short in completing our goals. Why? Because we don’t work hard enough to get rid of our auto pilot habits, our unthinking routines that we have developed over the other 11 months. Taking the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t might take a couple hours but in turn it can save us many more hours in the long run.
I like to draw a line and on one side write “what worked” while on the other side write “what did not work and needs to change.”
What worked? What did not work?
Keeping the kids up late Spending time on Social media
This is a great exercise to visualize what worked and what didn’t. You can take the things in the “what did not work” category and think of ways to change it. For me, I spend way too much time on my phone, and I know this. Something I can do to change this is by with deactivating social media and/or deleting the apps and setting ‘read quran’ reminders at times I am usually prone to be ‘bored’ and go on social media in search for some entertainment.
Take action and Start today you don’t have to wait until Ramadan to start developing good habits. Start today! Now that you have a plan in place, slowly set a schedule and get into a more intentional routine for the month of Ramadan. What is the first thing you will do when you wake up? How does your day look, is it too busy or have you intentionally reduced your workload? When or at what time will you be reciting the Quran and read the translations?
When you have mindfully thought through every aspect of your day you can start cleaning the house, start meal planning, prepare activities for your kids so you know they will be entertained and are in the spirit of Ramadan. You can stock up the pantry so you reduce trips to the grocery and buy the Eid clothes as well as gifts (insha Allah).
Want a journal to help you stay consistent and not lose track of your goals in the blessed month of Ramadan? Want proven strategies that will help you hold yourself accountable without spending hours? Then hop over here to learn more about Ramadan Reflections- The 10 minute Journal for Daily Reflections.