By Imam Numaan Cheema (Boston, Massachusetts)
Ramadan. It’s a time for all to reconnect spiritually to our Lord. But are we ready for it? We hear the hype: how Ramadan is meant to be a life changing experience and how we’re supposed to come out reformed in Shawwal. But are we ready for it? It tends to simply become a part of our yearly routine. Most of the month (except a few nights here and there) go by pretty similarly to the rest of the year. Every year we tell ourselves this Ramadan is going to be different, and before we know it, it’s Eid time and now we’re more concerned about what clothes we’ll wear.
I tried to figure out how I’m supposed to transform into this spiritually ‘high’ version of myself so that I could finally not feel like a complete waste of space by the end of Ramadan. After consulting a few spiritual doctors and mentors who have mastered the art of ramadan-benefitting, I came to one conclusion: Preparation is key!
The real key to success in Ramadan is to prepare yourself beforehand. Prepare emotionally, spiritually and even physically. Preparation for Ramadan is ideally supposed to start a minimum of two months prior, but knowing myself and all the procrastinators out there who are realizing right now that Ramadan could be tonight, here are a few simple steps you can take NOW to prep yourself for Ramadan. They worked for me, and Insha’Allah they’ll work for you too.
Start Weaning Off Bad Habits
Every day give up a habit that you know is counter productive to your spirituality. How do you tell? If it takes you away from Allah and His obedience, it’s a bad habit. Be it binge watching Netflix or reminiscing how Kobe’s retirement is the end of an era, if you find you delay salah, miss congregation, or your mind is too occupied while you pray, these are bad habits that have to go.
Pick Up an Extra Small Good Deed Every Day
There are a ton of easy good deeds a person can do that will reap immense rewards. The purpose behind this is to start getting you used to worship and servitude to Allah. Why? Because Ramadan won’t magically turn you into a saint. Try reading a little Quran every day, maybe an ayah or two or when driving/walking to school/work. Or, challenge yourself on how many times you can recite Subhan Allah. Here’s a small sheet on easy good deeds you can start performing today.
Read About How the Pious Before Us Acted in Ramadan
One of the best ways to motivate yourself for Ramadan is to read about those chosen servants of Allah that dedicated their whole lives for His sake. Read how they lived their lives in Ramadan. Read how the Prophet صلّي الله عليه وسلّم used to perform extra ibaadah in Ramadan. Use these stories about our pious predecessors’ servitude to Allah in Ramadan to inspire your spirituality.