“Whoever fasts in Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, he will be forgiven his previous sins.” (Sahih: Sunan an-Nasa’i)
Ramadan is approaching quickly, and we’re finding ourselves struggling to greet it. The Companions would prepare for Ramadan for months in advance, but with only two weeks left, how can young Muslims prepare for the holiest of months?!
Let’s begin by discussing the gravity of this month. Ramadan is the one month where odds are defied. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
The entire universe quite literally conspires to give believers an edge. But we have to work for it. As young Muslims, we are in a particularly interesting spot because we are at the point in our lives where there is an intense battle of our nafs and the good habits we are trying to build.
In the month where the devil is locked away and we can truly diagnose our sins, we should try to build habits that will boost our Ramadan, bolster our self-development, give us a surplus of good deeds, and wash away the filth from our heart.
So, here are the reminders to give us that Ramadan edge.
1. Set your intention
Let’s refer back to the hadith mentioned at the very beginning of the article. or one to hope for a reward, he/she must intend to do the actions that will incur Allah’s pleasure.
I always tell others “if you intend for good, why would Allah not help bring you to it? Isn’t Allah the Most Merciful?”.
So make that intention, tell yourself you are fasting, praying, reading Quran, helping make iftar and so on, for the sake of Allah and His pleasure.
Even the most mundane of actions like making your bed and washing dishes can become worship simply by intention!
2. Eat (or drink) Suhoor
It’s nice to know many families make this a tradition, but others don’t.
So set your alarm and eat something for Suhoor. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Do you have difficulty getting out of bed? Fine. Leave a bottle of water by your bed and set an alarm.
3. Trade the music for Quran or podcasts
Many of us struggle to stop listening to music to the point it has become an addiction. That addiction takes a toll on your heart and Ramadan is meant to wash over our hearts.
So trade out the music for that which is beneficial for you now and later. One of my favorite Podcasts as introduced to me by a friend is the Qalam Podcast (on Apple’s Podcast app). The scholars that present are so intriguing and you learn SO MUCH.
4. Be (more) generous
The prophet (PBUH) was described as more generous than the fast wind during Ramadan.
A major belief in our faith is when we give, Allah returns more to us. I mean, is God not the infinite? Does He not hold all bounty?
Then of course when you give for His cause, He can give you better. And a good donation is never lost.
There is no shortage of fundraisers at the masjid, so give. Check out Launchgood.com (a global crowdfunding website for Islamic projects) for more ideas.
5. Do MORE
All the Sunnah acts you learned about when you were younger? Do them!
Pray the Sunnah prayers.
Make the duaa you’ve learned.
Serve iftar to others.
Use a miswak (please).
Sit down while drinking.
Engage in more Dhikr.
Go out of your way to be kinder!
6. Engage with the Quran
There are some of you who do this easily, and alhamdulillah, that’s a blessing from God. But some others struggle.
Take baby steps. Play it around the house and while driving. Download a Quran app on your phone and make a promise you won’t sleep without reading a certain quantity.
Hold yourself accountable. Or have someone else hold you accountable.
Point is, struggle to increase your Quran intake.
7. Chilllllll with the iftar
Slow down. And hydrate yourself. You don’t need to eat 3 meals worth because you’ve missed breakfast and lunch.
I promise you, your body can take it. Pace yourself at iftar and eat until your comfortably full.
Go pray Maghrib and `Isha’/Taraweeh. Eat a bit more if you’re hungry but for the love of God, nobody should gain weight while eating during Ramadan.
There are plenty of healthy Ramadan recipes if you need help (just google them).
I always try to personally challenge myself during Ramadan. For me, that looks like tripling my Quran intake, forcing myself to drink at least water for Suhoor (it’s really hard), setting up Quran circles and donating with full faith I’ll have it back.
I cut back on social media, try to avoid music and try to use my time productively.
In all seriousness, it is only ourselves who can assess where we need to grow, what we need to cut off and what we’re doing it for. It is only us who decides if we’ll take a step toward Allah and what this month will be for us.
Don’t be a loser who leaves Ramadan having not done BETTER. It’s not easy but it is temporary and insha Allah, it will be worth it for all of us.