Are you a last minute person like me and feeling totally unprepared for Ramadan? (which some of us are starting tomorrow btw!) Don't stress, it's not too late to implement these 6 simple tips that will help you to have your best Ramadan yet, inshAllah!
1. TREAT THIS RAMADAN LIKE IT'S YOUR LAST
Because we never know which Ramadan will actually be our last. Having this mindset while entering this blessed month will help you to really focus as you'll be prepared to put your all into it. To fast like you never have before, to pray more than you ever did, to give more than you ever have. It's a bit of a confronting mindset to have, but it's really one that we should aim to have towards all we do in life as we never really know which day could be our last.
2. SET YOUR INTENTIONS
It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu'minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs 'Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), say:
"Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended..." (Bukhari & Muslim)
Setting your intentions for this blessed month will help you to make the most of it. Set your intention to fast for the sake of Allah and for this month to bring you closer to Him. Make this intention with your heart and soul, say it out loud to Allah swt and if it helps you write it down and keep it in view so each day you can be reminded and renew your intentions.
3. MAKE A PLAN
Break up the month into thirds and decide what you'll focus on during each third. Set goals of what you want to achieve but remember to make them SMART goals, that's goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time limited. While it's always great to set idealistic goals it's so important to be realistic so you don't end up burning out and then being disappointed in yourself (trust me, I've done this way too many times and I'm sure you have to).
Pick 2 or 3 things that you'd really like to focus on. Whether that's praying all your salaah on time, reading more Qur'an, eating healthy (yes, this can and should be a goal because your body is on loan from Allah swt and you need to keep fit and healthy so you can properly worship Him), spending more time with family, visiting the sick and elderly, giving more in charity and these are just a few.
Remember the night of Laylatul Qadr increases your rewards infinitely but as we don't know which night that is it's helpful to set up a solid plan for the last 10 nights. Again, you don't want to burn yourself out so keep it simple. For example, set a goal to pray 4 rakats of tahajjud each night, to give $5 in charity and to do one small random act of kindness each day.
4. WRITE YOUR LIST OF DU'AS
A du'a list is one of my most treasured aspects of this month. Do you ever find yourself making du'a and you're really focused and into it but then all of a sudden you run out of du'as to make? Writing a list of du'as beforehand becomes an easy reference point for when you're in that moment. Simply spend half an hour and write down every single thing you can think of that you'd like to make du'a for. From the intricately important du'as to even those that may seem mundane. Remember to include your family, friends, deceased and all your Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. I like to keep my du'a lists and the following year I go through my previous lists and realise how many of those du'as Allah answered, the ones i'm so glad He didn't answer (even though that's Him answering it!) and the ones I need to keep praying for.
5. SET UP A PRAYER/DHIKR AREA IN YOUR HOME/ROOM
This is one of the easiest things you can do that will really help you find that kushu. You don't need a big space, just one corner that you can make yours. Use your favourite prayer mat, have a special abaya or thobe that will help you dress up for Allah, have your Qu'ran, your du'a list that you prepared earlier and keep a bottle of water and some healthy snacks (dates, almonds etc) so when you need a little pick me up to stay awake during the night you don't need to leave your zone. Leave your phone out of this space because it is so so easy to get distracted by it. I know some people use their phones to read Qur'an or even just for the English translation, if you can get your hands on an English translation in book form you will focus be able to focus so much better.
6. MEAL PREP
I'm not talking about prepping samosas or any other savouries because if you were prepping those chances are you started long ago. I'm talking about simple, filling and nutritious meals. One of my favourite Instagrammers @zallibhai from The Fit Nest created this awesome Ramadan Meal Plan that you can find here that is full of delicious and nutritious meals.
Are you a fan of smoothies for suhoor? One of the easiest meals to prep, simply make up zip lock bags with all the fruits and veggies you need for one serving and pop them in the freezer. That way when you wake up at 3am it's a simple matter of emptying the bag into your blender, adding some liquid and blending away.
I pray you will all have the most blessed Ramadan and it will be your best one yet. May Allah swt make it easy for all of us and may this month bring us closer to Him.