Preparation for Ramadan (which is coming in about 6 months) begins now. Too often we put it off to the very end and the result is a mediocre Ramadan year after year. Ramadan contains the 10 best nights of the year – including the biggest and most blessed night of the year (Laytul Qadr), rewards are multiplied many-fold during this blessed month, the gates of paradise are opened and the devils are chained. All of this makes worship easy and tremendously rewarding. So it is critical that we prepare for Ramadan to extract the maximum benefit out of it.
The most important aspect of a successful, fruitful Ramadan is the Qur’an. This is because Allah says, “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion between right and wrong” (2:185, translation from the Noble Qur’an). The guidance for mankind was revealed by the Lord of mankind in Ramadan. What’s the connection between the Qur’an, Ramadan and the guidance from the Qur’an? The answer – and Allah only knows best – is that the guidance of the Qur’an is best received in Ramadan. Thus, in Ramadan, it is essential that we ponder over the Qur’an as we listen to it, reflect over it, recite it and memorize it so that we can receive its guidance and the furqan (the criterion between right and wrong).
To achieve this in the up-coming Ramadan, here are a few tried-and-tested suggestions from yours truly:
1) Understanding. If you don’t understand the Qur’an without a translation, then you must begin a course/curriculum* today that will enable you to do so within the next 2-3 years. Then you’ll notice how much benefit you get out of taraweeh and qiyam prayers each successive Ramadan. Understanding the Qur’an in its original text without the crutch of a translation is the key to pondering over the Qur’an and reflecting over it.
2) Recitation. If you are not used to reading the Qur’an, come Ramadan time you will get tired of it very quickly. So, you must start reciting a page or two daily from today so when Ramadan comes, you are ready to read the Qur’an for longer periods of time. Moreover, this consistency will, insha Allah, carry over after Ramadan and become a beautiful habit.
These two are essential. The next two are important but not as important as the above two.
3) Memorization. There is a special sweetness in long prayers during Ramadan. Thus, aim to memorize something significant before Ramadan comes in (e.g. Surah Baqarah) so you can enjoy your prayers more.
4) Arrangements. Make logistical arrangements (e.g. building up a vacation, booking time-off, etc.) for i’tikaaf so you can benefit to the max in the last ten days.
It is famously quoted that our predecessors in faith used to pray to Allah 6 months to accept their previous Ramadan, and 6 months to see the next one. This preparation for Ramadan is a legacy of our predecessors in faith and upholding it will allow us to see results in Ramadan like never before. The crux, core of this preparation in getting ready to understand the Qur’an. Without it, the next Ramadan will be another run-of-the-mill Ramadan.
Everyone fasts and prays during Ramadan, most people give charity, but how few cry in prayers, over-whelmed by the Qur’an. Allah says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone)” (8:2, translation from the Noble Qur’an).
We ask Allah to make us of those mentioned above, ameen.
*Some programs/curricula that focus on Qur’an:
– Milton Qur’an Academy’s Miftahul Qur’an course. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.