Have you noticed that each year, Ramadan goes by faster and faster? Personally, I can remember details of Ramadan 11 years ago better in some ways than of Ramadan last year. It’s frightening.
This blessed month can’t be left to become a blur in our memories. It has to be more than that time of the year we squeeze in fasting amongst the other things we do daily.
One way to make the most of Ramadan is to plan beforehand. Here are ten reasons why you should plan for Ramadan:
1. To be in "Ramadan mode"
By planning for Ramadan before it arrives, you put your mind in "Ramadan mode". If you plan, you will mentally prepare for it, and it will force you to see it as the special month it is outside of your regular routine the rest of the year.
2. To adjust your schedule
By planning in advance, you can adjust your work, sleep and meal schedules in such a way as to make time for Suhoor, Iftar, etc. That means, for instance, that if you normally go to bed at midnight, in Ramadan you would sleep earlier in order to get up early for Suhoor. Or if you usually study late, you can instead sleep earlier and start studying after Suhoor in the early morning hours. Planning in advance allows you the luxury to make time for the change in schedule that Ramadan brings.
3. You can plan Ramadan family time
Is dinnertime usually an individual affair in your home, as opposed to a time the whole family eats together? Are Friday evenings the time every family member goes off to his/her own social activities? Planning in advance can change this at least in Ramadan. Calling a family meeting about a month in advance, explaining the importance of Ramadan, its implications for the family and the need to eat Iftar together when possible as well as to attend Tarawih prayers, for example, will allow all family members to adjust their work and school schedules accordingly. That will, Insha Allah, make Ramadan a blessing not just to every person in the family, but to the family as a whole.
4. To make the menu
While Ramadan may mean extra Ibadah to some of the brothers, it usually means extra cooking for most of the sisters. Ramadan’s blessings are for men and women. Making a Ramadan menu for Iftar and meals, and working out when you want to invite relatives, neighbors and friends for Iftar will give sisters the opportunity to catch Tarawih and various other advantageous Ibadat instead of spending Ramadan’s 29 or 30 days stuck in the kitchen. (And by the way, brothers, helping out with cooking or cleaning was a practice of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him-maybe this is a way you can increase your Sawab [rewards] this month).
5. You can plan an Iftar at your home
You may have eaten fantastic Iftars at friends’ homes last year. This year, open your doors. There is blessing in feeding a fasting person other than yourself and your family. Planning in advance gives you the luxury of calling friends over the month before and setting a date, so you can "grab" them before others get an opportunity to. Muchos Sawab, Insha Allah!
6. To make a travel schedule
Do you know a fellow Muslim in your neighborhood who wants to get to the mosque for Tarawih every night but doesn’t have a car? Or do you look at your work schedule and realize you have to work overtime near the end of Ramdan, so your family will miss out on Tarawih at the mosque the last ten nights of Ramadan? Planning in advance helps you work out your daily or weekly travel schedule to attend Tarawih prayers at the mosque, or even a trip for Iftar at a friend’s place who may life farther away. It also helps ease the burden of transportation in winter. Maybe you can start a car pool? Since you have the time before Ramadan begins, you can work this out with neighbors and friends.
7. To do good at highly rewarded times
Being generous is definitely an Islamic merit, but being generous in Ramadan is even more highly rewarded. Match Ibadat with specific times that carry more reward. Prepare to do Itifkaf, increase asking Allah for forgiveness in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Plan to give increased Sadaqa this month. Plan to visit that relative you may have not seen for months, if not years. Thinking about and arranging to do these things and finding other ways of gaining the pleasure of Allah in Ramadan will Insha Allah help you benefit more from it.
8. You can squeeze in Eid shopping
Planning in advance helps you think about all of those things you wanted to do in time for the end of Ramadan or Eid last year but couldn’t. Maybe you wanted to go Eid shopping for gifts for family and friends in the last week of Ramadan but were too busy with the last ten nights of Ramadan. No problem. This year, you decide to go in the third week of Ramadan instead.
9. You can plan outreach activities during Ramadan
Some Muslims have gone to soup kitchens and made meals during Ramadan, while they were fasting. Not only will, Insha Allah, they be rewarded, but this is a great opportunity to explain what Ramadan and Islam are about to those who are not Muslim. Planning in advance for such an activity gives you the time to call up a soup kitchen in your area, explain what you want to do, and get your act together. You can also plan school Dawa activities in Ramadan by planning in advance, by meeting with the principal or teacher beforehand, preparing a presentation, etc.