In this first week of Shaban, the month of Ramadan is on the mind. As with any important endeavor, there is a payoff in making preparations well in advance. In fact, the exercise has been likened to the efforts that are made to prepare for the arrival of a special guest. There would be details to take into consideration, cleaning and food prep, thoughts about how to maximize the time together, attention to meeting that special guest with your best foot forward.
In the same manner, if Allah so wills to afford us the opportunity, we can plan for the arrival of this blessed month. As you think about how to practically attend to the work ahead, think first about the rewards that are promised for this effort. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, mentioned, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari).
That much reward takes attention and hard work! To achieve it, we must plan accordingly.
Most of our needs for the month can be organized into five areas: logistical support, household maintenance, time management, increased worship, and performing good deeds. Here is a simple checklist to help you jump start that process.
Take Care of Logistics
In this area, focus on the details that will help facilitate the fast.
- Create a menu for Suhoor and Iftar (family members should participate here).
- Purchase what you will need in advance to minimize trips to the grocery store.
- Prepare what you can (chop, freeze, apportion) to minimize time in the kitchen.
- Shop for Eid gifts (and wrap them, too).
Get your Surroundings in Order
In this area, it is important to start the month with your surroundings in tip-top shape.
- Clean your home, top to bottom.
- Decorate to mark this special time (especially important if you have children).
- Keep up with laundry routinely so it doesn’t pile up.
- Take care of outside maintenance.
- Assign chores to family members that will not overburden anyone.
- Create a quiet space for prayer and reading.
Manage your Time
In order to use every minute of these blessed days to their fullest, make an effort to prioritize, organize, and manage your time.
- If you have a flexible schedule, organize your day around prayer times.
- Anticipate your load at work and take care of what you can in advance.
- Request and plan to take some time off during the last 10 days and for Eid.
- Examine school schedules and plan accordingly.
- Eliminate unnecessary distractions (television, computer games, and social media top this list).
- Factor in ways to keep your children busy (Sound Vision can help here!).
- Find time to rest.
Increase Attention to Worship
The point of this special opportunity is to increase our worship and reap the rewards for that effort. Think about what you need to do and how to get it done.
- Make prayers on time (adding Sunnah prayers, too).
- If possible in your local area, make Salat in congregation at the Masjid.
- Identify a daily Quran reading goal and chart it.
- Read to increase understanding, inspiration, and attention to details.
- Memorize a new Surah.
- Stand for night prayer.
- Make time for Dhikr, remembering Allah.
- Calculate and pay Zakat.
Identify Good Deeds
There is much reward to be gained for increasing good deeds during Ramadan. Nothing is too big or too small to consider.
- Share food with a neighbor or a needy family.
- Give in Sadaqah to organizations that are doing great work (put Sound Vision on that list!).
- Make a Dua list (expand your circle to family, friends, community, our Ummah).
- Share details and your love of Ramadan with neighbors, co-workers, teachers and students.
- Advocate for those who are suffering.
- Stay in touch with relatives, friends.
- Be kind to those around you (even a smile is charity!).
May Allah reward you for everything you do now and during this very special month for His pleasure. Ameen.
Zahirah Lynn Eppard is Sound Vision’s Director of Religious Education