“O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you can learn Taqwa.” (Quran 2:183)
Getting Ready for Ramadan….Beyond Putting Up Fancy Décor!
With a few days to go before the start of Ramadan 2021, I have been reflecting on what this special month of mercy and forgiveness signifies to us and how I can make the most of this time, Insha Allah.
Ramadan for me means a welcome break from the humdrum of life – a chance to reflect, break bad habits, renew my spiritual connection and bask in the blessings and barakah (abundance) that this month brings.
However, in order to gain the maximum this month, we need to prepare. And for years that only meant for me stockpiling the pantry with ‘Ramadan-specific’ products. And since having kids, it also meant ogling at bloggers’ fancy decors on Instagram for ideas to implement in my home and then call myself “Ramadan ready”!
But if the purpose of this month is to develop, we must remember Allah-Consciousness (“taqwa” in Arabic) as Allah says in the Quran (2:183):
O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you can learn Taqwa.”
Taqwa includes Allah fearing, piety, and self-restraining. An opportunity to turn things around. To become closer to Allah and to learn more about ourselves by learning more about Him. And to exit the month with more than we entered – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Which is why I created this chart – to remind myself about adopting a “holistic approach” to welcoming the Holy Month of Ramadan. Looking at all ACTIONS necessary to make the month as productive as possible. I shared it last year, and updated it this year with further ideas, so here is Ramadan Readiness 2.0:
Physical and Practical
Updating my calendar is usually my starting point. I would look at the key dates for the month including start, Eid etc., and jot them into my diary. This would give me an indication of what else is going on around Ramadan (for example any events, meetings, clients’ appointments etc.) and work accordingly.
The next step is to plan what food preparation is needed. I aim to minimize this aspect and keep it simple to just a few savory items we enjoy at iftaar (which are not available in Turkey like they are in SA and therefore require some effort to make myself!). I get this done before Ramadan so it’s less to do while fasting.
The other aspect of physical preparation involves getting my body into an optimal space for the changes coming with fasting. This involves better sleep habits and boosting my immune system, hydration, and energy levels. As a practitioner of BodyTalk (whole-healthcare system), I recommend a session before Ramadan to enhance healing in both the body and mind so that it is in the optimal shape to begin fasting.
Lastly in this area is setting up the environment at home – putting up some exciting decorations, involving the kids in some crafts – all with the intention of creating a positive spirit and love for this beautiful month for the whole family. (so, it is done – but not the only preparation done!)
Setting a real focused intention immediately puts me in the right space for maximizing worship and prayer. This means for me removing distractions. Therefore, I aim to have all my outings and wish list activities like places to visit done and out of my system so I don’t have any FOMO while fasting!
If there are any habits I want to change, I might start working on them now, weeks before we start fasting. In my case this means cutting back on any casual Netflix viewing…I really aim to use my time productively – even if that means doing ‘nothing’ to give myself a rest!
This mental focus is so important as it sets the tone for the last pillar. We cannot pray in the sincerest way we are meant to if our mind is cluttered. I try to mentally put on hold anything extra that can wait for after the four weeks – so my mind has clarity and space.
The focus of the month will be on uplift myself in a deep spiritual way Insha Allah. Usually, this involves goals for completing the recitation of the Quran, listening to tafseer (commentary on understanding the Quran), revising previously memorised surahs.
As busy moms, it may seem impossible to add in these advanced level spiritual practices – but there are ways around it! For example, listening to short lectures, or tafseer talks while cooking. Or while commuting or during school rounds, even if it’s taking a walk and having something audio to tune into. So, to prepare, you could create a playlist now for hot topics you would like to learn more on so that once Ramadan starts you have it ready to go and this becomes your default.
So, as you can see, if we start to break down all the aspects to consider in preparing for this month – there’s so much more beyond hanging up decor or stockpiling the freezer! However, what’s key is having a plan or at least an intention – from a physical, mental, and spiritual angle so that you can have a productive month, Insha Allah!