Foolproof Steps for Starting Ramadan Right (#2: Plan Ahead)
Part 2 of 3: Plan Ahead
Read Part 1 here
What is your Game Plan?
Ramadan begins in less than a month.
And for the entire month, Muslims all over the world will be engaged in fasting as well as different activities & lifestyle changes all related to fasting.
Everyone is so tuned-in to this season, with obvious excitement seen in the youth and elderly alike. Masjids and Islamic centres overflow with people, Islamic lectures & events get easily booked on- and off- line and grocery stores get a steady flow of fasting shoppers.
Getting to work and back home, then to the stores, Masjid and on the streets, it’s all one chat or the other about Ramadan most especially in a Muslim community.
This month is jam packed with so many blessings, from psychological to spiritual. It is hard not to crave it all. You can best reap it’s many benefits by preparing and making plans ahead of time.
”Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward with Allah will have his past sins forgiven.”
(Bukhari & Muslim)
Winner or Loser?
Some will blaze through Ramadan, only to emerge later filled with a huge sense of failure, sorrow and regret.
As it’s commonly said, He who fails to plan, plans to fail.
Now Ramadan is definitely not a period to even think about or imagine failure. But how do you turn this blessed opportunity into a success?
Making a plan is your first step to Ramadan success.
Just as it is important to start right with a ‘why’, so is it essential to plan ahead. So don’t delay, waiting for Day 1 or the eve [of Ramadan] to make suitable changes that will help you get the best out this special month. That will be a great mistake, so steer clear of it.
Imagine growing a little plan from a strong intention, and then nurturing it into something big…. big enough to make you adopt it first as your Ramadan game plan then as part of your life plan even after Ramadan.
So where will you rather be, among the winners or on the opposite side?
Planning for Success
There are 3 simple elements to the plans I create and use for myself, and help others with.
(i) Intention (ii) Think & Talk (iii) Plan & Practice
It is important to utilise the power of intention.
The stronger your intention, the greater the zeal you feel for what lies ahead. And the planning process will become less tense & more engaging.
Gear your intention towards the pleasure of Allah (swt) alone.
Make an intention to make your Ramadan one in which your heart and drive is all connected to Allah (swt). A solid intention tank will fuel your Ramadan journey and keep you moving along the track towards your goals or get you back on track when you derail.
With no intention, you are bound to easily loose track and get too low on fuel to move on. Your intention is your power house; get it to the correct gauge for maximum benefit and smoother journey.
Think & Talk
Secondly, you need to take out some quality time to think about your time in Ramadan. And what you want to achieve with it.
Thinking is a process that can facilitate decision making and bring clarity. Yet, it is so easy to get caught up with the busy life of today – work, learning, business and family life such that thinking becomes a luxury you cannot afford.
But no matter how busy life gets, you deserve some thinking and talking time so as to get clear on your goals. You may prefer to talk through it with someone you feel comfortable with, rather than thinking through it alone.
Questions to think/talk about to help with your Ramadan goal setting
– The time you have available outside your daily schedule of activities.
– The resources you need to help you work through your plan.
– The people who can support you with your plan.
– Your ultimate goal; where you need to get to with your plan eg Getting from A to D, via C.
Let’s use this scenario; You want to complete the recitation of Quran in Ramadan once.
1. Think about the time you have available (eg travelling to & fro work, break time, after fajr, asr or tarawih). So how many hours can you commit to daily?
2. Think about what you need, is it a pocket Qur’an or an app on your phone? Will you need a checklist to tick off daily?
3. Do you have a brother or colleague who can check your daily process? Or perhaps you can both share a checklist so you can note each other’s progress and even get into a healthy competitive mode.
4. How many chapters can you recite daily? And how many pages at each sitting? Can you utilise this schedule beyond Ramadan in order to have a consistent pattern for Quran recitation?
Plan & Practise
It’s time for action – writing, drawing, voice recording to make your plans a reality. You can now make your thoughts & answers from above more concrete and relatable using a planner.
For planning, I often use mind maps, because they are easy to create, colourful and allow me to think in all directions. There are also ready-made Ramadan planners out there. Check to see that you can utilise them for your own goals.
Plans may be very easy to draft but the reality comes from real practise.
After you have drafted a plan, you can now test out & experience the practicability of your plan, tweak & make changes if necessary. Because no plans are perfect and change is constant in life.
Give it try before Ramadan, otherwise you will empty your tank faster than you can ever imagine.
Why not pick 2-3 habits to develop during this month such as daily recitation of the Qur’an, night prayers (tahajjud), daily charity and striving to button those lips by saying what is good or keeping silent.
Then, start practising before Ramadan.
You can make a plan to:
– Do something daily between you & Allah(swt), just for His pleasure eg Dhikr (remembrance), Tahajjud;
– Do something involving you and friends/ peers to build your Eeman. Eg Dawah, visiting the sick.
– Do something as a service to the Ummah eg Plan a charity drive and donate to the needy. Help with cleaning/ arranging your local Masjid.
Start working on a Ramadan planner today or get a readymade one to ease your task.
So many who reaped the fruits of last Ramadan will not make it to experience this year’s fasting. If you make it to this coming Ramadan; try to make it your most amazing Ramadan.
Let’s welcome this special month by planning ahead and reminding others to do the same. There is so much goodness for everyone to benefit from and In Sha Allah (God Willing), an opportunity to reform our characters and strengthen our relationship with our Creator.
Try to remember the wisdom behind fasting; as found in the Qur’an – where Allah declared ”O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you may remain conscious of God”. [Q2. V183]
Ramadan is not only for fasting, prayers and reciting the Qur’an.
Ramadan help builds a worthy character and if you strive hard enough, you could reform yourself easily in this month. We should all plan to perform as much worship as possible in Ramadan and especially in the last ten days.
And in the same way build rewarding habits to improve our character & overall lifestyle.
Our beloved Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said in regard to that, ”For he who does not leave off saying falsehood and acting upon it, Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.” [Bukhari and Ahmed].
Remember you can create your Ramadan game plan today. It’s not too early or late.
1 – Establish a strong intention;
2 – Think and talk through your goals;
3 -Draft a plan & begin practicing.
On your mark, get working on a simple game plan as part of countdown to an Amazing Ramadan!
Starting your Ramadan right is very important.
Are you ready with your Ramadan game plan? Share some of your resources with us below?