Ramadan is almost here. Yes, the beautiful month that we always look forward to every year is just around the corner. But first, what is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting for Muslims. It falls as the ninth month on the 12-month Islamic Calendar. Each day during this month Muslims fast, which means they don't eat or drink anything, from sunrise to sunset. They are also supposed to avoid impure thoughts and imoral behavior.
To start the fast, Muslims have to wake up before Fajr. They have to eat the morning meal Suhoor(Sehri, whatever you call it). Some people skip this, but it's their choice. It's sunnah to eat suhoor, though. After Mughrib Muslims break their fasts with a meal called Iftar. Traditionally, the fast is broken by eating dates. Fun fact: fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [th`e new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you, and perhaps you will be grateful.”-Quran: 21:85
Now that we know what Ramadan is, how can we prepare ourselves for it?
One thing I've heard of doing is making a schedule. It's normal for human beings to feel lost and incoherent. During Ramadan things can get really stressful. Making a schedule can help you navigate times and stay organized. It can help so that you're not all over the place. (I'm horrible at schedules and timing and am very unorganized, so I hope you have better luck than me)
Another thing you can do is complete your Eid shopping before Ramadan. Shopping in the busy midst of Ramadan can be packed and not to mention tiring. It is much more convenient to do it before Ramadan so you are not supper stressed out while fasting. Shopping can drain a lot of energy from you, especially if you don't like it and try to avoid it(Hi me).
Set goals. You know how people make New Years resolutions? Make resolutions for Ramadan. Make a list of things you want to do and achieve. Maybe you want to try a new hobby, or learn a new language. Maybe you want to pray more sunnah. Maybe you want to read more Quran. Or clean the Masjid. Maybe you want to fast for the whole day every day of the month if you haven't done that already. Whether its a religious goal or not try to accomplish it.
Think of healthy meals to eat for Iftar. Don't just fast for the sake of fasting. Don't just count the minutes until you can eat. Ramadan is the month where we're supposed to re-establish our commitment to Islam. Also, you tend to eat a lot at Iftar after a long day of not eating, which is not healthy. Take a healthy portion and do NOT eat until you cannot eat anymore. If you have a garden with edible plants, use those plants so you have nice fresh ingredients.
Take care of someone else's Ramadan. Pay for their meals. Help them prepare. You may feel happy knowing that you made someone's life easier and ridding them of severe burden. A true Muslim worries and takes care of their fellow Muslims.
Now that we know what Ramadan is and how to prepare for it, lets expand on goals for a second. Goals are an essential thing to have in life. We make them consciously and unconsciously.
My goals are to be nicer to my siblings and scream at them less. I want to go bike riding more. I also want to finish reading the huge stack of books I've been meaning to read. I want to develop a better sleep schedule because mine is… not healthy for kids my age? Also I want to get higher grades in school. I want to improve my prayer. I want to improve my tajweed. I want to learn more about Islam and become a better Muslim. I want to stop wasting my free time thinking about what to do in my free time.
Why do you care about my goals? You don't. These are just some examples of what you can do. These are what I want to do. Now take some time and think about what you want to do.
During Ramadan we tend to focus more on praying and religion. When it's over though we tend to slack off and relax our religious duties. Even though Ramadan is over doesn't mean that we can stop focusing on Islam. After Ramadan we should be even better. Even more connected to our religion. We are still Muslims.