We are officially six months away from the holiest time of the year for the Muslim world. And by the “Muslim world” I mean the world because we are everywhere people!
And so I am doing what any busy mompreneur with a distinct lazy streak would do. I’m starting to prepare NOW. Yup, six months to get my life together and make the most of the holy month of Ramadan.
I know you are thinking that I am starting WAY too early! Ramadan isn’t expected until May! A lot can happen between now and then.
I agree, and for that reason, I am starting today. I have too often fallen into the trap of waiting until Shaban or even Rajab to start thinking about Ramadan. Inevitable;y I end up feeling rushed and pressured during the weeks leading up to Ramadan and then I struggle to accomplish my goals DURING Ramadan and then I slump across the finish line in Shawwal, too exhausted and discouraged to fully take part in the benefits of fasting in the month of Shawwal.
I’m sick of it.
So this year I am starting early, and here are my top five reasons why you should too.
- The companions of the Prophet used to begin preparing for Ramadan six months in advance. In fact, they would ask the Messenger to supplicate for them six months in advance, asking that they live to see Ramadan. They didn’t wait until the last month or two before Ramadan to get themselves in order. They started early, knowing that they were standing at the halfway point between last Ramadan and the next one, and they were concerned about reaching it safely.
- Ramadan isn’t just about fasting and prayer, it’s about habits and reflections. Everybody hopes to come out of Ramadan a little better than they started. For many of us, that means curbing bad habits or being more mindful of how we spend our time. But there is another group of habits that, although not specific to Ramadan or to Muslims in general, act as a support framework for those of us trying to make the most of Ramadan. Habits like eating less, getting to bed early, setting goals, and reciting the Quran take time to build. And, chances are, if you wait until the last minute you won’t be able to develop them all sufficiently to be able to take advantage of the month of Ramadan.
- Being prepared helps you to taste the sweetness of Ramadan. Remember how I was saying that I am usually exhausted by the time Eid rolls around? Well, there’s a reason why. Last year I started prepping thirty days before Ramadan. While I was better able to focus on getting something positive out of the experience, there were a whole lot of moments that felt forced and uncomfortable because I wasn’t ready. I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and I needed to scale back a few things in order to finish strong. If I started earlier I wouldn’t have struggled so much. Looking back, I can see all of the habits that I needed to break or create in order to handle the rigors of Ramadan without burning the candle at both ends.
- The grasshopper died in the end! We all heard the tale of the ant and the grasshopper as children. While the summer sun shined bright, the grasshopper lived a carefree life, not caring at all about the hardships of winter. Meanwhile, the ant worked steadily, preparing little by little for the winter he knew would come. Too often I choose to the be the grasshopper instead of the ant. I know this. Often the sheer amount of effort necessary to reach my goal is intimidating and so I slip into avoidance mode. I surround myself with distractions with a promise that tomorrow I will work twice as hard as I was supposed to. It never happens, of course. But if I start early and break it down into small, bite-sized, daily efforts, I am more likely to finish.
- No regrets. In life, it’s often the things that we DON’T do that we regret the most. I regret the fasts that I didn’t complete. I regret the prayers I didn’t make. I regret the Quran I didn’t memorize (or even listen to) and the reflections I never wrote. This Ramadan I want to avoid regretting that I didn’t benefit more from the holy month.
There is no better time to begin planning for Ramadan than right now. If you have fasts that you need to make up there is literally no better time to start. The days are short and cool (cold). Start setting a target amount for the charity that you want to give and save up. Not very disciplined about your salah? Now is the time to start reinforcing that habit. And remember that the habits that you develop during Ramadan can be used all year round.