“Well, here’s another Ramadan. I’ve been fasting these last few days and yet I don’t really feel anything different. I thought Ramadan would be something awesome. But it’s just another day.”
I’ve felt like this and if you’re like me, you have wondered too why Ramadan doesn’t seem magical to you as it’s supposed to be. But we want this Ramadan to be different, we want it to be magical. And for that let’s do things differently this year in sha Allah. But how?
Think about it this way. What’s your favorite sport? Mine is badminton. I watch badminton matches on YouTube, and wonder how these players can be so awesome. They are quicker than the shuttle itself, and they have tremendous amounts of stamina.
But were these players born this way? Did they just pop out one day as champions? We only see the result on the day of the tournament. What we don’t see is the preceding months of hard training and strenuous diet these people undergo before they reach that culminating point on tournament day.
Think of Ramadan as your tournament. If you want Ramadan to be magical, make it so. If you want to feel a spiritual high in Ramadan, recite the whole Quran twice, and pray tarawih every night, then start training today.
What does an athlete need to do to excel in his chosen sport?
An athlete needs to know all the rules, techniques, tactics and cheats.
Gather as much information about Ramadan. What is Ramadan all about? When and how did Allah legislate it? Why is Ramadan so important in the life of a Muslim? How did the Prophet and the Companions approach Ramadan?
There are plenty of lectures and articles on this out there from which we can benefit. Getting to know more about Ramadan is important to enter into its spirit.
An athlete needs to know which type of diet will best prepare his body for the upcoming event. What is the best diet plan for Ramadan?
When you fast for a few days, the stomach shrinks to adjust itself to the reduced load on it. This cleanses the body and prepares you to be more receptive, alert and fit for the vigorous spiritual training. So start fasting from now, and practise eating moderately.
3. Planning good training sessions
Before he starts training, the athlete needs to plan the perfect blend of training that suits him personally. A true athlete never overexerts himself. He knows his limits and keeps to them. He knows that his muscles and joints need time to grow and adjust to rigorous training, and so he starts small and steps his training up steadily, so that his muscles reach the required potential on the day of the match.
Your spirtiual training plan must be custom-designed to suit you personally. Train yourself for spiritual cleansing from now on to prepare for the big event. You have many choices – reciting the Quran, memorizing it, studying its tafsir, increasing the amount of sunnah prayers, making dua etc. Think about what you are good at, which worship suits your schedule and your abilities, and which will affect you most spiritually.
Then think of what you want to achieve in Ramadan. Do you want to pray Tarawih every day? Do you want to memorize sixty pages of the Quran? List all the activities you want to do in detail.
Then assess your current spiritual state. Finally, in order to advance from your current state to your planned Ramadan state, plan your training program to step up gradually from now upto the first day of Ramadan.
Here is an example training program:
Reading Quran with understanding: Completing whole Quran at least once.
Voluntary prayers: Pray tarawih and twelve rakat after fard prayers, with khushu’ (humility and concentration).
Dhikr: Morning and evening, after food and drink, before and after wudu, after every prayer….
Fasting: every day.
Quran: Reciting half a page every night, reading the translation occasionally.
Prayers: Praying the five daily prayers.
Dua: Making dua occasionally
Dhikr: After food and drink, after wudu.
Fasting: Three days every month.
1. Reading the Quran with understanding. Start with one page every night, step up a page every week.
2. Praying voluntary prayers. Start with two rakahs after Fajr. Step up two rakahs every week.
3. Making dua. Start with one dua after every prayer.
4. Fasting. Every Monday and Thursday.
This is just a sample program, and is by no means a guide for you. May be you are capable of much more; may be you can start off your recitation of the Quran from zero to twenty pages a day. Play up to your strengths (and weaknesses), and most importantly, start today!
Once the athlete has designed his training program, he makes it his life’s purpose to train regularly. A true athlete never gets slack. He keeps up his training no matter what.
It’s hard to take up any training program, especially if you have a hectic work or family life. Keep up your training by reminding yourself of the person you want to become in Ramadan, how amazing it would be to realize your Ramadan goals this time, and how much you want to benefit from this blessed month.
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)