Ramadan Countdown for New Muslims By Maria Zain
This is going to be my first Ramadan. I am excited. I am going to fast for the sake of Allah.Fasting means withholding food and drink from sunrise to sunset. That means I won’t have meals during the day, and when I’m thirsty, I won’t drink either – up until it’s time to break my fast.
I’ll break my fast with dates, because that’s the sunnah – dates and plain water. Then I’ll have a meal. Hmm, should I cook? Should I buy out?
Should I go to the Masjid? What aboutTaraweeh (night prayers)? Maybe I should go to the Masjid, which means, I should get a Quran that’s just the right size. Maybe one that can fit into my bag. Gee, will I be tired by the end of the day? Especially when I’m working the whole day.
When will I cook? What should I cook? How about suhoor (late night meal), what type of meal should I have then?If I’m occupied the whole day, when should I read the Quran? Am I supposed to take advantage of the month and brush up on my prayers as well? What about my recitations? All this, for about thirty days? Could I really do this? I think I’m overwhelmed.
Are you overwhelmed?Are you nervous about the countdown to Ramadan?Is this your first time fasting during the Holy Month?
Ramadan, despite its spiritual goodness, can be daunting for first-timers. Doing something they have never done before and doing it for a month, maybe alone, is a feat to be reckoned with. But with this Pillar of Islam, comes ease – it just takes a little planning and preparation, and anyone, with the best of intentions can make their First Ramadan, a Ramadan to remember.
Make Du’a and Intention to Work Through a Meaningful Ramadan
Du’a and intention are the first steps for anything when it comes to being a Muslim. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that du’as and intentions are only worthy when they are enveloped by God. Thus it is important for everyone who makes intention for a meaningful Ramadan to have the right intention to please God first.
Cultivating the Good, Breaking the Bad
After intention, there has to be action; a lot of action. And one of the benefits of Ramadan is that it sets the tone for change. Perhaps this is best to be kept simple, as little changes do add up. Setting too many goals may be overwhelming for some, so it’s important to stay realistic with the goals you want to achieve. The best deeds are those that are consistent.If this is your first Ramadan, think about what you would like to get out of it. Take a look at yourself and think about the new habits you want to cultivate and those that you want to break, as a new Muslim. Write them down and again, make intention to work through Ramadan in plight of these goals and objectives. If you can pull this off with a positive mindset, you will surely reap the spiritual upgrade that Ramadan has to offer.
Set a Schedule Pre-Ramadan
A practice run-up to Ramadan is a good idea. If there is still time, try fasting on Monday and Thursday as per the sunnah as a simple warm up. A whole month of a new regiment could cause a slight shock to one’s body, so a practice schedule may help.
Otherwise, try waking up a little earlier for breakfast and being a little more disciplined about food intake. Try cutting down on snacks, and taking a rest in the mid-morning. This will help with Taraweeh prayers that come later at night. This is also a good time to start cultivating good sleeping habits and to curb staying up late unnecessarily.Pick Up a Quran
Having a Quran as accompaniment is a great way to spend Ramadan. A small Quran would be just nice to carry to classes or even to work, even if it’s the translation of the Quran. There’s nothing more meaningful than reading a few verses every day, as and when it is possible as there are blessings in every letter of the Holy Scriptures.
Get in Touch with the Muslim Community
Ramadan is a great time to cultivate ties between the Ummah, but beforehand, seek out good friends and relatives (if any) who will act as companions throughout the month. Fasting together, enjoying iftartogether, attending Islamic talks together, and praying together are amongst the blessings of Ramadan. Having good company keeps our focus on the virtues of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad reminded that we shall follow the religion of our friends, so do choose good companions to help you through the month.
Commit to Helping a Charity
As we all know, Ramadan is a good time for self reflection, and especially reflecting on what we are grateful for. It’s also a great reminder to help those in need. Get in touch with a charity beforehand and see how you can help out during the month. It could be something simple as sponsoring some iftar meals, or visiting a few times a week to help tidy up. This would actually help in keeping determined on the fast as it helps remind us of the hardship of others and the importance of extending a hand of aid.
Start Planning Meals
You have stocked up on dates, honey and raisins... and all the other good foods in the Quran, but now it’s time to start planning your meals. It may sound simple to start planning meals, so do it for the entire Ramadan. Meal preparation is the last thing you want to think about and so is running around the kitchen preparing food. Get a meal plan started now with your favourite, easy-to-make dishes on the menu, and even better, those that can double up as meals for suhoor. If you aren’t able to plan for the month, consider planning out a week’s worth of meals and repeating them through the week. Also, be smart with ingredients, as this is the perfect time to eat healthily, especially when it is important to stay actively and alert throughout the daylight hours.SmileIt sounds like you have a plan. Smile and brace Ramadan positively. Read up on Ramadan and learn of the virtues, how it helps us with ourselves, how it helps us help others, how it helps us strengthen our relation with God. Again make du’a over and over again for an elightening Ramadan and to walk away with a full fledge spiritual upgrade.Say: "This is going to be my first Ramadan. It gives me an opportunity to learn about my faith. It gives me an opportunity to learn about myself. I will have the opportunity to help others, to break my bad habits and to cultivate new ones. Ramadan instills discipline, good health, and new friendships. I look forward tosuhoor. I look forward to iftar. I look forward to Taraweeh. And I surely look forward to having the Quran as my companion. This is my first Ramadan and insha Allah, I will make it the Ramadan to remember.