So, guess what time of the year it is. If you are a Muslim, you already know what I am talking about. And, if you are not a Muslim, but have Muslim friends or neighbors, and have somehow stumbled upon this blog. Then, here goes.
It's almost RAMADAN Time! (Yes, I just did type a word in all CAPS). It simply goes to show how excited I am right now.
This woman is still in awe that almost a year has passed since we last fasted for 30 days. Observing the beautiful ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Where spirituality meets the mind and body. And, sets us into refresh mode.
While, like almost every other human being on earth, Muslims observe the Gregorian calendar. They do occasionally observe another calendar that follows the moon.
Before, I elaborate any further on the lunar calendar. Let's just get right into why you are here. And, why I am typing this.
While Ramadan is the most beautiful time of the year for many Muslims. You can be anywhere in the world & still feel the overall atmosphere get festive & spiritually sparking. Like, most religious holidays, it does require a bit of planning. Getting the family ready, getting the home ready, & more than anything getting one’s self ready.
Yup, I am looking at you. The woman in the house who runs the show. Day in & day out. Makes it work like a charm. And, often while doing it all. You sometimes end up missing out on your own spiritual rejuvenation. This is something that has happened to me too in the past & sometimes happens even in the present. So, the tips I am about to share with you have come to existence from my own personal experiences. Some might work for you, and some might not.
"Rest assured, majority of these tips will InshaAllah (God willing) help you plan for a more productive & spiritually elevating Ramadan."
P.S These tips are geared more towards women & especially mothers. But, the men or brothers can take advantage of them as well.
So, without further ado. Here goes:
Focus on Spirituality & Bringing Harmony in Your Home
This one is a key point and goes without saying. And, in my humble opinion, is the true essence of Ramadan. Remember, at the end of the day, in between the numerous Iftar (post sunset meal) & possibly Suhoor (pre-sunset meal) Dawats (invitations). What matters is not the numerous, labor intensive dishes being served for food, the new fashionable outfits that are worn, or how many invitations were sent and received.
"What truly matters is how subtle practices to improve your personality, the self-discipline of fasting, & the extra time spent in Ibadah (praying) nourished your body and recharged your spiritual relationship with Allah (God)."
Instead of exhausting yourself in the kitchen or shopping outdoors. Conserve your energy for the true spirit of Ramadan. I.e bringing peace and harmony to one’s self, while forming a stronger relationship with the Lord.
Pick Out Dates for Iftars
No, no! Not the edible ones. We will get to those later. I am talking about the days of the month here. If you are planning to host Iftar/Suhoor at home or sponsor one at the local Masjid (Mosque). [A great opportunity to gain tons of Ajar (spiritual reward) by the way.] Then, reach out to your family, friends and/or local Masjid officials in advance. This will help you avoid any confusions later. And, also help you plan your Ramadan menu better. If you plan on getting food from outside, then finalizing the dates can help you lock down your preferred caterers or restaurants as well. One less thing to worry about, Phew!
On this note: Please also keep in mind that though encouraged in our Deen (religion). For whatever reasons, it is completely okay, to not host or sponsor Iftar. While I love the beautiful and holiday-like atmosphere Iftar gatherings with family & friends create. Especially for the young ones. Over the course of years, I have also learned that each person/family has different circumstances. And, whether it is for health reasons, finances, extra work or school load. Or, the fact that you have extremely young children or older people to take care of at home. Extra work anyone? It is completely okay to not host as well.
"You can still create that festive and spiritual Mohaul (environment) for yourself and family members through other means."
Another note: Please do remember Reverts, Single Parents without Families and Refugees while making the invitation lists. You will make their Ramadan more beautiful, and InshaAllah, earn even more Ajar.
Make a List of Items to Freeze or Order from Your Local Caterers
Now that you have an idea of what your Ramadan looks like in terms of food that will be consumed or served throughout the holy month. Create a list of items that can be frozen in advance. This includes different types of Kababs or marinated meats for Iftar (or Suhoor, if that is what you prefer), ready to fry or bake snack items such as Samosas, Spring Rolls and savory Puff Pastries, Smoothie packets with your favorite fruit and/or vegetable combinations (the smoothie packs can save you a lot of time for Suhoor, and/or post Iftar workout sessions). And, last but not the least. Any broths/stocks, fried onions, precut vegetables, dough balls or flattened ready to cook Rotis and Parathas.
"Yeah, the Pakistani in me is in full swing with that last line."
Tip: To save time, energy, and your precious body from all the dangerously greasy & high in fat snack items. For Iftar, only serve one snack item with date, offer Maghreb (Fourth Muslim prayer of the day), and then serve dinner with a refreshing beverage. No carbonated or high in sugar drinks please. Your body hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for more than half a day.
“Treat it gently by slowly introducing healthy Complex Carbs combined with some Protein & Healthy Fats.”
Prepare Your Ramadan Menu in Advance
Prepare a menu for 30 days leading up to Eid. Factor in all the times you will be eating out, and all the times you will have any extra people over for Iftar or Suhoor. This menu should also include food items that you intend to freeze for later use. A tip for meal planning is to always check your fridge, freezer & pantry first. Then, check your calendar for any appointments, Iftars that you might host, and the times you might go to a Masjid or other places for Iftar. This will also be a good time to pick a day/date to send Iftar goodies to your neighbors. Completely optional by the way. Now, plan your menu in a way where you consume the food items you already have first. Finally, make your grocery list for dry goods & frozen meats that you can buy in advance.
Buy all Non Perishable Grocery Items Now
Yup, you read that right.
"Don’t wait for Chand Raat (night of new moon sighting) literally couple of hours before the first Taraweeh or Tarawih (Extra Nightly Ramadan Prayers) to go grocery shopping."
It won’t just cause you extra stress as you try to find parking, shopping carts, and later stand in long lines at checkout. But, will also possibly take away from the time you can spend in Ibadah (worship) too. While you are at it, don’t forget the dates, almonds and pistachios to use in your drinks, desserts, and to consume later during Eid for your Sheer Khurma (South Asian Vermicelli Pudding).
If Possible, Do Eid Shopping Right Now
This one is pretty straight forward.
"It will help you avoid running around thirsty in hot humid weather while you are fasting. Summer Ramadan anyone?”
You can use that extra time to do Ibadah. Cha Ching! Again, save your Chand Raat before Eid to make Sheer Khurma and get your hands adorned with Mehndi (henna). So, you can have a relaxed morning as you prepare for Eid prayers the next day. Also, did you know, it is proven by research that consumers who shop at the last moment often end up paying more for the same item they would have otherwise paid less for. I don’t know about you. But, as a mom of three, I do love me a good bargain. And, I love saving money wherever I can.
Do a Closet and Home Clean Up
Dust up the inside of your furniture, and do some good old deep cleaning of the house. Go through your closets & items in the storage, and get rid of clothes that don’t fit your size or style anymore. Same goes for the kids. Donate all the clothes that you or the family doesn’t wear anymore. While you are at it, also consider donating any gently used household items or toys. The city I live in has organizations that often do Ramadan Drives for needy families and children’s hospitals. Look up what your city has to offer, and bring a smile to a needy person or a sick child’s face. You can even buy & donate new items.
Oh, also please try to be considerate and respectful towards people of need. Only donate gently used items that you won't mind wearing yourself. Dry clean them if possible. Hang them properly, and then drop them off.
“It’s the graceful and right thing to do.”
Decorate if it Floats Your Boat
If you are the kind of person who loves decorating for Ramadan and Eid. Then prepare to purchase everything now. There are many online stores that offer beautiful Ramadan calendars and decorations. This year, even Party City jumped on the bandwagon, and introduced some amazing Eid products that can be bought online or in select area stores in the US. Keep the decor items ready, to put everything up on Chand Raat. See that time you saved by not overcrowding your local ethnic or Halal (permissible under Islamic regulations) meat store. Use that time to put up lights, other decoration items & banners.
Also, did you know that you can easily make beautiful Ramadan banners at home? Do it yourself, or have your big kid make them. Here is an awesome tutorial by And then she said on how to create a Ramadan Banner at home. For those of you who are visual learners like me. The link includes a YouTube video as well. Once you make the banner, don’t forget to share a picture with her on Social media.
Print Duas to Recite Before and After Roza (Fast)
Look up Duas (short supplication prayer) to read before starting your Fast, and then before ending your Fast.
"Nothing feels more beautiful, than starting your day, by making the right intention to refrain from all negative deeds, before you put your body in actual physical hardship."
And, then again turning to your Lord, right before you are about to be granted the opportunity to fuel your body again. There is just something extremely humbling about that experience of reading your Dua first, and then taking that bite of food. Print the Duas , frame them and hang them near the dining table wall. Or, place them where they are easily view-able by all family members during Iftar and Suhoor times.
Make Eid Cards
Design and decorate Eid cards independently, or with children. Depending on how far you are sending the cards. You can mail them a day before Ramadan starts, or a couple of weeks or days before Eid. You can keep the cards simple by writing or printing already typed wordings, and letting the kids cut & glue the words to card stock. Or, you can let your little ones be as creative as their age allows. And, go with cute hand prints or scribbles from your baby or toddler. To let the bigger kids, make elaborate cards with different textured and colored card stocks decorated with crayons, color pencils, markers, paint colors, stamps, felt stickers or even glitter. The list is endless really.
If you like, you can even include family pictures and special messages for Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents.
11. Calculate Your Zakat Ahead of Time
A very important aspect of Ramadan, and one of the five Pillars of Islam is giving Sadaqa (charity) to the needy. Calculate your Zakat (obligatory annual payment for charity purposes) in advance using the many easily available Zakat Calculators online.
"Remember the disadvantaged, and keep an eye out for fundraisers or various opportunities to help people in and outside the country."
Please do consider donating local first. Remember, except Zakat, in Islam charity can be given to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs.
Create Personal, Health & Spirituality Goals
This is the last, and the most important tip. Remember, why Allah has blessed us with a beautiful month like Ramadan in the first place. Just like you make New Year’s Resolutions. The same way, make Ramadan Resolutions, and then plan to follow them even after Ramadan. These goals can be as simple as eliminating high sugar drinks from your daily diet.
“Sticking to something so basic will not just help you before and after Fasts. But, if you stick to the habit even after Eid. Then, there you go. You just changed for the better.”
In the same way, create spiritual goals. For instance, my spiritual goal this Ramadan will be to read at least one paragraph of the Quran every day with meaning. Something, I have never done before. Remember, the spiritual goals are meant to elevate your Iman (faith) levels. No matter, how minor they seem to you. They will eventually make a difference. Don't forget that these personal goals are extremely important for a healthy you.
And, there you have it. Your 12 Tips to Prepare for Ramadan in Advance. I hope this post was beneficial to you in one way or another. If you did find these tips helpful. Then, pin this post for later. And, please don’t hesitate to give me feedback. Also, if you would like to read more stuff like this. Then, don’t forget to sign up with me. It's free.
Now, good luck!
No matter what part of the world you are in, may Allah make the upcoming Ramadan a beautiful experience for you and your loved ones.
Sana aka The UnModern Woman