HOW TO START GETTING READY FOR RAMADAN 2023
FEBRUARY 21, 2023
Let Ramadan 2023, like each Ramadan before it, be about establishing good habits and maintaining discipline with the good deeds we already have. Let Ramadan 2023 be about both new beginnings and treasured, Islamically sound behaviors.
With Ramadan 2023 expected to fall on or near March 22, there’s what feels like ample time to prepare, and, simultaneously, not enough time. What’s most important is that we do our best not to wait until Ramadan to begin all our good new habits, and to continue our good habits as long after Ramadan 2023 as we can. That can mean making extra prayers, or dhikr (remembrance). It can also mean avoiding making hurtful comments or gossiping about people — even if it’s something we only do once in a while.
It helps to have a task list and goals in mind when preparing for Ramadan.
Here are some ways I recommend preparing for Ramadan 2023. I plan to do these myself as well.
I prefer to get dates sourced from Palestine, but I’m not here to tell you where to get yours. There are plenty of different types to choose from. I just make sure I’m stocked up on them so I can break my fast on them. A big box of dates goes a long way.
I prefer to end my fast by having a date, some water, praying maghrib, and then eating a reasonable meal.
READ AND LISTEN TO MORE QURAN
There is no replacement or equivalent to the Quran’s beauty. Listening to it and becoming more familiar with it before Ramadan 2023 will help us maintain focus when we stand in prayer — salah — each day and night.
Although I’ve focused the past few years on improving my Arabic vocabulary to better understand the Quran, I still don’t understand each verse entirely. In addition to listening to Quran recitation, I recommend reading a translation or a tafseer in the language you understand best.
LISTEN TO ISLAMIC LECTURES
Learn more about the Prophet Muhammad’s life, peace be upon him, and about his companions. Learn about Islamic history in the centuries following his death. Find a series you can listen to until Ramadan 2023 and then one you can listen to during the month.
FAST MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS
Keeping with prophetic tradition, it’s already good to fast Mondays and Thursdays, as the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to do so. Fasting before Ramadan will help get your body used to the process before the month even starts.
I’m not perfect about fasting every Monday and Thursday, but I always find it helpful physically, mentally and spiritually when I fast — in and out of Ramadan.
PRACTICE KEEPING YOUR COOL AND MINDING YOUR TONGUE
It’s unfortunately too easy to talk about people. Regardless of if you’re fasting before, during or after Ramadan, or not fasting at all, be careful what you say about others.
Find good to say about others, or keep the bad thoughts to yourself. It helps personally, socially and spiritually.
I’m not one to decorate much, but I do appreciate Ramadan decorations. It helps lengthen the “Ramadan season” to have nice, Islamic art or furnishings around to keep Ramadan on our minds.
My sister keeps a Ramadan calendar that she reuses annually, and she marks how many days of Ramadan we’ve fasted by moving a hand-drawn camel pinned onto the date on the calendar. Decorations don’t need to be anything extravagant — it’s better if they aren’t — but they can have a soothing effect as they remind us what we’re celebrating: Islam’s holiest month.
DECIDE WHERE YOU’LL DONATE DURING RAMADAN 2023
Although zakat isn’t necessarily due in Ramadan, it’s when many Muslims decide to pay it. Zakat, Islam’s third pillar and an obligation on all Muslims who can afford to pay it, is often associated with Ramadan because people make the effort to capitalize on the rewards of giving to charity in a month of enhanced, multiplied blessings.
And whether or not you owe Zakat in Ramadan, the month is also an ideal time to give sadaqah (voluntary charity). Sadaqah is not an obligation like zakat is, but it’s key to freeing oneself from money’s hold on us as both individuals and as a society. Zakat and sadaqah are frequently linked to salah (prayer) in the Quran.
There is no better time to give to charity than during Ramadan — especially its last 10 nights. If you don’t have individuals you know you should give your zakat to, it’s important to find a nonprofit that can provide that service for you.