As Ramadan approaches, it is imperative that we begin thinking about how we can benefit most from the journey ahead of us. Here are five simple ways through which we can prepare for this blessed month:
1) Intention (niyyah): Make the sincere intention that you want this Ramadan to be a sacred and special Ramadan.
2) Make a plan: Plan how you would like to spend each day this Ramadan. Postpone things that can be postponed, and focus on activities that will benefit you, insha'Allah, in the hereafter. Here are some examples: Set a target for how much Qur'an you will recite, and make a plan for when you will recite it. Set a target for how many prayers you will pray at the masjid, and make a plan for how you will reach this target.
3) Make a du'a list: Make a du'a list and include the following: a) your needs for this dunya; b) your needs for the hereafter; c) the needs of your family members and friends; d) the names of your friends and family members. A great book to have for du'as is Accepted Whispers.
4) Serve (khidmah): Go beyond just yourself and your own needs during the month of Ramadan. Before Ramadan begins, find an avenue for community service so you can serve others throughout the month.
5) Charity (sadaqah): Figure out how you can spend less on yourself so you can spend more on the needy during Ramadan. Begin calculating your assets, so that when Ramadan begins, you are ready to pay your zakat and sadaqah.
We pray to Almighty Allah that we are blessed with a fruitful and beneficial Ramadan, during which we may become closer to Allah. Amin.