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Many of us usually live life dependent on an upcoming major event eg. “I’m going to start reading a page of Quran a day as soon as Ramadan starts; I’m going to start praying every Salaah when I come back from hajj; or I’m going to stop smoking when my child is born.” And because of this way of thinking we usually end up with an anti-climax; we don’t end up giving up smoking, we don’t end up praying Salaah and we start reading Quran but then get back to our normal old self after a few days or weeks. This is because these ‘statements’ or ‘feelings’ are based on impulse and not a real thought out plan. We usually don’t prepare for Ramadan or hajj or have a plan for our Imaan to stay at the increase; we just go with the flow and expect it all to happen. Well, it doesn’t! Wouldn’t you love to enter the month of Ramadan on a real high and have the effects of this beautiful month be a permanent impact on your life thereafter? How can this be done? Below are 7 steps for prosperous & productive Ramadan: Step 1 – Seek knowledge about Ramadan This will help you ensure you will do things correctly and perfectly for Ramadan, it will create a hype as there are many motivational aspects and events in the month to look forward to and finally it is a reward reaper. The more you know about Ramadan the more you can apply, hence multiplying your rewards. Step 2 – Make a Ramadan plan Be it reading the entire Quran or ensuring you pray Taraweeh every night; make a list of things you would like to achieve in the month and then how you plan on achieving these goals. It is important that goals are realistic and it is better that your life doesn’t need to entirely take a different road in this month (i.e. take the month off work or change work hours etc.) so that you may continue to do these deeds after Ramadan. Knowing what you want to achieve in the month will help you stay focused. Ensure you plan your day every night before you sleep when Ramadan starts (try to continue this even after Ramadan). Step 3 – Know your life Be aware if Ramadan affects anything that is happening in the month or shortly after. Do you have exams during Ramadan? Or is there a major family wedding after Ramadan by a short time? Moving house? If so, plan for these events from now. Study now so that you are prepared for the exams before the month starts. Be packed and ready to go before Ramadan or plan that you do it after so that it doesn’t take time away from your worship. The last thing you want to do is spend Ramadan at the shopping centres. Buy any Eid presents and prepare for any wedding before the month starts. Step 4 – Prepare spiritually We all know that Ramadan is about Fasting, Praying, Reading Quran and giving in charity. Start these worships early; don’t expect to just click into it as soon as the first day of Ramadan starts. Start performing extra prayers from now, start regularly reading Quran now, get used to being generous and following the daily Sunnah of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam. Step 5 – Prepare your mind Fasting is to refrain from more than just what we consume in our mouth. Start working on your patience; be extra vigilant with your conversations: ensure you are not backbiting, slandering or talking about useless things. Step 6 – Say ‘good riddance’ to bad habits Know what bad habits you have and stop them from now, don’t wait until Ramadan begins. If you sleep late, start sleeping early, if you are a Social Media junky start cutting down etc. It might sound much easier said than done, but once you’ve committed yourself, purified your intentions – make sincere Dua for guidance. Insha’Allah, these bad habits will be easier done with than you ever expected. Step 7 – Plan your life around your worship For instance; instead of working through your prayer or setting up meeting etc. at prayer times, plan that you have a break at prayer time. Don’t take your phone with you to the place you pray and forget the world as you stand before Allah Ta'ala. Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) Council of Muslim Theologians