01. Buy all necessities for the month of Ramadan before Ramadan so you can spend less time during the holy month rushing around. You can be more focused on your religious rituals and spiritual development. Everyone in the family, even the kids, can participate, writing a shopping list, preparing some meals to be stored in the freezer.
02. If you have gotten into bad sleeping habits throughout the year, start readjusting now so you can wake up for Fajr prayer.
03. Sunnah fasts of Shaaban (the month before Ramadan) help to prepare for Ramadan and help to make the transition into the holy month a smooth one.
04. Reduce TV watching and prepare the family for the new spirit of Ramadan. Engage with your kids more and more in creative activities that remind them of Ramadan. (Suggested activities including reading the moral story books in group).
05. Organize your tape/CD collection to make it easy to select and to play nice nasheed (Hamd/Naat) to sing along together or Quran and Dua recitation, so as to introduce the spirit of the month gradually.
06. Plan ahead for the time you are spend at home in order not to lose the balance between your responsibility as a parent to supervise the children's studies and your engagement in religious practices such as reading Quran and praying Salat.
07. Plan ahead if your daughter needs a hijab to accompany you to the mosque. If possible, get shoes for the kids that are easy to tie when they leave the mosque. Do you or the kids need prayer rugs for prayer? Plan transportation to the mosque and back home.
08. Prepare as much cooking as you can before Ramadan. Here are some time-saving tips:
- Prepare some vegetables and store them in the freezer to have them ready when needed.
- If you soak dates in milk or water and eat them for Iftar, pit the dates before Ramadan.
- Chop onions, garlic and store them in the freezer to have them ready when cooking during Ramadan.
09. If you are planning to invite guests for Iftar, the best time to do that is during your monthly period (menstruation). This has several advantages:
- You will be able to taste the food that is going to be served.
- You won't be engaged in some acts of worship so you'll have more time for cooking.
- You won't have guilt feelings for staying after 'Isha' with the guests and not going to the mosque.
10. Prepare your kids before Ramadan that they have to help you more in housework and in setting the table and preparing the Iftar. Relate their action with the notion of Sadaqah and good deeds. Remind them that the reward of their good deeds is multiplied during Ramadan.
Eight tips on sharing Ramadan with your neighbors:
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: "He is not a believer who eats his fill while his neighbor remains hungry by his side." (Baihaqi)
"By Allah, he has no faith (the Prophet [SAW] repeated it three times) whose neighbors are not safe from his wickedness." (Bukhari)
Ramadan is a great opportunity to share Islam and more specifically, its values of spirituality, generosity and kindness with others, especially your neighbors. It's a great time to do Dawa. And Dawa is very much needed in the current atmosphere of anger, tension and sadness.
Here are some ideas on how you can share the joy with your neighbors this Ramadan.
01. Begin with Dua
Make Dua that Allah give you and your family the sincerity, strength, motivation and wisdom to do this. Dawa is hard work, and it needs preparation, commitment and organization.
02. Put up a Ramadan banner on your door
This can be something handmade or something more formal.
But don't stop there. Print out a fact sheet on Ramadan and stick that on the door to educate readers passing by about the blessed month and what it means to Muslims.
03. Send neighbors Iftar snacks
Include a note with the food that the month of Ramadan is here and you are sharing your joy with them.
You can offer snacks that are not just "Muslims" but also "non-Muslims" (i.e. American, African, Middle Eastern, Indo-Pakistani, etc.). You can include index cards with the snacks listing all of the ingredients. This will help neighbors avoid food that causes allergies.
04. Give kids Ramadan Mubarak balloons and candy
Let your neighbors' kids also feel the happiness of Ramadan by including chocolate and candy among your snacks. Balloons also add a nice touch, and if you can get some printed which have "Ramadan Mubarak" written on them, they may remember the blessed month even after it has passed.
05. Publish Ramadan information in your neighborhood newsletter
If you are part of a tenants' association, a group within your housing complex or your neighborhood block parents' association and they publish a newsletter, inform them about Ramadan and prepare a short write-up about the month. This is a great way of informing many more neighbors about Ramadan.
06. Have a neighborhood Iftar gathering
You don't have to invite everyone. Perhaps just the closest neighbors can attend this event. Send handmade invitations for an "Iftar gathering" at most a week in advance (avoid the word "party" as it may be misunderstood to mean a gathering including alcohol, loud music, etc.).
Ask about allergies or other food issues before establishing the menu. Include vegetarian, American and "ethnic" food.
Be sure to invite Muslim family and friends who are comfortable interacting with non-Muslims to this event, and brief them about how they should properly share Ramadan with the neighbors. Also, have some written material on Ramadan available for your guests.
At the gathering:
Be cordial, generous and friendly, but maintain Islamic rules of behavior and modesty. This should not be a "party" in the common understanding, but more of a religious celebration that is spiritual and respectful to all.
Don't impose information. Just let non-Muslim guests ask questions, if they want to. As well, be ready for questions about Islam and violence/terrorism, the oppression of women, etc. Give neighbors the benefit of the doubt and clarify their misunderstanding in a calm, gentle manner.
07. Get your kids on it
Tell your kids to inform other neighbors' kids what Ramadan is all about and have the children invite their classmates to your Iftar gatherings.
08. Talk about what Ramadan means to you
What's it like to fast? How do you work/go to school and still fast? These are some questions you may be asked. Don't just point your guests to the pamphlets. Tell them and use some personal examples they can relate to.