It is important for us to prepare for the Holy Month of Ramadan in order to reap the maximum benefits from this month. Rasulullah (may the prayers of Allah and peace be upon him) and his noble Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) used to look forward to the coming of the blessed month of Ramadan. The Holy Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) would say in his supplications:
"Allahumma barik lana fi Rajab wa Sha'ban wa ballighna Ramadan" - Allah bless us in the month of Rajab and Sha'ban and help us to meet and spend Ramadan (in a deserving manner)."
Ramadan is the month of excitement and enlightenment for Muslims. It is the month of revelation of the Holy Qur'an, the month of reading and reciting the entire Qur'an, the month of tahajjud and qiyamul layl, of tarawih prayers, of sadaqah, zakatul fitr, and zakatul mal.
No one can go anywhere without preparation, and no one invites a guest without preparing to welcome him/her. Similarly, to welcome Ramadan -- the month of fasting -- one has to prepare. The following are some tips to help you receive and welcome this noble month of Ramadan.
1. Try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, as of today.
2. Start reading Qur'an daily after Salatul Fajr.
3. Spend some time listening to recitations from the Qur'an.
4. Train yourself to go to bed early so that you can wake up for Salatul Fajr.
5. Keep yourself in a state of wudu' at all times.
6. Evaluate yourself daily before going to bed. Thank Almighty Allah for all the good deeds you do, and repent to Him for your mistakes and sins.
7. Give yourself some time alone, so that you can meditate, make dhikr, tasbih, takbir, tahmid, tahlil, and other forms of dhikr. You will experience spiritual elevation and you will enjoy life tremendously.
8. Those who can afford to make 'Umrah before Ramadan comes should do so, and those who are able to perform 'Umrah in Ramadan should do so. 'Umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to (the reward of) a hajj.
9. Start giving (charity) daily, no matter how little it is. Make it a habit, like eating and drinking.
10. Find time to pray extra nawafil (optional) salah, such as Salatul Duha, Qiyamul Layl, and Salatul Tahajjud. (note: If you have fardh - obligatory - prayers to make up, it is much more important to fulfill those first.)
11. Spend more time reading Islamic books, especially the Holy Qur'an, books on Seerah (the life of the Messenger of Allah), hadith, and fiqh.
12. Find time to help others with your wisdom, knowledge, and other talents.
13. Try to write articles on Islam for Muslims and others for non-Muslims.
14. Associate with Muslim scholars, 'ulama, and pious believers so that you may learn from them.
15. Train yourself to do good, no matter how insignificant it may seem, and render useful service to others.
16. Try to learn how to make da'wah to non-Muslims, and engage in this noble activity. It is an art requiring knowledge and training.
17. Try to spend more time with your family, and remind them to prepare for Ramadan as well.