So Ramadan is right around the corner. For some of my fellow reverts out there, this is your first Ramadan masha'Allah! Right now we are in the month of Sha'ban, and my advice to you is, make this month of Shaban your Month of Preparation. So often we make the mistake of waiting until Ramadan starts to start preparing for Ramadan. As we know from the ahadith, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) used to fast more during Shaban than in any other month, except for Ramadan itself. In fact, there were years in which he fasted the entire month of Shaban! So insha'Allah we should all try to do as much fasting as we can this month, and insha'Allah this will help us prepare mentally and physically for Ramadan.
Think back to past years. How many times did you sleep in and miss the suhoor? Come on, brothers and sisters, we need that suhoor to get us through the day, and these are gonna be some long Summer days. Make sure that you are eating a healthy suhoor as well, a light balanced meal with lots of water to stay hydrated and, my personal recommendation, a multivitamin if you don't already take one daily. That extra energy will help you make it to maghrib. And make sure you are not stuffing your face at night either! You know who you are. Eat small, otherwise you'll be burping through tarawih. Use this month to get your sleep cycle in order so you can actually get up for Fajr, the first prayer of the day, even earlier for Suhoor, the per-dawn meal, and insha'Allah also in the middle of the night to pray Qiyamul Layl.
The month of Ramadan is full of blessings and mercy from from Allah, so take advantage of it by preparing ahead of time. Don't wait until the last ten nights of Ramadan to think about what you want to be making du'a for. For those who are not aware, towards the end of Ramadan there is a night called Laylat ul Qadr, the Night of Power or the Night of Decree, that occurs on one of the last ten nights. Since we don't know which night it is, we should try to spend some time each night, especially the odd nights insha'Allah, involved in extra salaah, reading Qur'an, and making much du'a. Allah tells us in the Qur'an that this night is khairun min alfi shahr, better than a thousand months. That would be (exaggerated calculating) 83 years! That is definitely NOT a night you want to miss.
Also, during Ramadan, the shayatin, the devils, are chained up, so don't miss out on utilizing this unique time free of their influences. Ramadan is your opportunity to increase in the worship of Allah, to improve yourself and become a better person and a better Muslim bi idhnillah. Start planning now insha'Allah! Seriously, right now. Go get a piece of paper and a pen, or open up word pad or text edit on your computer, and start making a list, "My Goals for Ramadan" and start listing everything you want to accomplish.
Subhanallah there are just so many things I want to say but I wan't to keep this relatively short so insha'Allah I'm gonna direct you towards some very beneficial audio lectures and videos that will further help you prepare insha'Allah. Insha'Allah watch and listen to all of it. Go, right now. The note's over. What are you still doing here? Click one of the links already insha'Allah!
Check out this great lecture to help you get the best out of the Holy Month.
Towards an Outstanding Ramadan
Another Great lecture to help you prepare for Ramadan
The Fasting and The Furious - Muhammad Al Shareef
This lecture is specifically focused on how we can correct the way we eat. Definite must listen!
Eating Habits in Ramadan
If you have EVER had trouble getting to bed at a reasonable hour, waking up for Fajr, waking up for Suhoor, etc, listen to this lecture insha'Allah!
In the Middle of the Night - Muhammad Al Shareef
These are a bunch of khutbahs from the Islamic Center at NYU. If you haven't heard these khutbahs before, now is your chance to start insha'Allah!
Using Shaban - ASM Hussain
Ramadan and You - Khalid Latif
The Verses of Fasting - ASM Hussain
Maximizing Ramadan - Khalid Latif
Reaping from Ramadan - Khalid Latif
Heart Wheel Journal by Muhammad Al Shareef (VIDEO!)
Preparing for Ramadan. The Month Of Sha'ban