IN Ramadan, there is a frisson of excitement that runs through the Muslim community. There is so much to prepare in this glorious month – menu plans for iftar so that we don’t overeat, Eid clothes and gifts, and of course, preparing ourselves spiritually.
There is also a shiver of nervousness – there is such a hype about Ramadan that it gets one wondering: “What if my Ramadan is not as good as last time?” “What if it’s not as amazing as someone else’s?” And since the most blessed part of it is the last ten nights: “What if I don’t catch Laylatul Qadr?”
Ramadan is not about comparing yourself to other people, and each person’s spiritual journey is different. It’s all about bettering yourself, and getting closer to Allah ﷻ. [Also read: Practical Steps To Become A Better Muslim]
That being said, circumstances differ, so what worked for you last year may not work this year. Always mould your schedule to fit you right now.
Here are a bunch of things I have learnt along the way to help with the last ten nights, so let’s get a head start in preparing ourselves to seek Laylatul Qadr.
1. Plan, plan, plan:
We start Ramadan with fervour, but our eeman and ‘ibadah takes a dip in the middle.
However, we want to finish strong, so even if you are not someone who necessarily follows a plan, having a plan is better than no plan at all! “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” after all!
How are these days going to be different to the rest of the month?
Since the focus is on the nights here, keep your days light and plan your nights. Depending on how the first few days go, tweak your schedule to reflect what you are able to do. Keep it realistic, because there is nothing like having an unachievable target to help you fail! [Also read: How To Cope With Setbacks: The Uhud Action Plan]
2. Plan a special deed:
What will you do that’s special to make it better than the rest of the month? How are these days going to be different?
It could be something big or small, something just for you or something for the community. It could be a social act – feeding people, sponsoring an orphan, visiting an old age home or an orphanage, organizing a fundraiser or creating awareness. It could be on all ten days or just one day. It could be something you’ve been thinking about or talking about for some time but never got round to doing it.
It could be for yourself – proper seclusion in i’tikaf, staying away from all social media in the last ten nights, if not the whole ten days AND nights. It could be forgiving someone that has hurt you all that time ago, rekindling ties, and strengthening the family bond.
It should be something you will look back from later on and say ‘Alhamdulillah!’
3. Du’aa is your conversation with Allah:
Prepare YOUR du’aa list. It should be short and concise, and what you ask Allah for daily and sincerely.
Do not copy paste others’ lists, no matter how beautiful they are. Make them a part of your general du’aas, but make sure you have your special list too, where you ask Allah for things that you really really want, sincerely from the bottom of your heart.
Remember the du’aa to be asked in these last ten nights as per the sunnah.
“O Allāh, You are pardoning, and You love to pardon, so pardon me.”
‘Afuw is when you ask Allah not only for His forgiveness, but that He also makes you forget that you have ever done the sin on the Day of Judgment. What a beautiful du’a!
Keep a du’aa journal so that you can tick off du’aas as they get answered – it connects us to Allah and shows us how great His mercy is for us. Also keep in mind how much He gives you without having asked!
Allah is the only One Who gets angry if you don’t ask Him, so ask, ask, ask!
4. Prepare for I’tikaf:
If you’re going to be spending it at the masjid, pack the essentials, and pack light. These are meant to be spiritual days, so there is little that you need.
Do NOT pack any electronics, even if you mean to do good with them and listen to lectures or the Qur’an. Our nafs gives in too easily and gets distracted.
The key is to minimize distractions as much as possible, so even downgrade to a basic phone with no social media or data if possible.
I’tikaf is not camping, so pick a spot where you won’t be distracted. Even if you can’t spend the whole night in i’tikaf, give whatever part of it that you can whole-heartedly. Don’t check your phone even if you are tempted to. Make the most of these precious nights, so try to eliminate time wasters.
5. Prepare your family:
Stress the importance of the last ten nights. Prepare them of the slight difference in schedule.
If you are planning on going for i’tikaf, even for part of the night, prepare them that you won’t be available then.
Get the kids excited. Have a special place or tent at home where they can recite the Qur’an or do their adhkar. Maybe do your special project together as a family. Don’t be selfish in these nights. Be charitable. [Also read: Creative Ways To Instil The Value Of Ramadan In Kids]
6. Remember what’s at stake:
“It’s better than a 1000 months” should be our slogan and motivation for the last ten nights.
Keep going with ‘just one more night’, when you feel like giving up.
Take brief naps in the day to help you get through the long summer nights, and vary your acts of worship so that you don’t get bored – and that WILL happen!
Don’t be tempted to check your phone. Recite Qur’an, read the translation, contemplate, do wudhu, revise your hifdh, pray a couple of rak’ahs, ask du’aa, write in your journal.
7. Don’t let your performance up until now affect your last ten nights:
If, for whatever reason, your Ramadan didn’t quite go as planned thus far, don’t let that get you down.
Take the blessing of being able to witness the last part of the month as a fresh start, and push through. Don’t just wait until the 27th night either.
If you haven’t quite felt the “Ramadan mood” yet, don’t wait for it. It’s a catch-22 situation: we wait for the right mood to do good, but forcing ourselves to do more good is what will get us in the mood! It’s like forcing yourself to smile when you’re grumpy will make you feel better..!
Take the action and Allah ﷻ will open your heart and make you feel closer to Him, bi idhnillah. It’s all about the intention!
8. There are 4 things you can do every night to guarantee a chunk of reward on Laylatul Qadr:
- Recite a portion of the Qur’an
- Keep a lot of dhikr, and ask du’aa
- Pray tahajjud
- Give a portion of sadaqah every night, however much you can afford. Break down a big note into ten equal parts to give each night. That small note will be worth unimaginable amounts in the akhirah!
9. Remember Allah constantly from Maghrib to Fajr:
Remember Allah constantly simply by reciting this du’aa, as reported by Muslim:
Glory is to Allaah and praise is to Him, by the multitude of his creation, by His Pleasure, by the weight of His Throne, and by the extent of His Words.
Multiply that by the reward of Laylatul Qadr and you’ve got a jackpot. “It’s better than a 1000 months” means that any act you do is like doing it every single moment for more than 83 years. Most of us don’t live up to the age of 83, and we definitely don’t spend every single moment of our lives in worship.
This is such an AMAZING opportunity to get what we would never be able to get otherwise.