EVERY year when Ramadan is around the corner, there is a flurry of activity in preparing for it. Whether it’s stocking up on food or spirituality, one of the most daunting feelings is how to make the most of it. How do we make every second count in this amazingly blessed month?
I used to consider the idea of doing more than usual in Ramadan a bit hypocritical – if we don’t make the effort during the rest of the year, how can we take advantage of this month like that? But I have come to the understanding that ideas like that are from Shaytan, and when Allah ﷻ showers us with such mercy, we make the most of it!
The same way most people go crazy in a sale, buying more simply because of the reduced prices, we should avail the multiplied rewards in this month and try to fit in as much as possible.
Plan Your Basic Goals Now:
Ramadan is meant for more direct worship – fasting, praying, Qur’an, du’aa, charity, etc. Ideally, these are all goals that we should set – to do more in each of these areas. If there is something specifically that you have been wanting to improve on though, but didn’t quite get around to it during the year, now is your chance – working on your salah, for example, or understanding the Qur’an. Everything’s better with an action plan. [Also read: Is Qur’an easy for Arabs only?]
Figure Out Your Schedule:
With Ramadan being in the summer, either you’ll be working as usual, or you’ll be on holiday. Whatever stage of life you’re at, figure out what your schedule is going to look like during that month and work around it. Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).
Don’t try to overburden yourself, leading to a burnout, but be realistic in planning your ‘ibadah. Personally, I always prefer having more things on my to-do list than less. If you are not going to fall into a panicked state having not met every single one of your items, having more on your list means that if you end up with more time on your hands than you anticipated, you won’t be lost for ideas of how to fill your time.
Plan Your Day The Night Before:
As much planning we do now, only when Ramadan actually starts can we assess our energy levels and the way our days might go. This is my first Ramadan with a husband and in-laws, so I can only guess at this point what it’s going to be like!
Always tweak your schedule to fit your day if needs be, and plan what you’re going to do the next day the night before. There’s nothing like starting your day with a plan already in place! [Also read: Practical Steps To Become A Better Muslim]
Have Specific Times Set Aside:
There is nothing like ritual to help keep us in check. Once you have identified your schedule, assign specific times for specific ‘ibadah to ensure that you carry it out. Reciting the Qur’an after Fajr, for example, studying it during what would normally be lunchtime, etc. Being specific with your time aids your goal-setting in being measurable and achievable as well, as it makes it easier to set targets to be reached by the end of the month.
Be Strict With Yourself:
In making the most of this blessed month, there will be times when we want to slack, or take more breaks than necessary. Maybe we incorporate mundane activities in our day hence making less time for ‘ibadah. Even though the Shaytan is locked up, our nafs can pull us down when we push ourselves to do more.
This is where early preparation is key (by early, I mean months in advance), but what can you do when you’re in the middle of Ramadan?Be strict with yourself. Keep reminding yourself of how incredibly blessed this month is, how much you can reap in rewards, and how you don’t get this chance at any other time. What if this is your last Ramadan? We don’t want to end it with a load of regret. Keep pushing yourself to do one more act of worship.
Be Flexible Too:
There will be days when life intervenes and your day is thrown off its usual course. Don’t panic: remember to be flexible with yourself if you absolutely have to, but flexibility does not mean giving up on your goals.
In trying to get as much done as possible, try halving your must-dos instead of scrapping it completely. Recite half the number of pages of Qur’an you were supposed to, or study half the amount you set for yourself, or pray less rak’ahs of nafl than you meant to – depending on what part of the day your schedule got taken over.
Make The Most Of Waiting Time:
There will still be time in the day that we spend waiting: whether it’s in traffic, on the road, or while attending to our kids. These mundane moments can turn into a jackpot for you by keeping your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.
Be it dhikr, revising Qur’an that you’ve memorised, or even pondering about our Rabb, connect to Allah ﷻ in the smallest ways. [Also read: Treasures Of Memorizing The Qur’an]
Alternatively, make sure that your intention at that moment – no matter what you’re doing – is to earn the Pleasure of Allah ﷻ. This makes acts like going to work in order to support one’s family, or spending time with one’s children – all acts that take up a chunk of one’s day – worship too.
Don’t Skimp On Your Night Sleep:
With the nights being extremely short in some countries this summer, some might think it would be easier to stay awake till suhoor, but our bodies need the night sleep to function properly, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Take scheduled naps in the day too to energize yourself and keep going. Drink plenty of water from iftar to suhoor so that you can stay hydrated during the day.
Whether you’re a mother, student, worker, or a new Muslim, don’t let this month daunt you, stress you out, or leave you in regret. [Also read: Pregnancy, Nursing & Ramadan]
Planning is key, so start now, and make du’a for barakah in your time, as well as the strength to keep going – physically and spiritually. It is the hallmark of a believer that he leaves Ramadan wishing he had done more, because no amount of ‘ibadah is enough, but the least we can do is our best.