When we have to undertake a project, we invest a great deal of effort and time into ensuring the project will be successful. Projects are initiated, then planned out, then executed and monitored. And once they are completed, they are evaluated.
If we can do this for projects at work, then surely the ‘project’ of Ramaḍān is far greater. As people seeking the pleasure of Allah and Paradise, Ramaḍān is the ‘dream project’ that has landed effortlessly on our desks.
The Goals of Ramadan
In order to prepare a plan which will help us to successfully complete this project, we have to be clear about its goals. These goals will provide the framework of a successful Ramaḍān. Everything we do in Ramaḍān should lead to the following goals:
1) Forgiveness for sins. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever observes the fasts of Ramadān with firm belief and hoping for reward, all of his previous sins will be forgiven” (Bukhārī).
2) Freedom from Hell. Deeply shudder at the possibility of being from the people of the Hell-fire; and then beg Allah to release you from the Hell-fire. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, Allah frees slaves from the Hell-fire every night.” (Tirmidhī)
3) Submitting to Allah. In our everyday lives, we are accustomed to giving in to our desires. If we feel like eating, we eat. If we feel like drinking, we drink. Through Ramaḍān, we should aim to train the nafs (inner self) to submit itself to Allah, and to comply with His commands.
4) Elevating the soul from its base desires (stomach and private parts). Aim for your fasting and Ramaḍān to remove the love of the world from your heart; and let your soul soar high above the ground, away from the body, and upwards towards its Creator and Originator.
5) Mercy. This Ramaḍān aim to be the recipient of Allah’s mercy and loving care.
6) Developing good character. Excellent character is an integral part of our dīn, and there is no better time to cultivate this than in Ramaḍān. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ said, “When one of you enters the morning in the state of fasting, he should neither use obscene language nor act ignorantly. If anyone insults him or argues with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting’” (Muslim).
7) Consistency. Ramaḍān is a bootcamp and a training programme to cultivate your heart, soul, morals and ultimately your life, so that the obedience of Allah becomes your lifestyle.
Maximise Ramadan: What Should You Include In Your Schedule?
To make the most of the blessed month of Ramaḍān, have a plan. Write down your daily schedule for Ramaḍān. Be happy and feel the excitement in your heart knowing that you will be spending quality time with Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā).
Depending on your circumstances, your schedule on weekdays may differ from the weekends. Aim to remain busy with good deeds, as having free time makes it easier to sin.
- The 5 daily prayers, including the sunnah prayers. Be punctual with praying in congregation and aim to be there before the opening takbīr.
- Qiyām al-Layl (Tarāwīḥ/Tahajjud). Along with fasting, this is the highlight of Ramadān. This is the time of the year in which you can truly connect with the Qur’ān. Recite slowly, repeat the āyāt and feel the emotion in your heart. Think that Allah is talking to YOU directly.
- Salāh al-Ḍuḥā. This can be read approximately 15 minutes after sunrise till 15 minutes before Ẓuhr. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever offers Fajr in congregation and remains seated, engaging in the remembrance of Allah until the sun has risen, and then offers two rak‘ahs, he will have a reward equal to that of performing Hajj and ‘Umrah.” He ﷺ said: “Complete, complete, complete (i.e. complete reward).” (Tirmidhī)
- Have an ambitious target for reciting as much Qur’ān as possible.
- Along with recitation, allocate time for memorising, reviewing memorisation, learning the meanings and reflecting on the Qur’ān.
- Bring the Qur’ān alive into your day. Have a minimum of at least one thing you will act upon based on what you recited in the day. (For an excellent Arabic resource on this, click here)
Spend time in acquainting yourself with the meanings of the adhkār (remembrances), so that your dhikr is conscious. Similarly, combine dhikr with deep reflection (tafakkur).
- Duʿā’ before iftār (and after opening the fast)
- Duʿā’ throughout the day when you’re fasting
- Duʿā’ in your sajdah
- Duʿā’ in the last third of the night, especially in sajdah
- Sunnah duʿās, such as before/after eating, entering/leaving the house, using the bathroom etc. Some of these have incredible rewards, which you shouldn’t miss out on, especially in this blessed month.
- Increase your praise (ḥamd) of Allah at the start of your duʿā’. This will specifically help you to build a special bond with Him.
5. Helping Others & Family ties
- Try to help others as much as possible, especially the elderly and the vulnerable people in your community.
- Maintain family ties and reach out to people you may have cut off contact with.
- Choose specific acts of kindness which you will do for your family e.g. unload the dishwasher/give a head massage/help with homework.
- Give charity. Try to feed those who are fasting to acquire the reward of their fasts inshallah.
The Last 10 Days
In the last ten days, intensify your worship schedule, take off time from work (if possible) and use it to focus your connection with Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā).
If you are a mother or father, don’t be selfish. Be considerate and give your spouse their own ‘alone with Allah’ time whilst you take care of the children. Your spouse connecting with Allah will result in him/her being a better spouse and parent to your children.
Spend quality time with your children. Tell them the stories of the Prophets, Companions and the people of the past. Recite Qur’ān with them. Hold a daily family circle where you can have discussions. Do fun and beneficial activities related to Ramaḍān. (There are many ideas on the internet for various crafts and activities.) Remember to renew your intention for spending quality time with them, and you will be rewarded for this great act of ʿibādah (worship) inshāAllah.
Use Every Moment
“By Allah, if it was said to the people of the grave, ‘make a wish!’ they would wish for one day of Ramaḍān.” – Ibn al-Jawzī (raḥimahullāh)
There may be times when you are tired or too exhausted to recite Qur’ān. Fill this time up with ‘easier’ acts of worship for e.g. listening to the Qur’ān or a beneficial lecture. Similarly, if you’re doing household chores or commuting, recite the Qur’ān or do dhikr at the same time.
Have a stockpile of books, or even one book, ready to help you become close to Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā), His Words and His Messenger ﷺ.
May Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) grant us the joy of worshipping Him in this life, and the joy of seeing Him in the next.