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FaithPractice

6 Points to Remember About Ramadan: A Month of Hope in a Time of Dreary Uncertainty

Ramadan is a once-in-a-year opportunity wherein you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Islam is so beautiful that you get rewards for just trying and striving, rather than the result you put out. Allah knows we are trying, and that truly is the biggest blessing of them all.

With it being almost a year to the worldwide pandemic and the multiple subsequent lockdowns, approaching Ramadan this year feels a little intimidating. Last year saw Muslims all over the globe deprived of the feeling of community that this blessed month brings along, with iftars and taraweeh at the masajid.

Yet, we were able to make the most of it even though we observed Ramadan from our homes. This is because being able to witness the holy month is a blessing in itself, and with a few tweaks here and there, 2020 prepared us for the worst. With the pandemic still ongoing, and some places still observing lockdown (stay home, people, that vacation can wait!), preparing our mindset to maximize rewards and spiritual productivity in this month is a no-brainer.

From my own experience, I have compiled a list of pointers to keep in mind to be able to make the most of this once-in-a-year opportunity to gain closeness to Allah as much as we are able.

1. Wean Off Of Old Habits Slowly

Ramadan brings about a shift in our life, with our days and nights getting interchanged, and the first few days being a little difficult. To save ourselves and our bodies from shock, it is best to start introducing changes into our routines gradually, so we are able to fully enjoy the blessing of Ramadan and fasting.

For example, for coffee drinkers, being unable to have their morning cup(s) may drive them to insanity. A month prior, you can downgrade from seven to five cups a week, and go on gradually decreasing that amount. Quitting something like music cold turkey for a month may be difficult, so every time you have the urge to listen to your favorite playlist, blast a surah from your favorite reciter instead. This is so we realise we have control over our own actions, and this way our brains will learn that we can very well do without things we think we can’t give up.

2. Your Body Is A Trust From God

Our bodies were given to us to get through this life and accomplish our purpose of worshipping Allah. Not just in Ramadan, but all year round, we must make sure we are taking care of the body we are in. Since our bodies have a right over us, we must make sure to fuel them with healthy, whole foods and drinks. You get brownie points for adding Prophetic inspired foods to your diet (dates, watermelon, olives, vinegar, milk) as this is a form of observing the Sunnah, and with the right intention, a form of ibadah.

Eating moderate amounts helps one not get lethargic, and preserves energy for worship. This is especially useful in Ramadan, as one has to stay off food and water for hours on end. We must make sure to hydrate sufficiently and move our bodies to stay active and keep blood flowing.

3. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

This is not just about food, but as humans, we have the tendency to try to do as many things as possible all at once. Ramadan is like a reset button for us, where our goals hold the same vigour that a person making new year’s resolutions does. But a lot of the time, we take on twenty-one things we can change in our lives and end up quitting by the end of the month due to the volume of tasks.

Ramadan is not just a month of change; you can use it to transform your life and spirituality. The key is to recognise one or two things you can add to your current routine or lifestyle, and use Ramadan to follow through with that. After a month’s consistency, our goal is to let it trickle down into the next few months and become a part of our life. This way, you have two new habits that have added to the quality of your life rather than twenty-one that you never were able to keep up with.

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For example, you can make it a point to read your adhkaar in the mornings, evenings, and before bed. You can also try to help out at home more, or learn to pray salah with more khushoo’. 

4. Capitalise On Barakah Time

It is narrated in Hadith that the Prophet (PBUH) said that the early hours are blessed for us. This means that in a short period of time, we can get a lot done. A lot of people will be working and/or studying from home this Ramadan, so utilising the time after fajr for important or complex projects can help you reach your goals easily.

This time can also be used to recite and/or memorize the Qur’an, which is the star of this month. This whole month is special, which means everything we do is going to be blessed, and if we plan our worship, sleep, eat, and work schedules carefully and with the right intentions, we can have an increase in our productivity. Replacing TV and music with Qur’an, (excessive) sleep with ‘ibadah, vain talk with educational podcasts, one can truly make the most use of their time to transform themselves from the inside out.

5. Don’t Let Your One Week Off Throw You Off Track

For the ladies, the days of their menstrual cycle can equate to heartbreak. Even though you feel left out of the fasting, it is important to shift your mindset and view this as a blessing from Allah. A regular monthly cycle is an indicator of your good health, and you should show immense gratitude to the Creator.

Since we are commanded to refrain from praying and fasting at this time, doing so with the right intention also becomes a form of ‘ibadah. We can utilize our ‘free’ time with more adhkaar, listening to the Qur’an or Islamic lectures, helping out at home, or working on a passion project. These 30 days are limited, and every little thing done with the right intention for the sake of Allah alone is immensely rewarded, so one must take care to not waste any time.

6. Online Community Is Still Community

Revert sisters and brothers, and Muslims in general had a hard time due to the loneliness that came with lockdowns in this past year. However, technology has allowed us to feel closer through screens and we can take away this goodness from it. One can host or be part of virtual iftars or suhoors via Zoom, hold discussions on spiritual topics or speak about their experiences that can help others.

Using technology in such lucrative ways can help one feel like they’re part of a wholesome online community. With the new social app Clubhouse (unfortunately, it’s still iOS only!), a ton of rooms are being hosted by Muslims talking about various topics. Joining one of these can help one share their views and make connections.

Ramadan is a once-in-a-year opportunity wherein you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Islam is so beautiful that you get rewards for just trying and striving, rather than the result you put out. Allah knows we are trying, and that truly is the biggest blessing of them all.

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