Category Archives: Productivity

RAMADAN – The Real Race!

by Yousra ElhawaryIf athleticism is defined as “the physical qualities that are characteristic of athletes, such as strength, fitness, and agility” and athletes as “persons proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise”  then one must wonder if it is necessary to compete to become an athlete.  Many would argue that competition is an integral part of a complete sporting experience, however, a few athletes have decided not to engage in the competitive games, but rather, to live discovering the magic of a sporting experience. These athletes are mostly involved in individual sports where each player has only their inner belief to count on. In fact, non-competing athletes are in a state of constant competition with everyday challenges such as numerous finish lines and training goals they adhere to with a resilient drive, determination and a deep desire to flourish. True athletes find competition without another person in sight. The “self” is their ultimate opposition; they continuously strive to compete.  Non-competing athletes systematically train and strive to better their capacities and are ready to push themselves to higher levels of success. They are hard-wired to win challenges at all costs and are often seen as highly influential since they strive for excellence. Their performance and consistent competition against inner desires and short-lived pleasures are inspiring. They possess the flexibility and creativity that allow them to deal with multiple difficulties and are always capable of creating the ideal environment and finding a way towards the achievement of their targets. Fatigue and stress are opponents to be overcome in this game! Nevertheless, few are the wise, for Allah ﷻ said, “Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they”. 38:24. Indeed, few are true athletes who utilize the gift of their given capacities in the journey towards the obedience of Allah ﷻ. These select individuals know that their endurance is their backbone to stand against the winds of calamities with resolution and certainty because there is no way to attain these promised rewards except with patient perseverance. Therefore, they trained their lungs to expand and breathe in the extreme hypoxic circumstances of trials and hurdles. Further, they increased their strength to persist in the daily battles of faith, yet flexible enough to adapt and persevere to uphold divine decree.  This state of physical and spiritual fitness is what allows them to pedal and go through pitfalls with resilience and courage without the reward of fame or glory but with consciousness and full responsibility for their actions, competing with self and time! In the last ten nights of Ramadan, we offer non-competing athletes seven helpful tips from the Quran and Sunnah to elevate their spiritual fitness and gain as many good deeds in this blessed opportunity to attain Allah’s mercy for eternity.  1- Roll up your Sleeves The last ten days and nights of Ramadan hold even more significance as Allah shows great mercy to His creation. It is reported from the hadith of ‘A’ishah (radi Allahu anha) who said, “When the last ten days of Ramadan came, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins”[al-Bukhari, 1920; Muslim, 1174]. We often tend to realize the value of persons and things only when it is taken away from us. If you ever had that feeling of: I wish, if I only… remember that this Ramadan may be your last, and these ten nights may be your only chance for eternal mercy from Allah ﷻ, and salvation from the torment of the Fire! So, roll up your sleeves and be eager to seek every opportunity for good deeds. Follow sunnah in seeking Lailat-ul-Qadr and supplicate:  “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni” which is translated as “O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me”. 2- It is time to compete “For this let the competitors compete”. 83:26 Allah ﷻ encourages His servants to apply themselves to the obedience of Him. Al-Hasan Al-Basri used to say, “Allah made the month of Ramadan a racetrack where His creatures compete in obeying Him to attain His Pleasure. Some people come first and thus have won; others lag behind and thus lose out. How amazing is the state of the runner who has cause to laugh on the day when the doers of a good win and the doers of falsehood lose!”. Have you had plans and intentions to maximize your benefits this Ramadan, but families and friends, school and work, tasks and duties – life took your eyes off the prize?  It is never too late! Shake off the dust!  Rise up and place yourself back on the track. Remember, every second matters to win the race! 3- Revive your cognitive capacities It was reported in another hadith that ‘A’ishah said: “I never saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) recite the entire Quran in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in Ramadan.” [Sunan al-Nasa’i, 1641]. On one of these nights, Quran was revealed to the Messenger ﷺ and his companions to mend the hearts, set life straight and make one patient in the face of the bitter difficulties of life. Quran is the source of the ayat that will enlighten the mind to observe and interact with the daily signs Allah ﷻ sends to you. Recite the Quran to bring this beautiful light to mind and prepare the heart to receive the divine signs! 4- Give and Respect The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was the most generous of the men, and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. One of the first things that come to our minds when hearing the word generosity in religion is sadaqah, “Anything given generously — freely to others — with the intention of pleasing Allah ﷻ”, and one of the things that seems the other needs the most today, is respect. You […]


by Abdul Azeez Tunbosun The month of Ramadan is no doubt a special month in Islam dedicated to worship. Notable to mention are the virtues of the month as narrated in the following ahadith found in the Books of Muslim and Bukhari: “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times, up to many times more, except fasting, for it is Allah who will reward it”  “Allah, the Most High said: ‘All the actions of the son of Adam are for him except for fasting. Indeed, it is for Me and I will give recompense for it.  He leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’  For the fasting person, there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.”  With the awareness of the virtues of Ramadan, individual Muslims and communities are consistently willing to race for good deeds in all forms, thereby, attracting the grace and rewards associated with the month. However, many Muslims are not consistently engaged in some of these activities prior to Ramadan. Instead, they are increasing in it during the blessed month and sometimes they experience burnout after the first week. Some are not able to cope or combine the work, and social life with extra spiritual exercises associated with the month while some may even pick up bad habits like overeating and feasting too much leading to food wastage, bloating, heaviness of the body and reducing their productivity and inability to wake up in the night for worship and even the next day.  The overzealousness of many Muslims leads to paying less concern to the quality of deeds, hence, they stand a chance of losing the entire rewards they were hoping for. For example, it will be more rewarding for a beginner in Qur’an recitation to devote the period to learning how to recite properly rather than racing to complete the Qur’an in the month. And those who can recite well and do not understand the meaning should also devote part of their time to learning the meaning. The inference is that, while the month is known as the signature of communal activities and everyone is willing to give their best, individual Muslims should use that as an opportunity for development and growth and a starting point for building new habits and setting goals. The best way to enjoy Ramadan in my opinion is to prepare for it in detail–all the activities as applicable to your situation. And to be realistic with yourself in terms of capacity. There are lots of beneficial resources available on the internet on how to stay productive and there’s no single approach that works for everyone, but we can have a  framework that everyone can relate to and pick a model for themselves.  1. Pick a goal for growth and development: Maybe this Ramadan, you wish to attend Tarawih in the congregation for the whole of 29/30 days. Think about the obstacles that prevented you the previous year and check out the possibility of resolving them. Is it your wish to complete the Qur’an in a certain amount of time? It is possible that what you need is to perfect your recitation first and keep reading slowly with Tadweer or Tarteel or you want to change your Iftar and Sahur habits. These all depend on how you wish to grow in certain deeds and develop in them. When you conclude your goals, it is safe to plan your routine one month ahead instead of dreaming about it 🙂 2. Stick to the simple routine: People come with their own activities this month and there is a high probability of you getting attracted to various activities and neglecting the goal you set for yourself. Stick to the routine and tap into activities that are only relevant to your goal. In the age of the internet, Tafsir programs, Islamic lectures and other beneficial series will be competing for your attention, you don’t have to watch all of them and you can save them to watch or listen to later. Discipline is also a virtue you need to inculcate in Ramadan. 3. Don’t give up on the goal: To be realistic, situations may change. Your goal for Ramadan may not be achievable as envisaged. Rather than giving it all up, reduce it to what is achievable and be consistent with it. At least, it will help you understand your status and capacity, and know-how or what goal to set next Ramadan.  4. Prepare for the end in the beginning: The last 10 days of Ramadan are full of spiritual activities and excitement. Some Muslims use it to prepare for the Eid festival usually at the expense of searching in devotion for the night of power. At the same time, our devotion should not deprive us of adequately preparing for Eid. To strike a balance, it is better to plan for Eid before Ramadan. By envisaging what will be needed and how to get them or when to get them and even visitations. For Zakat ul fitr, it will be good to spot those whom you wish to give the zakat and inform them a few days before Eid, by doing this, you would have placed their mind at rest knowing they already have something to celebrate the festival. 5. A prerequisite for the novice is to understand all the Islamic rulings; the hows and what to do as it relates to fasting in the month of Ramadan and as applicable to the individual. Learn about Ramadan before Ramadan. Let’s prepare to enjoy the season with the hope of meeting the mercy of Allah more than ever before. The aura and fragrance of the month are here. Nothing could be better than […]