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 racing to embrace it. May Allah not deprive us of the benefit and make us witness many more of it in life. Aameen.