Posted on May 26, 2017
It's officially that time of year! Ramadan Mubarak everyone!
Ramadan has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Nothing could beat the spiritual high and the connection that I was able to forge with Allah (S) that put my heart at ease. But in recent years, I feel like I lost the grandeur of Ramadan. I haven't been able to take full advantage of the month, partly because of being a mother of a baby-now-toddler. This sentiment is shared by so many women I've been speaking to lately, especially those who lead busy lives. But all the blessings and ajr this month has to offer shouldn't be left untapped. Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (S) had this to say about good deeds in Ramadan:
Allah (S) said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me, and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord" (Muslim).
700 times the reward! For every deed, for every letter uttered from the Quran, we get 700 times the reward (or more, if Allah (S) wishes)!
So this year, I want to take back my Ramadan, and I invite you all to do the same. How do we do this with all of our busy work/school/life schedules? We need to be extremely disciplined and regimented about how we approach this month in order to take full advantage of it. One way I learned to do so is making literal Ramadan Battle Plans that are written, measurable and rigid. I'm talking scheduling our days to the hour.
Here are some tips:
1. Set your personal goals.
Assess the state of your heart and what you'd like to improve on, then come up with a plan. Don't be overly ambitious. You know your schedule and your time capital so be realistic but firm about reaching your goals.
For example, how much Quran do you want to read? Split the pages up throughout the month, and write down exactly when you will be reading them each day. One trick I learned was if you want to finish a juz' a day, read about four pages after every salah, and by Isha, you'll have finished your juz' of the day.
Here is a free Ramadan Planning Kit that includes printables for your Ramadan goals, meal prep, Dua list, and more!
2. Set the expectations.
Everyone around you should be aware of your plan, and if possible, try to encourage your family to be on the same wavelength as you. If Allah (S) uses you to convince someone and guide them to make this Ramadan a turning point in their life, then this will also be on your scale- x 700!
3. Purify your intentions. For everything.
Once you take the step to make your plan and set your intentions, Allah (S) will put barakah in your Ramadan and make it easier for you, inshallah.
Another reason setting the right intentions is important: activities like cleaning, cooking, and working are turned into ajr-seeking opportunities. This is so important especially if you lead a very busy life. Set the intention that you are doing something for the sake of Allah (S), and inshallah you will be rewarded for it, and for anyone who benefits from your actions. That way, your unavoidable daily tasks and responsibilities aren't a "missed opportunity" to worship - they become your worship.
4. Remember that the last ten nights of Ramadan are the holiest of the entire year.
Make sure to shift the gears a bit during those last ten nights and put your schedule into acceleration mode. Remember the ajr and rewards you receive if you are blessed enough to witness Laylatul Qadr - this is NOT the time to snooze!
5. Remove any distractions from your life for the month.
This also goes for anything that does not put your heart at ease. Figure out what obstacles you face and do your best to get rid of them or work around them. For example, if you spend too much time online, try fasting from social media. Also, be sure to guard what you put into your heart and be very selective about what you say, watch, and listen to.
6. Meal plan.
The last thing a fasting person wants to do is worry about figuring out what to make for iftar let alone actually cook it - especially if you have unavoidable responsibilities such as work or young children to tend to. Stick to foods that are healthy and that will supplement your fasting rather than making it harder for you to achieve all your goals for the month. Here are some great health tips to help you beat the fasting fatigue.
7. Plan how and where you want to give charity.
Charity purifies your money and has immeasurable blessings, especially if it's sadaqa jaariya (sadaqa that is ever-running like donating to build a new masjid or school, imparting knowledge, etc). Now imagine that x 700 - are you noticing a trend here?
LaunchGood is running a Ramadan challenge that will allow you to give whatever amount you want every day throughout the month. They send the best campaigns to your inbox and even give you the option to automate your giving! For more creative ideas on how to give back this Ramadan, click here.
8. Do not compare your present self to your past self.
As a mother, I'm realizing I probably won't be able to attain the exact spiritual high I experienced while I was in high school when the only person I was responsible for was myself. I won't be able to pray as often or spend as many hours in worship. It took me a while to understand that parenting can actually be one of my forms of worship and that all Allah (S) asks of me is to do my best with my current situation.
Remember that the purpose of this month is to be more intense than usual - whatever the usual is for you. Ramadan is meant to be an iman bootcamp, where we recharge our battery enough to last us until next Ramadan.
Be disciplined, be regimented, and guard your Ramadan; it truly is a treasure that none of us can afford to lose. The time will pass anyway, so you might as well make it worthwhile.
I pray that Allah (S) makes this month easy on us all, that He puts His barakah into everything we do, and that He allows us all to take full advantage of all its blessings and come out changed for the better.
Do you have any tips on how to stay disciplined in Ramadan? I'd love to know- please share in the comments below!