Strengthen Your Resolve and Organize Your Ramadan

Strengthen Your Resolve and Organize Your Ramadan - Productive MuslimSome of us find it difficult to follow our spiritual plan in Ramadan, despite our true desire for change. In this article, I will share a new planning scheme that might be helpful in planning your Ramadan from Sha’ban and to practice it in advance.

Each year when Ramadan comes, we start thinking about the glory of this month with many ambitions and plans. Unfortunately, on the last night of Ramadan, some of us look back and feel dissatisfied by what we have done. We find that we did not do what we planned  or what we did fell short of our plan. We might wonder why! Our desire to improve ourselves spiritually and socially during Ramadan goes poof with the winds despite the fact that demons are locked up and cannot be blamed for our failure! Sometimes bad feelings push us to question our faith and commitment to the religion on the night of Eid. In fact, the reason is simpler than we can ever imagine.

In my opinion, the problem lies in the fact that most of our plans are done without mindfulness. We make promises only in our minds and resolve to fulfill tasks during the holy month only in words. But what we really need is an organized, written plan that goes in tandem with TRAINING. Yes, I do mean rehearsing. Any successful event in the world needs pre-planning and training: any speech you’ll be giving, any meeting you’ll be attending or even any gathering that you will be going to. So what about the great month of Ramadan, which presents you the opportunity to repent for all your mistakes and to have your name written on the Jannah list?! Do you not think that your plan for this month needs some TRAINING?

This Ramadan, I am offering you a new Ramadan Scheme that I hope you find useful. This scheme consists of three different stages:  Before Ramadan, During Ramadan, and After Ramadan. In this article, I am going to tackle the first and most important stage: Before Ramadan.

Preparation Before Ramadan

Throughout the year, daily responsibilities overload our lifestyle. All of us have thoughts like: “I need to concentrate more during my prayers”, “I should try to pray more sunnah” or “I want to read the Qur’an more frequently”, “I should help more sisters/brothers in my community”.. etc. Most of us find it difficult to make the first step, and if we are lucky enough to start, we find it difficult to stick to our plan. Ramadan is a yearly opportunity that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gives us to return to Him and fulfill our spiritual duties in 30 days. Here we have a yearly chance of praised 30 days to make a radical change, not only for ourselves, but also for our Islamic community.

1. Set Your Goals

To have a productive Ramadan, we need to specify our goals. Your goals should be realistic; plans you can accomplish in Ramadan and continue doing them even after Ramadan In sha Allah. Your goals should be very specific and achievable within a limited period of time: you set specific plans for each week or every 10 days. Write them down with clear steps on how to fulfill them. Finally, your plans should not be self-centered. Muslims should be productive in their communities as well (whether you live in a Muslim community one or not, it does not matter).

If you agree with me on what you have read already, please get a pen and a piece of paper, or open a new document on your PC and start writing down at least two things you want to change in you or in your community this Ramadan – things that you have always thought about but did not have the chance to do before. (I included a few examples, so I would appreciate if you share yours too.)


Personal Spiritual G
oals
Change should start with repentance (tawbah). Tawbah starts with feeling guilty. True sorrow keeps you away from committing the mistake again. Istighfar can delete your mistakes as if you have never committed them!

  • Start praying salah: sunnah, Duha, Qiyam (Specify a goal for each week. Next week you add another goal or number of raka’ah)
  • Perform istighfar or any kind of dhikr (Specify certain dhikr for each week, daily number of times: 100, 200, 500)
  • Read the Qur’an (Once, twice or thrice a week or state a certain of number of pages each day)
  • Pray Fajr at masjid everyday


Social G
oals: (Family/Community)
Family in Ramadan is an infinite source of hasanat if we know how to make full use of them. If any work you do normally has one reward, in Ramadan it has 10 rewards. The good deal is when they are the daily tasks we usually do because it is part of the schedule, but by having an Islamic niyyah (which I call the key of hasanat) in your heart, you get additional ajr (reward)! This Ramadan, let´s try to be radioactive members of our family. I use the term ‘radioactive’ to refer to people with great zest and positive energy in fulfilling their roles. Each one in his/her own style.

  • Start teaching your children how to perform salah or the philosophy of salah
  • Teach the little ones Surat Al-Fatiha
  • Keep the intention of breaking the fast of the family members while cooking. More on this will follow in my next article In sha Allah
  • Take your kids to taraweeh. Tell them the story of this spiritual tradition of Ramadan (how Omar bin Al-Khattab gathered all Muslims to do this blessed prayer in jamaa’ah (congregation), and make their tiny hearts attached to the masjid. On the way back home, buy them candy or any similar and healthier thing they like
  • Help your mom/dad because it is your duty to do so! It could be helping your father to quit smoking forever, or to overcome recent tension in your parents’ relationship, or helping to build your mother´s self-confidence
  • Help your sister/brother in her/his studies or with work problems or to make important decisions
  • Make dua for your parents, spouse, children and siblings

On a larger scale, you can focus on the Muslim Ummah. Look around and see who needs help. I am sure you will find plenty.

  • Help a friend without waiting until s/he approaches you
  • Visit family members whom you have not seen recently (How many families will you visit?)
  • Visit elders’ homes and orphanages (specify how many times: once, weekly?)
  • Offer sadaqah (decide on a weekly amount or deed)
  • Break fast with other Muslims not from your nuclear family  (indicate a specific number)
  • Make dua for other Muslims (other brothers/sisters, muslim countries in conflict)

For women, you can include a specific plan for your non-fasting days. I have been asked over and over: “What can I do with my plan when I am not fasting?” During Ramadan, every moment and act is blessed. Fasting during Ramadan is not only about abstaining from eating or drinking during the day. Sawm (fasting) is also about refraining from committing our same mistakes. So go ahead in your plan and you will be accumulating rewards, In sha Allah.  As a woman, I see those days as an opportunity to do good deeds that need more energy and tolerance, those I might not do quite as efficiently if I was fasting.

2. Prepare Yourself


Domestic Level
Prepare your blessed abode for Ramadan. Clean the house in advance so that you do not have a lot of cleaning during Ramadan. Prepare the family’s Eid clothes before Ramadan starts so that you do not spend the blessed hours of Ramadan doing your shopping. For your kitchen, please refer my next article which goes into practical detail.


Psychological/Emotional Level

Write your timetable and put it in a place that you can see it clearly every time you enter your room. Decorate it if needed (you can make hand drawings -flowers, Ka’aba etc.) and use colors, stickers, some glitter and other personal touches. Let it reflect your personality. The little ones can help in that as well. Read more about how people used to spend Ramadan in the past, or how different cultures celebrate Ramadan. Make sure you read how the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to spend this blessed month. Share your new information with others.


Religious Level
Read more about fasting instructions from fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) books. This way, you avoid having doubts about the validity of your fasting. It will boost self confidence.


Motivation Level

Look for a competitor who has an similar plan. Although this might seem like an easy task, it is not! Do not get a weak competitor so you win whatever you do! Your competitor has to be someone who will give you that extra push when you slow down.

3. Train Yourself

Maybe one of the most important reasons of our failure during Ramadan is our lack of training. During Ramadan, we break our daily rhythm of life, starting by giving up our morning coffee. To add to this, we start another ibadah schedule – taraweeh, Qur’an and dhikr. In most cases, our bodies get exhausted from the first week, thus slowing down our progress and weakening our motivation. By training, you introduce your body, mind and soul to what is coming forward. It is exactly like how sport works. It is better to feel tired in Sha’ban, but trained and consistent in Ramadan.

During Sha’ban you can practice your set plan. E.g:

  • You can fast a couple of days
  • Read parts of the Qur’an that you want to read during Ramadan, thus making it easier for you to reread it in Ramadan.
  • Read about the strategies you need to help your father quit smoking, matrimony relationships etc.
  • Start getting your tongue used to dhikr.
  • Practice being patient and controlling your anger.
  • Try to restrain your tongue, stop gossiping and avoid long, useless conversations.
  • Start helping some friends, know their problems, listen to their stories.

These are my tips for Ramadan preparation! I hope you find them useful. I am all yours for any further questions or doubts. I’m sure all of us have tips to share and I would love to hear from you. In my next article, I will share more practical tips for a productive Ramadan In sha Allah. Until then, I hope that we will be well prepared and ready for this blessed month. Remember me in your dua.

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34 thoughts on “Strengthen Your Resolve and Organize Your Ramadan

  1. Dear Ghufran, Jizakil Allah khair for this beautiful article. In Shaában we can have an annual review of our wardrobes, kitchen, to give things ;which are not in very regular use; in sadqah.

    1. Thanks Shakeela! very useful tip mashaAllah! It has two folds benefits: one for those who receive the Sadqa, and those who give it. This initiative make us realized how many stuff we unconciously accumulate in our places.
      It is very important when we do this review to be conscious that we do not only select those old things that we are not using any more because they are too small, big or old! The challenge is to select for sadqa those stuff that are in a good shape, but you do not use them frequently (maybe once a year and you can live without them), but your heart is attached to them. In that sense, we win a serious struggle with ourselves (al-Nafis) just before Ramadan in sha Allah :))) Baraka Allahu Fiki.

  2. MashAllah. A really helpful reminder. I really liked the scheme that you have mentioned above.

    I think that besides being the month of worship towards Allah swt, Ramadan also is a great 30 day trial for change that is much mentioned in different productivity books and courses, and about changing bad habits, like being lazy to pray the night pray or reading more Quran, as it is indeed guidance for the believer.

  3. Thank you so much sister! May Allah reward you for this useful advice and ideas. I am a new Muslim, this year will be my third Ramadan inshAllah, and thanks to your advice I feel even more motivated, alhamdulillah! :)

    1. Salam Dear Minerva! There is an arabic refran that says> the third try is the best!
      I am sure you can do it sweetie! May Allah accept our work and give us the strength to fulfill our plans :)

  4. Jazakum Allahu khairun for this excellent, excellent article!
    I would also add that us, sisters, can help prepare iftaar for the brothers who are in i’tikaaf in the masjid.
    Another tip is to get older children involved in helping with preparation of iftaar, which will turn it into a family activity and help our mothers!

    1. Just thought of some more…

      – make rota between spouses so wife performs a few sets of taraweeh while husband looks after children in masjid, then they swap over

      – put the adhan on in the house (computer, phone etc.) so children and adults all stop their activities and pray in jama’ah

      – family sit together for 10-15 min after Fajr salah to read Qur’an, it is a blessed time

      – ask children to also make a list of goals for ramadan

      – make a daily checklist, (e.g. morning duas, reading Qur’an, helping mum in kitchen)

      – go to website below and learn a masnoon dua each day as a family
      http://www.aqlonline.com/resources/dua-reviews/

  5. As-Salaamu’Alaikum sister Ghufran. Jazak Allah Khairan. Excellent preparation & planning. We have to change. Ramadan is the machine for changing our impurities. Just have to do firm intension. May Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala help us all.

  6. Salaam, how do I tackle my parent’s relationship problem? The atmosphere seems so tension. I don’t want to ruin anything as Ramadhan is approaching so near. Thanks :)

    1. Wa alekum il salam!
      I am really sorry to hear about this tension! Finding the strategy is a complicated task to do! It depends on each couple needs and on their current position in the marriage relationship. You have the most difficult mission to do this Ramadan! Make a lot of Duaa.. I will make Duaa for you too!
      In each marriage relationship there should be certain patterns that determine the nature of those wife and husband. There might be the controlling figure (easy to get angry, difficult to be satisfied, want to know about every little detail and control it). In the opposite, the second figure is the one who always makes scarifies, let away his/her personal rights in order to please the first figure. But by time, this unfair relationship will push the weak partner to the limit and s/he refuses to yield anymore! s/he start a revolution!
      Another pattern is when you find the carless figure, that takes everything easy, messy, always forgets his/her family needs, put family requirements at the end of the list and never makes efforts to improve his/her family commitment. Ther other figure is the one who takes the responsibility of the kids, housing, spend night alone waiting for the first figure who is hanging out with friends or unnecessarily plans. Then, s/he discover that she doesnot need to bear the carelessness of first figure anymore. S/he starts criticizing, making troubles and starts the war.
      In both examples, I am sure there is still more patterns to be mentioned, Shaitan in there. Shaitan decorates the problem, gives it colores, smells and dangerous connotation. While in fact, it could be analyzed logically in a simple way! Although I have never tackle this issue before, here you have my tips for now.. and my biggest advice is to read about it!!
      1. Try to analyze to which patterns your parents belong, Read about this pattern…
      2. Be diplomatic and manipulate fact for their benefit! Do not be so honest by what your father think about your mom or vise versa..
      3. Start by the easy figure, the one who is close to you, the one who can listen to you even if s/he will not approve every word you say.. but at least LISTEN..
      4. Do not be directly criticizing… invent or look for a very similer story about somebody and tell it to your Mom and Dad, while they are together. Try to be effective and mention that Shaitan has exaggerated tiny problem to them and you wish they can make it up before Ramadan
      5. Try to mention sweet memories you all spend together, bring photos or videos if you have… let their minds stop the unconscious process of accusing each other, and let them remember that there is still a good side in the other partner…
      6. If you have the change of direct and clear conversation about the topic, insist on giving the last chance. This include deleting all the past and open a new white page, never discuss previous mistakes or even think about them.
      I am not sure how much those tips are useful for you… Please, read, make Duaa and be patient… If you want to go in details, please feel free to write me on my email: syrianpassion12@hotmail.com

  7. Salam Aleykoum Dear Sister

    thank you so much for these tips. They are so helpful to me! I’m a converted muslim woman and I feel so ignorant! Could you better explain to me whithin salah what about sunnah, Duha, Qiyam? What is the difference between Qiyam and Taraweeh? Also the only Dhikr I know is: Subhanallah wa al Hamdoulillah wa La illah Ilallah wa Allahouakbar. Are there other ways of doing Dhikr? Can I make my Duha in french? (I memorized some Duha’s in arabian by I often become distracted for I don’t completely understand them.)
    Barakallahoufiki
    Fatima

    1. Assalamu Alaikum Fatima,

      First of all, I want to say that I have so much respect for converts like yourself. Please don’t feel ignorant just because you don’t know somethings yet. That’s completely normal and your religious knowledge will increase with time insha’Allah. Now, on to your questions:

      Sunnah prayers are optional prayers that one can engage in before or after the regular prayers. You perform them in the same way as the regular prayers. 2 raka’ats before Fajr, 4 raka’ats before + 2 after Dhuhr, 4 raka’ats before Asr, 2 raka’ats after Maghrib, 4 raka’ats before + 2 after + 1 after (called “witr”) Isha.

      The Duha prayer is a voluntary prayer which consists of a minimum of 2 raka’ats and can be offered anywhere between after sunrise to when the sun is at its zenith.

      Qiyam Al-Layl refers to the voluntary night prayer which can be prayed from the time after Isha to dawn. The Qur’an speaks about the excellence of this prayer on many occasions. It can be performed all throughout the year.

      Taraweeh refers to an extra congregational prayer performed only during the nights of Ramadan.

      “Dhikr” is usually translated as rememberance of Allah (swt). It can be done by repeating certain words like the ones you mentioned above. Or it can be done by simply thinking of Allah (swt) in one’s heart. Nowadays, we often get so distracted by everything that is going on that we don’t make enough time for consciously remembering our Creator.

      Dua’s (supplications) can be made in any language and don’t have to be made in Arabic as far as I know.

      Insha’Allah I was able to answer your questions. :)

    2. Salam Sister! MAshaALLah! How lucky you are to be chosen by Allah subhannah to see the light and be Muslima! This is a blessed don that we are, as native Muslims, deprived of. MashaALLAh! May Allah give you the strength to follow up your spiritual progress every day, especially in Ramadan.
      According to Sunnah, it is an optional Salah we pray before or after the obligatory ones according to a determined scheme. Duha and Qiyam are independent sunnah. They are unlimited pairs of two rikaas: so you can pray 2, 4, 6, 12, etc… two by two. Duha time starts after the sunrise till 30 minutes before Duhur Time. Qiyam time is after Ishaa prayers till Fajer time.
      The difference between Qiyam and Taraweeh is huge! First: in the intention that you have in your heart when you will pray any of those. Second, Taraweeh is limited to Ramadan only, while Qiyam is for all the days of the year, including Ramadan. That means,in Ramadan, if you Pray first taraweeh, then Qiyam. You can delay Qiyam till suhur, before or after it.
      Talking about Dhikr is gonna take more than a comment here. Maybe I will specify an article about this important topic and how can we practice it productively in our daily life in the future in shaALlah! For now, try to memorize couple of short ones in Arabic (those which consist of two o three words) and learn their meanings. Keep in mind that thinking about Allah, His power, His glory, Your relation with Allah, how to improve this relation, your identity transformation to Muslim French Woman.. etc… All of those are considered kinds of Dhikr! Dhikr after all is having Allah subhannah presents in your life, mind and heart.. no matter how!
      Finally, Yes! Absolutely you can make Duaa in French! You should use the language that makes you connected with Allah when you ask Him, speak to Him! That makes no sense to recite some Arabic patterns which mean nothing to you! Your Duaa should be an output of your emotioned heart and confused thoughts which are seeking a correct way out in this life. Maybe in the future, when you master your Iman (faith), you can study some Arabic and start making Duaa in Arabic inshaAllah
      Fi amani Allah
      Ghufran Khir Allah

  8. Dear Fatos, Sr A and Tanveer, Thanks for the comments and tips! those tips are innovative and inspiring towards productive Ramadan in Sha Allah…

  9. Salam Wa’laykoum, Fatima!

    Vous pouvez faire ces Dhikrs assez facile:

    La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (Il n’y a ni force ni pouvoir sauf avec ALLAH)

    Subhanallah Wa Bihamdih (Gloire a ALLAH et purete a LUI)

    Subhanallah al ‘Azeem (Gloire a ALLAH, le Tout Puissant)

    Astagh firullah (Je demande pardon a ALLAH)

    J’aimerais beaucoup vous aidez plus mais je ne sais pas bien m’exprimer en Francais.

    Je sais que Salat al Duha ca ce fait le matin et Qiyam, c’est pour la nuit.

    Taraweeh, je ne sais pas exactement c’est quoi car je ne l’ai jamais fait.

    Je suis tres tres desolee! Qu’ALLAH te facilite le Ramadan et ton voyage dans l’Islam, Ameen!

    <3 une souer musulmane

  10. Salaam Alaikum

    Very helpful and inspiring article, jazakallah brother!

    I have one small comment about ‘Motivation Level’ under the Prepare Yourself heading.

    I personally will not find a ‘competitor’ with a similar plan as at some point my focus would likely be on the competition indeed (being ‘better’ than the other by the amount of good deeds), and the intention I start off with – to do good for the pleasure of Allah – would be compromised.

    Also, there is no guarantee whose and which deeds Allah will accept. We may finish off the month believing we have ‘won’ as we have achieved more and quicker than our competitor, when in fact, our deeds may not have counted as the intention deviated from pleasing Allah to winning over the other.

    And Allah knows best.

    1. Dear Just a Muslim:
      Thanks for your comment, but I want to draw your attention to one thing: I am a female writer: D
      Finding a good competitor is a habit that has been practiced since the beginning of Islam! AL-Sahaba (the followers of the prophet (PBUH) used to compete each other, especially Abu Baker and Omar RadiaAllahu annhum, And the prophet (PBUH) did not mention any negative hint about it. Maybe, some people prefer to maintain their intention (niyah) connected to Allah subhanna only and avoid such kind of competition, and they succeed to keep the motivation and energy up during those thirty days. On the other hand, some prefer to have a competitor as a reminder and energy boosting to keep motivation around. That does not mean in any moment that the intention of doing the good deeds is not for Allah´s sake, not at all!
      According to Allah might accept and might not! Personally, I think that this is a dangerous kind of thinking! And very pessimistic! Thinking in a positive way about Allah subhanna is one of the most important pillars of Islam. There are many proves about this in Quran and Sunnah. The most clear and direct one is narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah said, ‘I am to my slave as he thinks of Me, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him). (See Hadith No. 502). That is, if you doubt that Allah subhanna might not accept your work but your competitor´s, so be ready for this because it is the reality that you create for yourself! It is better to believe that Allah will accept both of your work and give both of you extra reward for helping each other to do righteous deeds as Muslims in all aspects of your life
      Wa Allahu Aálam
      Ghufran Khir Allah

  11. Dear sisters Ghufran, Naima and Ima

    barakallahoufikoum for your very kind words and advices. It is really very helpful. I often lack of sisters around me with whom to exchange. Of course that I am never alone for Allah SWT is always close to me but talking with sisters, learning, practicing in more an accurate way, near of Sunah is a real joy and it strengthens my heart.

  12. Dear Ghufran,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. it gave me a boost to start planning for Ramadan. if you could please give me some more tips about tasks and spiritual things I can do on the days where I wont be fasting in.
    Jazaki Allah kheir ghufran.
    salma el kadi

    1. Wa alekum il salam sweetie:
      The first spiritual practice that comes in my mind is Dkir. In those days you can intensify your dkir records: Istigfar, Subhana Allah wa bi hamdeh.. etc.. Choose at least 5 patterns and put a record for yourself 100.000 for each during the whole week.
      The second one is listening to Quran, if you can understand Arabic, try to mediate the Ayas you are listening to and find the connection between our current days and them. if you can not understand Arabic, you can hold the translation and read it while listening.
      If your are learning tajweed or memorizing Quran, you can still practice the difficult words, pronounciation of some letters or reciting in your heart and mind what you have memorized so far
      Those are the tips I normally do, I wish if other sisters and brothers can share other tips
      Fi amani Allah
      Ghufran Khir Allah

  13. Dear Readers;
    MashaALlah what brilliant tips you have mentioned! MashaLLah! Thank you all for sharing your opinions, mAy Allah count this in your good deeds
    Wish you all a very blessed Ramadan
    Ghufran Khir Allah

  14. thanks a lot for the article ..it’s very useful ..
    I have just one question ..is how can I set time for sleeping and also not miss ibadah ?
    for example ..in this Ramadan isha prayer will be arround 8.00 pm ..taraweeh will be done at least by 11.00 pm ..then you have Qyam ,then suhor ,then fajr at 3.20 am, after fajr prayer it’s blessed time for dhikr untill 5 am …then the day starts ..if you slept you would wake up at 12.00 pm at least ..
    I don’t know when I should sleep XD !

    1. Salam alekum dear Mariam, I am so sorry for this late answer! I hope you figure out how to block time for sleeping … I think you are lucky to have taraweeh done at 11 because here in Spain we finish taraweeh at 1:30am of the next day!
      Anyway, when we say qiyam, that does not mean 1 hour an a half of praying! You can do six rek3as in 15 minutes and have a good sleep till suhur time.
      Invade you do not work outside home, and you control your day schedual, there is nothing wrong in spending the whole night in 3bada and sleep from 6 to 11 am, as long as you have a productive planing and your sleeping hours are no more than 7 hours a day!
      Hope you find a practical solution for your worries :)
      Fi amani Allah

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