Our dear Prophet said: “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan with faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” Reported by Abu Hurairah [Bukhari].
We are now at the most important yearly spiritual experience of a Muslim’s life. During these 30 continuous days of rahma (mercy) and maghfira (forgiveness) we have the privilege of being heard by Allah at any moment during the day or night, and to be given whatever we ask for! This article will focus on tips to follow during Ramadan.
Tips Related to the First Night of Ramadan
During the first night of Ramadan, Muslims all around the world wait for the announcement of the month. Start collecting reward from this moment!
- Try to look for the new moon with the family, make the little ones busy with this. However, if the religious authority in your country announces the beginning of Ramadan and you are still not able to see the new moon, you should accept the decision without any fuss.
- Send greetings to family members and friends. If you live in a non-Muslim community, try to explain the significance of Ramadan to your neighbours. It is important to explain to them that Ramadan is more than just abstaining from eating and drinking.
- Share the joy of Ramadan with your children. And don’t refer to the night of Eid! Kids should feel that the coming of Ramadan is a special event to celebrate even if they do not fast it yet. Involve them in decorating the house, making lamps using craft work etc.
- Do not miss taraweeh: Many people miss the first taraweeh for different reasons. Some say the first day of Ramadan starts after midnight, so they don’t attend the prayer, or between the joy and many phone calls, they get exhausted and nod off and some may just forget it!
- Keep niyyah:
The Prophet said: (The value of) an action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended. Narrated on the authority of Umar b. al-Khattab. [Bukhari].
Intention (niyyah) in Islam has immense importance. During the first night of Ramadan, make a lot of good intentions which Allah will help you fulfill. Examples:
- Fasting for Allah ’s sake
- To have a productive month
- To attain inner peace
- To forgive friends/ family members who have wronged you
- To attend the night of Qadr and get its reward
- That all efforts in the kitchen during Ramadan is to break the fast of family members
Daily and Monthly Planning
To make the most use of this blessed month, we should not pile tasks on our schedule and wait till the appropriate minute to fulfill it! Instead, we should allocate a time for each goal. In Ramadan, there are blessed moments that we should not miss by focusing on other tasks. For example, you cannot visit people during taraweeh, or watch a religious program right after fajr when you are supposed to do dhikr and read the Qur’an!
- Divide your day into at least 6 parts:
- The morning: suhoor, tahajjud, fajr, reciting Quran after fajr, istighfar
- Work: Remember fasting is not an excuse to be inefficient at work; neither does it justify being ill tempered because you miss your coffee or cigarette! Concentrate on dhikr especially while waiting in traffic, while driving to and from work etc.
- From asr to maghrib: 30 minute nap, family time: discussion, reciting Qur’an, watch an educational program, narrating the prophets´ stories, prepare Iftar, any other task you planned etc.
- Breaking fast: Please refer to my article on meals in Ramadan for more details about suhoor and iftar
- Isha/ taraweeh: It is not necessary to spend hours in traffic to go to a mosque with the best sheikh/ imam in the city. Choose a masjid that is in your neighbourhood!
- Night: This time depends on when you complete the Taraweeh prayers. (Family time, completing other tasks, Qiyam)
- Keep each salah as a time interval between tasks, so you can pray at the masjid if possible.
- Intention for i´tikaaf (to stay in the masjid for a particular time period in the worship of Allah while maintaining certain conditions)
- Divide the month into three parts where each part consists of 10 days. This is an efficient way to accomplish your schedule according to the spiritual importance of the month.
- Set the goals you want to accomplish in each of the 10 days. Write them in a separate column. You could concentrate on social tasks in the first 10 days, family tasks the following 10 days, dua and dhikr (personal spirituality) in the last ten days. I do not mean to totally separate your tasks, but give you a rough time period to focus on.
- Start dividing these tasks and goals. If your lifestyle is organized with minimal surprises, you can plan these 10 days in advance. If not, try and make a draft for 2 days. Making a draft makes you feel less guilty if something unexpected happens. This does not mean you get out of your actual task but, you might need to double the effort for the next 2 days. Place an X on completed tasks, to give you a sense of accomplishment!
- For the last 10 days of Ramadan, try to intensify all kinds of Ibadat, especially the prayers of the night. You can pray to recover some prayers you may have missed before.
- Recite the whole Qur’an. In case you cannot read, listen to it and read the translation juz’ by juz’.
‘Aishah reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [At-Tirmidhi]
Tips for the Last Night of Ramadan
After all the effort of planning, helping others, praying, fasting and keeping good intentions, we will reach the last night of Ramadan desiring the great reward of being saved from the fire and accepted in heaven. It is important to trust Allah that He will accept your hard work. At the night of Eid, the joy is not only because we are not supposed to fast the next day! It is also because we are labelled as heaven’s future habitants In sha Allah!
- Ask dua that Allah accepts all of your efforts done in Ramadan, and that He supports you to sustain your productivity after Ramadan
- Share greetings for Eid
- Give the kids the joy of Eid (new clothes, money, decorating the house, gifts, going to the park, making plans for the day of Eid)
- Do not forget to pay Zakat al-Fitr, which you can pay from the first day of Ramadan till the last night of it. The sooner you pay it, the better it would be for those who receive it!
- Do not forget the families with limited income. Although you pay your Zakat al-Fitr, you can still do a few more things which won’t cost much, but may make a huge difference for others. Example: buying boxes of sweets, Eid decorations for the house, little toys or even plastic jewellery for the little princesses of the family.
- As soon as the authorities prove it to be the end of Ramadan, start repeating the Takbir and teach it to the young ones
These are some of my tips for Ramadan, please share yours! I will pray from the heart that Allah accepts all of our good deeds and efforts this Ramadan. Please do not forget me in your dua.