Ramadan is a time of great reflection and provides many Muslims with spiritual renewal, and the opportunity to make and break habits, to do as many good deeds as we can. Yet, most of our days are spent preparing meals, eating or sleeping, but during the month of fasting should we really be occupied with feasting?
There are some Muslims who spend all day and night preparing meals in the kitchen and not doing any Islam-orientated activities throughout the day. Alhamdulillah may those who do prepare meals during Ramadan be rewarded for their time and efforts. However, the whole day should not be spent focusing on the iftar meal. Ramadan is not about the food that we eat at the end of the day. Instead Ramadan should be a time to reflect, ponder and take action to purify ourselves; engaging in worship and the remembrance of Allah . The key is to maintain a balance during the day so one portion of the day is spent preparing for iftar, and another should be spent on prayer, Quran, reflection, charity and other good deeds.
So this brings us to the question we often ask ourselves: Is there really a time for relaxation and leisure in Ramadan? Or is there really a need to relax during Ramadan?
Firstly we should define, or perhaps re-define, what we consider to be relaxation. What if we considered our time in prayer as rest? Isn’t our time listening and reciting Quran soothing and relaxing for us? How amazing would it be if we could use this Ramadan to rediscover what true relaxation is, and use it to replace what we would typically consider ‘leisure’ (i.e. listening to music, playing video games, etc.) and replace it with productive, effective, and spiritual leisure? Prayer gives us a calm, clear-minded state – we feel refreshed, and re-energized after prayer; dhikr leaves us calm, content, satisfied; Quran opens our hearts and our minds, increases our eman, and is a healing for us.
Ramadan gives us the opportunity and the time to start reading more, to listen/read/recite Quran, to learn something new about Islam. It gives us time to seek knowledge, to do charity, to earn abundant rewards. We must be active to embrace and seize this great opportunity.
That is not to say that during Ramadan, and in the other months of the year, we cannot do other things but we should find a way to make them productive and a source of good deeds; for example, learn archery as a Sunnah; go to the gym to look after your body, health, and to look good for your spouse; bake for your family, etc. Find activities that are good for you, that benefit others.
Finally, let’s take a quick look at how the best of examples spent Ramadan:
1. Reciting Quran
Our Prophet used to spend the nights of Ramadan reciting the Quran as narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas: “Jibreel used to meet him (Muhammad ) every night in Ramadan to study the Quran carefully together” [Bukhari].
Isn’t it time we find comfort in the Qur’an instead of some fictional storybook or music?
2. Observing I’tikaaf (Seclusion in the Mosque)
As noted, the Prophet used to practice i’tikaf in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan [Bukhari]. This is a time or retreat and seclusion which is also ‘me time’. Now’s the time to develop your attachment to the mosque and recognize its beauty and find inner tranquility being away from the world.
3. Giving Charity Freely and Generously
Our Prophet was extremely generous throughout the year, but even more during the month of Ramadan! Seek out volunteer opportunities for charities you’re passionate about, plan fundraisers, and other charitable pursuits in your spare hours.
The Prophet saw his prayer as a source of peace, when he would tell Bilal to call the adhan, he said: “O Bilal, give us rest with it” [Abi Dawud].
Our prayer is a time to relax and recharge. Remember that when in prayer, it’s like a conversation with Allah (I urge you to read the tafsir of Surah Fatiha)! Now don’t those chatting sessions with the pals seem incomparable to the peace and joy of a moment spent with Allah brings!
5. Reading & Writing a Ramadan Journal
One final suggestion to spend your leisure time is by reading books which focus on your self-development and growth, those which increase your knowledge; read on the go on your Kindle or even listen to audio-books as you travel. It is also a great idea to write and keep a Ramadan journal, this can be a time where you go to natural surroundings that help you write freely about Ramadan and be a form of self-reflection which you can use to improve next Ramadan.
I would like to end saying that Ramadan is not about spending 11 months of the year glued to computer games, and 1 month without – it’s about disciplining the soul and changing habits so that during the year we choose a walk in the park over a video game, family time or a lecture over a TV show.
These are just some of the many ways you can spend time relaxing in Ramadan, may this be an example for us so that we can be our most productive selves during this beautiful month and to fully achieve the rewards from Allah , inshaaAllah.
May Allah help us to use our time during and outside of Ramadan productively, and to fill it with beneficial activities and good deeds. May Allah put love in our hearts for that which He loves and incline us to activities which bring about His love and mercy, Ameen.
Share below other ways you choose to relax this Ramadan!
About the Author:
Tasnim Nazeer is a Freelance Journalist/Reporter for BMG’s Global Islamic Finance Magazine. She has written for a variety of print and online publications including The Muslim News, CNN iReport Citizen Journalism, How to Books and she has her own parenting column on Mum and Muslim Magazine. As a mother of two toddlers she likes to write on topics of productivity in the family and remembrance of Allah. You can read more about her work on her website: http://www.tasnimnazeer.com/