Ramadan’s Inbuilt Time Management System
Despite the plethora of time management systems, methods, organizers and techniques, the best have been often the simplest. Being able to schedule all your activities is actually the most efficient way of utilizing our time. That’s why schools, colleges, universities, businesses and countless other institutions do it. When you have a set programme to follow, you get things done. The problem is that we simply lack the self-discipline to programme our personal lives in the same way as our work/studies
Allah , through the guidance of the Prophet and his inheritors, has created within Ramadan such a schedule that automatically promotes the discipline to get a lot done.
The Ramadan Schedule
The recommended daily practices of Ramadan thus provide a structure within which we can plan our day accordingly. Below, I give some ideas for how we can utilize these times.
It is not the purpose of this article to give religious guidance. The suggestion of acts of worship is based on my own practice and limited knowledge. For further details, clarification and specific knowledge of the most praiseworthy acts of worship to be performed, please consult trustworthy qualified scholars.
From the outset, most of us have to rise earlier than usual to partake of the highly recommended Sunnah of having a meal before the fast starts. If not in practice already, this gives us the opportunity to pray the night vigil prayer, Tahajjud – the merit of which is enormous.
For men, most masjids adjust their jamat times so that they don’t need to wait too long after their suhur before praying Fajr in congregation. Usually there’s at least a 30 minute gap after your prayers, and this time is ideal to engage in dhikr or Quran recitation. Consult the prayer times of your local mosques; jamat times often vary and you may find an alternative mosque’s Fajr jamat time to be more suitable for your schedule. Women praying at home can pray their Fajr and then – since they’re awake anyway – sit for 10-30 minutes for devotions.
Another praiseworthy sunnah is to sit after Fajr in dhikr until around 20 minutes after sunrise; one then prays the Ishraq salah. If one has no work or study commitments (with Ramadan this year being in the summer holidays this is a reality for many) then you can and should make this a daily practice. However, if you need to be awake early for work then this may be too difficult. For example, in Leicester, UK, you’d have to rise around 2.30AM for Suhur and Tahujjud, do ibaadah for 30-40 minutes, pray Fajr at 3AM and then stay up until 6AM.
There’s no easy solution to the Fajr and Ishraq issue. Prayer times vary across the world and you need to work out a sleep schedule you can keep up. Personally, after consulting with scholars, I decided to prioritise praying Tahajjud and Fajr in jamat, sleep and then, upon waking at the normal time for work (8-9AM), pray Salat al-Duha. This prayer is similar in merit to Ishraq and thus solves my personal problem.
Maghrib and Iftar
The minutes before Iftar and Maghrib are highly desirable for ibaadah, particularly supplication (dua). A wonderful sight at mosques at this time is that of rows of locals engaged in fervent recitation, dhikr and dua. Iftar inevitably involves invitations. Scheduling important work or personal devotions is undesirable for this time as you have little control. Resist the temptation of allowing guests or hosts keeping you from Isha jama’at and Tarawih. Actually, the fact that we have Tarawih prayers provides an ideal time frame.
Although not compulsory, praying Tarawih in congregation at the mosque has many benefits – the most memorable of which are to be able to hear the whole Quran being recited in prayer, and the exciting communal atmosphere. Sisters should research local facilities as most cities provide space for them to also participate.
Devoting the last ten days to exclusive worship at the mosque (or a room in the home for women) is an unparalleled method to ensure maximum time for drawing near to Allah . As it is a big time commitment, like Hajj, for many of us it may only be possible to perform a few times in our lifetime. This need not be the case. Over the years I’ve witnessed friends proactively adjusting their work and holiday times so they could fit in this tremendous ibaadah annually. If you want to do it, you’ll find a way. And once you taste its benefit, you’ll want to experience it again and again. Whole chapters on time management discuss dealing with interruptions – phone calls, emails, unexpected guests, post. The laws of Itikaf mean that all such interruptions are eliminated. In a modern world characterised with constant interruptions, the ten days of Itikaf are an incredible way to unplug from all the chaotic rush, and, instead, to tune into remembering Allah .
To be continued…
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