By Naairah Aftab – Campaigns Officer, FOSIS Scotland (as part of the #LifeHacks series)
“…Not even water?” – Ancient Proverb
No, not even water. However, Ramadan is more than merely abstaining from food and drink from the hours between dawn and sunset; this blessed month is a time where one pays particular attention to character development by starving the ego and feeding the soul instead.
It seems like just yesterday we were all preparing for Ramadan, and now, it will soon leave us. With two-thirds of this month having passed by, many of us at this stage are feeling immense guilt for not utilising our time as effectively as we could have, or failing to meet targets that we had originally planned to achieve.
“When the race horse knows that it is nearing the end of the track it exerts all of its effort to win the race. Do not allow the race horse to be more clever than you. For verily, deeds are judged by their conclusions. So if you didn’t do well with welcoming Ramadan then perhaps you will do better bidding it farewell.” – Ibn al-Jawzi
It is vital to remember that hope is not lost as the last 10 days of Ramadan have arrived, and these days have an extra layer of importance because Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Decree) is in one of those nights.
“There has come to you Ramadan… In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.” [An-Nasa’i]
In this blog, I will provide some practical tips on how to maximise productivity in the remaining days of Ramadan, and consequently, reap more rewards (Insha’Allah).
(Note: to learn some more essential dos and don’ts and how to catch Laylatul Qadr, check out this blog post.)
Tip 1 – Make Time for Reflection on a Daily Basis
Before going to sleep, we must make sure to spare a couple of minutes to sit down and reflect on how we spent our day.
- Write down the good deeds you carried out as well as the mistakes you made, think about the opportunities grasped and those missed, and ponder upon how well your free-time was utilised. It is through reflection that we become more observant of our behaviour and can then take the necessary actions required to conquer any bad habits that we possess.
- Keep in mind that each new day is a fresh start. Don’t linger too long over past sins and instead learn from them and focus forward. Sincerely repent to Allah for your shortcomings and continue striving.
Renew your intentions
“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.” [Sahih Bukhari]
- The beauty of your intention is that it is between you and your Lord alone. Being mindful of the intentions behind our actions is the essence of God-consciousness (taqwa), which we should be working hard to develop in Ramadan.
- Intention is the pillar of worship; the most sacred acts can become spoiled due to mixed intentions behind them, and the simplest acts can gain in value on account of the purely good intentions behind them.
- Remember that fasting is an act of worship that can completely wipe your past sins, as well as bring you major rewards from Allah. Therefore, do not take your fasting for granted!
Tip 2 – Do Not Lose Hope
Remember that Allah sees your struggle
“When we think of a person who had an accepted Ramadan, we tend to think of the one who completes the Qur’an 30 times, the Hafidh, the one who gave thousands in charity, the one who lived in the mosque and prayed all night, But you know who we tend to forget who shall have an accepted Ramadan? The young person who is fighting depression but still musters the strength to get through the day and complete the fast because of a belief that he/she has in Allah. The woman who has to speed through her prayers because her little one is crying. The man who lays down the mat and prays at work. The lady who wears the Hijab correctly in public despite the pressures and the long summer days. The student who lowers his gaze in an environment in college and university because he is conscious of Allah. The sister who stays in the constant remembrance of Allah during the days she is unable to fast. The individual who wants to fast throughout the month but his medical situation doesn’t allow it. The one who leaves the house in the morning whilst fasting to earn halal so he can feed the family and look after the kids. The guy who leaves what he used to do because it was wrong and returns to Allah in remorse such that he often feels down. The one who can barely recite a page of the Qur’an but starts alif-baa-taa. The people who give up some private worship time in order to serve the family at Iftar and Suhur. Piety has many forms and comes in different shapes. If you are obeying Allah in whichever way you can this month, then be pleased and know that Allah loves you. Something small for one man is like climbing a steep mountain for another, and Allah knows that. He won’t let the tears, the tiredness, the effort, the good intentions and the striving go to waste in Ramadan.” – Shaykh Mohammed Aslam
We will all, without doubt, be feeling the fatigue during the long hours of fasting coupled alongside having a job, studying for exams, or our other commitments. However, we need to push ourselves that little bit more during the remaining days of Ramadan with the hope of seeking Allah’s pleasure. There is no road to success except through the struggle for truth and righteousness. The higher the degree of struggle involved, the greater the reward.
Tip 3 – Utilise Your Mornings Strategically
“O Allah! Make the rising in the morning of my Ummah auspicious.” [Abu Dawud]
Waking up early is actually an act of Sunnah and the Prophet (pbuh) prayed to Allah to increase blessings and productivity during the morning hours in particular. It is very tempting to wake up late during Ramadan especially, however, the opportunities for reward missed out as a result of doing so make this option not worth even considering.
Wake up for Suhoor (the morning meal)
“Take suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” [Al Nasai]
It seems easier to skip the Suhoor meal due to the difficulty involved in waking up before dawn and eating, however, this particular time and meal have numerous benefits (both spiritual and nutritional).
- Firstly, this is an optimal time for worship as we aren’t busy at this time. Use Suhoor time wisely and complete some voluntary prayers or engage in Dhikr and Tasbeeh. The last third of the night, in particular, is optimal for Du’as to be accepted.
- In addition, eating the morning meal will provide us with energy to conquer the hectic day that lies ahead. (Check out this great article featuring 5 healthy Suhoor ideas)
- Don’t forget the immense rewards involved with helping our parents too! Being dutiful to parents is a major act of excellence in Islam. Therefore, we can certainly make an extra effort during Suhoor time to help our parents with preparing the morning meal.
Read Qur’an at Fajr time
“Indeed the recitation of the Qur’an at Fajr is witnessed.” [Qur’an 17:78]
- Allah refers to the Fajr prayer as Qur’an-al-Fajr, which emphasises the immense blessings associated with reciting Qur’an at this particular time. At a time when most people are sleeping, Allah Himself witnesses the slave sincerely carry out good deeds in the hope of seeking His love.
- Starting our day by engaging in the remembrance of Allah and pondering upon His book is bound to substantially increase blessings in the rest of the day.
- Remember that consistency is key! Therefore, if you are short of time, schedule in even a couple of verses daily.
Perform the Duha Salah (Forenoon Prayer)
In the morning, every single joint of yours must pay a Sadaqah (charity). Every Subhan’Allah is a Sadaqah, every Alhamdulillah is a Sadaqah, every La Ilaha Illa Allah is a Sadaqah, every Allahu Akbar is a Sadaqah, every commanding good is a Sadaqah, and every forbidding evil is a Sadaqah, and all this is accomplished through two rak’ahs one can pray in Duha prayer.” [Sahih Muslim]
Abu Hurayrah reported: My beloved the Prophet (pbuh) advised me to do three things, which I will never abandon so long as I live: to fast three days of each month, to pray two rakʿahs of Duha prayer, and not to sleep until I pray Witr. [Sahih Bukhari]
- The daily completion of Duha prayer is, unfortunately, becoming a forgotten Sunnah in today’s day and age, however, the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) endeavoured to never to abandon this prayer due to its amazing virtues.
- The Duha prayer fulfils charity on every joint in the body; it is known as the prayer of the oft-repentant, and, under certain conditions, the reward for praying it is equivalent to a complete Hajj and Umrah (learn more about this here).
- Performing the Duha prayer during the month of Ramadan will multiply the rewards even further!
- Bonus tip – The time for Duha prayer begins roughly 15 minutes after the time for Fajr prayer ends, therefore, one should try to remain on the prayer mat after Fajr, and utilise this time gap by reciting Qur’an, making Du’a, etc, and performing the Duha prayer before finally getting off the prayer mat.
Maximise rewards during journey times
The Prophet said (pbuh) said: “Should I not inform you of the best of your deed, and the purest of them with your Master, and the highest of them in your ranks, and what is better for you than spending gold and silver, and better for you than meeting your enemy and striking their necks, and they strike your necks?” They said: “Of course.” He said, “The remembrance of Allah Most High.” Then Mu’adh bin Jabal (as) said: “There is nothing that brings more salvation from the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah.” [At-Tirmidhi]
- Whether you are walking or driving to work, class, or wherever you need to be, utilise this time as well and remain in the remembrance of Allah throughout your journey.
- Make sure to engage in Dhikr, Tasbeeh, and Istighfar, for the rewards are truly magnificent.
- If you’re always on the go, download a Qur’an app on your phone and set a notification to remind you to read those few verses.
Tip 4 – Increase the Quality of Your Worship
“…fasting is prescribed for you as it was decreed upon those before you so that you may gain Taqwa.” [Qur’an 2:183]
- Allah has mandated fasting so that we may be more conscious of Him. Therefore, during the month of Ramadan in particular, we should be striving even more than normal to achieve Taqwa and improve our relationship with Allah.
- Don’t simply pray mindlessly, but rather establish the prayers at their prescribed timings, and perform the voluntary prayers and the night prayer as well. (For an easy way to immediate improve the quality of your salah, check out this post).
- Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Recite the book of Allah and ponder upon His words.
- Increase in charity, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Remember that charity will provide shade for the Believer on the Day of Judgement. Don’t forget that even smiling is a form of charity!
- Pour your heart out to Allah and make continuous Du’a. Talk to Allah and tell Him about all of your worries and your hopes for the future. Pray for your families, your loved ones, and the Ummah.
Tip 5 – Begin planning ahead
“Improve your performance in what is left of time and you will be forgiven for that which has already passed. So take special care of the time you have left because you do not know when your soul will be turned over to Allah’s Mercy.” – Hasan al-Basri
We shouldn’t just reflect on how quickly Ramadan comes and goes, without realising that in this is a sign of how quickly this life will come and go. In the remainder of Ramadan, we must also begin thinking long-term and create a plan for how we can maintain the good habits that we have developed over the course of this blessed month, in the months to follow. We are not aware of when we will breathe our last, so in the remainder of Ramadan and beyond, let’s endeavour to be more conscious of the blessing that is free time and ensure that we use it wisely.
For more tips on this, I recommend reading this Post Ramadan Game Plan.
I pray that Allah showers His mercy upon us and reunites us all in Jannat-ul Firdaus.