By Maria Tonnessen
SubhanAllah, it has been over 12 years since I became a Muslim, and when it came to fasting for the first time, I was scared and nervous – no food and water for the whoooooole day! Like Dr Sarah mentions in her blog, eating strategically for suhoor is important, something I quickly learnt after having toast with jam the first day!
We all have busy lives, so after my first experiences of fasting I went on a mission to try to find a way to make the most out of Ramadan, whilst also balancing all other responsibilities.
So how do we balance it all? Here are 6 practical tools to help you get the most out of your Ramadhan.
1. Make a plan
You need to know yourself. What do you struggle with? Is it hunger, or sleep? Make a plan to help you to allow yourself to make the most out of Ramadan to make this your best Ramadan yet.
Make a plan of your normal day and look at where you can fit in extra Ramadan activities. This could be reciting Qur’an, dhikr, salowat, or addition Salah, etc. If we think about it Allah has already given us a way to structure our day by the 5 daily prayers – Fajr, Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.
Where are you going to be at each prayer of the day? Structure your day around the prayers, if you are going to be out at Zhuhr time, make sure you have wudhu, or that you can easily make wudhu when you are out, whether it be school/college or work.
At Fajr, why not get up an extra 15 minutes early to fit in tahajjud and witr before eating suhoor?
If you commute to work via train or bus, read/listen to Qur’an, or have a nap to energise yourself for the day. If you drive or walk, why not listen to Qur’an recitation or an Islamic lecture?
Map out your day so you can find the times where you can read Qur’an and the times when you can have a nap, or whatever activity it is that you want to accomplish. Plan your day according to your needs so that you can function at your optimal and get the most out of Ramadan.
2. Set yourself a goal
Again, know yourself. We are all different and we are going to have different goals based on our abilities and where we are in life.
For some people reading the whole Qur’an once or twice is an achievable goal, whilst for others it might not be. As we know Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, so connect with the Qur’an in whatever way you can, whether that be by reading it in Arabic, English, listening to it, reflecting on the Qur’an, and so on. Connect with the Qur’an to build Taqwa, consciousness of Allah.
Reflect on whether there are things that you need to or want to improve on, it could be your character, become more generous, offer more prayers like Taraweeh and so on.
Again, know yourself, and set your goals accordingly so that you can make the most out of your Ramadan.
We all make dua for the big things like forgiveness and Jannah, and of course we should. But along with your Ramadan plan, make dua that Allah makes it easy for you to make the most out of Ramadan, make it easy to improve your character and attain your goals. Depending on your situation, make dua to Allah that your kids behave so that you can follow the plan and achieve the goals you have set. Make dua that your work/studies become easy, so that you can take your lunch break and rest or read Qur’an, and so on. Know yourself and your situation and make dua to Allah accordingly.
Don’t forget to speak to yourself in a positive manner. If it doesn’t go to plan, don’t fret, try again, make dua again, plan for a better day tomorrow, take action to tackle routines that do not work. For mothers with kids, or students studying for exams, or those with demanding jobs, do what you can – plan your day to utilise the free time you do have, and know that there is also reward in the work you do. Make the intention of pleasing Allah with everything you do. Ameen.
As mentioned in Dr Sarah’s Blog, choose your food wisely. There are only a few hours to eat and drink. Here we go again, know yourself and your body. Figure out what food sustains you for the day. Experiment with how much water you need in order to keep hydrated and not just running to the loo every 5 minutes after suhoor.
5. Social media
If you find yourself getting lost spending hours on social media, this might be something to re-assess in Ramadan. How does this fit into your daily plan and with the goals you have set yourself? Social media can be used for good (edit your feed to only show good stuff!), or it can waste time – know yourself and take actions accordingly!
6. Keep good company
Keeping good company is important all year round. Having friends who remind you of Allah and encourage you to do good is incredibly beneficial. In Ramadan, a fellow fasting Muslim will know exactly what you’re going through, and why you are doing it – you can share this beautiful experience.
Why not try out these 6 tools and see how effective and fulfilling your Ramadhan becomes.
May Allah swt accept all that we do in His Path. Ameen.
Image source: https://zaahara.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/10-tips-for-the-working-mom/