By Lobna Mulla, MAS Tarbiya Director
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
One week after Eid, many of us are back to our routines of eating during the day, sleeping through the night, and feeling, well, not as spiritual as we felt during Ramadan. What can we do to reap the most benefit from last month’s increased worship and heightened awareness of our Creator? Here are five ways you can implement many of the habits developed last month.
1)Reflect and record
Reflect and record your achievements this Ramadan. For some, this Ramadan was more productive and special than ever, while for others, we felt that we lacked greatly in our focus. We take for granted that not every Ramadan will be like the ones that have passed. And for some, life changes that affect how Ramadan is spent can cause them to feel like they haven’t accomplished much. For some people they may have worked full-time for the first time in Ramadan, for others, this may be the first time they were not in school or at work, and for others, this may be their first Ramadan with a new baby, or living away from home. For still others, this may be their first fast as a Muslim altogether. What small wins did you make this year? Perhaps you couldn’t attend the masjid as much as you would have liked, or perhaps you couldn’t read as much Qur’an. What is something new that you achieved, realized, or experienced?
Remember, each Ramadan we build on past experiences and take away something new every year. Appreciate your successes and, better yet, document them. Not into journaling? Send yourself an email and jot down things that you would like to change for next year, as well as new takeaways that you would like to implement again. This note to self can be just as effective, if not more so, than a generic Ramadan preparation list written by someone else that you gloss before the holy month begins. Next year, read the email you sent yourself and you’ll enter the month with increased appreciation and awareness.
2)Fast six days of Shawwal
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “
Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” (Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i and Ibn Maajah).
3)Set an alarm
Set an alarm on your phone with three of the most important things you wish to implement post-Ramadan. Want to fast more often? Create a recurring event on Mondays and Thursdays to remind you to fast, for example. Find the best time of day to read Qur’an and set a daily alarm with the label “Read Qur’an”. Download applications that allows you to track your prayers, recite duaas or supplications, and memorize verses of the Qur’an. Encourage yourself to keep up these practices by setting some alarms to remind you to engage in these activities, and you’ll find yourself more inclined to continue these good habits.
Many enjoy the increased closeness felt during Ramadan. More frequent contact with family, friends and community members adds a very special feel to this very special month. Keep up these connections by regularly attending the masjid as well as community events. Visit new communities and meet new people. Stay connected with family and friends by continuing to visit and call them. Did you notice how nice it was to have increased family dinner time during Ramadan? Although dinner is rushed, eating together as a family is a rarity in some homes. Reflect on this with your family and set up some weekly commitments for family dinner time. Finally, as you fast your six days of Shawwal and as you try to continue increased fasts afterward, break your fast with loved ones. It encourages you to fast while continuing to stay connected at the same time.
5)Keep striving towards Allah.
On Eid, I saw with my own eyes a 52-year-old woman who excitedly exclaimed amongst her friends,”This is the first Ramadan I fasted for the whole 30 days! I can’t believe I did it!” Although she was born Muslim, she never appreciated the importance (and the weighty obligation) of fasting. Just the year before, she brushed off its importance and casually stated that she only fasts when she can during Ramadan. Her excited expression of joy reached the ears of another woman who said with disappointment, “I haven’t fasted for the past 10 years, not since my first pregnancy.” I was touched by the honesty of both women and was even more touched to see the first woman console and encourage the second. “Allah will make it easy for you, just try,” she said. While some reach a new peak of spirituality each Ramadan, others struggle from year to year. Let us remember how close Allah, the Most Merciful, is to us as we are reminded in the Qur’an:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِۖ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِى وَلۡيُؤۡمِنُواْ بِى لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡشُدُونَ
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (Quran 2:186)
May we continue to benefit from this Ramadan and may Allah allow us to reach the next one. Ameen.