This Ramadan will be a Different One!


After breaking the fast, while still on my prayer mat, I was secretly hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be the last fast of Ramadan. Somehow I wasn’t that thrilled about Eid this time. I was rather withdrawn and passive. Obviously, Eid was not the reason for my distress; instead, it was the fact that Ramadan was ending.

Having understood the virtues and experienced the numerous blessings of Ramadan, I was anxious that I had not gained enough from the blessed month. “But there is always next Ramadan,” I reassured myself. “What makes you so sure that you will live that long?” a part of me responded. The growing debate between my conscience and Nafs (lowly base self prone to sin) made me more uncomfortable. The ticking of the clock made me desperate, and I felt like grabbing every second of the passing time.

I started having flashbacks of what little I did the entire month, as opposed to all that I could have done to seek the pleasure of my Rabb: the voluntary deeds I could have performed in addition to the regular rituals. I felt guilty, realizing that the enemy resided within me, and that enemy was my own Nafs.

“Forget it! You don’t have what it takes to be pious. If you couldn’t take charge of yourself in Ramadan, when Shaitan was chained, then what chance do you have for self-purification after Ramadan?” my Nafs condemned me. Tears of regret and remorse rolled down my cheeks into my hands raised in Dua. I promised myself that if I would be allowed to witness next Ramadan then it would have to be a different one and definitely a better one.

The first step towards attaining a goal is to be prepared. Therefore, I devised a pre Ramadan checklist. “This Ramadan will be a different one!” clenching my Ramadan checklist, I announced to myself in a resolute tone.

I thought of sharing it with you all, hoping that it will be of benefit to you as well, Insha’Allah.

My Ramadan Checklist

  • Make lots of Dua to be able to witness Ramadan with Hidayah (guidance), Hikmah (wisdom) and Aafia (well-being) as well as to be blessed with Barakah in your time, so that you can make the most of each day.
  • Regulate Your Routine. Try giving up on late nights and late mornings at least two weeks before Ramadan, in order to set your routine for Taraweeh and Qiyam-ul-Layl.
  • Quran Recitation. Start your Quranic recitation with understanding and contemplation at least ten days before Ramadan, so that by the end of the blessed month you do not feel the urge to rush the completion of the Glorious Quran.
  • Memorization of Duas. A month before Ramadan, you can try to memorize at least one new Dua every week. This way you will be able to gain more Khair during the month of forgiveness.
  • Grocery Shopping. Make sure that you have organized and stored all your groceries at least a week before Ramadan.
  • Ramadan Menu. Pre-planned menus will help you focus on more important tasks. Keep the menu as simple as possible, as it is a Sunnah to do so.
  • Adequate Eating Habits. Do not consume too much fried food, as it tends to lower your energy level.
  • Iftar Parties. If you invite people for Iftar, avoid mixed gatherings and extravagance.
  • Eid Shopping. Ramadan is a golden month for attaining Khair for our Akhirah, not for grabbing the best bargains at shopping malls. Do not lose this opportunity and focus on satisfying your Nafs instead. Complete your shopping before Ramadan.
  • Daily Checklist. Prepare a daily checklist of ‘things to do’ for the next day. This way, you will not be preoccupied with thoughts of mundane tasks and will be able to focus on your worship.
  • Supererogatory Acts. Form the habit of performing voluntary acts (prayers, fasts, charity, etc.) after your obligatory worship, in order to earn extra rewards.

Abu Hurayrah (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah said: My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties (obligatory acts) I have enjoined upon him. My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works, such that I shall love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask (something) of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” (Bukhari)

  • Daily Dhikr. Set your practice of the morning and evening Adhkar two weeks before Ramadan. Try to keep your tongue moist with Dhikr, for example: Astaghfirullah, Subhan Allah, Alhumdulillah, Subhan Allah e Wabihamdihi, while doing routine things like cooking and cleaning. This way your ordinary tasks will turn into acts of worship, Insha’Allah.
  • Duas before Fajr. A month before Ramadan, try to get up just ten to fifteen minutes before Fajr. This is that part of the night when Allah (swt) descends to the lowest heaven and accepts the Duas of His slaves. How can we miss such an opportunity, such an honour?
  • Spiritual Boost. Assign a specific time during the day for listening to Quranic recitation or an Iman-boosting lecture to help you stay high-spirited throughout the busy day.
  • Lessons for Children. Invest at least thirty minutes in sharing Deen-related material with your children. Make the lesson interesting and interactive. For example, read a story from the Quran or stories of the prophets; tell them a Hadeeth and try to act on it with them; switch on a short talk by a scholar, listen to it with them and discuss what you have learned.
  • Sharing Blessings. Arrange your cupboards a month before Ramadan and separate the items that you have not used for over six to ten months. Neatly sort and stack them in boxes to give away in charity.
  • A few months before Ramadan, get your children to help you make a little charity box, so that they can learn the importance of Sadaqah and start collecting money in it. When you go for your pre-Ramadan Eid shopping, buy a few gifts for the poor and wrap them nicely to give them out a day or two before Eid. Charity expiates sins and its virtues increase in this blessed month.

Ramadan offers excellent opportunities for reaping the utmost Khair (goodness). Imagine if you were told about a clearance sale at the best mall in town; wouldn’t you want to grab every valuable item in your reach? Definitely! Then why should we waste this opportunity to attain the pleasure of the One Who loves us beyond our perception?

May Allah (swt) help us make the most of our life, until we meet Him in Jannat-al-Firdaus, Ameen.


Maintaining Productivity while not Praying


Being a Muslim means submitting to Allah’s (swt) laws, as He chose them to be. Some women tend to go into depression as their monthly cycles start or when postnatal bleeding begins. Not being able to pray or fast, they think there is nothing they can do to get closer to Allah (swt) and a sense of spiritual deprivation creeps in.

But what if we change our thinking? What if we accept it as Allah’s (swt) decree? If this is part of Allah’s (swt) plan, then it must be beneficial for us. He would not be pleased by our complaining, would He?

Monthly cycles and postnatal bleeding indicate that our bodies are working exactly the way nature intended them to. It shows that we are normal, and good health is a blessing we should not underestimate. Reflect on the following Ayah from the Quran: “…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah Knows but you do not know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

Having accepted the inconvenience as part of Allah’s (swt) decree, let us now shift our attention to the ways we can make this time productive.

  1. Permissible Acts of Worship

Only Salah and fasting is not allowed. You can still do a lot of other Ibadah that will take care of your spiritual needs.

  1. Dhikr

Let us begin with the lightest deed. The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever says: ‘Subhan-Allahi wa Bihamdi’ (How far from imperfections Allah is, and I praise Him) a hundred times during the day, his sins are wiped away, even if they are like the foam of the sea.” (Bukhari)

This neither takes much time, nor requires a state of ritual purity. Yet, the reward is amazing and keeps you connected to Allah (swt). There are several other similar short words of remembrance that do not require opening the Quran. Some other examples are: ‘Subhan Allah’ and ‘La Illaha Illa Allah’. What about Istighfar? We are always in need of seeking forgiveness from Allah (swt), aren’t we?

You can also recite the daily morning and evening supplications. If you do not know these Duas, this might be the time to memorize them.

  1. Listening to the Quran

While there is a disagreement over whether or not it is allowed to touch the Quran during menstruation, you can certainly listen to the recitation on a CD, cell phone or online. If you are trying to beautify your recitation, Allah (swt) has provided you with the time to focus on it now.

  1. Tahajjud

Performing Tahajjud Salah is not the only way to get your Duas answered or to seek nearness to Allah (swt). If you are awake at this hour but cannot pray, get up, make Wudhu and just sit and talk to Allah (swt). Talk to Him like you would at the end of prayer. Why miss out on this splendid opportunity? He listens when you call upon Him.

  1. Voluntary Charity

Invest the time you save on Salah and fasting by focusing on Sadaqah (voluntary charity). Is there any relative of yours that needs assistance? Maybe it’s a neighbour, an orphan child, or another needy person? Find out and be of assistance to them in whatever way you can. Charity is not limited to financial assistance only. For example, some women volunteer to babysit for other sisters to allow them some free time to focus on their Fard (obligatory) worship.

  1. Acquiring Knowledge

Islam lays great emphasis upon acquiring beneficial knowledge. This is evident by the numerous Duas that the Prophet (sa) taught us. In the Quran, knowledgeable people have been addressed as Ulul-Albab, meaning ‘the people of intellect’ or ‘people of understanding’. They are distinguished from those who live their lives mindlessly and deny the signs of Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) says: “Shall he, then, who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad (sa)) from your Lord is the truth, be like him who is blind? But it is only the men of understanding that pay heed.” (Ar-Rad 13:19)

Sisters, utilize this time for gaining knowledge. We will not identify reminders unless we have the wisdom to understand them. Read Islamic literature. Read about the life of the Prophet (sa), his companions, and those after them.

  1. Attending Religious Gatherings and Lectures

Umm Atiya narrates: “We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla (praying area).” (Bukhari)

By attending religious gatherings or lectures, you will not only gain knowledge but also boost your Iman. Moreover, when the angels will be making entries in their journals, regarding who strove in the cause of Allah (swt), your name will also be added to that list. Isn’t it a ‘win-win’ situation?

You could have been sitting in front of the television and catching up on the latest drama episode but you chose to give this time to Allah (swt).

  1. Other Activities
  1. Cooking

For you as daughters, wives, or mothers, family is your first priority. One of the requests that men in our lives have is nicely cooked food. It does not mean you should not cook otherwise, but now you can try out that special recipe, which you have been setting aside due to shortage of time. Cook simple but nutritious meals for your family. However, avoid excess. Control your budget, because we are answerable for our wealth on the Day of Judgement. If Allah (swt) has given you beyond your needs, spend on those who are less privileged. It is their right upon you. Somebody might be starving to death while you are preparing expensive gourmet to satisfy your Nafs.

  1. Shopping

Have you been thinking of buying some household items but were held back by the long, strenuous hours in the shopping malls? Check that off your to-do-list now. Use this time to do those important or not-so-important tasks of the worldly life. Why give up some time from your worship, when Allah (swt) gives an opportunity to do so in another way? However, always recite the Dua prescribed to us by the Prophet (sa) before entering the market. This will protect us from over-indulgence and wastefulness, Insha’Allah!

These are only some of the ways for making your time productive. Do not be emotionally stressed by this natural phase of life. It was decreed by Allah (swt).

When we understand the Hikmah (wisdom) behind Allah’s (swt) plans, our perspective changes; we become more internally content and at ease. Moreover, it allows us to submit willingly and practice our Deen confidently. Which of Allah’s (swt) favours can we deny?

May Allah (swt) bless us with the Hikmah to make the most of our Ramadan. Ameen.