Being SMART During The Last 10 Days

Nabiha started Ramadan with a good kick, zealous to complete her goals and take the steps towards the changes she wanted in her life. She was extremely excited, following her strict regime ‘To a T’. Extremely careful not to skip a day, for she had made up her mind to change and make the most of this blessed month. She did good, until the tenth day of Ramadan hit, the first third, she was feeling over-confident, and her motivation started to wane – just a little. She decided to give herself a break – just for one day.

BAM – the last ten days are approaching faster than she imagined; the first ten days surely hadn’t been so fast had they?  She felt guilty, having become lax with her goals and fell further behind than she would’ve dreamed, her to-do list now piling up. Her motivation was pretty much a thing of the past, and she had to struggle and fight to try to catch up. She felt despair…would she be able to make the most out of the last ten days like she’d originally hoped?

Many of us face a similar, if not the same, situation as Nabiha. We start off Ramadan all excited, rearing to go, only to crash and burn before the end has even arrived, feeling unmotivated with the idea of ‘throwing in the towel’ becoming more and more appealing as the days speed by.

A common mistake that we make is setting unrealistic goals that are general and broad.  After falling into this same trap time and time again, in countless situations a wise teacher taught me how to make SMART goals. Which means making your goals:

 S – specific, significant

Make sure that your goal is well defined and that it’s clear to anyone has basic knowledge of your goal.

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

Measure whether it’s obtainable and how far away is the completion.

A – attainable, achievable, action orientated

Make sure you can actually achieve your goal within the set measured time that you’ve set above.

R – realistic, reasonable, result-orientated

That you can realistically do it with your given resources available, taking your level of comittment into account.

T – time based

Make sure you have enough time to complete your goal and not too much time as this can affect your project performance.

One valuable lesson my mom taught me was to eat my ‘Elephant’, goal,  bite by bite rather than trying to swallow it whole. As we can undoubtedly vouch from experience, it’s extremly easy to get overwhelmed by looking at the big picture. Even though the last ten days of Ramadan are almost here, it’s not too late to re-evaluate your goals and readjust your plan, using the SMART template above as a guide.

Preparing for Ramadan

So Ramadan is almost here! It is such a blessed and amazing time of year. I find it is during this month I feel the most connected to my religion and Allah, and I really want to do as many good deeds as I possibly can. Of course we should be doing that all the time, but I find that I tend to get back into things and it really helps me to stay on track for the rest of the year.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into thinking that we are starving ourselves but what we really need to ask ourselves is, why are we fasting? The fast is intended to bring us closer to Allah. Also, fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the hajj, pilgrimage, in Mecca.

Try to plan your days beforehand and also getting into a routine before Ramadan starts, so if you get into good habits before it starts, inshaAllah you’ll be able to continue doing them.

A great habit to have is to read Quran after every prayer, that way you’re reading the Quran at least 5 times a day! Even if it’s just a few ayas or surahs, every and anything counts.

Doing good deeds for others is something I really love to do, and especially in Ramadan there is so much you can do to help others, whether it is your family, your friends, your neighbors, the poor, everyone!

And really try to stay away from bad behavior and arguments-“If one of you is observing Saum (fast), he should avoid saying words that contain sexual matters, and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am observing Saum (fast).’”(Muttafaqun ‘alaih)

Being grateful is very  important because remember, no matter how hungry or thirsty or tired you get, there’s always going to be someone somewhere who doesn’t even have food to break fast with! Imagine that??

So, to summarize: do as many good deeds as you possibly can, stay away from bad behavior and upsetting others, be grateful for what you have and those around you and read the Quran!!

May we all have a blessed Ramadan. Ameen.

Ramadan is near – Stay active and keep worshiping

As children, the phrase: “Ramadan is coming” brought joy to our hearts. Knowing that Ramadan was a month where we have guest, delicious food, night trips to the mosque; where family and friends come together to fully appreciate this unforgettable month. As children we didn’t pay much attention to what we were supposed to do and not to do, but as we’re getting older, we’re realising that Ramadhan is much more than Maghrib  countdowns and good family vibes, and sometimes we may be confused with what to do as we become young adults.

Many of us are focused on the food and inviting guests during this month, to the point that we miss the actual benefits of Ramadan. We get caught up in an everyday routine and we forget the actual purpose; to praise Allah, subhanah wa ta’ala, in Ramadan, which is a widespread problem in our Ummah today .

Things to do in Ramadan

  • Sleep at night, not the day

It’s easy to get your nights and days turned around as you get up to prepare Suhur before Fajr and pray Taraweeh in the Masjids after Isha’. Make it your goal to not be amongst those who waste precious hours in the day and find ways to keep yourself occupied during the daytime i.e reading Quran, make dua, etc.

  • Try to be active during the day by worshiping Allah and increasing your deeds

When preparing for this Ramandan make a goal list. Think about the type of person you desire to be and pick a few characteristics or deeds and break it down into obtainable goals and work on them this Ramadan. One such goal may be to indulge in less screen time and social media. Choose goals that will help you fill your day and try and stay off that phone until after iftaar.

  • When you cook, try to spend less time in the kitchen. Eat light foods and make easy meals so that Taraweeh isn’t difficult and you can worship Allah at night

Remember that Ramadan is not the month of ‘feasting’ but rather a month of training and endurance against your Nafs, self/desires, a vital stepping stone for helping you build your relationship with Allah, subhanah wa ta’ala, throughout the year. Eating a lot and ‘feasting’ will leave you tired and overly full making Taraweeh extremely difficult. This can lead to missing out on such a golden opportunity for gathering rewards.

  • When the last 10 day have approached, don’t spend all your time preparing for Eid.

The greatest rewards are in the last ten days, espically Laylatul Qadr, a day that is better  than a thousand months – that is longer than most people live. As stated in Surrah al-Qadar(97):3: “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months”

A night wherein Allah sent down the Qur’ân to the lowest heavens. Our good deeds on this special night are magnified in value, so that it is as if we have been offering those deeds for 1000 months.

  • Increase in kindness to those around you. Give your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters their rights.

Use this blessed and beloved month as your training ground to becoming a better version of yourself and choose take the high road when provoked by others.

  • Keep yourself hydrated and satisfied when eating and drinking (make soups to maximize on hydration) and help your mum in the kitchen or around the house.

Staying active during Ramadan

Health! We all spend time trying to get to a body size, that we wish to be, or just want to eat healthy in general. Making time to workout during Ramadan can be difficult especially when you’re fasting and want to make time to sleep before getting up for suhoor.  The following is a solution that you can implement during this Ramadan:

  1. You can workout 1-2 hours before Isha  or before Fajr
  2. After taraweeh you can rest until 1-2 hours before suhoor and then you can workout.

It’s important to remember that spiritual and physical health are both vitally important and therefore we should strike a balance, all the while not forgetting the true purpose of Ramadan. Use this beautiful and blessed month as your training ground to prepare both and insha’Allah, by the end of the month you will see the fruits or your hard work.

 

Ramadan: Practical Tips

Oh you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious.)” [al-Baqarah 2:183]

Throughout the year, Allah blesses His servants with numerous opportunities to get closer to Him. Sometimes through a special day such as the day of Arafat before Eid, or a special time such as the hours before Maghrib on a Friday. Coming upon us is the month of Ramadhan, a month in which Allah forgives His slaves for their sins and enables them to grow closer to Him. A month in which we can rectify all our negative traits and abide by the laws prescribed by our Lord, and taught to us by his prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhu wasalam. Although we have a whole month to get the maximum benefit out of Ramadhan, we must be conscious of the fact that time goes very quickly, and before we know it, Eid will be announced. It is for this reason that we should try our best to fulfill as many as the obligatory and supererogatory acts of worship during Ramadhan to achieve the objective for which Allah has bestowed upon us. I will state some of the necessary acts of worship we must perform and fulfill to, insha’Allah, get the maximum benefit out of this blessed month.

Fixing our intention:

No matter what we do in life, we must always make sure that our intentions are present, sincere and correct. Many of us may neglect the importance of intending to fast during Ramadhan, and doing so for the sake of Allah.
It was narrated by Ibn ‘Umar from Hafsah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before Fajr, there is no fast for him.” Narrated by Imam Ahmad, the authors of al-sunan etc. SubhanAllah! From this significant hadith, we learn about the importance of intending to fast to ensure that Allah swt accepts it from us. Remember, you can intend to fast the whole month, or have a fresh intention to fast every day of Ramadhan before Fajr. The former might be easier to achieve in case any of us are forgetful.

Fulfilling obligatory acts of worship:

Fasting: This may seem obvious, but sadly, many Muslims actually refuse to fast during Ramadhan for whatever reason. Fasting is not a choice during Ramadhan, it is obligatory. It is a pillar amongst the five pillars of Islam and those of us who do not fulfill it are committing a grave, grave sin. Some of the pious predecessors even held the view that those who do not fast during Ramadhan have disbelieved. If you have exams during this month or you are not used to fasting, do not allow your fears to deter you from obeying this important command of Allah.

Salah: Also, some may fast during Ramadhan because the rest of the Ummah is doing the same, we are swayed by the Ramadhan vibe and enjoy the spirit of it, all the while neglecting something even more important than fasting such as the prayer. Know, that your fast won’t be of much use to you if you are not fulfilling other obligatory actions. Unfortunately, many Muslims fast and do not pray not realizing that prayer is the second in the pillars of Islam whereas fasting the month of Ramadhan is the fourth, this in itself, illustrates the significance of the prayer. If you’re not consistent with your prayers, do not enter the month of Ramadhan telling yourself that there is no point in fasting since you do not pray; rather make this the time you finally train yourself to obey this imperative command of Allah.

Develop a relationship with the Quran: Sadly, for many of us, the Quran has become a book we simply place on shelves as a manifestation of our Islamic identity. We no longer read, ponder or implement what is in it. If you are amongst these people, Ramadhan is the opportunity for you to rectify your relationship with the Quran, the literal speech of Allah. Keep in mind that it is during this blessed month that Allah revealed it, and the Sahabah would dedicate hours and hours on end reading and pondering over the speech of Allah during this month. Try and complete the Quran at least once by reading twenty pages a day. This may seem overwhelming, but all it takes is for you to read four pages after each of your five daily prayers. The Quran has about six hundred pages, Ramadhan is roughly thirty days, divide six hundred by thirty and you have twenty.

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)…” [al-Baqarah 2:185]

Remembrance of Allah: Ramadhan is a month about remembering Allah, separating your mind from all that it is distracted with throughout the year, and focusing solely on your Creator. Contemplate His Greatness and Perfection. Ponder over all that He has blessed you with. When you break your fast at Maghrib, remember that there are people around the world remaining hungry with their throats dry. Engage in lots of dhikr, as taught to us by the prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and continuously praise your Lord.

Being good to others: As human beings, we are prone to hurting those around us; either verbally, physically, emotionally or mentally. Many of us fall short during the year and neglect the rights of our fellow human beings, the rights of our parents or our neighbors. The rights of our friends or family members. If you have wronged someone and you know it, Ramadhan is the time to swallow your ego and make peace with that person.

If someone has wronged you, now is the time to tell the person and forgive them instead of holding a grudge. If our minds and hearts are focused on the harm we have been inflicted with by others, we will not be able to focus on Allah properly. Likewise, always take care to use the best words when addressing people during and after Ramadhan, but take special care during this month. Fasting isn’t only about restraining ourselves from eating, but also restraining ourselves from committing evil deeds.

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasalam, said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” Narrated by al-Bukhari.

Praying extra prayers: Praying taraweeh, the night prayer after isha, is one of the gems and beauty that comes with the month of Ramadhan. Muslims all around the world come together in the Masajid to pray these extra raka’at, it was a practice of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam and his companions, and the reward for it is great: Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard the messenger of Allah saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]. Try and engage in extra prayers during the day too, as well as taraweeh, such as the Sunnah prayers after or before each obligatory prayers.

Giving charity: Being charitable during the month of Ramadhan is something extremely virtuous. We have been blessed with so much from Allah, if it is only to give from what He has given to us: “Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” [al-Baqarah 2:261-262]

If you do not have the means to give money to those less fortunate than us, then there are many alternative ways in which you can be charitable such as offering food, giving away genuine compliments or helping your fellow muslim brothers and sisters.

Seeking the forgiveness from Allah: Ramadhan is the month in which Allah forgives His repentant slaves extensively. We should continuously make istughfar throughout the day, and sincerely repent to Allah while we are praying or making dua, and always remember that no sin is too big for Allah to forgive.

“Lest a soul should say, “Oh [how great is] my regret over what I neglected in regard to Allah and that I was among the mockers.” [az-Zumar 39:56]

Dua: Dua is one of the weapons a believer has been blessed with. Dua can change Qadr (the divine decree). It is the way through which we can ask Allah swt everything and anything we desire in this life and in the next. Make dua consistently to Allah during Ramadhan, ask Him to bless you and give you what is good in this life and in the next. Remember our brothers and sisters are suffering around the world, and ask Allah to send His help their way. Pray for those whom you know and do not know, ask Allah to change the state of our Ummah and to help the Muslims to regain their strength. Never underestimate the power which your silent requests to Allah may have.

I once heard someone say that it takes thirty days to develop or break a habit. When you take into consideration that Ramadhan is thirty days, you realise that this is a blessing Allah has bestowed upon us, as it gives us enough time to develop or break a habit. SubhanAllah. Ramadhan is present given only once a year, and none of us are guaranteed to witness the next. If Allah has made you amogst those blessed and alive to be able to witness this Ramadhan, make sure you strive not to waste this golden opportunity.