Ramadan is a month awaited by Muslims. This month reflects the rituals of faith that strengthen the links between one and Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Muslims celebrate this Holy Month, according to their lifestyle and custom differences. Nonetheless, the rituals of Ramadan are the same among all Muslims in the west and in Islamic countries.
Russia, for example, is not a Muslim country, but the rituals practiced by Muslims in Ramadan are the same, in the sense of meeting at the suhur table, going for prayers in congregation at the mosque, reciting Qur’an in groups, performing the Tarawih (night prayer in Ramadan), etc. These people feel a sense of closeness and religious faith by meeting with other Muslims who are doing the same.
However, when you have a busy schedule, keeping focused and caring about your spiritual deeds is not always easy. It takes steadfastness to focus, good motivation and working smartly to beat interruptions.
Here are some ways to manage your time in Ramadan, and be productive:
1- Do Not Miss Suhur
Suhur (pre-dawn meal in Ramadan) is a Prophetic Sunnah. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Have suhur, indeed there’s blessing in it”. (Al-Bukhari)
If you work day shifts and get to bed late, make sure that you wake up for suhur. Even a glass of water and some dates will suffice, for Allah will put barakah (blessing) in this. You will get the blessings in sha’ Allah and at the same time the food will give you some power to stay awake during the day.
2- Join Family for Iftar
Being with family especially in Ramadan, is a good thing that makes you feel warm and close to those who love and care about you. But, due to office working hours, your shift may be during the iftar time. Yet, there’s a way out. You can arrange to have iftar with family over the weekend.
What if you can’t arrange that? You still can have iftar at work with office colleagues.
3- Don’t Be a Glutton!
A lot of people eat too much at iftar, and end up not praying Tarawih, or even breathe! Eating is not forbidden, but eating too much is not approved of. The body and digestive system are badly affected by that. Break up the big meal into small ones that your body can handle easily, and leave you feeling less overwhelmed.
For example: break your fast with dates and water, then pray Maghrib, then have something light like a fruit or vegetable salad, then pray `Isha’. You can have your main dish after prayers. Take small meals consistently with fruit over time; you will not feel tired during Ramadan and at the end of the month, you will be in better health.
4- Pray Tarawih
Praying Tarawih (night prayer in Ramadan) is one of the most spiritual acts in Ramadan. It is preferred to offer it in a mosque, as the prophet said: “Whoever prays Qiyam (night prayer) with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer”. (At-Tirmidhi)
But what if you don’t have a mosque in your city? Or what if the mosque is very far? You can pray with your friends at home, or specify a place and use it as a mosque, just to get the merits of praying in congregation.
5- Feel Ramadan
Unfortunately, a lot of us say: ‘I can’t feel Ramadan’. No, try to feel it and handle this point. So, how do you stay motivated to make the most out of Ramadan when everyone else around you treats Ramadan as a non-important event? Each one of us has a great way out. Just keep making istighfar (asking Allah’s Forgiveness) all the time. It’s an easy thing you can do while you’re working, cooking, driving, etc. The same goes with dhikr (remembrance of Allah).
You can easily motivate others and get yourself motivated too. For example, distribute dates for iftar at office, your colleagues will be happy and will feel that Ramadan is a month of giving. You could also use this moment to tell them about Allah and Islam.
6- A Coin Might Equal a House in Paradise
Almighty Allah says,
The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower. (Al-Baqarah 2:261)
The example set by the Allah (glory be to Him) teaches us to be as generous as possible. We are also encouraged to give alms as a way to earn the pleasure of Allah, avert calamities and cure ailments. There was an incident from the recent past regarding a woman who was diagnosed with renal failure. Dialysis stopped showing positive results and she was recommended to undergo a kidney transplant. Another poor woman came to the hospital to donate her kidney, but was crying a lot. They asked her why she was crying. She said she was donating her kidney because she was too poor and couldn’t find any work and her kids were going hungry. The sick woman paid the poor woman the total amount for the kidney without actually taking the kidney. A day after that, when the doctors examined the sick woman, they found her 100% healthy. Subhan Allah!
7- Love Technology?
If you love technology, tune it out and reconnect with Ramadan!
A lot of today’s youth are addicted to technology; they might spend 20 hours per day playing video games or surfing the internet. But Ramadan is to remember Allah (Exalted be He) and share the happiness with your family, friends and community as well.
In Egypt, the youth keep themselves busy with social projects in Ramadan. One such task is called the ‘Ramadan Bag’. Each youth contributes some money and they buy dry rations like rice, sugar, oil etc. Each product is packed and then put into bags, and then distributed to the poor across the country.
8- Do Some Da`wah
One of the most important things each one of us can do in Ramadan as a community is to take advantage of questions from non-Muslims and do da`wah (call to Islam) about the virtues of fasting in Islam, and how it purifies a person’s soul. Da`wah or calling others to Islam is the best of deeds, because it involves guiding people to the straight path and to that which brings them happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. Almighty Allah says,
And who is better in speech than he who (says: ‘My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),’ and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and invites (men) to Allah’s (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims’. (Fussilat 41:33)
If you do plan on doing da`wah (I hope so), you should know how to make da`wah. Allah says:
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘This is my way; I invite unto Allah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allah; Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge” (Yusuf 12:108)
Allah also says:
Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the divine revelation and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)
The Muslims must follow the example and guidance of their Prophet (peace be upon him) and call others to Islam, bearing insults and harm with patience for the sake of Allah, as their Messenger (peace be upon him) did. Allah (exalted be He) says,
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)