Just as we mark the first week off the Ramadan calendar, it is always worth taking a step back to renew our understanding of the purpose behind this blessed month. We know that it can be one of the most challenging time of the year and most of us often step into this month with a shaky start.
This is why we have a five-step plan in place for you to make the rest of this month effective and beneficial for you all year round!
1. Planning your time
Have you ever walked into Ramadan feeling super motivated? The first day you feel super energised and manage to read over 100 pages of the Quran, cook up a feast, workout and still read 20 taraweeh! Maybe the next day you manage 8 taraweeh, but what happens the day after that?
It all comes down to the lack of planning. The truth is, your motivation will fluctuate throughout the month, but with a firm plan, it is easier to form a steady routine and instil discipline. As the famous saying goes, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. It is vital to construct a realistic plan with achievable targets that will help you leave this month feeling accomplished.
Writing your goals down is the best way to measure your success in terms of what you have achieved at the end of the month. Keeping a progress journal will highlight your weaknesses and document your progress throughout the journey. Sometimes, in order to achieve your goals, it is better to share your plans with your close ones. Those around you can support you and ensure you don’t fall off track.
2. Maintaining good health
Fasting in this hot weather with no water to keep hydrated throughout the day and a small eating window between the non-fasting hours can be straining on the body and on the mind. So why is it that the topic of health can often be one of the most neglected aspect of fasting?
People are often reluctant to talk about the ‘healthy aspect’ of fasting as it could potentially lead to the idea that the sole purpose is to lose weight or get fit. While this is true that it should not be conflated with the religious aspect of fasting, it is also important to remember that fasting is more than just improving our spirituality. Therefore, focusing on the physical health and the mental health as well should not be a matter of guilt. After all, our mental and physical health must be in perfect order to perform efficiently and be productive throughout the day.
There are some simple health tips that may seem so obvious, yet often overlooked. Keeping hydrated and eating foods that are packed full of nutrition are the basics of the Ramadan health guide. However, this topic deserves a dedicated blog post of its own, which will be coming out very soon!
Just keep in mind that Ramadan is about instilling self-discipline. Indulging and overeating at iftaar times is not the right behaviour and defeats the entire purpose of fasting. Rather, you should eat until you are satisfied, instead of eating until you are full.
3. Giving back to others
Any act of goodness taken place in this month of mercy has a reward that is multiplied beyond imagination. What better time to give in charity and reap the immense blessings and rewards than in this very month? The charity we give will be our shade on the day of judgement. Today even hard-proof scientific evidence concludes that it is deeply wired into the human nature to find happiness and contentment from giving to others.
The simple act of giving can take shape in many different forms. Even the smallest of acts hold such weight in terms of the impact they can create, such as feeding the neighbours, volunteering in the local community or even giving up your precious time for someone. The best deeds are done consistently, even if they are small. Make it a challenge to do one act of kindness every day. It may seem minor on scale, but doing so will not only help others, but also provide you with personal fulfilment.
Here at Anaya, we are working on a campaign in collaboration with Mercy Mission, to help refugee children who have the right to reside in the UK to gain safety. We are giving you a chance to help us drive the mission forward by joining our live streams on Facebook throughout the month in which we will be holding competitions for you and your friends to take part in. The more entries we have, the more we will donate to help provide protection for these children. The Prophet Muhammad saw said: “Whoever fails to show mercy to our children and honour to our elder, is not from one of us”.
4. Increasing knowledge
Ramadan is a great opportunity to learn and strengthen our connection with the Quran. We can gain so much knowledge in this month, if we learn how to maximise it. Part of this comes down to the first point mentioned which is making a plan and setting goals that are realistically achievable. In most Muslim communities there is this culture of trying to ‘finish the Quran’ in the month of Ramadan. While there is reward in reciting the Quran, the reality is we can never finish the Quran by just reading it in its pure Arabic form every year in Ramadan.
Instead, each year we should reintroduce ourselves to the Quran and try to understand the wisdom and lessons we can learn and implement into our contemporary lives in the 21st century. There are plenty of interactive ways of learning as well. In this digital era, majority of the resources are available online such as training courses on different areas of learning. There sure will be an app out there that can help you memorise your dua’s and there are plenty of Islamic lectures on Youtube that you can watch on the go.
Keeping in mind that seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim. We should all make it a goal to leave Ramadan with knowledge that was previously unknown to us. Just remember the famous ahadith: “Whoever treads a path in seeking knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise.” – Al-Tirmidi
5. Challenging your boundaries
The whole purpose of Ramadan is to reboot our entire system which is meant to have a year-long lasting effect, until the next Ramadan. The only way we can achieve this is by putting in the extra bit of effort and going that extra mile. Set yourself new challenges on a daily basis and watch how you leave this month having achieved goals that you would have never accomplished otherwise.
Around this time of the year most Muslims try to abstain from their bad habits and form new good habits. Scientifically it is proven that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Therefore, this month provides the perfect opportunity to instil new behaviour and become a better version of ourselves. Remember, this month isn’t just about putting bad habits on pause until the month is over, for us to revert back to our old ways.