Ramadan: Another Chance to Get It Right
Once upon a dusk, I was out on my rooftop scanning the sky for the new moon of
Shawwal (the lunar month after Ramadan), and while I was at it, I found myself
wistfully wishing for one more night.
Just one more blessed night of Ramadan so I could stay up through it in
prostration, so I could undo my wrongs, could catch up with deeds undone and
savor every minute of added mercy that descends exclusively in the month that
had just passed me by.
I deliberated over the question if that Ramadan had been better than the last
one. And I did not like the answer that echoed back. But then for a working
Muslim, it's a new Ramadan every year. Time changes, circumstances change with
each passing year, things pace up and we find ourselves caught in another
dimension where we ''kill'' fasts like we ''kill time'' and nights go by in a
stupor- and by the time we finally manage to adapt to the Ramadan routine, we
realize it's time to bid farewell.
And then the next year around, we remain tangled still. We try to pray a
little harder but history just repeats itself. This scenario is not new for
people who have jobs to attend to, work to take care of or study deadlines to
meet. For them Ramadan usually comes and goes in a frenzy and they miss out on
its perks despite their efforts to pull themselves together.
To work around this problem, it is best to prepare early, so when Ramadan
comes, we are spared from another hurried encounter. To start with, you should
take a while to reflect on all that went wrong with you last Ramadan. List all
the unfortunate slip-ups you had had.
Did you sleep through suhour (pre-dawn meal) often?
Were your daily prayers dry and dispassionate?
Were you too tired to perform Qiyam (pre-dawn prayers)?
Did you yawn through tarawih (night prayers) or skipped them?
Did you find yourself losing patience with people around you?
Were you so tired that you lacked the drive to do anything productive at all?
After everything, did you feel remorseful that you had not done justice to an
opportunity so great?
Here is How a Typical Fast Goes
You snooze through the time of the pre-dawn meal missing the only chance of
eating something, spend the rest of the day like a total automaton swamped and
lifeless, snapping at everyone who dares breathe too loud. Somehow, half of
the day passes uneventfully at the workplace or school, but what happens when
you reach home? The day begins to take its toll; standing up for prayers
becomes a herculean feat, so you ease your conscience by just praying the
obligated units and conveniently rule out the voluntary.
And because you had not taken anything for suhour (pre-dawn meal), your brain
feels slow, your mental activity goes down and you find yourself unable to
focus on your work or assignments, so the intervals between the prayers are
just ''killed'' by sleeping them off. Come iftar, you attack the food and
munch on too much than what is good for your system. Next, the indigestion
makes you feel all funny and down spiral your prayers again. Now you stay up
most of the night to complete your pending work, sleep late and then the day
replays all over again.
Mastering Time and Health
As you contemplate over your flashbacks, you will notice that there are two
core issues you need to zero in your eating habits and sleeping patterns. All
you need is to sort yourself out to get ready for this month. For motivation,
keep this hadith in mind, or stick it someplace where it is visible to you as
a constant reminder.
On the last day of Sha'ban, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and
"O people! A great and blessed month has approached you, a month containing a
night better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting in its days an
obligation and prayer in its nights a (recommended) voluntary act.
Anyone who seeks nearness to Allah in this month through any virtuous act will
be like one who carried out an obligatory act at another time (outside of
Ramadan), and whoever performs an obligatory act in this month will be like
one who performed seventy such acts at another time.
It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise. It is
the month of equality, the month in which the wealth of the believer is
Take note that to fare best during Ramadan, you must sleep well and eat
healthy for your body to feel alive and kicking. On the food scale, refrain
from arranging a grand feast at iftar. Avoid fried delicacies for they are not
only hazardous to health long-term, but also make you feel full and drowsy,
hindering your qiyam in prayers. Revamp your menu. Replace the sugar-laden,
oil-dripping items with fresh and raw nutrition- dates, salads, fruits, fresh
juices and the likes. In no time will you feel re-vitalized and set for
tarawih sessions and other night prayers.
Those done, now tackle your over-sleeping problems. Make suhour a priority.
Anas narrates that Prophet Muhammad said:
"Eat suhour (pre-dawn meal) for it brings prosperity." (Al-Bukhari)
Make sure you set an alarm for the pre-dawn meal. The food will not only
energize you to breeze through the day but it will also give a boost to your
worship, strengthening you spiritually as well. Moreover, this pre-dawn period
is a great time for repenting and getting our prayers accepted. Would you
sleep through such a chance? Ramadan is all about sprinting towards good
deeds. Every minute counts. Just like you are competing for survival in this
materialistic realm, it is more incumbent upon you to throw yourself
head-first in this race for Paradise.
Be More Productive
Aside from mastering hunger pangs and oversleeping, here are a few tips to
make your time slots more productive:
Allot a few minutes after fajr (dawn prayer) and before iftar to Quran
While driving or travelling, make sure your tech gadgets have some good, short
Islamic lectures you can listen to along the way. Kick-start your routine with
Keep change with you so you can make small donations wherever needed. Remember
that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to be extra magnanimous this
Keep your words in check. Sure, the workplace can be really grueling at times,
and life at campus is ''always unfair'', but backstabbing will do away with
all your hard earned deeds. Stay focused.
Group up with friends or family members and sign up for a Quran halaqah
(circle) nearby that offers flexible timings. Ramadan is the month of this
noble Book (Quran). Take a step towards understanding it.
Carpe Noctem- seize the night. That's most important. Pray, even if for a
little while, in wee hours of the night. Lighten your burden, repent; release
your sorrows to the Most Merciful Who has tailored this month just for you.
Grab the bounties that will soon be showered upon you like you grab items off
a sale. Free yourself from the Hellfire and from the sins that might lead
Stick with the constructive habits that you develop during this training
Another great thing about this month is that it doesn't let you forget that
Someone is watching over you. Never let this feeling go.
May you have a blessed Ramadan!
Tip the scales in your favor so when the new moon comes, the regrets do not
Saadia Humayun holds a diploma in Quranic studies. She is currently
enrolled in a biomedical engineering program and writes Islamic articles at
her blog: http://callofthedusk.wordpress.com