The blessed month is fast approaching and with it comes the familiar sense of anticipation. One of the beauties of Ramadan is in its arrival – it is always gifted to us when we’re in need of it most.
A year on from the outbreak that shook the globe, many of us are facing the month with heavy hearts, sorrow, loss, increased anxiety and burnout. The prospect of spending yet another Ramadan navigating these circumstances can be challenging. If amongst the collective excitement you feel unprepared and unsure of how the month will unfold, you’re not alone.
Ramadan is an opportunity for healing, for self-restoration, for seeking closeness to Allah SWT, His love and His mercy. And you are worthy of it all.
To help you manage the month, we’ve compiled some lessons we’ve learnt after experiencing last Ramadan in lockdown.
1. Be compassionate. Firstly, to yourself.
Many of us enter Ramadan with apprehension. We are human and susceptible to error and shortcomings, we were made to be tested by our nafs, and over the past year, we may have failed and failed again. This doesn’t mean Ramadan isn’t for us; Ramadan greets us as we are. Ramadan welcomes us and invites us to realign our focus and principles, it also ushers us to reconnect with our Lord. Leave your nerves at the door. Your Lord is inviting, your Lord is Al-Ghaffār (الغفار), the Forgiving, and He awaits you. Use this month to become the version of yourself you know you are capable of always being.
As the old saying goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. We plan for our jobs, or exams, our weddings, our kids – Ramadan should be planned with the same energy and effort in order to help maximise our time and worship. We’re Muslims before we are anything else.
The month is a sacred and special time; to get the most out of it, create a Ramadan checklist. This will motivate you to tick off your prayers, reading Quran, completing good deeds etc. If you map out what your day will look like, you can then figure out where to fit in moments of reflection and in turn, this will stop us from being lazy or engaging in things we shouldn’t be.
3. Start small.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of ambitious goals you might be setting yourself, but remember, ‘Whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it’ (99:1). As with any act of worship, intention is key. Starting small means you give yourself the room to improve as the month progresses, rather than starting with unattainable goals that are hard to maintain. Examples of setting smaller goals could be: praying tahajjud every night, reviving and implementing a sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) or learning the tafsir of the surahs you most frequently recite in salah. Your Lord is The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful and He is aware of all of your efforts.
4. Make the most of the period of isolation.
No doubt the global pandemic has meant a forced change in the way we observe Ramadan. Whilst many of us may miss families and friends getting together to open fast, the silver lining is that the conditions of lockdown (though now easing) have actually enabled a slower paced life for many, offering more time and a better, ample environment to reflect and worship in. That extra hour you’d spend commuting to work can now be dedicated to reading more Quran, or doing more dhikr. Perhaps you can get your steps in on your daily walk and listen to a podcast (Salam Girl, Sacred Footsteps and The Mindful Muslim to name a few). It’s ample time to re-centre, prioritise, and align yourself to things that matter most to you
And for those of you new to the religion, Muslims abroad or in non-Muslim dominated spaces spending another Ramadan in lockdown without the support of physical communities, we hear you. Just like last year, there are many online communities offering the chance to experience Ramadan together through shared initiatives, such as Jeem Journal’s 30 day challenge and Green Deen Tribe’s ethical iftar weekend, connecting people across the globe in the absence of real life festivities with a shared purpose.
May we welcome this month with open arms and ensure we make the best use of time before it leaves and may Allah accept this from us, ameen.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀