Let us Plan for Ramadan-ul-Mubarak
In this short article, SAMEEN AHMED KHAN offers some tips for making the month of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak as productive as possible.
Introduction: Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him) used to eagerly wait for the month of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. When he would site the moon for the months of Rajab and Shabaan, he would make the Dua: Oh Allah Almighty take us to Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. This points to the importance of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak and the uncertainty in our life. Let us note the fact that many of our relatives and friends from the previous Ramada-ul-Mubarak are no more with us (they have died). Those who are around are a year older and may be having health issues to do a complete justice to the auspicious month of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. It is time to seriously plan for this Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. Many Ramadan have come and gone! Time to reflect: what did we achieve or not achieve in the previous Ramadan-ul-Mubarak? Let us try to catch this one, Inshallah. The following Hadith is an eye-opener:
The Three Aameens: Kaab Ibn Ujrah (RA) relates that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said, ‘Come near to the Mimbar,’ and we came near the Mimbar. When he (peace be upon him) climbed the first step of the Mimbar, he (peace be upon him) said “Aameen”; when he (peace be upon him) ascended the second step, he (peace be upon him) said “Aameen”; when he (peace be upon him) climbed the third step, he (peace be upon him) said, “Aameen”; when he (peace be upon him) came down. We said, “O Rasool of Allah (peace be upon him), we have heard from you today something which we never heard before.” He (peace be upon him) said, “When I climbed the first step, the Angel Jibraeel (alaihi as-salam) appeared before me and said: “Destruction to him who found the blessed month of Ramdhan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness.” Upon that, I said, ‘Aameen.’ When I climbed the second step, he said, “Destruction to him before whom thy name is taken and then he does not make Dua for Allah’s blessing on you,” (by saying, for example, Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam).” I replied, ‘Aameen.’ When I climbed the third step, he said, “Destruction unto him in whose lifetime his parents, or either one of them reaches old age, and (through failure to serve them) he is not allowed to enter Jannah.” I said ‘Aameen.’
Note that in this Hadith, Jibraeel (alaihi as-salam) gave expression to three curses, upon which Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said Aameen every time. May Allah Almighty in His infinite mercy grant us His help and save us from these three dangers.
Planing the Ramadan: In this short note, we shall consider some tips for making the month of Ramadan-ul-Mubarak as productive as possible. First, and foremost, we need to have a powerful intention and intense Dua to have a good Ramadan accompanied with a concrete plan. Subject to feasibility, take time off from office. The choice of the Masjid (mosque) and the company we keep during the Ramadan is of paramount importance. Choose a Masjid which has arrangements for the Salaat of Tarawih, Juma and possibly Tahajjud. Try to locate a Masjid within reach, which has very good scholars, to guide us through the Ramadan. Some Masajid have numerous Ramadan activities done seriously in a spiritual atmosphere.
The key is to have a good plan. Decide on what to do in this Ramadan. The Holy Qur’an was revealed in the auspicious month of Ramadan. So start with reading of the Qur’an with Tajweed. We need to memorize the Holy Qur’an. This is to be accompanied with meaning and Tafseer (commentaries and exegesis). A book on Seerah of the Holy Prophet is a must for a better understanding of Islam. It is useful to employ the technique of “Time Blocking,” that is allocate time for each activity planned. Plan different activities and block time for each activity ‘day by day’ and within the day, ‘hour by hour’. For instance, reading the Holy Qur’an after Fajr. If nothing urgent crops up, proceed with it. Lack of a plan leads to the procrastination that is an attitude of delaying and postponing. Break the plan into MITs (most important tasks) such that it helps in executing the plan and having a very productive Ramadan. MIT before anything else! Have a positive attitude even if you have missed the Suhoor (predawn meal). Make Dua all the time. Avoid strenuous work on such days. Productivity begets productivity! Laziness begets laziness! Small successes keep one motivated and productive. Have a decent routine. Humans are creatures of habit! Routine (morning, after Fajr and before work; during work/ office/ school; and evening routine after the work) is a must. The routine serves as an autopilot! Is my routine the best it can be? Be conscious of your routine. Try expanding the routine realistically to accommodate more tasks. Think of some activities after Tarawih and before going to sleep. Spare a few minutes before the sleep and after waking up. Have goals and help others.
Sadaqa is often interpreted as an act of charity (giving help financially or in kind). One needs to do a “Physical Sadaqa” in the sense of a kind action/ deed: helping a needy person; visiting the sick or the graveyard. Smiling is also a kind of “Physical Sadaqa.” Physical Sadaqa gives a human touch and helps us the situation of the needy. An online donation lacks these aspects. One also needs to think of a long term charities: sponsor for a long term some aspect such as schooling of a kid; medicines for an old patient or so. Control our tongue from gossip and slander; apologise when the tongue is misused. Keep our tongues moist with remembrance of Allah Almighty.
Time and tide wait for none! As time progresses, we need to reflect on the challenges we are facing and how best to improve in the rest of the Ramadan. What goals we have achieved and what are the remaining goals? How to prepare for the last ten day of Ramadan? One is not to be disheartened or discouraged, look ahead and do the best in the remaining days of Ramadan. Making most of the last ten nights: Plan; make a Dua list; make it very special by doing Itikaf or some major activity like a charity project or so. In order to make the Itikaf productive, choice of the Masjid and the company is crucial. Choose good company (scholars and righteous people); avoid friends as it leads to socializing (chatting, gossiping and killing time). Avoid technologies (laptops; Internet; mobiles etc) as they are likely to distract. Itikaf is about seclusion: avoid petty conversations in person and over the phones. In the last ten days, we need to be extra-focused. Searching for the Shab-e-Qadr and making long Dua would be a major activity. One should not be distracted by the superfluous functions organized in some Masajid on the 27th night of Ramadan. Treat this as your last Ramadan!
Concluding Suggestions: The night preceding the Eid is also known as Shabe-Jaiza or Lailatul Jaiza, the Night of Reward. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had said: “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eid expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die” (reported in Ibn Majah). On this night, we are to refrain from the avoidable market atmospheres. To benefit from this opportunity, we should perform as much Ibadah in this night as we can and pray for our needs. Ramadan is the month of training and not an end. We need to practice in the remaining months, and make best use of the training we have undergone. Continue fasting with six days of Shawwal; Mondays and Thursdays; three mid-days of each Islamic lunar month (13th, 14th and 15th). We need to continue the Nawafil Salaat particularly in the night. Practice charity round the year. It is useful to keep an envelope or a box for charity. Consistency is the main idea after Ramadan. May Allah Almighty Guide us to plan and act in the Ramadan and rest of our lives, Aameen.
The author is Associate Professor, Engineering Department, Salalah College of Technology (SCOT), Salalah, Sultanate of Oman