At the start of each fast, we are told to set a nia, an intention, to fast. Just as we take a mindful approach to beginning our fast, we should check-in with ourselves on a weekly basis to make sure we are still on course to have the best Ramadan possible. As we progress through the long work or school day, our reasons for fasting might get blurred. Maybe we tried to explain to our co-workers how fasting is good for the body, and is a helpful detox that even doctors suggest we do. Or maybe, we told our friends that Ramadan helps us to empathize with the starving and less fortunate in society who don’t have food to eat. While these may be true and part of the fasting experience, they are not the main objective.
Our main purpose in fasting is to follow the commandment of Allah when he said “Oh ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you 2:183.” Reminding myself of this commandment comes in the form of reading verses like this, but also in writing a list of Ramadan goals. These goals will include all the beautiful facets that are unique to this time of year, like intense reading of the Quran, attending taraweh, and signing up for specific classes/lectures that will improve my iman. When I go back to my list of goals for the month on a weekly basis, I am able to re-center and find renewed strength to carry out the rest of the month even stronger than before.
Remembering to renew one’s intentions and focus on the goals we set in the beginning of the month can be mastered by using a calendar. I like to print out a physical calendar just for the month of Ramadan and keep it near my prayer corner. The calendar will have the different types of ibadah I plan to engage in— e.g. how many pages of Quran I’m aiming to read or memorize, nights I plan to attend taraweh at the masjid, days I plan to volunteer, charities I plan to donate to (tip: try launchgood.com for automated donations!). In addition, I like to write out which days I am going to iftars at friends’ houses or when I am hosting them myself. Keeping track of how my Ramadan is progressing helps me to stay focused and increases my chances that I will accomplish all the things I set out to do.
At any point in the year, I try to keep a journal because it’s an easy way for me to reflect on the big and little moments in my life. I have a special journal that I pull out for Ramadan. It’s called a dua journal and you can either make your own or purchase it. The journal I bought has different sections to guide my thoughts/duas/reflections. For example, under the prompts “I make dua for…” and “I am grateful for…” there are lines for me to answer those questions and reflect. I love listing out all my duas every few days. I have a long list of standard duas that don’t really change — jannah til firdaus, a righteous spouse, health for my family, steadfastness on the deen, stable rizq. Then, there are the little duas that pop up on a daily basis regarding specific people in my life, or new events that cause me to react and ask for guidance. After I am finished with the dua section, I go to the other side of the page that says “Dear Allah…” and write out my thoughts, desires and aspirations as if I am speaking to Allah SWT. It’s a very beautiful way to try to get closer to our Creator and is effective to increase spiritual grounding at any time of the year.
Apart from attending weekly tajweed classes, I love to start up my own Ramadan (virtual) Quran circles with my friends. During the rest of the year, our schedules are all so busy that we don’t make the time to read Quran together. However, during Ramadan (since the pandemic began), we have successfully picked a time to meet on Zoom to take turns reading from our favorite surahs. We also read the English
translation and reflect on the verses using our own understanding. Contemplation of Allah’s words is part of worship. In surah 47, verse 24 Allah says “Will they then not contemplate the Qur’an? Or are there locks upon (their) hearts?”
One of my favorite ways to earn good deeds is to volunteer during this blessed month. Devoting my spare time to helping others brings me joy, and it is also part of our tradition. In surah Al-Maidah, verse 2 Allah says, “...Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression…” Whether it’s volunteering at the food bank, or helping give out the iftars at the mosque, I believe helping others for the sake of Allah will bring us closer to one another, and closer to Him SWT.
Salams Connect allows Muslimahs to make friends with other Muslimahs and Muslim Men to make friends with other Muslim Men. So if you want to look for other Muslim friends to join your Quran/Knoweldge circle. Or even to organize a community service event to help provide sadaqah for those in need! Salams Connect can help you with networking and making lasting friends in Ramadan!