Ramadan – a time of prayer, fasting, worship, and reflection – is upon us during a time of unprecedented change and anxieties. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way so many of us celebrate, worship, break fast, and socialize during the holy month of Ramadan.
But change is not always bad – in fact change is the only thing that remains constant in our lives. This Ramadan, many of us can feel distracted or especially isolated during self-quarantine and lockdown – so here are just a few tips to make sure we’re maximizing our prayers and fasts during this holy month.
1. Create a Routine
Creating a schedule, or a routine throughout the month can help many of us stay focused on achieving our goals for the month. Even if this means writing down a daily schedule with time slots, try to get yourself organized.
This way, you won’t be late for prayer, you’ll make sure you get in enough time for Quran, duaas, or reading, and you can also create time for your hobbies or relaxing activities that will keep your mind focused and clear.
2. Try to Read the Quran at Least Once a Day
During this holy month, it cannot be stated enough how important it is to engage more with the Quran. Knowing that the Holy Quran was revealed during this month is incredibly inspiring – even if it’s only a few ayahs, try to make sure you’re engaging with the Quran at least once a day.
If sitting down and reading won’t motivate you to read the Quran more, you can always simply listen to the Quran as well – it doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is that you’re listening to the Holy Words of Allah in the Quran during Ramadan.
3. Even When You’re Not Praying, Listen to the Quran
Many of us set time aside to read the Quran before or after prayer – this can be a good way to ensure you’re reading the Holy Quran at least once a day. But during the long hours of fasting, one way to maximize your time in worship and fasting is to listen to the Quran while you’re doing other things as well.
Even while you’re cooking, or working from home, or doing the chores, it can be incredibly beneficial to listen to the Quran. This can help you stay focused on Allah without getting distracted or grumpy with thoughts of hunger.
4. Prayer in Isolation is Not a Punishment
This Ramadan especially is different because of the lockdowns and self-quarantines – and many are without the communal aspect of the month. Mosques are closed, and communal prayers are banned with the new regulations around physical distancing. Many Muslims, therefore, are feeling down with the thought of praying alone or in isolation this month.
It’s important, however, to remember that praying alone isn’t a punishment – and we should stay thankful to Allah for providing us this opportunity to really take this time to understand our faith. When praying alone, try and make some extra time for reflection or duaa or simply connecting with Allah – this might help you feel more motivated and spiritual throughout the rest of the day as well.
5. Read or Listen to Duaa
Duaas or supplications are incredibly important – they provide us with the words we sometimes cannot come up with to express our love and devotion towards Allah. Read duaa on the side, listen to duaa, or simply play them in the background while you are doing other things around the house – keeping the atmosphere of your home spiritual (even if you’re self-isolating alone) can help you stay on track during fasting.
Taking time to pray on your own to Allah is important as well – it can help keep that connection and spirituality if you start to feel yourself getting too comfortable with the routine of prayer.
6. Break your Fast with Simple Food First
It’s tempting to break your fast with delicious plates of heavy foods or deep-fried snacks – but remember, your body went through hours of fasting with nothing inside. Try to break your fast (after dates and water) with simpler foods, such as soup or fresh fruits or vegetables. It’s not what your eyes will want to eat, but your stomach will thank you later.
Once you’ve had simple food, then take this opportunity to pray. Once prayer is finished and your stomach is ready for the “real” food, that’s when you can dig into the plates of rice, bread, pasta, or meats. This way, you’re ensuring your stomach is breaking fast in stages while also making sure you won’t delay prayer.
7. Make Sure You’re Eating Wisely for Tomorrow’s Fast
Many of us hear the same thing every Ramadan – don’t eat fried foods, don’t eat salty or spicy food, and don’t only eat carbs. All of this remains true – but for many of us, we eat these anyways as part of a small celebration every night for a long day of fasting. Cooking and preparing iftar can be an important activity as well, and many of us would rather prepare a delicious meal than a simple salad or tasteless “healthy” food.
But there can be a way to ensure you’re eating good and healthy as well – just make sure you’re eating all the main foods that your body needs in a day, and don’t eat excessively. Make sure you’re getting protein – but don’t go overboard on the meat. Make sure you’re getting your fruits and fresh vegetables – even a vegetable soup will help you get in these important vitamins if you’re not a fresh salad type of person. Remember, it can boil down to portion control and a balanced meal – you don’t always have to refrain from your favorite foods.
8. Water, water, and water
Remember to drink water as well – food isn’t the only thing you kept from your body throughout the day. Drink glasses of water, but also remember that you can get water from other sources as well – clean soups, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbal teas, and fresh juices as well can all help hydrate your body.
Without enough water, you can even get migraines throughout a day of fasting or feel extra groggy or tired – water remains essential to making sure your fast for the next day isn’t torture.
9. Use this Month to Read and Watch Islamically
When not praying or reading Quran or listening to duaa, why not engage in other Islamic content? If you’re an avid reader, try picking up an Islamic book or book about either the Prophet or the history of Islam to read on the side? If you would rather watch something, why not watch films or documentaries on Islam or the Prophet? Even historical documentaries on early Islamic empires or travel shows to Muslim countries can be both entertaining and beneficial – it can help you stay engaged with a broader view of Islamic content.
This month remains incredibly beneficial for prayer, supplication, and worship – so remember to not get too distracted with books other than the Holy Quran. However, this might be a good way to schedule your day with small breaks for those who get distracted easily.
10. Keep Allah Close to Your Heart
Ramadan remains one of the most important times of the year – while some of us feel extra motivated, some of us may feel under extra pressure to become pious, perfect Muslims. It’s important to remember that this month is actually not about what society or the larger community tells us to do – at the end of the day, what remains most important is you and your connection to Allah.
Pray to Allah, talk to Allah, and worship Allah during this holy month in whatever way is genuine and true to yourself – the fasting and the daily prayers will naturally come out of a true love for Allah, so remember the most important thing is to always keep Allah close to your heart.
We pray everyone has a blessed Ramadan, and that we all find the strength and faith that will guide us more towards Allah.