We have just entered the month we all look forward to every year, but this year it comes along with the reality of spending Ramadan in isolation. We’ve seen a few articles about what our approach and mindset heading into Ramadan should be (like this great piece by Omar Usman), but now what? This Ramadan will be like one most of us have never experienced before, and as Omar Usman mentioned, for some it will probably be the most difficult, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a successful one.
This year, regardless of where we are in the world, the streets will be empty, there will be no iftaar parties, no taraweeh at the masjid, and no visiting one another on Eid. [Some of our brothers and sisters around the world have been experiencing Ramadan in such a fashion for years and we pray that Allaheases their affairs and saves them from oppression. Ameen]. The global pandemic leaves most of us in the same situation as were before it, and for those of us who are blessed to be able to maintain our freedom, we need to take advantage and make the most of it. As mentioned in different articles and social media posts, this Ramadan will be difficult; we will be stuck at home and unable to attend the masjid. With the masajid closed it is even more important for us to plan how to make this Ramadan a successful one.
First, how does one know if their Ramadan has been a successful one, or how do we gauge success coming out of Ramadan? Allahsays in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” [Al-Baqarah; 183]
وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
“ … He wants you to complete the prescribed period (for fasting) and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.” [Al-Baqarah;185]
Allahis telling us that the outcome of fasting in Ramadan should be an increase in taqwa and shukr. Once the month is over, will we have changed for the better or for worse? Did we pick up good habits and leave our bad ones? Like Hajj, if we have a truly successful Hajj/Ramadan then we come out of it leaving that which displeases Allah and striving harder towards that which is pleasing to Him.
So, how do we level-up and ensure we make this a successful Ramadan?Here’s a special 7 Successful Habits to Form in Ramadan: Quarantine Edition.
1(a). Our Intention
It’s always important to start everything we do by going over the intention with which we embark upon it. We need to make sure we are sincerely doing it for the sake of Allahno matter how mundane that action may seem. Over and over again we hear the famous Hadith, “Actions are based on their intentions.” because it should be that over and over again we are setting out intentions straight and renewing them. So let us start off by intending to make the most out of this Ramadan despite being on lock down.
1(b). Quran-time not Quarantine
As has been famously dubbed online, the Quran comes first because Ramadan is the month of the Quran. Remember the Quran was first revealed to Muhammadwhile he was in isolation. We can use our own isolation this Ramadan to develop or deepen our connection with the Quran. Allah says:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ
“It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any one of you who is present that month should fast…” [Al-Baqarah; 185]Fasting is to celebrate the Quran being sent down this month, so we must give the Quran its due. Some of us like to set up a daily reading schedule in order to finish the entire Quran in Ramadan. Imam Ash-Shafi’i used to read the entire Quran 60 times during Ramadan! But for most of us simply reading the Quran isn’t enough. Let’s turn our Quarantine into “Quran time” by taking it a step further. How is our tajweed? Are we reciting even Surah Al-Fatihah correctly? How many surahs have we memorized? How well do we understand what we are reciting? These are important questions we must ask ourselves in order to strengthen our bond with the book of Allah. He says:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا
“Will they not contemplate the Quran? Do they have locks on their hearts?” [Surah Muhammad; 24]
So in order to unlock our hearts to the Quran, we have to ponder over the words of Allahand think deeply about the timeless message he sent to our beloved Prophet . Every day, as we read our daily portion of the Quran, we can build the habit of memorizing an ayah or two, reflecting over its meaning, and reading its explanation along with it. It also helps to have a Quran buddy to keep each other accountable and motivated.
Here’s the obvious one. As mentioned earlier we are fasting to celebrate the Quran being revealed. The Prophettells us:
We need to hone our fasts and execute them properly. Yes, we’ll be stuck at home, but what good will abstaining from food do if we just sleep all day? Will that help increase our taqwa? Probably not. We still must strive to do more good while in a state of fasting to maximize its reward. More prayer, more dhikr, more charity, while we have more time for these. The Prophet would fast regularly outside of Ramadan and would increase the number of days per month the closer it would get to Ramadan. As for those that are unable to fast due to their circumstances. it’s still possible to maximize our worship. Ramadan’s blessings are still there for us to benefit from, it just takes the effort on our part.
The one who fasts during the month of Ramadan with conviction while seeking its reward from Allahwill have his past sins forgiven.”
Prayer is the line that separates the believer from the disbeliever. It is the river that washes away our sins. There is no submitting to the oneness of Allahwithout prayer. All of this holds true outside of Ramadan, but once Ramadan comes around it is magnified even more. The masajid are filled and people are spilling out into the street or parking lot to pray taraweeh. This year the masajid will be empty and we have no choice but to pray in our homes. We need to take this opportunity to help ourselves pray all five obligatory prayers on time, and in congregation. It is an opportunity for us to pray our own taraweeh at home where the head of the family is the imam, where even the children can lead and build up their confidence. The Prophet is reported to have said on fasting in Ramadan:
“The one who prays throughout Ramadan, with conviction and in the hope of earning reward will have their past sins forgiven.”
Our conviction towards prayer here is for taraweeh, which is sunnah, and which the Prophettoo ended up praying in his home’ so what of the obligatory prayers? Normally we’re at work or school so salaah is squeezed into our schedule, but now there’s either no school or we attend school and work from home. So there’s no excuse not to set aside 5-10 minutes as soon as the time for prayer arrives, except our own laziness. So let’s gather the family, men, women, and children, call the adhan, and pray the five daily prayers together in congregation along with the 8-20 raka’ahs of taraweeh, and cap it off with Witr so that we can build up the habit of praying 5 times a day in congregation.
The word salaah in arabic means dua’. Aside the salaah itself we need to immerse ourselves in dhikr and dua’. Some of our best dua’ and most vulnerable moments come when we are isolated and it’s just us and Allah. In this time of isolation not only will this help us draw closer to Allah , but it will also provide a sense of peace and tranquility in this global environment of stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic. Allah says in a beautiful verse:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
“And if My servants ask you (Muhammad SAS) about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call Me, so let them respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.” [Al-Baqarah;186]
Allahis always near to us so we must take the first step towards him and keep moving forward. When times get tough -especially during this lock down- just remember Allah