Ramadan we’ve been told is a time of Quran and a time of reconnecting with Allah, but the question is how? Is it simply going to taraweeh prayers and not understanding what’s being recited or is it reading as much Quran as you can?
A lot of folks make “Ramadan resolutions” and goals, but often fall flat post-Ramadan. However, in my personal experience it’s been the small things, but consistent things that have allowed me to have a much more fulfilling Ramadan at every level and spiritual practices I’ve been able to sustain post-Ramadan . The three key goals of Ramadan (in my opinion) should be to:
- Reconnect with Allah
- Recommit/Resubmit to Allah
- Drop Bad Habits & Addictions
- Build up Good Habits & Routines
If you focus on the small, but consistent and simple things in your spiritual routine and refine them you’ll find yourself a lot better off spiritually (inshaAllah – God-willing). If you try to do too much you’ll burn out and get discouraged. We need to treat Ramadan not as a sprint, but a marathon. It makes zero sense to push yourself spiritually for 30 days only to go back to your old habits and status quo. Yes, we should push ourselves to be better, but gradually. I’ve provided 18 points in this article, but honestly if you focus on one thing and walk away post-Ramadan with that that’s a HUGE achievement and something you can be proud of and build upon.
With that said I pray that Allah makes this the Ramadan a life-changing one for all of us and allows us to truly build a strong relationship with Him that allows us to gain inner peace, contentment, tranquility and His Paradise and bounties. Ameen.
Here are a few tips from my own personal spiritual routine that I’ve found effective:
1) Make Goals & Take Account of Yourself
This may happen every Ramadan, but honestly it’s so important to set your goals. Now I don’t mean to make just your Ramadan goals, but also life goals. What is it you’re wanting in life at a spiritual, personal, and professional levels? What’re you doing to work towards them? Get a notebook and divide it into 3 areas: Spiritual, Personal and Professional and list out goals under each one no matter how big or small they may be.
For your Ramadan goals make simple ones that are achievable —even if it’s one thing— some of which I’ll mention below. What habits do you want to kick? What habits and routines do I want to pick up?
2) Create a Dua List & Dua Routine
What is it that you want to ask from Allah? What is it that you want to communicate to Allah? What is it that your heart is yearning for? Create this list and set aside time during your days to say these duas in a quiet, clean and serene place where you won’t be disturbed. This may be after or before fajr or late at night before you sleep—find what works for you and continue to make dua on a daily basis.
I really like a book called Accepted Whispers and highly recommend you purchase it.
3) Pray Your Salah on Time
Since Ramadan is a time for connecting with Allah and salah is the best way to connect with Allah start off by simply by praying your salah on time. Schedule your work schedule or school schedule around the 5 daily prayers. If you need reminders download IslamicFinder’s athaan on your computer or on your phone. If you’re lazy for fajr set two alarm clocks, one on your phone and another on your alarm clock. This may include going to the masjid at fajr
4) Slow Down Your Salah
A lot of us, including myself, speed through our salah without even thinking about what we’re saying and what we’re doing. After we pray we feel empty and regretful which further exacerbates our feeling of unease and lack of connection to Allah. Also, make it a point to dress appropriately when you pray. Make it an event—dress nicely, smell nice, and spend your time slowly doing wudhu and concentrate on each action. Try to also learn and review what you’re reciting in salah to make it more meaningful.
Check out the following lectures for tips on how to improve your salah (all found on Youtube) there are several of them, but these ones were my favorite. You can find more videos about salahw at my blog Salah 101
- The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui (Short Imaan Booster)
- Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)
- Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman (Short Imaan Booster)
- Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas (1 hour)
5) Create a Prayer/Dhikr Place at Home
In your home or apartment keep a prayer mat, dhikr beads and a Quran in one area to designate as a prayer/dhikr place. This will help you keep focused in salah as well as create an environment in which you can feel at peace when you pray. Below is my prayer/dhikr area.
6) Create a Fajr Routine
What do I mean by a Fajr Routine?
- Tahajjud: Try to get up 10-15 minutes earlier than Fajr to pray 2-4 rakahs of Tahajjud and also pray the 2 rakahs of sunnah before Fajr.
- Read Quran Post-Fajr: Read a couple of pages of the Quran post-fajr
- Duas: Create a dua list, you can find duas from the Quran and sunnah, simply copy and paste them onto a Word document, print them out, or you can buy Accepted Whispers (I highly recommend it):
- Pray Salat-Ishraq: These are two rakahs of salah post-sunrise.
“Whoever prays fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two units of prayer, has a complete reward of Hajj and `Umrah [The Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, repeated ‘complete’ three times for emphasizing].” [at-Tirmidhi]
If you do have access to a masjid at least pray fajr and/or Isha at the masjid. It doesn’t matter how much you hate going to a particular masjid, but if you simply go to pray in congregation and make it a routine it’ll help you keep your imaan up and give you a imaan-boost. If you can’t make it for Fajr, at least make it for Isha.
8) Memorize Short Duas
Try to memorize short and simple duas. What I do is I post duas on my doors or in key areas where I’ll be sure to read them. Post daily duas for when you’re leaving home, after eating, etc.
9) Review What’ll be Recited at Taraweeh Prayers
To make your taraweeh prayer much more meaningful go over the translation of what’s going to be recited and also skim through the Arabic of the verses to get a gists of what’s going to be recited so you can follow along. If you don’t know or understand Arabic try to play the verses that’ll be recited and pick out key words and compare it to the translation so you’ll know what’s going to be recited and so you can follow along. For example when you
A great way to improve your vocab is to review the Arabic and English translation (And tafseer – exegesis- of Juz Amma- the last 30th part of the Quran). Below are a couple of resources to get you started:
Parts of the Quran (Every day a Juz or part of the Quran will be recited, the link shows what the verses will be recited for each night):
5 Ways to Improve Your Tarawih Experience – Saud Inam
Reflections of the Quran – Imam Magid
10) Reconnect with the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
Listening to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)s seerah can help you increase your love and appreciation for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and truly understand who he was.
- Read Shamaail Tirmidhi. It’s a great compilation of hadith explaining how the Prophet SAW ate, slept, dressed, and interacted with others.
- Seerah Series by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda
- Omar Ibn Khattab RA Series
- Omar ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series Study Guide
- Stories of the Companions (RA)
11) Make Dhikr or Send Salawat on the Prophet SAW in Your Downtime
Make it a habit to make dhikr throughout your day. If you’re sitting in traffic, or studying, or working either make dhikr or send salawat on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
12) Create a Daily To-Do List and Spiritual Routine
Try to create a routine of self-improvement that includes not only spiritual self-improvement, but also personal improvement academically, professionally, or physically (Work out!). Creating a spiritual and workout routine are both good ways to keep your spiritual heart and physical heart healthy. Below is how I organize my to-do list. On the left hand side I have my tasks for the day. On the right side I have my regular daily tasks that I need to accomplish and below that I have a section (since I like blogging/writing) for article/blog or paper ideas. I would also suggest making a goal board to remind yourself of your weekly, monthly and yearly goals.
On how to create a daily spiritual routine I highly recommend getting Imam Ghazali’s The Beginning of Guidance and also purchasing Sh. Hamza Yusuf’s Purification of the Heart, both are great ways to start your journey of spiritual refinement.
13) Reduce Unnecessary Socializing
This means reducing time spent with friends or acquaintances who bring no value into your life. You want to keep friends who bring value to your life and push you and encourage you to be a better person at every level (spiritual, emotional and personal). This’ll be a difficult task, but if you start categorizing people and start making quality friends.
14) Reduce Distractions
This means reduce your time on your smartphone, computer/laptop, and even music. I’m not saying any of these things are haram, but reducing our time on social media and technology can have an immense impact on reviving our imaan and spirituality. I remember taking a Facebook fast during Ramadan, it was the best feeling in the world and it’s amazing how much time you have once you cut down time on social media. Delete apps on your phone which are a distraction or time wasters (this includes social media apps, games and other time wasting apps).
15) Keep Clean and Organized
Having a clean and organized home and workplace will reduce stress and allow you to focus primarily on your dhikr, Quran-reading and will allow you to be more productive spiritually and work wise too.
16) Reflect on Events and Situations in Your Day
Use every moment, second, minute and hour of your day assessing, reflecting and pondering about events and situations. What lessons can you learn from them? What can you improve on? What can you do differently? How can you learn from these moments to become a better person? This isn’t to say you need to be obsessive about events or situations, but use every moment of your life to be a moment to learn from and improve yourself, your understanding of others, Allah and the world around you.
17) Don’t Focus on Food/Reduce Your Portions
A lot of times unfortunately we may make Ramadan food-centric. We’ll get invites to fancy and lavish iftaars at friends’ houses or at the masjid, but the key is to not allow Ramadan to circle around food, but around the nourishment of your soul.
18) Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others & Heal
Use Ramadan to cry it out and ask Allah for healing, guidance or whatever it is you want from Him. No matter what you’ve done or doing forgive yourself and recommit to Allah with sincerity and devotion. Whatever you’ve been through call on Him and ask him for help. No matter if it’s heartbreak, loss of money, loss of a loved one or any pain you may be feeling, stress or anxiety you’re feeling use this time to heal.
Allah is literally reducing the noise around you to allow you to focus on just you and Him. Use this time wisely. Use this time to let everything else go and focus on re-establishing a solid relationship and communication line with Allah.