How to Have a Productive Ramadan
by Musa Bukhari
Ramadan is a month of the heart - It is a month where we focus inward on what needs to be rectified within ourselves before Allah. However, fasting for long hours balanced with both worship and our daily routine can become challenging. Below are some beneficial tips to help you excel in productivity in this month. You do not want to just get through the month, you want to leave the month transformed insha'Allah.
Here are a few factors that used to be carried out by our Prophet (PBUH), which will help make your Ramadan run smoothly, insha’Allah.
Be conscious of what you eat.
We do not want to enter the month of Ramadan with poor health and a lack of healthy eating. This will affect our fasts greatly, making us get tired and lazy very easily. As a result, it will be hard to reap the benefits of this blessed month.
Throughout the month of Ramadan, be sure to eat your five fruit and/or veg a day. Make sure you eat food that is high in vitamins and iron. This will boost your energy, preparing you for the fasts yet to come. Also, fill only a third of your stomach when you are having your main meals. Over-filling your stomach can not only harm your digestive system but will make your craving levels high, therefore making the forthcoming fasts difficult for you.
Ash-Shafi’i (rh) said: “I have not filled myself in 16 years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clean understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”
Nourish your body with water.
It is essential to understand the importance of water and how good it is for our bodies. Make an effort to prioritise your water consumption during the times you are able to. Remember that soft drinks and juices are not substitutes to water, and they often contain high levels of sugar that can make you extremely fatigued. It is highly important that your water intake reaches around eight glasses per day. This will prepare you well for Ramadan, preventing you from being fatigued, restless or dizzy during the long hours of fasting. Water increases energy, flushes out toxins and improves the immune system. All of these factors are highly beneficial when fasting.
Read Qur’an consistently.
Ramadan is often referred to as the month of the Qur’an. It is for this reason that so many of us make it a goal to complete its recitation, independently or in congregation. Remember the Qur’an is like a guide - an instruction manual that will aide your life - and this extends outside of Ramadan. Make it a priority to train yourself to read however much you can this month but be consistent with it after the month has passed. Your soul needs it.
Tip: This Ramadan, put great focus on how you are pronouncing each letter and word. Set yourself a target to read the whole of the Qur’an in this way. Even if it’s impossible to achieve, at least you will have tried your very best.
Reflect on the translation of the Qur’an.
Ponder and reflect on the translation of the Qur’an, gaining your own understanding of the many lessons that it teaches us. Use your reflections as a means to contemplate and as a source of motivation to keep reading. Aim to be someone who exhibits the teaching of the Qur’an and allow this to be a platform to reach greater heights during the month itself.
((This is) a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.) [Quran 38:29]
Refine your sleeping pattern.
If you are someone who really struggles to sleep at night, or someone who over-sleeps, it’s time to change this habit to reap the benefits of Ramadan. Too much or not enough sleep already affects our productivity and this will only increase if precautions are not taken.
Look for a quiet and relaxing activity that you could carry out an hour before sleeping. This should be something that doesn’t require much energy, such as drawing, reading a book, contemplating in a quiet corner or reciting Qur’an. Relaxing your mind with a calming activity will help you sleep more peacefully.
“And it is He Who makes the night a covering for you, and the sleep (as) a repose, and makes the day Nushoor (i.e. getting up and going about here and there for daily work, after one’s sleep at night or like resurrection after one’s death)”[Qur’an, 25:47]
If you are someone who oversleeps regularly, then you need to be more disciplined and develop the willpower to rise when your alarm sounds. Instantly read the morning waking-up du’aa, your morning adkhaars, seek refuge in Allah from shaytaan and get out of bed. Draw back your curtains to let any morning light in, make your bed and then start getting ready to begin your day. Your sleeping pattern will definitely transform during Ramadan. However, fixing your routine from now will enable you to have more quality sleep after a long day of fasting.
Tip: It was narrated from Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that when the Prophet (PBUH) went to bed every night, he would hold his hands together and blow into them, and recite into them Qul Huwa Allaahu Ahad, Qul a’oodhu bi rabb il-falaq and Qul a’oodhu bi rabb il-naas. Then he would wipe them over whatever he could of his body, starting with his head and face and the front of his body, and he would do that three times. [Bukhari]
Repent and make du’aa for ease.
Repentance not only decreases sins, but cleanses the heart. As a result, you will find yourself being more productive in your daily routine as you are carrying a clean and pure heart. Our Prophet (s) used to repent 70 times a day. Though he was the best of mankind, Prophet (s) still found this act to be of high importance.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The one who completely repented of sin is like one who has not sinned at all.” (Ibn Mājah)
Train yourself to start making proactive du’aas as well as reactive du’aas. This means that, rather than waiting for a situation to occur, try to make du’aa for it beforehand. For example, make du’aa that Allah allows you to extract the fruits out of the last ten nights of Ramadan from now. Make du’aa that Allah accepts your Sadaqah. Make du’aa that Allah gives you the strength, passion and motivation to soldier through every fast.
“If response [to your du’aa] is delayed, don’t worry! Understand He’s the Master & Most Wise in planning and the Most Knowing.” – Ibn al-Jawzi
The Prophetic Ramadan.
‘The Prophet (PBUH) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur’an with him. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) then used to be more generous than the fast wind.’ [Bukhari]
Our Prophet (PBUH) used to have the simplest of lifestyles, yet the most productive one. Reading up on the Seerah will bring hope that we do not need to be extravagant in feeding ourselves after our fasts, rather immersing ourselves in ‘ibaadah is what is more beneficial. The less we remind ourselves of the sunnah of the Prophet (s), the more likely we are to fall into a habit of waiting to feed our stomachs. This prevents us from putting greater focus on nourishing our souls with continuous ‘ibaadah.
Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he did not find fresh dates then he would use dried dates. If he did not find that also he drank a few sips of water.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawood)
May Allah rejuvenate our hearts with His remembrance and allow us to perform our ibaadah in the ways that are most pleasing to Him, ameen.