With Ramadan fast flying by and the last 10 days and nights approaching, we’re in the last stretch. We may have not met all of our goals, but these receding moments of the blessed month offer us a time of both heightened spirituality and a chance to catch up.
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time (Muslim). That should give us the incentive to carefully plan our days and hours so we can too.
Just as we are now used to a Ramadan schedule two weeks in, once again, we will have to re-adjust if we want to benefit. Here are some ideas.
1. Take Fridays off
We’re in the thick of summer vacation, so it may be hard to get a whole week off. Still, see if you can get the last two Fridays of Ramadan off (usually a slow day at many workplaces). It can give you at least two long weekends to really focus.
2. Readjust your work schedule
See if you can come in earlier and leave earlier or arrive later and leave later. That can free up your night and early morning for Tahajjud and/or Qiyam-ul-Layl.
Also, try to reduce your workload by only focusing on the urgent and immediate projects. Save those with more flexible or later deadlines for after Ramadan. This is one time where procrastination may actually pay off.
3. Work from home
If you have a job that allows you to do this from time to time, take advantage of this in Ramadan’s last 10 days and nights. It will save you commute time, as well as the precious minutes we spend getting ready to go to work. Working from home also allows you to rest more sufficiently during breaks.
4. Before the last 10 days begin, finish any errands you have to complete
Shopping for Eid gifts, clothes, and groceries should be completed before the first of the last 10 nights. Time in stores is time taken away from worship and spiritual focus, so try to buy and freeze what you can so it lasts longer, finish off that gift list, and hold off on any non-urgent purchases until after Ramadan.
Also, if you need your car washed, cleaned, and/or serviced for Eid, do it now. A few days won’t make much of a difference.
The same is true of the house. If you complete housekeeping duties once a week, try to deep clean this week so you can avoid cleaning during Ramadan’s last 10. If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to take care of this to free up your time further.
5. Limit outside activities during the last 10 days
While those of us with kids are often shuttling them to and fro activities, classes, and other places during the summer, try to limit outside excursions as much as possible. This is a drain on energy, which is put to much better use worshipping Allah during the last 10 days and nights of Ramadan.
At most, find out which parks are nearest to your home and take the kids there. It won’t be too far, and a new park offers just as much excitement as a trip to something further away.
6. Complete your Eid plans
If you normally get together with extended family during Eid, finalize the plan and menu now. Decide where you’re going to pray Eid Salah, whose house you are gathering at, as well as your contribution to the menu. You will probably have to cook the day before, but you can at least buy the required groceries beforehand.
7. Try to commit to a technology fast
This one can be difficult, and a total fast is probably impossible for most of us. However, choose times of the day when you turn off the phone or laptop and focus only on worship. It can be in the early mornings during Tahajjud, for a few hours in the afternoon, or right after Fajr. The constant distraction of a ping or a ring takes away from deep conversation with God in ways that erode our spiritual advancement.
8. Plan in-home activities for the kids
This can include their own good deeds schedule or some pre-planned arts and crafts (for which you have already bought the supplies). But it can also mean a trip to the library this week to take out any good books to read and occupy them while you focus.
9. Hire a babysitter
Consider this option especially if you have younger kids who need constant attention. A reliable babysitter who can engage your kids effectively offers you an opportunity to worship without interruption, or take them out of the house to an activity for part of the day.
10. Avoid Iftar parties
Socializing is nice, but Ramadan’s last 10 days and nights are about focusing on our individual relationship with Allah. If you have already committed to an Iftar party, see if you can back out politely without causing hurt or offense. If not, try to leave early.
If you planned a party at this time and your guests have already confirmed, minimize the work as much as possible. Cook beforehand or get it catered, keep the menu simple, and clean up the house this week so you don’t have to do it during Ramadan’s last 10.