Most of us start Ramadan with great gusto, only to see our enthusiasm dwindle to desperation by the end of the month. Setting goals that are realistic and attainable help us push ourselves harder to achieve that spiritual closeness to God we seek. These five are just a few examples of a few goals you can aim for in the month of Baraka and spiritual benefit.
1. Select a Sunnah
Pick something small but systematic. It could be reciting specific Duas while you?re on your way to work or school; it could be reading Surah al Kahf (Quran, chapter 18) every Friday; it could be cutting your nails before Friday prayers; it could be skipping the samosas at Iftar and breaking your fast with a few dates and a glass of water instead. Pick a Sunnah and stick to it this Ramadan. This will not only be a source of blessings for you, but it will also help connect you to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
2. Devote yourself to Dua
?Dua is the marrow of worship,? the Prophet once said. This Ramadan, if you don?t already, devote yourself daily to making Dua for the big and small things in life, whether it?s to get to work on time, for your toddler to stop screaming in the checkout line, or for an ill relative to be blessed with good health. The point of the exercise is to turn to Allah with our needs and wants with sincerity and focus, relying first and foremost on Him.
3. Give the Sadaqa of Seconds
Many Muslims give their largest charitable contributions in Ramadan, seeking blessings and benefit in the month when our good deeds count more. That?s fine, but don?t forget those other examples of charity that take only seconds, but can also yield greater closeness to God. For example:
- pouring a glass of water for your parents, spouse, or children at Suhoor or Iftar time
- leaving out a dish of water for birds during the summer heat every morning
- meeting your family in the morning after waking up with a smile instead of a scowl
- shooting a short email or posting on the Facebook wall of your faraway sibling just to see how he or she is doing
- calling highway patrol to report something harmful on the highway that could cause an accident
4. Cut your calories and share the rest
Overeating during Iftar has become a clich? that?s so common it needs to be challenged every year. This Ramadan, don?t just take a vow to avoid it. Eat less. Then, estimate the amount of money you saved by consuming a smaller fast-breaking meal and donate it to a cause of your choice.
Also, if you are hosting an Iftar party or attending one, contact a food recovery program or food shelter that takes leftover food and distributes it to the hungry.
5. Quranic quotations
Ramadan is the month of the Quran. It is when Allah began revealing His Last Revealed Text to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as well as when Muslims the world over commit to reading or reciting the book in its entirety.
But that often seems impossible, especially for those of us juggling myriad personal, family, and work responsibilities. This year, instead of aiming to read the whole Quran or nothing, select just a few quotations to read, recite, understand, and put into practice. It could be a short Surah, like al-Asr (chapter 103), which emphasizes the value of time, belief, and good works, or it could be a few verses of Surah al-Nisa (chapter four), which focus on marriage and family life. If possible, post your quotations on the mirror of your bedroom and read and think about them daily, asking Allah to guide you to the best understanding, as well as help in implementing the message.
Samana Siddiqui is Sound Vision's Content Manager. She is also a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Crescent newspaper.