Every Muslim looks forward to Ramadan. Alhamdulillah it is a time filled with potential and blessings. For most, it is prime family time. We coordinate schedules, we pray together, we get up for Suhoor, and break fast together, etc. But that is not the case for every Muslim.
Single Muslims instead wake up and pray alone. They may struggle to prepare and eat in time for Suhoor, to attend to prayer on time.
It just means you will need to work to make it special for yourself. Here are a couple of ideas to take you through each day and the month.
1. Establish personal goals
Whether it's curbing a bad habit or starting a good one, setting goals will help you focus and work harder to gain rewards and to make change. They say it takes 21 days to establish a good habit. Alhamdulillah, in Ramadan Allah has blessed us with 30. Challenge yourself to make the most of it. There are a number of creative packages to help online.
It is never too late to put in the work here. When thinking about goals, concentrate on the following areas and try to identify a personal goal in each one:
- Fasting – facilitating the fast daily, attending to Suhoor and Iftar
- Worship – completing the required daily prayers, remembering Allah, making Dua
- Quran – reading, reciting, memorizing, and listening to the Quran
- Good Deeds – increasing charitable giving, lending a hand to someone in need
It will also help to make your goals specific and practically attainable. Track your progress in order to make adjustments and increase the likelihood of success.
2. Decorate your living space
Ramadan is a special time, so make your surroundings look the part! Clean up around the house or apartment, or your room. Add streamers or banners you make yourself, hang twinkling lights or burn candles, and add balloons. Pinterest has some inexpensive DIY ideas and you can find a wide range of ready-made decorations online, too. Waking up or coming home to a festive home will brighten your day. If you live with non-Muslim roommates or family members, the decorations can also help them think positively about Ramadan.
3. Find a Suhoor buddy (or even group)
Of course we can all set alarms to wake ourselves up. But it may be more pleasant if that is a shared responsibility. Get a couple of friends together and plan to wake each other up for Suhoor. You can create a calling tree by establishing a time to call and a schedule of who will call whom. Adding a bit of humor may make that early morning call easier to bear. Consider eating Suhoor together over FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Meet. The social presence can make the early morning experience fruitful (fruit is actually a choice for Suhoor!). Making this suggestion to another single Muslim can help them, too.
4. Plan your meals with nutrition in mind
Speaking of fruit, it is very important to make sure the food you eat is nourishing. Lack of proper hydration, vitamins and minerals can make you irritable and even sick. Scrambling at the last minute for something to eat should be avoided. Instead, establish a personal Ramadan meal plan (there are some great suggestions online). Find easy-to-make recipes, make sure you have the necessary ingredients on hand, and utilize leftovers or something simple when time is of the essence. And don’t forget to also treat yourself to something special! You are special and a fasting single Muslim deserves the best!
5. Invite people over for Iftar outdoors or online
Sharing a meal together is priceless. Make a special dish and invite people over for Iftar outside, physically distanced, or send it over to them and have a virtual Iftar. While a fasting Muslim is surely looking forward to food, the menu items are not the sole focus. The blessing is in the company, and you'll be rewarded for feeding everyone, insha Allah. Be sure to invite other single Muslims, especially those who are away from their families, or reverts who may not have Muslim family themselves.
6. Listen to the Quran when you are home
Silence can be deafening and often people avoid it by keeping the television on or music in the background. This Ramadan, find your favorite Qari or Quran reciter and listen to the beautiful words of Allah instead. This can even be a good way to memorize Surahs. Be sure to consider listening to the meaning in English as well, to increase your understanding of the guidance that Allah so mercifully provides.
7. Attend prayers in congregation
While praying alone in peace and quiet is great, praying with other Muslims can be emotionally and spiritually uplifting. This Ramadan, opportunities to frequent the mosque may still be limited in many areas. For Muslim students, there may also be activities scheduled by your Muslim Students Association or MSA. If daily prayers and nightly taraweeh prayers are being held, make a plan to attend as often as possible. And don’t forget aboutJ Juma on Friday congregational prayer. Of course, be sure to take the necessary precautions to stay safe by wearing a mask and adhering to physical distancing guidelines.
8. Get involved in community programs
During Ramadan there are a wide variety of projects and activities that need volunteers. Some examples include cooking and serving for community Iftars, preparing meals at a soup kitchen, distributing fliers or making phone calls for a special program, purchasing toys and/or food for give-aways, and more. The point is to give to others but there is benefit for you as well. Invite other single Muslim friends to join in the effort. In addition to increased rewards for your good deeds, you will be able to meet like-minded new people.
9. Increase your knowledge
While the Shayateen are chained during Ramadan, plan to make the most of the opportunity to increase your knowledge and reinvigorate your Iman. Most of the big Islamic organizations and popular scholars design special programming that is broadcast every day during Ramadan. There are beautiful programs that focus on understanding the Quran, the life and character of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, personal reflections and reminders, and more. They are usually recorded, so you can listen and learn at a time that fits into your busy schedule. We can never have enough knowledge, and making the most of the resources available in Ramadan is a must for every Muslim. Make it a habit to listen at a particular time of the day (at Suhoor or Iftar has worked for me) or while commuting.
10. Keep in touch with family and friends
Make a conscious effort to reach out to family and friends. Don’t just think about it, do it! Think about how much you enjoy someone reaching out to you. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that “none of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” Make and send cards and emails. Connect on social media platforms and on video calls. Plan to do so at least once a week to keep yourself connected and the love flowing. With communication tools of all kinds on hand, making even phone calling overseas free, there is no excuse to be incommunicado. Ramadan can also provide a special opportunity to reach out to family members who are estranged. Remember, hearts are softened during these blessed days and nights. While we cannot control the response, there are rewards in attempting to settle differences and disputes. Don’t hesitate to take the first step yourself. Success is not guaranteed but the rewards for your good intentions are promised!
11. Reach out to others
The pandemic has been physically, financially, and mentally taxing on us all. While Ramadan can be a very blessed time, when there are problems with health, money, family, or faith, it can also be very challenging. Reach out with an attentive ear, a generous hand, and most importantly, an open heart. If you have a Muslim neighbor, coworker or fellow student, reach out and introduce yourself. If you know a sister or brother who is having marital or financial problems, reach out to see how you can be of assistance. If you know someone who is ill, plan to call or make a visit, send a card, or drop off food or a small gift.
12. Focus on making Dua
The believer is reminded in the Quran,
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be rightly guided.” (2:186)
Ramadan is prime time for having your Duas accepted. Numerous Hadiths mention that prayers are accepted during the entire month, but there are three specific times worth noting:
- At the time of iftar, when breaking the fast
- In the last third of the night, when we wake for Tahajjud prayer before Fajr starts
- On the night of Laylatul Qadr, The Night of Power
Last but not least, make yourself a Dua list. Ask Allah for everything you need - physically, financially, mentally, spiritually. Ask Him to bless your parents and your family, to strengthen the Ummah or community, and more. He is the One who can bring resources and change from where you least expect it. In Ramadan, He is waiting to hear from you.
There are amazing opportunities for personal growth for single Muslims and to gain rewards during these blessed days and nights. Attention to these areas above can increase your productivity and the lasting benefit of your sacrifice. You can do this!
May Allah accept our fasting and increased worship, answer our sincere Duas, and shower us with His blessings and mercy during Ramadan and throughout the year. Ameen.