With Ramadan 2021 or 1442 beginning with some level of quarantine restrictions, we will still need to adjust and plan our days taking into account our restrictions - but also our benefits.
Ramadan in quarantine last year taught us that while the Masjid is core to the community in the blessed month, it does not preclude us from striving for the most important goal: building Taqwa, or God-consciousness.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint” (Quran 2:183)
The time that we would often spend socializing at Iftar or Taraweeh prayers was missed, but it opened up moments of self-reflection and connection with Allah that we were perhaps missing in previous Ramadans.
At the same time though, it’s just as easy to waste these precious moments scrolling through social media and other frivolous ways as it is chatting with others in person.
The following hacks can help keep us on track during the blessed month insha Allah
1. Build a schedule around the five daily prayers
This Ramadan, millions of students will be taking final exams while they fast. That requires careful planning to maximize time use, as well as balance studying, fasting, praying, and doing more good. Those of us who are not students can also benefit from this careful planning.
Using the five daily prayers and Taraweeh as the pegs of our day, build a schedule written out or set in your phone through apps like Google calendar. Try to be as detailed as possible so you can make the most of Ramadan’s moments a
2. Choose a system to help you reach your Ramadan goals
There are many apps that can help here, but if you’re more of a paper and pen person, post your Ramadan goals on the fridge or on the mirror so you can see and internalize them a few times a day. Check in at Dhuhur, then after Isha, to track your progress.
3. Set up auto pay for a charity of your choice, to be deducted every Friday in Ramadan
In Ramadan 2021, consider planning your charitable giving in a way that donations are given at a set day and time. Support family in need and local organizations first, like your Masjid and those offering hunger and rent relief in your city, town, or village.
4. Select one weekly volunteer task to complete.
Masjids and Islamic organizations have been running drive-thru events like food and clothing distribution to maintain COVID-19 restrictions while serving the community. Find out if they have similar events planned this Ramadan and sign up to volunteer.
You can do the same at any other organization. Whatever you decide, do something that involves serving others, whether that is coordinating vaccine appointments for those who have a hard time accessing online resources, dropping off groceries to someone sick or elderly, or just making a weekly phone call to someone who is shut in and lonely.
5. Gather outside for Taraweeh
Most research about COVID-19 confirms that gathering outside while wearing masks and social distancing is your safest option for socialization. With the weather warming up during the coming weeks, take advantage by gathering for Taraweeh outside in a large backyard, with worshippers wearing masks and maintaining a physical distance between each other.
6. Limit social media use
On average, most North Americans spend over two hours on social media every day. In Ramadan and outside of it, that could have been used to:
- -Read one Juz or part of the Quran.
- -Offer Tahajjud prayer with long, sincere Duas and Sujood.
- -Call a lonely relative or friend and offer some relief from their sadness.
- -Work out a budget of how you will spend your charity.
- -Calculate Zakat and make a plan for it.
- -Do so many other things that require just a small commitment of time
Don’t let yourself get caught up in a fruitless loop of social media scrolling this Ramadan. Self-block your non-essential social media consumption or limit it to 10 minutes three times a day or less. There are apps that can help with this.
7. Prepare Suhoor the night before
Make your Suhoor, including whatever caffeine you need for the day, right after you eat Iftar. This way, you only have to warm and eat/drink in the early morning.
8. Set out your medicines the night before
If you take medications at Suhoor, have them lined up and ready next to your nightstand with a covered glass of water. This way, if you wake up too late for a full Suhoor meal, you can at least take your medications for the day.
9. Prepare for hydration before going to bed
Put a glass or jug of cold water in the fridge at night so it’s readily available for Suhoor.
10. Go to sleep right after Taraweeh
Avoid falling into the habit of catching up on phone messages on social media before bed, which disturbs sleep. If you need to do it for work or for some urgent personal matter, time yourself to do this for not more than five minutes.
11. Plan and share your Iftar menu
After discussing it with others you live with, decide on an Iftar menu and post it on the fridge. You can do it on a weekly basis, but a monthly one is even better. This will help you shop for ingredients beforehand. It will also allow you to prepare meals efficiently and quickly, thereby freeing up time for more worship during Ramadan.
12. Take advantage of curbside pickup
This became more popular during the pandemic, when avoiding crowded public spaces became a way to protect yourself from COVID. But even without this restriction, curbside pickup is a great time saver. You will waste less time browsing in the aisles, and possibly even save money by not being tempted as we often are when shopping in person.
Good deed: If you know anyone who is high-risk for COVID, or has difficulty getting groceries, help them order theirs this way, and pick up and drop it off when you get your own.
13. If you live with others, establish a chore chart
Along with the above-mentioned menu on the fridge (see hack #10) if you live with others, establish a chore chart and post it on the fridge and send it to everyone via text. Make sure to enforce it diligently so that everyone has a chance to benefit from extra worship and cooking and cleaning tasks in Ramadan.
14. Make time for naps
Naps are essential, especially when fasting. They offer much-needed downtime and a reset in the middle of the day when the afternoon slump hits after lunch. Take a nap of not more than 20 minutes. Set up a reminder on your phone, along with an alarm.
15. Go outside
Make sure to get some fresh air every day, preferably in green space like a nearby park. The positive effects on health, mood, and concentration can help offset the crankiness being “hangry” sometimes brings.
16. Make the last minutes before Iftar only Dua time
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the supplication (Dua) of a fasting person is not turned away at the time of breaking fast” (Ibn Majah).
Don’t waste this opportunity with food prep and table setting. Have everything ready 15 to 20 minutes beforehand so you can make focused Dua during these critical moments of Dua acceptance.
17. Spread out your daily Quran reading
Break up your Quran reading by spending a few minutes after each of the five daily prayers doing so, instead of waiting for a large block of time. If you read or memorize 15 minutes after each of the five daily prayers, that will give you more than one hour in a day.
18. Plan out your good deeds
The Prophet said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely, and moderately. Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)" (Bukhari). Set up reminder notifications on your phone or post a note on your fridge to do a good deed a week. Here are some that take five minutes or less.
19. Every night, do a rundown of your Ramadan day
Making the most of Ramadan means checking to see if we are using our time and resources in the best way. That’s why taking five or 10 minutes to review your Ramadan day before bed is so important. Ask yourself:
- What did I do right?
- What did I do wrong?
- What can I do better?
20. Take care of Eid gifts early in Ramadan
If you were not able to take care of it before Ramadan began, early in the blessed month, order all of your Eid gifts and send them directly to the recipient. This will free up your last moments in Ramadan’s last 10 days and nights so you aren’t stressed out about Eid. When possible support small, local, and ethical businesses.
21. When you can afford it, order Iftar in
One in four jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were in the food and beverage industry, which is more than any other sector of the economy. Support your local restaurants when you can by ordering Iftar in. If a full meal is too much, consider ordering just appetizers and drinks, or dessert only. This will not only save you time, it will be a way to support those who are struggling, a good deed in itself.