With final exams falling during the last week of Ramadan 2021, students may be struggling to study efficiently and effectively while fasting during the day and praying late into the night.
It is a serious challenge. But thinking and planning ahead, along with proper scheduling, can help us not just cope with the stress, but see how fasting and extra prayers in Ramadan can be a great blessing during this time.
Here are some ways to ace Deen and Dunya this Ramadan insha Allah:
1. Segment your sleep for high-concentration studying
“Segmented sleep” is actually a Sunnah. It’s a schedule where a person goes to bed once it is dark, wakes up in the middle of the night for some time of alertness, then goes back to sleep until the sun rises.
We find this pattern in the five daily prayers and the practice of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, of waking up in the middle of the night to pray, called Tahajjud.
In terms of studying for finals, this schedule can help us take advantage of that time in the middle of the night for high-concentration studying. Here is how it would work:
- Go to sleep right after praying Isha and performing some Taraweeh.
- Wake up two hours before Fajr starts to study.
- Eat Suhoor.
- Pray Fajr right when the time starts.
- Sleep until the early morning (7 a.m. or 8 a.m.)
- Resume studying.
2. Take a nap to refresh your mind
Naps are a powerful tool in refreshing our minds, especially as they become sluggish as the day progresses. They are critical for final exam studying as well, as they help rebuild concentration lost by sleepiness.
The ideal nap is not more than 20 to 30 minutes long.
As often as you can, schedule a nap in the early to mid-afternoon. Set your phone’s alarm, or call a family member or friend and ask them to be your alarm. You can nap at home if you are working remotely, your car, or in a prayer room, as many colleges have for Muslim students. Other Muslim students are likely to be doing the same. You can also find a quiet corner of the school cafeteria to nod off.
3. Eat smart at Suhoor to build brainpower for studying
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Eat Suhoor, for in Suhoor there is blessing” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Skipping meals for studying may seem like an efficient use of time, but it will backfire. You need to be healthy and alert if you want to do well in your exams. Set your alarm no less than 20 minutes before Suhoor time ends so you can eat properly.
But don’t just eat anything. Make a proper meal or put it together before you go to bed so you can easily wake up and eat quickly. For example, if you want to make a quick smoothie, put all of the ingredients in a ziplock bag in the fridge and then quickly toss it in the blender in the morning at Suhoor. Or prepare Suhoor meals on the weekends when you have more time.
“I would focus on meals that provide slow releasing energy,” suggested Hannah El-Amin, Head Dietitian at Nutrition That Fits in Chicago. “This can be accomplished by taking a source of concentrated carbohydrate (dates, other dried fruits, granola) which is packed with energy, and combining it with a protein (Greek yogurt, boiled egg, nuts, hemp seeds), which will help the energy release more steadily and slowly. A smoothie combining several of these ingredients. A date walnut smoothie, combining dates, walnuts, yogurt, honey and milk, for example. (You can add) hemp seeds for an extra protein.”
4. Eat intelligently at Iftar by avoiding things that make you sluggish
Traditional high-fat Iftar foods make us sleepy, thereby canceling plans for being able to study after fast-breaking. If you can, avoid eating these foods and opt for something lighter and healthier. If you must indulge, restrict your intake of them.
5. Switch brawn for brains - limit physical activity
Save your energy for studying by limiting heavy physical workouts or schedules with too many things to do. This way, you preserve your it for the concentration and alertness you need to be able to study properly for your exams. A quick walk after Iftar is fine, but a 30-minute cardio session might wear you out.
6. Make Dua And Put Your Trust in Allah
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“The supplications of three persons are never turned away: a just ruler, a fasting person until they break their fast, and the supplication of an oppressed person which is raised by Allah to the clouds on the Day of Resurrection, and the gates of heaven are opened for it and Allah says: By My might, I will help you even if it is after a while” (Ibn Majah).
As difficult as fasting during finals may seem, one of the incredible blessings is that we can make much Dua for success in our exams. This is particularly the case right before we break our fast, as the above Hadith indicates.
We should always remember that in the end, no matter how well, how hard, or how smart we study, results are with Allah. That means it is only through Him that we attain success. After adjusting schedules, eating and sleeping right, and really focusing and concentrating on the material we are going to be tested on, make sure, every night before breaking your fast, to beg Allah to ace your exams. Expect the best. Do not just ask to pass. Ask for the best grade. Allah is able to do all things.
Finally, ask Allah to allow you to emerge from this Ramadan successful in your Deen and your Dunya.