By Sara Ahmed.
Realising that this may potentially be my last free Ramadan before I get caught up in the whirlwind of a medical house-job and other ‘adulting’ responsibilities, I’ve put in more effort than ever to plan it out. I’ve always been big on pretty stationery and planning gear but if you aren’t – that’s totally alright. I’m not here to intimidate you but to share some of my ideas in the hope that they may inspire you to create your own customised plan for Ramadan 2019.
Apart from having a list of goals for Ramadan 2019, it is important for me to have the end goal in plain-sight, so I chose to write a huge “Bloom from Within” on one page – because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? When your spirit starts rotting from inside- which I’m sure you may be experiencing as Ramadan approaches – prayers start becoming heavy, you snap back at your family, you can’t manage your addictions, you can’t get yourself to make dua and you wonder how in the world you are going to fix the mess you’ve made out of yourself. But if we dedicate a few days of Ramadan to let our spirits bloom- it permeates outwards into every single aspect of our lives and doing ‘the good stuff’ after Ramadan suddenly becomes much easier.
Here’s a numbered breakdown of my goals, why I chose to focus on them, and how they fit into the theme of Bloom from Within:
Goals 1 & 2: Memorisation Focus
I’ve chosen one of my friends as a partner for Quran memorisation/revision and we recite our portions to each other once or twice a week. When I asked some of my friends to share their Ramadan goals, a lot of them wanted to up their memorisation game. I would highly recommend finding a friend to recite to – it keeps you on track and is less stressful than doing it all on your own.
Goal 3: Fiqh-ul-Quloob (Understanding the Hearts)
This is the title of a book in Arabic which has been explained by Dr. Farhat Hashmi in Urdu on her website. Listening to these sessions makes me feel like I’m soaring on Cloud 9 and I reconnect to Allah (SWT) on another level. I haven’t been able to keep up with these series recently and I’m really looking forward to going back to it. You can find the sessions here.
Goal 4: A’mal-ul-Quloob (Deeds of the Heart)
This is another heart-warming Arabic lecture series and helps me hone my Arabic listening, reading & comprehension skills as the scholar speaks very distinctly and it’s easy for a beginner like me to grasp. You can find the lectures here.
Goal 5: Bayyinah TV Dream Program
I had been doing Nouman Ali Khan’s ‘Arabic with Husna’ series through a Bayyinah TV subscription; it’s an Arabic grammar series which has taken me along like a baby – it’s crisp and easy to grasp. I completed that series a few years ago and I want to now move on to their new Dream series which deals with more advanced grammar.
Goal 6: Social Media Boycott Days
I don’t usually disappear from social media during Ramadan but I was recently motivated by a book called ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport which convinces you to remove the ‘shallow’ from your life in order to engage yourself more completely in projects that matter to you.
Goal 7: Accepted Whispers
This is a wholesome collection of duas of the Prophet(s), the sahaba and early scholars. I just LOVE it. It’s especially useful for the last ten nights when you want to make as much duas as possible but can’t ever seem to find the right words. The cool thing about this book is that its divided into 7 sections for each of the days in a week! You should be able to find a hard copy of the book from any good local Islamic book store.
An online version is available here.
Goal 8: Teaching Focus
All of us believe in Ramadan as a time for us to solely connect to Allah (SWT) but it’s always important to impart and sprinkle the light in whatever capacity we can; it might help inspire someone else to make a deeper connection to Allah (SWT).
Next, I had to fit these goals in to my schedule, so I chose to create the “Ideal Day” spread to help me visualise how many productive time blocks I would have in a day. In the 2018 flashbacks section, I’ve jotted down the frustrations I had last Ramadan so that I don’t end up repeating those mistakes.
You may also find it helpful to create a separate Dua List to help you stay focused during your prayers:
The next step is to have a solid yet achievable tracking system which helps you review your progress every day. I previously used to devote almost a whole page for every single-day but I found that incredibly hard to maintain. My current system has been working for me for over 2 years and this is what I’ll be continuing in this Ramadan. I just create a monthly spread and jot down the important stuff that happened in a day. It barely takes 2 minutes and even if I forget to do it daily, I can fill it up after 3-4 days without getting overwhelmed.
For details about this system, you can refer to my previous blog-post.
If you don’t have the energy to create a full journal, you can just get a single sheet of paper and create a mind map like the one I made for Ramadan 2017:
If you don’t have the time or energy to do even that, there are some fantastic some pre-designed worksheets that you can find on the internet, like these ones from Productive Muslim, which you can just fill up and you are good to go! I used one in 2015 and this is what it looked like:
InshaAllah, with some planning and preparation, Ramadan 2019 could be your best Ramadan yet. I hope my tips helped you in some way and I would love to hear your ideas below in the comments section!
May all of us have a Ramadan that is full of barakah and helps us connect to Allah (SWT) in a way we have never done before!