Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Top 5: Making the most of your Ramadhan

Assalamualaikum,

Image: HD Wallpaper Corner
Ramadhan as we all know it, is the most blessed month in the Islamic calendar. If I remember correctly, it is the only month to be called out by name in the Quran, such is the level of importance this month holds for all Muslims. And if you are like me, you've heard the same reminders over and over again every year as Ramadhan comes around. Now, I'm not complaining. As human beings, we tend to forget things. Which is why it's important we keep reminding each other to make the most of Ramadhan by going to the masjid/surau for terawih prayers, reciting the Quran everyday, donating (sedekah) to charity and all that. But it's always easier said than done. We may want to improve ourselves by doing all those things, but we just can't seem to push ourselves to actually do it. Sometimes we may start off strong, but halfway through the month we tend to slow down and eventually may revert back to how we once were. So in this post, I'm not going to focus on what you should do to make the most of Ramadhan, but on how you should do those things. 


5. Share the wealth, together
Giving people food for iftar is one of the best
forms of sedekah in Ramadhan. Image: Time
We are always encouraged to give sedekah, even more so during Ramadhan. Most times, when it comes to treating our friends or family, or giving a small donation to beggars in the streets, we don't have a problem. While it's perfectly fine to give sedekah of that nature, some people may want to go a step further, and make larger donations. But some people (most?) may face some financial difficulties when it comes to giving larger donations, like sponsoring an entire iftar for your class, office, or the jemaah in the masjid. The Masjid in IIUM Kuantan for example is accepting donations for sahur, iftar and moreh. RM100, RM500 and RM150 respectively if I remember correctly. Some may want to make a donation, but will be hard pressed to give that much, especially students. Instead of bearing the entire cost by yourself, why not make a donation together with friends? If you can only afford RM100, find four more friends who are willing to do the same and sponsor iftar for one night. Nobody said you have to be a solo act when it comes to giving charity. 

4. Get an early start to the day
What's the point in waking up early if all you do is eat and drink? Sahur is important when it comes to fasting, but it's not the only thing you should do once you wakeup. If you have a busy day ahead, it would be a good idea to get started early. If you fear you won't have time to recite the Quran during your work day, spend some time before/after sahur to do your recitation. If you can, get started on your office work too instead of waiting to actually go to the office. Most people's working day starts anywhere between 8am and 9am. If you wake up for sahur and stay up after, you could get started one or two hours earlier. It also makes sense since during Ramadhan most people leave the office early to prepare for iftar. So don't go back to sleep after sahur. You'll lose a few precious hours that could otherwise be productively well spent.

3. Utilise your breakfast and lunch hours
How many hours of your work day are spent eating? Or even just idling at the mamak shop chatting with friends? Now that we are in Ramadhan, you won't need to leave the office for meals. If you are Malaysian or have been here for a while, you'll know how office hours work; you come in to the office, leave for about an hour for breakfast, come back, then leave again for lunch, this time maybe a bit longer than an hour, before returning to the office. In addition to getting started with your day earlier, you should also spend the time you would otherwise spend eating on more productive things. They could be work related or spiritual, like just reciting the Quran for a while. Adding a few hours early in the morning, plus a few more hours in the office can help make your Ramadhan one of your most productive months of the year if you make the most of the extra time you are granted. Ramadhan is not an excuse to be lazy in the office.
Will you? Image: Rachel Wilkerson
2. Baby steps
I know how sometimes friends can get a little "bully-ish" if you decide to better yourself. You may want to quit smoking, and your friends will always be pressuring you by smoking right in front of you. You may want to start covering your aurat, and some friends might discourage you by saying dressing differently won't make you a better person. Many people try to use Ramadhan to better themselves, both as a human being and more specifically as a Muslim. It's easier to do so in Ramadhan. Everyone is collectively trying to be better people, so there will be less peer-pressure to do negative things, and more peer-pressure to do positive things, or make positive changes. The challenge however isn't to change during Ramadhan, that's the easy part. The hard part is making those changes permanent. You can use Ramadhan to practice being better, but once it's over you yourself will need to keep being better. If you have tried in the past to be better but always fall for one reason or another, Ramadhan is the best time of the year to start making baby steps on your path to betterment. You gotta learn to walk before you can run.

1. Ramadhan is a marathon, not a sprint
Unfortunately in Malaysia, many Muslims treat Ramadhan like a sprint instead of a marathon. The best way this is visualised is by seeing how large the congregation is at the masjid throughout the month. For the first half of the month, most small suraus are full, and you can get quite a few saf in masjids. Beyond the second week, the number of jemaah start to decline. This of course could simply be due to many people balik kampung in the final week of Ramadhan, but I feel like this is an accurate representation nonetheless. We are so eager once Ramadhan starts, but we lack the conviction to keep up the enthusiasm until the end of the month. It's a shame because the last 10 days of the month are when we should be most active. Similar to how we should take baby steps when trying to improve ourselves, we should also pace ourselves appropriately throughout the month. We shouldn't go all out during the first week, only to be burnt out by the final week. It's not enough to just reach the end of Ramadhan, we must aim to finish Ramadhan on a high note.

Image: ZeeBerry
Let's try our best to make the most of this Ramadhan. Not just spiritually as expected, but also in our daily duties. Take small steps to better ourselves instead of trying to make giant leaps. Pace ourselves so we last the entire month instead of just sprinting for the first two weeks of the month. And most importantly, we must try to make any improvements we make to ourselves permanent, and not just an annual thing that we'll forget once Ramadhan is over. 

Ramadhan Kareem my brothers and sisters.