Assalamualaikum Dear Brothers & Sisters,
It has been 3 days since Ramadan started! So how is it going? Are you feeling regretful for not being able to get the maximum out of Ramadan? For being unable to utilize it when good deeds earn multiple rewards! For being unable to stop sinning. For being occupied so much in this Duniya(the world) that you forgot about preparing for the Akhirah(the hereafter)?
Here are the seven tips that will help you maximize your output in the remainder of Ramadan and after that, Insha Allah.
1. First thing first: Take out 2-3 extra hours in solitude and make a list of the most important things to do this Ramadan which will prepare you for a better Akhirah. Allah created us, the humans, with the freedom of choice and therefore, we can take this first step to make a list of the most important things for us this Ramadan or a list of our priorities. Beautiful is Islam, where just making the intention of doing good will fetch you rewards and acting upon it will too. So I would encourage you to first make the list before moving to the 2nd must. Here is my list to give an example:
(a) I will spend 1 hour per day to learn Qur’anic Arabic, Insha Allah. I have immensely benefitted from the short courses for reading and understanding Qur’an by Understand Qur’an Academy. And this Ramadan, they are giving their courses at maximum discount. You can access all of their courses here.
(b) I will learn the seerah (character) of my prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) by reading at least 2 good quality authentic books on the topic, Insha Allah. (30 min per day)
(c) I will read the whole Qur’an in Arabic once, Insha Allah(40-45 min per day)
(d) I will read the translation of the Qur’an in the language that I like the maximum, Insha Allah(40-45 min per day)
(e) I will spend the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th night of Ramadan in extra prayers, dua’s (supplications), reading Qur’an, spending in charity, etc.
This is a list that mentions my most important to-dos or my priorities. Your list might be different and may contain Umrah (non- mandatory pilgrimage), Ihtikaaf(staying only in a masjid for a few days while staying away from worldly affairs), Dawah(Invitation to Islam) or any other or similar things.
Once the priority list is ready, here comes 2nd must!
2) Action Time: Deciding your priorities and writing them is the first step. Now the next step is a real test of taqwa( Allah’s consciousness). A test of your will power (Saying yes to your priorities) and you’re ‘won’t’ power (Saying no to the non-important time stealers or to the peer pressure).
Please remember that you are the owner of the list and the list is not your owner. These are your priorities, chosen by you. Therefore don’t feel enslaved by the list. It rather empowers you to make the right choices and removes distractions.
3) Be a prioritizer: Are you a prioritizer or a procrastinator or a yes-person or a slacker?
(a) Being a procrastinator, you keep working on emergencies – having delayed them for a while. It is not bad to work on things that are urgent and important but the only thing to remember is that these same things were not urgent at one point in time. When delayed for long, they fall into the urgent category and thus, if you have been practicing procrastination all through, guess what personality type will you be!
The result over a long period of time will be stress, a feeling of burning out and mediocre performance.
Non-urgent but extremely important things will probably never be on your to do list. For example, you might have been thinking of learning Quránic Arabic for a while now, but you probably, over these past years, never had enough time.
Learning Qurán, going through seerah, learning Arabic, performing nawafil(Optional or voluntary acts) are all important things but they are definitely not urgent unless we know our expiry date!
(b) If you are a yes – person, you want to please everyone and can just not say no. But what you should realise is that you can never please everyone. To work on your priorities you need to learn to say NO politely. Your priority list is formed keeping in mind that you need to please Allah. Giving in to peer pressure, you might at certain times, displease Allah. It might sometimes be fine to change plans a little and your schedule/planner must have that flexibility but the problem comes when the flexibility increases too much and the priorities are compromised for no logical or genuine reasons.
(c) If you are a slacker, you spend time in things that are neither urgent nor important. Remember, things meant for relaxation are important but the moment you cross the line; they will not remain important and will eat away all the time. We find that people who have a habit of wasting their time are unable to not only utilise the month of Ramadan but also their whole life.
(d) The prioritizers spend most of their time on things that are important but not urgent as they plan ahead and therefore are able to utilize the opportunities they have in their lives. If last Ramadan they had read the translation of the Qurán in their Language or in the one they are most comfortable in, they would have probably spent the rest of the year learning new dua’s. This Ramadan, their plan will probably be learning or teaching Arabic or Seerah or any other important thing. This way every Ramadan and non-Ramadan, the prioritizers will slowly and gradually utilize their time most usefully.
They would not procrastinate, neither would succumb to peer- pressure nor would they spend time on non-important things. They will keep working on their priorities which then, becomes their lifestyle.
What they get as a result is (i) better control of life and therefore a better Alkhirah Insha Allah.
(ii) a balanced and more productive life
(iii) Higher performance
(iv) happiness for themselves and others around them.
If for this Ramadan you can challenge yourself to spend time to work on your priorities and continue it for a few more months after Ramadan Insha Allah, this will become your lifestyle and you bet it is worth the effort.
4) Use a Planner: Either on your phone or your laptop or in a diary, (wherever you are comfortable) plan your month. Use that medium which can always be with you, something that is handy. Write the activities from your priority list against the dates in your planner.
This will help you from forgetting things or from double booking yourself.
5) Plan Friday to Friday: Why weekly planning because we think in weeks and Friday being the most important day with maximum spiritual benefits is the best day to start. Evaluate yourself weekly.
(a) What are the most important things that I need to do this week? Restrict your answer to not more than 7-10 things
(b) Identify the best times of the week depending on the nature of the task and put that in the planner accordingly.
For example: For me, the best time (based on my lifestyle) is to read Surah Kahf(18th Chapter) on Jumah (Friday) before the jumah prayer sitting in the masjid on reaching early in sha Allah or may be the best time to recite the glorious Qurán is post fajr prayer and azkaar.
There will be tasks you may come up with, that require no particular time or day – for example, I will smile as much as possible as it is a sunnah of my prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Please write them somewhere in the planner so that you are reminded of doing them throughout the week.
6) Leave your comfort zone, try the courage zone: Challenge yourself this Ramadan, If you have not felt uncomfortable you probably have not pushed yourself enough. Don’t let the fear of failure discourage you.
Our beloved prophet had to leave Mecca and move to Madina when he asked the idol worshippers in Mecca(his hometown) to leave their practice of worshipping the idols as the only one deserving their worship is Allah(swt). He had to move to his courage zone and leave the comfort zone to accomplish the task of purifying the kaaba from idols.
It was his consistent struggle for approximately 23 years, with patience and gratitude to Allah (his firm faith in his creator). It was only by following his every commandment and never losing his faith in his Rabb(Lord), that he finally achieved victory over the hearts of even his enemies. He lost many beloved companions, had to go through various sorts of atrocities and rejections. He kept going on consistently, without losing patience, because of his eeman(faith) in Allah.
Nothing great has ever been achieved without getting out of your comfort zone and being consistent.
7) Make Dua: Last but not the least, seek help from Allah as Allah says in the Qurán in Third Chapter 160th Verse, translation of which is “If Allah helps you then no one can overcome you and if he forsakes you then who is the one who can help you after him? And on him let the believers put their trust.”
May Allah help us in making the best use of this Ramadan and our lives, and grant us Jannatulfirdous. May Allah give us the best of both worlds. Aameen
Your brother in Eeman and Humanity and the slave of Allah
Praying you will benefit,