Amid a flurry of anticipation, Ramadhan begins and we throw ourselves headlong into ‘ibadah: fasting, reciting the Qur’an, praying taraweeh and doing as many more good deeds as we can.
All too soon, the full moon appears in the sky, the month is half over and our thoughts inevitably turn to the last ten days of Ramadhan.
‘A’isha (RA) reported that, during the last ten days, the Prophet (SAW) would exert himself in worship more than at any other time of the year (Muslim).
This included spending the nights in prayer, waking his wives up to pray and performing I’tikaf, and secluding himself in the masjid in order to concentrate on ‘ibadah. The Prophet (SAW) encouraged the Muslims to do likewise and to seek out Laylat-ul-Qadr, the night which is better than one thousand months. It is clear from the sunnah that the last ten days of Ramadhan should have a singular focus: the worship of Allah (SWT).
However, for many of us, we find it hard to maintain a high level of effort in our ‘ibadah after halfway through Ramadhan. By the time the last ten days come around, we may find ourselves actually slowing down, our resolve to make the most of Ramadhan weaker rather than stronger. Be it due to the fasting taking its toll on us physically, our own weakened iman or disappointment with our efforts thus far, we may start to suffer from a lack of momentum, leading to an unfulfilling ten days.
It doesn’t have to be this way, bi‘idhnillah. If we make a conscious effort to pace ourselves and plan our ‘ibadah in these ten days and nights, we have a better chance of making them really count. Here are some tips to help you make the most of these blessed days and nights.
1. Make intention
Remind yourself of the importance of the last ten days of Ramadhan and make a sincere intention to truly exert yourself and increase in worship, just as Rasoolullah (SAW) used to do. We know that actions are by intentions so, by making a specific intention not to let these blessed days pass you by, you are setting yourself up to make a true effort and earning the reward for the intended good deed.
2. Make a plan
The ten days pass by so quickly, it can be easy to watch them slip away without truly benefiting, especially if fasting fatigue has set in or you are pre-occupied with entertaining or planning for ‘Eid. Take some time to think about and write down what you would like to accomplish in those days and review each day, adjusting your goals as the days go by. Insha Allah, if you make a realistic plan and set smart goals, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible in this blessed period.
3. Clear the decks
Now is not the time to be planning elaborate iftar parties or large gatherings. Simplify, simplify, simplify in these precious remaining days, stripping each day back to its bare essentials. If you can take time off work, do so. If you can delay deadlines, do so. If you can plan your more demanding social obligations for earlier in the month, do so. Potlucks, one-pot meals and cooking in bulk and freezing will all free up more time for ‘ibadah. Even if you can’t avoid spending time in the kitchen or rushing around in the car running errands, make every second count by keeping your mushaf close by, playing Qur’an recitations or listening to beneficial lectures.
These ten days should be reserved for ‘ibadah and the true essentials of life. Anything else should be put on hold, particularly entertainment and non-beneficial activities. It might be a good idea to unplug from social media during this time to minimise distractions. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all great sources of information, communication and entertainment but there comes a time when these social networks become intrusive. If you find that you are checking your Twitter timeline more often than you are picking up a mushaf, particularly during these last ten days, you may be in need of a social media detox. Update your status with a ‘Closed for 10 days’ and log off – your ‘ibadah routine is sure to benefit bi’idhnillah.
5. Team up
Don’t try to go it alone. Enlist the help and support of your family (kids included!) and friends to make these ten days a time of striving for the Akhirah. Share reminders about the last ten days and discuss ways in which you can help each other stay on track. By this time, many of us may find our strength and enthusiasm starting to wane so this is the ideal time to provide support and encouragement. Can you share iftar with another family to cut down on kitchen time, or offer to swap babysitting services so that another sister can go to the masjid to pray taraweeh? Can you agree to share childcare with your husband to enable you both to pray Qiyam in the masjid or make I’tikaf? If you can, make a plan!
6. Get ‘Eid prep out of the way
It is easy to allow preparing for ‘Eid to impact negatively on your time at the end of Ramadhan. When you become busy with planning festivities, buying gifts, getting hair and henna done plus a million other things, your mind is pre-occupied with what are, let’s face it, dunyah-related concerns. Don’t let ‘Eid prep steal your blessings during these last few days. Make a concerted effort to plan your celebrations ahead of time: decide what you will be doing early and send out invitations, make bookings, plan your outfit, whatever it is you need to do before the month draws to a close. Get your ‘Eid shopping out of the way, shop online, streamline or delegate so that you can get it all done in less time, leaving you more time to focus on worship. That way, your ‘Eid celebrations won’t be tinged with regret at having wasted your ‘ibadah time on frivolities – and you’ll truly be ready to party!
7. Strive, strive, strive
If you have found your energy flagging as the month draws to a close, now is the time to pull it back. You know the rewards of these ten days; you know that you may not live to see the next Ramadhan so make a sincere effort to push yourself, to fight against fatigue and go that extra mile. Eat for strength and take power naps in the day to enable you to stand the night in prayer, seeking Laylat-ul-Qadr and the blessings of your Lord. That way, when the new moon of Shawwal appears, you can finally relax, secure in the knowledge that you gave this blessed month your all – that you honoured your Ramadhan guest – and are ready to enjoy the blessings of Allah (SWT) on the days of ‘Eid.
TaqabbalAllah minna wa minkum
May Allah (SWT) accept it from us and you!
Na’ima B. Robert hopes to do justice to the last ten days of Ramadhan – and is determined to get her ‘Eid sorted way ahead of time in order to be able to fully focus on the job at hand: ‘ibadah.