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It's great to have ambitious goals for Ramadan, but in order to achieve those goals, one must be able to deal with the challenges of Ramadan which include decreasing energy levels (from a combination of lack of food and sleep), decreasing enthusiasm in the middle of the month, and maintaining the rest of your commitments (work, school, kids, etc) while increasing the time commitment of your worship; and since you don't live in a vacuum, you have to reconcile your schedule with others who may depend on you for supporting them in their goals and vice versa.

In this post, I will cover some common goals. What is important is that you have a means by which you can determine which goals are sensible for your situation and how to make them happen.

For goals that take time and occur daily, the methodology is as follows:

  1. Time Commitment
  2. Technique to complete
  3. The Bare Minimum

For goals that do not require time, or they require one-time efforts that take time, I will highlight some strategies to consider.

The Five Daily Prayers w/Sunan

1. Time Commitment

While the five daily prayers are often said to consume at most 5 minutes per prayer, averaging 30 minutes a day, this is a poor way to get even people who don't pray thinking about it. In reality, praying often entails making wudu', drying off, praying the fardh and the sunnah prayers, and possibly du'a. Additionally, by setting the bar low on time, we effectively make the salah a timed dash + aerobic workout, which complete defeats the idea of having khushoo'.

2. Technique to Complete

Since we're in summer, we have at best two prayers to complete while working (if we're not telecommuting), and the other three at home or in the masjid. That said, we should put aside 15 – 20 minutes at work for the complete act, and 30 minutes outside of work. If you have the luxury of time on your job, you can complete the sunan prayers as well over here, otherwise you can make them up at home or in the masjid.

On the job, block out the time in your Outlook calendar, get a conference room if you can, and get praying. If you're under tight time constraints, such as in a factory, then make your manager aware of your situation and let them know you'll take a short amount of time. In this type of an instance, a mad dash to completion might be necessary.

3. The Bare Minimum

If on a particular day you're crunched for time, the bare minimum is always to complete the five daily prayers. Make sure it's always taken care of. If you're someone who has not previously prayed the five daily prayers consistently (or at all), this is your #1 habit to develop and keep. Maintain it and never let it go thereafter.

Completing the Qur'an

1. Time Commitment

Depending on how quickly you complete reading 1 juz (20 pages), your time commitment might be anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours.

2. Technique to Complete

A number of good methods exist to complete the Qur'an:

  1. One Juz Daily Method: Read 20 pages per day, starting with the first night of Ramadan.
    – Method 1: Pick a time block during which you'll read all 20 pages (e.g. after fajr, during lunch break, commuting home from train, etc)
    – Method 2: Break up the daily reading into smaller chunks throughout the day (e.g. read 4 pages after each prayer).
  2.  I'tikaf Method: If you plan on staying in the masjid for I'tikaf, you can set a daily amount to read that is substantive but achievable (e.g. 5 – 10 pages, can vary each day) and then spend I'tikaf completing the Qur'an.
  3. Energy Level Method: Read more Qur'an in the first night (e.g. 2 – 5 juz) and then average out the daily amount to read that remains for the following 29 days.

3. The Bare Minimum

If for some reason you find that completing the Qur'an is out of your reach, that's ok. Set an easily achievable daily amount (e.g. 3 pages) and if you feel like you have more energy on some days, read more, and if you're out of sorts on other days, stick to your daily minimum.

Nightly Tarawih

1. Time Commitment

Tarawih can be anywhere from 1 – 2 hours after 'Isha prayers.

2. Technique to Complete

You may be tired from all that's gone on the previous day before getting to this point. Standing for 8 – 20 rakat of 20 pages of Qur'an recitation is unbelievably physically taxing, you may experience a post-iftar food coma, and your mind might be wandering hither and dither. If that's the case, treat yourself to a cup of chai or a strong brew of coffee.

3. The Bare Minimum

More important than tarawih prayer in the masjid is 'Ishaa at the masjid. If you must get one prayer at the masjid at night, make sure you get 'Ishaa, don't time things so you show late for tarawih and miss 'Ishaa as that was the most important prayer of the night to get in congregation.

Beyond this, try to get at least 4 rakaat in tarawih. If it becomes too physically taxing, sit down for part of one raka'ah and then get back into it – do this only as needed to deal with exhaustion, not as a habit for each and every two rakaat.

Family Time

When I say family time, I mean time you spend with your family (kids, spouse, parent) hanging out, doing stuff together – playing games, reviewing Qur'an stories, relaxing and talking about the day, whatever brings you together. This time is crucial and for those who are so 'ibadah-focused, consider this your daily dose of daw'ah for your family.

1. Time Commitment

Depending on your circumstances, can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours (or more).

2. Technique to Complete

Spending time with family may be the last thing you want to do after a long day of fasting, but remember that some of the best memories, positive associations with faith, and more good are during those times when the whole Muslim community is engaged in extra worship and good will towards one another.

  1. Look into your schedule and set aside time to spend with family.
  2. Ask them what they want to do with you, and try to accommodate it.
  3. Don't gorge during iftar, or you'll find yourself drifting into a food coma.
  4. Try to come up with an activity everyone will like. Don't force kids into boring lectures with your favorite teacher that only you like – let them choose.
  5. Make sure to have fun!

3. The Bare Minimum

Try to get at least 30 minutes each day with your family, where they have access to you and can spend time with you during this month.

I'tikaf – Seclusion in masjid for Worship

1. Time Commitment

Given the modern work day, many will not be able to do the full ten days without taking paid time off on the weekdays.

2. Technique to Complete

  1. If you're the type of person who gets motivation by being in a masjid where there are lots of people worshipping and people you know, then that's where you go.
  2. If you're the type of person who wants to be left alone and undisturbed, a smaller masjid with less traffic may be better for you.
  3. Besides the food, clothing, hygiene, and camping gear, be sure to bring a Qur'an mushaf that isn't electronic (keep off your phone or tablet), a book of du'aas, a good translation of the Qur'an, and audio of your favorite reciter to listen and then recite while reading.
  4. If you're obsessive-compulsive about fitness like I am, you can also download the “You Are Your Own Gym” app and, after breaking your fast, do 4-minute Tabata intervals with your own bodyweight (no equipment needed).

3. The Bare Minimum

Try to at least come in Friday evenings to your masjid of choice and leave Sunday evening.

Other Goals

1. Du'a List

Before Ramadan begins, record a du'a list (in a note taking application like Google Keep, which syncs with smartphone and desktop web app). You may have some Prophetic du'aas that you've memorized in Arabic, so remember to say those often, but also remember du'aas related to:

  1. Your Afterlife: The grave, the Day of Judgment, and your final home
  2. Bettering Yourself: Your Islamic practice, manners, and habits, your personal, fitness, financial, and professional development.
  3. Your Family
  4. The Community
  5. Those Suffering
  6. Remember to ask to be forgiven and to have your Ramadan 'ibadah accepted.
  7. Remember to thank Allah for all that He's given you, both the mundane and the monumental.

2. Charity

Besides Zakat al-Fitr, there are many opportunities to donate and it can seem confounding deciding where to send money. I would recommend the following:

  1. Automate monthly sponsoring of orphans via Islamic Relief USA or some other organization. If you already do this, add another orphan.
  2. Automate monthly support of your local masjid. If you already support them, add more to the amount you support, or support another local masjid that needs income.
  3. Encourage close friends and family to do likewise #1 and #2.
  4. Find a worthy cause that needs a good lump sum amount of money. Decide how much you plan to donate, multiply that by 3, and then donate that amount to that org in the last 10 nights.

3. Help Others Achieve Their Ramadan Aspirations

While you should be busy with your Ramadan worship, you should also keep in mind others in your home may be making life easier for you by taking care of certain shared responsibilities. You should likewise proactively approach a parent, spouse, sibling, or child and see what their Ramadan goals are and how you can help them achieve them.

For example, if your wife wants to attend tarawih, but the masjid doesn't allow kids in the women's area, it's not practical for both of you to attend tarawih, but is it possible for the husband to attend the fardh and then take the kids after to allow the wife to pray? Can you work out a schedule alternating days, or maybe weekdays vs weekends? Neither one of you will get to pray all 29 or 30 days in tarawih in this set up, but you'll both get good quality 'ibadah from worship, and time with the kids otherwise, which shouldn't be underestimated.

4. No Arguing

Every single year, arguments about the start and end of Ramadan reach a fever pitch as to which opinion is correct, what methodology some group is following this year as opposed to last year and the politics underlying why all those decisions were made, and then some.

It's almost like before the shayateen are chained up, they leave with one last parting shot to get everyone angry and disunited. What follows is the calm frenzy of intense worship, which ends with Eid moonfighting.

Remember two pieces of advice from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about argumentation:

  1. The one who gives up an argument, even when he is right, has a palace in Paradise built for him or him.
  2. If someone argues with you while you're fasting, you're instructed to tell them you're fasting.

That's it. Don't argue about anything. If someone starts asking your opinion, tell them you'd rather not talk about it. If they insist you talk about it, you insist you're not talking about it. If they start telling you about others and their wrong opinions, smile (because it's sunnah), and politely walk away.

What Are Your Goals and Techniques?

Write in the comments and tell us your cool techniques for achieving your goals. In the next article we'll cover how to add these goals and tasks into your calendar.

17 Responses

  1. amatullah

    Assalamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
    JazakAllahu khair for the tips.
    I would like to add some and inshAllah i hope others can benefit.

    To set most important and least important goals.

    In the most important it is better to include easy deeds with great rewards like saying la ilaaha ilallahu wahdahu la shareeka lahu lahul mulk wa lahul hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadeer 100 times in the morning.

    reciting surah al mulk before going to sleep

    calling atleast one relative every last ten nites even if it’s for 5 mins to maintain silatu rahim (ties of kinship)..

    trying to shed a tear for the sake of AllahSWT in secret especially in the last 10 nites (there are 2 hadiths which i remember but dont remember the source..plz check..one is being shaded on the day of judgement and fire not touching)

    saying salam and shaking hands especially in the last 10 nites (atleast one time) so that sins drop.

    reciting surah ikhlaas atleast once since it’s like reciting one third of Quran.

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  2. Balooh

    Jazakallah for this article.
    Countdown to ramadhan has started, Allah ho akbar! My favourite time of the year, truly the heart finds contentment in these blessed days. May Allah give us all tawfeeq to make the most of our time, who knows if we will have another ramadan in our lives.
    :-)

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  3. Saliha

    Assalamu Alaykum,
    This article is such a great reminder and super motivating!

    In my family, one ways we have family time is during and right after iftaar.

    One thing I’m really interested in hearing about is planning for Qiyaam ul layl. I know taraweeh counts as tahajjud, but it’d be nice to wake up later on too (even though gap between fajr and taraweeh may be very small).

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  4. The Salafi Feminist

    Boring but practical ;)
    And points for avoiding being all preachy about how to schedule your day exactly and telling everyone off that if they don’t do XYZ in this precise order, they’re losers who will never benefit from Ramadan.

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  5. olivia

    Very relevant and well structured article. Great advice espec for those living in non Muslim countries where you still have to contend with lots of other priorities, can’t sleep in, etc. Liked how you broke it down and allowed for flexibility :)

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  6. Siraaj

    @amatullah: those are some really great additions, jazakallah khayr for sharing that =)

    @balooh: Ramadan is the best time of the year, besides Hajj season, may Allah (swt) accept it from all of us, ameen =)

    @saliha: I wrote an article about how to wake up at 4am daily, try this: http://muslimmatters.org/2012/10/22/the-muslimmax-series-wake-up-at-4am-daily/

    @The Salafi Feminist: I tried to give people a realistic sense of what the day will look like and how to consider where it’s spent.

    @Olivia: Yes, the target audience is people who do not sleep through fasting, and have ambitious ‘ibadah goals in mind, so it’s western facing mostly, or those who prefer to be awake and productive throughout Ramadan.

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  7. AbuUmar

    Because of long hours of fasting and small nights, sleep management is big issue. Usually after iftaar, before going to traweeh, u brain shuts off, sleep takes over, any tips of any drinks etc(energy drinks? 5 hours energy drinks? gatorade etc?) tht can boost energy and make u awake esp in traweeh (other than cofee, tea)..Even drinking lots of water doesn’t help much..

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  8. Umm Abdullah

    JazakAllah khair for the benefical points maashaaAllah tabarakAllah.

    one point i would like to stress – many many articles go on and on about FINISHING THE QURAN…and different formulae on how to achieve this – but i have yet to see someone write READ THE QURAN WITH MEANING and IMPLEMENT IT IN YOUR LIFE.. or.AT LEAST TRY!

    i understand there is alot of reward for every letter that is read and i also understand that the Quran is a healing, however what better way to become better muslims then to read the quran with meaning and implementing it in our lives…insha Allah.

    just my opinion mind,
    jazakAllah hu khair

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  9. Siraaj

    @isiaq: wa iyyak

    @AbuUmar: The next article will cover the details of managing time and dealing with how to handle the sleep issues. But briefly, you’ll need to do a couple of things, one of which is catching a nap. A good half hour nap can help considerably. Another is to not gorge during iftar as this can trigger food coma. And finally, I personally don’t have a problem with stimulants like 5 hour energy or biotest brain candy, but I have very high caffeine tolerance and they contain about 250 – 300 mg of caffeine in one shot, which can be great the first time, but you may find yourself overstimulated, unable to sleep, and worse off the next day. I think a strong cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt, though it really depends on your caffeine sensitivities.

    @Umm Abdullah: My own view was the same as your own about completing with understanding, however, Sh Waleed Basyouni clarified a few years ago in of the AlMaghrib pre-Ramadan ilminars that during Ramadan, this is the one time of the year which is the exception where we should chase after the reward for recitation because of how much it’s multiplied throughout the month, and why we find scholars who would just complete the Qur’an repeatedly throughout the month, and the speed at which they were going would not be conducive to thoughtful reflection.

    Having said that, if I was to hack a method to pull it off, it would be to re-read what I’ve read in Arabic in my native language after completing my allocated daily portion, keeping a translation handy on my smartphone so wherever I was and had a free moment, I could read it.

    Siraaj

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    • nadia

      I cant believe the thumbs down on this, it makes sense to me what he is saying.

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  10. Hazique

    Assalamua’laikum…

    Just a little confession, I was the one who accidentally pressed the unlike button. Totally not my intention to do so, tried to undo it but couldn’t do anything bout it. Am a newcomer to this website and am really sorry but anyhow I totally love the practicality of the methods put forward. Just to add on the issue of having energy throughout the day, one can say SubhanAllah and Alhamdulillah 33 times each and Allahu Akbar 34 times before going to bed as advised by the Prophet s.a.w and this can be further explained by this post that i bumped into on mm – http://muslimmatters.org/2010/03/03/the-prophets-prescribed-antidote-for-housework-fatigue-remembrance-of-allah/

    This is a really great website Alhamdulillah. A fraternity of believing brothers and sisters calling to good. Lots of love from Singapore and may Allah reward all of you for your works and may all of us have a blessed Ramadhan and progress in our iman.

    JazakAllah hu khair :)

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  11. Atul mittal

    Thanks sir the helpful tips. I am not a Muslim, but many of my friends are and I will convey these tips to them. Ramadan is starting from tomorrow. It is not easy to fast for a whole month with so many rules. I wish all of you very good luck and a very Happy Ramadan.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

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