By Saara Patel, LMSW
This article originally appeared on muslimmatters.org.
“One of the seven given shade on the Day of Judgment is the man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears” (Sahih Bukhari narrated by Abu Huraira)
Ramadan is coming— and this year, a lot of uncertainty is also coming with it for many of us. The FYI conducted a survey to better understand the spiritual and community needs of Muslim Americans during this Ramadan. Based on these findings, the primary concerns of American Muslims were about the spiritual growth and connection we so much associate with the community/masjid.
Many of us will miss the social gatherings at iftar time. Men and women who regularly pray at the masjid in congregation will now pray in their homes, alone, or with their families. Youth who find their spiritual high at youth iftars and qiyams with their mentors must find another way to meet this need. Revert Muslims who may not have Muslim families to celebrate with and rely on the greater Muslim community to experience Ramadan will need another way to fulfill the feeling of togetherness and seeking knowledge. Recognize that we can take steps to reduce our anxiety and take control of this new Ramadan— by prepping for it now so that we can enjoy and benefit from it! The tips we’ve outlined below can be found in much greater detail in The Family and Youth Institute’s (The FYI) Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit!
The central place of spiritual connection and growth has shifted from the masjid back to the home. So how can we motivate ourselves to feel the spiritual high of Ramadan from our homes? Here are some ways to make the best of our Ramadan that we can benefit from:
Know that the masjid misses us as much as we miss it.
It is missing Quranic recitation, people giving sadaqah, the barakah of people worshipping Allah, and more. For more on this topic, check out this webinar by The FYI’s Community Educator, Duaa Haggag, about how to keep the masjid alive in our hearts during this month.
Bring the Ramadan feel to your home.
Now, more than ever, is a time to create a Ramadan home environment that appeals to all of your senses. Many of us do this already if we have children, but now is the time to also do this for ourselves, as adults. Putting up Islamic visuals (books, decorations), light traditional fragrances you associate with Ramadan, playing your favorite nasheeds, eating traditional foods for Iftar, and so on. These smells, sounds, tastes, and sights will reactivate the feeling you associate with Ramadan, even when you can’t be connected with your community.
Create a spiritual or masjid atmosphere within your home by trying some of the following:
Make a space in your home for yourself where you will pray, read Quran, make du’a, and/or reflect. Have a Quran, dhikr beads, du’a journal/book, and prayer rug easily available for use. Take pictures of your spaces and share them with your friends to encourage each other
Mimic the masjid feel by ensuring that the adhan can be heard aloud in the house at all five times of the day
If you typically go to the masjid to pray the obligatory prayers, continue to pray at the time of congregation according to your local masjid’s congregation schedule Lead your family in prayer at these specific times. This encourages you and your family to pray on time while feeling connected to your masjidIf you long to hear the Quran being recited, set that up in your space
If you have children, family togetherness will be even more important during this time. Check out the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit for many more practical tips and strategies
Create a special routine for Jummah within the home.
Take the time to research the sunnah practices of Rasulullah (S) and find creative ways to do them. Here are some other things to try:
Use this as an opportunity to learn the etiquettes of and practice giving khutbahs
Have a post-Jum’uah halaqa or listen to one of the many online lectures being shared to maintain the connection
While you may not be able to physically go to the masjid for Ju’mah, you CAN complete the other sunnahs that the Prophet (S) practiced
After Jum’uah is a time when many of us would meet up and catch up with our family and friends. Host a post-Jum’uah virtual session and share with your family and friends so you can still catch up and meet with them after Jum’uah
Remind yourselves of the blessings and rewards Jum’uah brings— even if it can’t be done as a community
Revive the Sunnah of praying Taraweeh in the home.
Learn about how praying taraweeh at home was how our beloved Rasulullah (S) and Sahabis prayed it. Remind yourself that Allah is still waiting to reward you and listen to your supplications— that hasn’t changed. Set up virtual connections with friends or family during taraweeh time. You may not be able to pray together but this will help you connect to the same feeling you had in past Ramadans. Re-frame how we feel about a taraweeh at home. Consider our situation as an invitation to spend alone time (khalwa) with Allah.
Structure your Day
Now that we are in quarantine, it’s the perfect opportunity to slow down and focus on making the best of the month of Ramadan. Making a schedule allows you to keep a consistent routine while ensuring that your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social needs are all being met each day. There will be days when it is hard to follow the schedule, so be gentle with yourself and allow those days to happen.
Start your day with a morning virtual group that recites morning du’a and surahs
Designate times to recite your favorite dhikr, du’a, and recitation of the Quran
Start a gratitude journal writing at least 3 things you are grateful for each day. Then when supplicating to Allah, thank Him for these blessings
Plan to listen to a weekly lecture/talk that is live, either with organizations or with your local mosque. Set it up on your TV for the whole family to watch together
Celebrate iftar preparation— make it a family affair! Challenge the children to set the table based on different themes and take pictures of it
Pick the days you will call a family member, neighbor, or elderly person during the week
Make sure to set time for physical activity: Take a walk outside with the family or let your kids pick a sport to play with you after work hours are over
If you have children, refer to the Family Bonding section of The FYI’s Covid-19 Ramadan Toolkit to create a schedule with them
Disengage with technology in order to engage with Allah.
Be intentional with how you are using technology and how much you are using it— use it to connect with others, not just to scroll through feeds
Set and enforce a Ramadan Family Media contract
We know the month of Ramadan is the month of Quran— how can we live this during the times we are facing now? Prophethood began when the first revelation came to our beloved Messenger (S) when he was in a state of khalwa, or isolation. While we will miss listening to the Quran being recited by the qari every night in taraweeh, we can still keep the Quran wet on our tongues and ears.
Try these strategies:
Make time for reading and reflecting on the meaning of the Quran– set SMART goals
If you have young children and find it challenging to find the time to sit and read the Quran, consider playing it while preparing iftar or taking care of the kids
Have a Quran competition within your family or with friends to see who can read the most pages by the end of the month
Engage children with the Quran by teaching them stories of the Prophets, reading Surat ul-Qadr, or Al-Alaq
Join or start a Quran recitation group where the Quran is being recited
Gather some friends that keep you accountable for your Quran goal. Do a daily check in on a group text when you meet your goal
During this unpredictable time, the power of du’a can bring hope by supplicating to our Creator. It is also a chance for healing and developing good habits. This Ramadan, be intentional about the du’a you choose to recite considering your current circumstances.
Make a du’a journal with a list of important duas to recite during Ramadan. Choose from the common du’as recited by the previous prophets, including Prophet Muhammed (S), and your personalized du’a
Choose specific times of the day that you will read these dua such as during tahajjud, right before iftar, or after a salah
Involve your children by asking them to make a list of the important people in their lives they want to pray for and share the list with each other. This not only encourages you to be reflective of your physical and emotional needs, but also reminds us of the One who can meet those needs
Start a text group where each person types in one du’a per day on the group and everyone makes the same du’a for each other
It is an understatement that this Ramadan will be an entirely new experience for the Ummah. While we will miss spiritual traditions we enjoy every Ramadan, this year is an opportunity to cultivate new traditions. The opportunities to catch the blessings of Ramadan are not lost— it just looks different this year. Allah is so Merciful that he will accept our worship for Him wherever we are. Ask yourself what spiritual acts draw you closer to Allah, and structure it in your day whether you are working inside or outside of the home. For much information on other ways to take advantage of a Covid-19 Ramadan, be sure to explore The FYI’s COVID-19 Ramadan Toolkit.