Last Ramadan was our first Ramadan during the coronavirus. No one knew what to expect. Everyone was afraid of how lonely it was going to be, how we would get by without our extended family iftars, without our Taraweeh congregations, and qiyam nights at the masjid.
Some of our fears came true. We were tested with loneliness and the inability to meet many of our loved ones during this blessed month.
One of the biggest gifts we received last year, however, was perspective. Allah SWT taught us a lot about our priorities when it comes to Ramadan. With our social gatherings out of the question, we learned that we might have been spent our previous Ramadans wasting quite a bit of time socializing instead of spending it in the worship of Allah SWT. As our hearts yearned for the masjid, we also learned that we should have taken advantage of the times when the masjid was open by visiting more and spending a longer amount of time there.
We also learnt the sweetness of praying at home without families and turning our own homes into masjids for our family.
This year, we are mentally and emotionally better equipped to handle Ramadan during lockdown. It will still be immensely difficult, but we must look for the ease that Allah SWT has inevitably placed in every difficult situation.
There are many ways we can ensure that we have a better Ramadan this year than we did last year. By learning from our mistakes and planning for the upcoming sacred month, we can hopefully maximize our chances for success.
In Ramadan, we should aim to connect with the Qur’an in more than one way. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Listening: The Qur’an was revealed through speech—the speech of Allah SWT passed on to Angel Jibril (as) who then passed it on to the Prophet (saw). Whenever the Prophet (saw) received revelation, it was very heavy on him. He listened to it intently because he knew its magnificence.
While the Prophet (SAW) enjoyed reading lengthy surahs in his night prayer, sometimes he would also wish to listen to the Qur’an being recited. He would ask the sahabah around him to recite the Qur’an for him so that he may listen to it. Since we currently do not have the blessing of listening to the Qur’an in Taraweeh at the masjid, we can listen to it at home. Perhaps we have family members (in the same household) that can recite the Qur’an to us. If we don’t have anyone who can do that, then we can choose our favorite Qari and have his melodious voice echoing throughout our homes.
Bonus points if we choose the classic Qaris whose voices remind us of our favorite nights in Taraweeh!
Reading: This is the obvious one, but it does not have to be boring. Reading the Qur’an for days on end can start to feel a little tedious but it does not have to be! We can challenge ourselves in a fun way by getting a friend to be a Qur’an buddy! They can read to us online and we can listen and vice versa. Or you both can challenge each other to finish certain numbers of ayats in one hour and see who does it first. Children can also be encouraged to read more Qur’an through this type of healthy competition!
Tafseer (Commentary): Reading and listening to the Qur’an in its original Arabic are the two most important acts of worship we can do in Ramadan even if we don’t understand Arabic. But to read with understanding is better than to read without it. Let’s say your goal is to read Surah Maryam. It is better to also read the Tafseer of the surah before or during your recitation of the surah. This way, you can really connect with Allah SWT words.
There are also some amazing Tafseer lectures available in Surah Maryam, and other surahs, on YouTube by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda and other Shuyukh.
There is one more way in which we ought to be connecting with the Qur’an and that is through reflection. Ibn al-Qayyim (rh) came up with a list of ten things that earn the Love of Allah SWT:
1. Reciting the Quran.
2. Coming closer to Allah SWT with the voluntary prayers, fasts, and charity.
3. Continuously remembering Allah SWT.
4. Not falling for your desires but rather loving Allah SWT over your desires.
5. Knowing, affirming, and practicing the beautiful names of Allah SWT and His attributes.
6. Recognizing Allah SWT’s blessings. 7. Humbling your heart to Allah SWT and knowing that you are in need of him.
8. Calling upon your Lord and praying to Him in the last one third of the night.
9. Sitting with the righteous; people who love Allah SWT, and taking the best from their actions.
10. Keeping away from those reasons which become a barrier between you and Allah SWT. Ask Allah for a pure heart and keep your heart away from disobedience.
Many of these points above require a person to reflect deeply on themselves and the Qur’an. One of the popular methods to do this is through Qur’an journaling. In this method, you pick an ayah to reflect upon and you can write down the translation then think about the meaning and then you can see how
that ayah applies to your own life. There is a journal and a corresponding app called Quran and Me that is designed for this purpose, among others.
Many of the points mentioned in this list are actions of the heart. They require thinking about Allah SWT, reflecting on His Words, reflecting on His Names and Attributes, and humbling oneself before Him by remembering one’s faults and lowly status in front of Allah SWT the Exalted.
Each of these points is a gem for reflection and a door that can lead one closer to Allah SWT.
Before the pandemic, most of us had very busy and social Ramadans. Juggling work, school, worship, and iftar invitations left us exhausted and maybe feeling less than connected to Allah.
One of the great benefits of being mandated to stay home is that we have lots of time to spend in seclusion with Allah SWT. I’tikaaf is a common sunnah practiced by many in the month of Ramadan and while we may not be able to do I’tikaaf as we normally do in the masjid, we can still take some quiet time to ourselves every day to spend in seclusion with Allah.
Among the two main things we can do during these periods of seclusion are istighfar and dua.
Why wait until the last ten nights to ask Allah for forgiveness? Why wait until Laylatul-Qadr to beg Allah to open the doors of goodness for you? Start early. Plan a day for seclusion with Allah at the beginning or the middle of the month so that you are better prepared when the awaited last ten nights finally arrive.
Istighfar is an act of worship that opens many doors. It first and foremost protects us from Allah’s punishment.
It also causes Allah to give us blessings in abundance, all types of rizq, and an increase in children (for unmarried people, this also means that Allah will grant them, righteous spouses). When we do istighfar, Allah also takes care of all our problems.
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
Experiencing Ramadan in lockdown will undoubtedly prove to be a challenge, but if Allah SWT promises us relief from every worry in ways we would not expect, then why wouldn’t we increase in asking Him for forgiveness?
Du’a is one of the best ways to get closer to Allah SWT. Du’a also gets accepted when we are fasting so we have many times throughout the day that we can make dua to Allah SWT.
Salman al-Farsi (ra) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said:
How could we not make dua to a Master who loves to give, who is Shy and Generous? We should make abundance dua to Allah SWT this Ramadan by taking advantage of the times we are fasting and breaking our fast. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a dua list on your fridge or your phone so that you can remember everything that you want to ask Allah SWT for!
This concludes our list of things to do to make sure that we gain maximum benefit from this Ramadan in lockdown.
May Allah open up the doors for us to do good, to see good, and to receive good! And May He guide us to the best of actions that He loves and give us the ability to perform them for His sake! Ameen!