Ramadan Special Tips

Here are a few tips to help us make the most of Ramadan, inshallah. The main categories that I have divided them into are sleeping tips, exercise tips, eating tips, cooking tips, personal worship tips and general/random tips. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to apply all this at once because they are too many but apply as many as possible and inshallah, Allah Azza Wajal will be there to help us.

Any suggestions, corrections etc. are welcome!

Hope we have a great Ramadan, inshallah!

Sleeping tips:

1. Make wudu with cold water just before sleeping!
People usually tend to think that doing wudu at this time, especially with cold water, might result in sleeplessness for a few extra minutes, thus wasting more of their precious time. However, you'll be surprised how that is not actually the case. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad (S) encouraged us to make wudu, just like we make for Salah, before sleeping.

2. Read the following adhkar before going to sleep, at least the first one!

a. بسمك اللهم أموت و احي
b. Surah Mulk
c. Ayat ul Kursi

3. Make the intention of waking up at the time you decided and ask Allah Azza Wajal to wake you up at that time!
As will be shown later on in this post, you need to decide before you go to sleep a specific time to wake up. Moreover, you simply cannot take the risk of sleeping in an unplanned way. You'll miss out on a lot of Ajr if you do that.

4. Plan your sleep according to your sleep cycle!

Every person has a sleep cycle of, on average, 1:30 hours or 90 minutes. If you wake up in between a sleep cycle, i.e. between these 90 minutes, you feel very tired as if you had too little sleep as many of you might have noticed. However, there are times when you wake up in a very fresh mood, ready for the day. This is usually when you wake up immediately after a sleep cycle finishes. Some people might still feel tired after the 90 minutes period. No need to worry! The average sleep cycle varies from 90 minutes to 100 minutes. With a little experimentation, you'll soon be able to find out the exact time of your sleep cycle, inshallah. However, make sure that you do it before Ramadan starts so that you don't disrupt your Ramadan plan, even in the first few days. Therefore, try to sleep for a time which is a multiple of 90 minutes.

5. Take power naps of about 20 minutes throughout the day, whenever you get time, at least once a day!

No fixed time but you could do it during your break from school or office, immediately after iftar etc. However, avoid it at Fajr time because it is highly recommended by the Prophet Muhammad (S) to stay awake at this time. It is usually not possible in most of the cases to get a sleep which actually fulfills the requirement of 6 hours of rest without missing Taraweeh and/or Tahajjud prayers. Therefore, along with the sleep cycle management, this will, inshallah, keep you fresh throughout the day!

Exercise tips:

1. A short jog/run early in the day!

You should take out about 5 to 10 minutes for this. Try taking care of this at Ishraq (sunrise) time. This is usually the time when the person can afford this exercise because they have eaten Sehr recently. Moreover, most of the Fajr prayer timings in the mosques in Ramadan are usually shifted to about 10 to 15 minutes after the actual Fajr time begins or Sehr time ends. Therefore, it might not be possible for everyone to manage this properly in between that time. Reasons might include the food that the person has eaten in Sehr and the short time might actually be better spent in praying the Sunnahs of Fajr. Locate a track near your home. It might even be the road in front of your house. Set a specified distance in your mind and make a combination of jogging one way while running the way back. This might vary from individual to individual. The jogging part should remain the same for everyone while the running part might be replaced with a jogging part or a brisk walking part if the person thinks running would be too much for them. Just to remind you again, make sure that this does not exceed more than 10 minutes because you've also got to spend the rest of the day in a productive way. However, it should also not be less than 5 minutes.

2. Take an active part in going to the people in need of charity, food etc.!

Usually Muslims who are fasting tend to stay at home after their work/study. Though they do give more in charity, they only send it to people who either come to them or send it through someone else to the people they know need it. A better way would be to go yourself and find the people who are in need. Even if you don't find anyone, which I think must be highly unlikely, it'll still be beneficial to you in the sense that you won't feel lazy.

3. For salah, walk to the mosque!

If you've got a mosque near your home or your office which isn't very far, i.e. it doesn't take you more than 10 minutes to walk there, don't use the car unless you miss a commitment which you had made or your work suffers. Let your legs work too. Moreover, you won't feel that lazy anymore.

4. Workout a bit before Isha!

Once you're done with the Iftar (Iftar details will also be discussed later on in the post, inshallah), take a rest of about 20 to 45 minutes depending on the time that you have and then get yourself warmed up by some light exercise. Don't exert yourself too much. Just a few pushups accompanied with a leg exercise would be enough. Another recommended exercise would be skipping. Go to the shop, buy a skipping rope and enjoy skipping. All in all, this workout shouldn't exceed 5 minutes. Don't forget! You've got to be fit for Qiyam ul Lail too.

Eating tips:

1. Make sure you don't miss Sehr!

A lot of people, especially those who've got obesity problem, think that missing Sehr would be a good way to keep them healthy and burn their fats down. However, they usually end up being the laziest and then they eat so much after Iftar that instead of decreasing their weight, it increases it.

2. Remember not to eat too much at Sehr time!

Those who usually eat Sehr eat so much that they can't even move for a few minutes. Make sure that you eat in moderation. The Prophet Muhammad (S) instructed us to compartmentalize our stomach into three equal parts. You should eat as much as that which will be enough for the first part. Then you should drink as much as that which will be enough for the second part. The third part should be left empty. Make sure that you do not eat oily food. Watery and/or green food would be a much better option.

3. Don't eat too much at Iftar!

The general routine that the majority of the people follow is that they eat their dinner along with the Iftar. A better way would be to eat a couple of dates, maybe a samosa or some similar snack and drink water. You'd be surprised to find out that you won't feel as hungry as you expected. In fact, you might not even notice the fact that you haven't eaten dinner. Note that it is a highly recommended act to open the fast with a date. If no dates are available, the recommendation goes to opening it with water.

4. Eat your dinner just before Isha!

It was mentioned earlier that light food should be eaten in Iftar. Then, you take a rest for about 45 minutes, maybe have one of the power naps mentioned above. After that, do some light exercise for about 5 minutes. Now, this exercising should make you very hungry. So you eat dinner keeping in mind the compartmentalization technique narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (S) right after the exercise which will be some time before you go for Isha.

5. Eat after you come back from Taraweeh!

After you come back, have some light snacks immediately. Don't eat too much! Remember that you've got to eat Sehr too.

Cooking tips:

1. Make a plan for the daily Sehr and Iftar menu!

This will save you a lot of time as you won’t have to decide everyday what to make. Make a list of your housemates’ favourite foods. Get a blank calendar from a nearby shop and jot down the different foods that you plan to make on different days. Create a shopping list. Label the groceries and other cooking stuff that you buy so that you don’t have difficulty in distinguishing the different types of food while they are frozen.

2. Buy in bulk!

Remember that you’ve got to save time for other activities during Ramadan. Buying in bulk would mean that you would have to go to the stores less. You can then utilize this time better by engaging in some other activities. This will also help you if some surprise guests show up for Sehr or Iftar.

3. Prepare the cooking stuff well in time!

Specify a time every day for preparing the stuff, such as washing the meat and adding salt to it etc., that you’ll need to cook. Make it early in the day so that you won’t be very tense about the lack of time in the evening especially near Iftar time when you’re feeling very tired.

4. Clean as you work!

Normally, you would have to take out some extra time to clean your kitchen and the dishes etc. after Sehr or Iftar. This does take a lot of time. However, if you clean as you prepare the stuff and cook, you’ll be left with very little work to do once the dishes are brought in for washing.

5. Stay hydrated as you cook!

Although most people don’t take care of this, this is very important to maintain one’s energy in the kitchen. Though you cannot drink during fasting, remember to open the windows and doors and turn on the fan to diffuse out the heat more quickly. Of course, after Iftar, if you’ve specified a time for cooking too, remember to have enough drinks.

6. Use the leftovers wisely!

Most people tend to cook more than what is required. Remember to use these leftovers in the next meal. This would actually result in saving a lot of preparation and cooking time. If you were expecting guests and no one came, you could even use these leftovers alone for the next meal if they are enough.

7. Have a backup meal ready and set the table before sleeping!

There are times when your sleeping plan doesn’t work out as you expected it to and when you wake up, you realize that it’s too late to make anything. Have a backup meal ready for such occasions. Moreover, set the table before you go to sleep so that you don’t have to waste time for that in the morning when you’re feeling sleepier than usual.

8. Do dhikr while cooking!

Most people don’t talk much while cooking especially if they’re cooking alone. If you’re one of those people, you could utilize this time in doing dhikr or revising some Surah that you have memorized.

9. Utilize the extra hands that you might have!

If you’ve got a huge household, there might be people who aren’t doing anything at all and would be able to help you in your cooking. Ask them to do errands for you. However, if you think that the person might actually cause you to waste more time, send him on an errand which won’t involve you at all knowing that he’ll be able to manage it alright.

10. Remember to pray for barakah (blessing) in your time!

Though you might have very little time for cooking, you could finish everything in that little time if you’ve got barakah in it. Remember to ask Allah Azza Wajal to provide you with that.

Personal worship tips:

1. Make sure your intentions are only for Allah Azza Wajal's regardless of what you're doing, may it even be work!
Intentions are very important for every action. Scholars say that the person will not be rewarded if he does not have the right intention. Some people are shy and, therefore, hold the view that the intention cannot be to achieve paradise or to marry hoor al-ayn. However, most of the scholars say that such intentions are also valid for expecting reward from Allah Azza Wajal. Though the best intention would be to please Allah Azza Wajal.

2. Put sincerity in your Salah!

Don’t treat your Salah like something you hate and you’re forced to do it. This perspective will usually get you late at the mosque. Put love and sincerity in it and perform it as perfectly as you can. You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it. In other words, you have to do it either way so better have fun with it.

3. Wake up early in the morning, or rather, late at night, for Tahajjud!

Calculate the time between Maghrib and Fajr. Divide it by 3. The 3rd part will be the one in which the Ajr for Qiyam ul Lail is greatest. Note the time that you're sleeping on. Calculate the likely times for you to wake up considering in mind the sleep cycle time. Choose the multiple of the sleep cycle time which is nearest to the Tahajjud time that you calculated. Tune your alarm clock for that time. Wake up and pray as many rakahs (in 2s) as possible before you start Sehr. Make sure your sujood, rukoohs and every part of Salah is much much more longer than usual and that you make dua during Salah especially during Sujood.

4. Make sure that you do not miss even a Sunnah! In fact, add a few nawafil too!

According to one Hadith, in Ramadan, the reward of a nafl reaches the reward of a Sunnah, the reward of a Sunnah reaches the reward of a fardh and the reward of a fardh is increased by 70 times. Now, I don't think any sensible person would want to miss out on such a profitable business!

5. Make sure you make it to the mosque 5 times a day!

If you don't usually go to the mosque, start getting regular. If you are already regular, try making it to the very first row every time. If you are already able to reach to the first row every time, try being the one who stands directly behind the Imam or if the Muezzin stands there, aim for the position next to him. Moreover, make sure you never get late just like you try never to get late to school or work because this is actually much more important. In case you live in a non-Muslim country and there’s no mosque near your house, get a few of your Muslim neighbors to arrange a place where you people can gather together for the Salah. If you’re married and there’s proper arrangement for women, take your wife along. Take your children along too if you think they won’t disturb the people during Salah.

6. Start memorizing the Quran!

Take some time out in the morning and evening and start memorizing the short Surahs of the Quran especially the ones you take a special liking to. The recommended time would be before Ishraq (sunrise) and before Maghrib (sunset), in other words at Fajr time and at Asr time. Remember you get rewards for memorizing this whereas you won’t get anything for memorizing the songs which most people usually listen to. Rather, in a lot of cases, you get sins due to their explicit lyrics.

7. Read the Quran and understand it!

Not everyone gets enough time for memorizing passages but most can take out enough time for reading those passages. Leave your books, especially the fiction ones, stop watching useless programs on TV and pick up the Quran for a month, at least. If you’re a non-Arabic speaking Muslim, it won’t take a lot of effort to read its translation, in your language, along. Though you won’t get rewards for reading the translation however, if you follow what you read, the reward might exceed much more than the 10 words per letter method.

8. Make wudu before every Salah!

Usually, the Prophet Muhammad (S) would make wudu before every Salah so put that into practice. Though that doesn’t mean reading more than one Salah with the same wudu isn’t allowed. At the time of Hajj, he (S) prayed more than one Salah with the same wudu just to show the people that it is allowed. Make sure that you don’t delay it till the last minute. Do it as soon as you get time. You might have to suddenly go somewhere and might not get enough time for doing wudu again.

9. Pray your Sunnah and Nawafil Salahs at home!

The Prophet Muhammad (S) recommended people to pray their fardh salahs at the mosque and the other extra ones at home. Though that doesn’t mean you delay it beyond the time or miss it if you know you won’t be able to reach home by then.

10. Leave the bidahs and replace them with the Sunnahs!

Overtime practices that had nothing to do with Islam were introduced by many new Muslims. Though not all were introduced with the intention of corrupting the Islam, they still shouldn’t be practiced as the Prophet Muhammad (S) told us that bidahs (innovations) lead to dhalala (misguidance) which, in turn, leads to naar (hellfire). Compare your practices with those of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and leave the ones which contradict the Sunnah.

11. Remember to make dhikr!

Remembering Allah Azza Wajal through dhikr is the one thing which the people of Paradise will regret not doing enough. Find out the adhkar to which the Prophet Muhammad (S) attached special importance, such as سبحان اللہ و بحمدہ سبحان اللہ العظیم, reciting Surah al-Kahf on Fridays etc., and keep on reciting them as much as possible whenever you remember. You do not have to take out a specific time for it. Just do it whenever you’re doing something which doesn’t require talking whether it’s at work or at school or at a train station.

12. Go for Salat ut Taraweeh!

Most of the mosques arrange for Salat ut Taraweeh after the Isha Salah. Try making it there every night. If you’re an Arabic speaking Muslim, pay special attention to what is being recited. However, that does not mean that the non-Arabic speaking Muslims let their thoughts wander away. They should also concentrate on their Salah. Maybe they could read the translation early on in the day so that it helps them understand what is being recited. Again, the same applies here, as mentioned previously, that you should arrange for it yourself if no such arrangement has already been made. Moreover, the married Muslim men should try to take their wives along too if there is proper arrangement. Children should only be taken if you’re sure that they won’t disturb the people during Salah.

13. Spend more on the needy!
In every community, there are poor and needy people. Buy them food and surprise them by making it an anonymous gift. It is narrated that many of the Salaf (pious predecessors) used to provide food to the needy of their community without them finding out who it was who was helping them. They would only find out when that person died and they stopped receiving food. Most of the children like to play around, ring their neighbor’s doorbell and run away. Go do that to some needy person but remember to leave some food on the doorstep. Of course, for the ones without a house, you’ll have to find them and give it to them personally.

General/Random tips:

1. Get rid of your music and songs!
If you’re addicted to music, now’s the best time to leave it. Listen to nasheeds instead of your songs. If you already listen to nasheeds, try leaving that and start listening to the recitation of the Quran. Many CDs are available which contain the translation of what is being recited. Such CDs might prove helpful to you if you’re a non-Arabic speaking Muslim. Of course, the best course would be to directly leave your music and start listening to the recitation of the Quran. However, that is usually not possible for a lot of Muslims because they cannot adopt to that so quickly. Make a list of the audio which you’ve decided to listen to and burn them on a CD to listen to in your car while you driving or if you’ve got an iPod, sync it with that list. With regards to the recitation of the Quran, keep in mind that you don’t want to get attached to the recitor. Rather, you should get attached to what is being recited, i.e. the Quran.

2. If you’re travelling, make sure you don’t fast!
Most travelling Muslims tend to think that it is in their best interest to fast Ramadan. However, their fardh of fasting is delayed till the time they reach back home. Fasting in such a condition wouldn’t be very productive. They’ll feel the tiredness of fasting as well as that of travelling and they won’t be able to do much. A better way to utilize Ramadan would be to delay the fasting till they reach home. As most of us know, the Prophet Muhammad (S) told us that the Shayateen are trapped in this blessed month. That would mean that you’ve got only your Qareen (personal Shaitan) to overcome. Most travelling Muslims are able to complete their fasts easily after Ramadan. However, for many of the other activities, such as Qiyam ul Lail, it isn’t that easy. Try putting these difficult ones into practice at this easy time so that it’s much easier to continue them through the rest of the year. In short, focus on other recommended difficult actions rather than fasting unless you’re sure that fasting won’t affect you much.

3. Plan your day hour by hour!
Has it ever happened that you planned to memorize a Surah, pray more than 20 rakahs (other than the 5 Salahs and Qiyam ul Lail), visit a few relatives and friends and do much more but you end up doing nothing at all? That’s because you plan your day as a whole. Now what happens is that you keep on delaying your plans thinking that you’ve got enough time until it’s too late and you can’t do anything then. The solution to this would be to create an hourly schedule. When you know that you’ve got to finish a few tasks in this hour, you’ll realize that you’ve got less time to complete it and so you won’t delay it.

4. Review yourself every day!
Specify a certain time of the day when you review what you’ve done in your day, what you need to improve and what mistakes you need to correct. Allot at least 5 minutes for that but make sure you do it the same time every day. Otherwise, you’ll do it for a few days and that will be the end of it. When you’ve got an allotted time for it, you’ll know that you have to do it at that time and so you won’t miss it and do something else instead. Moreover, whenever something bad happens, review yourself to check whether you made any mistake or you neglected something important which might have caused Allah Azza Wajal to send you this reminder. Though that doesn’t mean that you do not take care of the apparent problem too.

5. Try to stay clear of the fitan (trials)!
If you know that there is a certain act which might lead you to sinning, don’t do it. Of course, that applies to actions which are not Sunnah or fardh. A good example in this case might be the order of lowering the gaze. The usual practice of the Muslims is that they lower the gaze when they feel the need to. However, a better approach to this would be to lower your gaze unless you need to do otherwise. In other words, don’t let the temptation of sinning come to you at all.
6. Remain in wudu all day long!
Make sure that whenever your wudu breaks, you do it again. The Salafs (pious predecessors) realized the fact that death could overtake a person anytime. They would, therefore, carry with them some water whenever they would travel so that if their wudu was to break, they could immediately redo it as they did not wish to meet Allah Azza Wajal in a state of impurity.

7. Make a dua list!
Take some time out to compile a short list of duas that you would wish to be accepted. Write them down on a piece of paper and ask Allah Azza Wajal frequently to accept them, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan.

8. Remember to pray for the Mujahideen fighting in the way of Allah Azza Wajal!
Remember, Ramadan is the month of conquests. Most of the Ramadans that the Prophet Muhammad (S) spent, in which both Jihad and fasting was prescribed, he was out fighting. Moreover, a lot of difficult wars and sieges in which the Muslims had started despairing were won by the Muslims in this month. That was also the reason why many non-Muslims would also be out during the last days of Shaban to check when the month of conquest would start so they should be more cautious. Many of the Mujahideen nowadays have either been driven out of their homes or have voluntarily left the comforts of their homes to protect the Muslim Ummah while we, instead of helping them, distance ourselves from them as much as possible. If you know a Mujahid or a family of a Mujahid, help them out if they're in need. Usually, the families of the Shuhadaa are neglected by our communities. The Prophet Muhammad (S) taught us that financing a Mujahid gets you the same reward as that of a Mujahid. Find such families and help them. Go visit the prisoners too and help them as much as possible. Remember it is a fardh upon us to free those Muslim prisoners which we are neglecting.

9. Don’t be undecisive!

Usually, Muslims take a lot of time in taking decisions especially in Ramadan when they’ve got to prioritize their activities. This leads to wastage of a huge amount of valuable time which could be better used in other activities. You could cope with this in a better way by planning your activities and prioritizing them beforehand.

10. Avoid evil company!

Make sure that you don’t sit with people who are not pious or do not try to become pious. One of the scholars of the Salaf (pious predecessors) was asked whether people should sit in a gathering where the environment is such that you start getting an uncomfortable feeling of the fear of death or should they sit with another gathering where the environment is much more relaxed but the people aren’t that pious. He replied by saying that the gathering in which there is fear of death should be the choice of the questioners.

11. Leave your bad habits!
Is there a film or a drama season which you have formed the habit of watching and you know that it’s a bad habit? Now’s the best time for you to get rid of it. Increase your other activities so much that you don’t get enough time for such bad habits. Though this might come under another point which I mentioned above, I thought it necessary to include it here too.

12. Remember death often and cry often!
Death is the one thing which none of us can deny facing. Anytime now, the angel of death could knock on our door. Suppose if today was your last day on this Earth, would you be happy to leave it keeping in mind what lies ahead of you? If not, then try living everyday of your life as you would live your last day, in remembering Allah Azza Wajal etc., because who knows? Today might actually be your last day! Listen to lectures which remind you of Allah Azza Wajal, death and the Hereafter. Moreover, you should cry often due to the fear of Allah Azza Wajal. This might even be in your Salah. The Prophet Muhammad (S) mentioned 7 people who would be given shade on the Day of Judgement. Of them, one will be the one who cries when he is alone out of fear of Allah Azza Wajal.

13. Remember not to neglect your studies and work!
Remember not to neglect your work, or studies if you’re a student, because it is your fardh to provide your family with the basic necessities of life and as a student, it is your duty to study. Try to strike a balance between your activities in Ramadan and your work load. Don’t sacrifice a fardh for the sake of a recommended action.

14. Do the more important stuff early, in the morning!

Since you would have recently eaten Sehr, you would be the most energetic early in the morning. Try doing the more important activities at this time. Though that does not mean that you do all the tiring stuff at this time. That way you won't have any energy left for the rest of the day.

15. Keep in mind that this is only a training period!
A training period is when you’ve got ideal conditions to practice something. However, when you get out of that training, you realize that those ideal conditions never exist in life. Ramadan is also such a period in which the Shayateen (devils) have been trapped by Allah Azza Wajal in order for us to practice. However, we have to realize that the rest of the year won’t be like this while we have to carry out our activities the same way, or at least nearest to it. Be determined and remember that Shaytan won’t gain access to your hear unless you allow him and that verily, Allah is sufficient as a Helper.

source: http://islamicb.blogspot.com/2010/08/ramadan-tips.html