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Navigating Ramadan: Practical Planning for a Purposeful Month

by in Ramadan on 29th February, 2024

As Ramadan approaches, our attention turns to deepening our relationship with Allah and enhancing our spiritual journey. Like our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), who found solace and guidance during challenging times, we should view Ramadan as an opportunity for spiritual rejuvenation and closer connection with Allah SWT.

Since 2019, I’ve been crafting a Ramadan Planner annually, aimed to help individuals make the most of their month through setting goals and maximising their spiritual growth and productivity.

The planner was inspired by a close friend who had reverted to Islam at the time trying to stay organised amidst the plethora of readings and activities without feeling overwhelmed. 

Whether it’s your first or 50th time observing Ramadan, these practical tips will help you in making the most out of your Ramadan. 

Setting your Intention

In the realm of the mind, our conscious and subconscious faculties play distinct yet intertwined roles. While the conscious mind operates on logic, reason, and willpower, the subconscious delves into emotions, beliefs, and values. This interplay is crucial, especially during Ramadan, as our subconscious influences our actions and goals. 

Aligning the subconscious with our conscious aspirations is paramount for a spiritually enriching Ramadan. If our subconscious is saturated with worldly distractions, it becomes arduous to prioritise actions that lead to spiritual growth and Jannah. Therefore, nurturing intrinsic values and beliefs, such as the significance of prayer in attaining Jannah, is imperative. When our subconscious is attuned to these beliefs, coupled with the willpower of our conscious mind, performing acts of worship becomes more attainable. 

It has been narrated on the authority of Umar b. al-Khattab (RA)  that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “(The value of) an action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended.” (Sahih Muslim)

To bridge the gap between our conscious intentions and subconscious inclinations, it’s essential to reassess our habits and consumption during Ramadan. By reshaping our habits and fostering a God-centric mindset, we can realign our innate goals with our spiritual aspirations.

1. Begin each day with mindful reflection and prayer to set a positive intention. 

2. Limit exposure to worldly distractions such as social media and entertainment. 

3. Surround yourself with supportive and spiritually inclined company to reinforce your beliefs. 

4. Engage in acts of charity and kindness to nourish your soul and strengthen your connection with Allah. 

4. Seek knowledge and guidance from reputable sources to deepen your understanding of Islamic teachings and values.

Goal Setting

Ramadan is a time of spiritual growth and renewal, a chance to purify our souls and draw closer to our Creator. As the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, 

“When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

Ramadan, one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, can be enhanced by meticulous planning and preparation by setting up actionable goals, such as increased devotion in prayers, acts of charity, or personal character development.

During Ramadan, one effective strategy I’ve found is incorporating regular checkpoints. Whether every three days, seven, or ten, choose an interval that suits you to ensure you stay on track toward completing your goals. For instance, if your goal this year is to read as much Qur’an as possible, consider setting aside time every few days for reflection. To keep your spirits high and maintain a healthy balance, why not sprinkle in some short breaks during your planning sessions? Every few days, take a breather to immerse yourself in uplifting stories, whether they’re from Hadith or current lectures. These narratives are like fuel for your motivation, offering fresh perspectives and a boost of encouragement to keep you going strong on your journey.

Begin by reflecting on your spiritual journey over the past year, as reflecting on our past year can help us set our intentions for the year to come. This lays the groundwork for setting realistic and achievable goals tailored to your unique path. 

1. Establish monthly aspirations, outlining broader objectives you aim to accomplish.

2. Transition to weekly plans, breaking down these larger goals into smaller, actionable steps.

3. Finally, formulate daily tasks to further refine your focus and progress towards your objectives.

This structured approach provides clear direction for your efforts without overwhelming you with too much information at once.

Remember the words of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), who said,

“Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Habit Stacking 

Effective planning for Ramadan goes beyond mere intention; it involves seamlessly integrating new habits into our daily routines. Let’s delve into a strategy that can revolutionise our approach to worship: habit stacking.

In Islam, the concept of Ibadah encompasses a wide array of acts of worship, from Salah (Praying) and Sawm (Fasting) to Zakah (Charity)  and Hajj (Pilgrimage), all performed to express our devotion and obedience to Allah. Consistently tracking these acts not only reinforces the habit of regular worship but also serves as a visual representation of our commitment to fulfilling iman. 

Reflecting on the wisdom of the Qur’an, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:11), we’re reminded that true change begins from within. It’s not enough to merely desire spiritual growth; we must actively cultivate it within ourselves. 

Below are some ways you could implement Habits into your life:

1. Identify Existing Habits: Start by recognising habits you already have in your daily routine, such as salah, if you are doing voluntary salah, reading specific hadiths/surahs, even something simple like eating meals.

2. Choose Target Habits: Select the new habits you want to incorporate, focusing on actions that align with your Ramadan goals, such as reading Qur’an, performing dhikr, or exercising discipline. 

3. Pair New Habits with Existing Ones: Associate your target habits with the existing ones by performing them immediately before or after. For instance, recite dhikr after each salah, or read the Qur’an after maghrib. 

4. Start Small: Begin with one or two habit pairings to avoid overwhelming yourself. 

5As you become comfortable, gradually add more habits to your stack. 

5. Create Visual Cues: Place reminders in your environment to prompt your new habits. This could be a sticky note on your mirror or setting alarms on your phone. 

6. Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use a habit-tracking app to monitor your consistency and celebrate your successes. 

7. Be Flexible: Adapt your habit stack as needed to accommodate changes in your schedule or priorities. 

8. Stay Consistent: Consistency is key to forming lasting habits, so strive to stick to your routine even on challenging days. 

9. Reward Yourself: Celebrate milestones along the way to maintain motivation and reinforce your new habits. 

10. Reflect and Adjust: Regularly evaluate your habit stack to identify what’s working well and where you can make improvements, refining your approach for maximum effectiveness.

By consciously linking these acts of Ibadah with our existing habits and daily activities, we seamlessly weave worship into the fabric of our lives. Whether it’s incorporating Ibadah before or after meals, during breaks throughout the day, or alongside other essential tasks, this strategic approach maximises efficiency while fostering consistency in our spiritual practices. 

Maximising Salah in Ramadan

Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the basics, but taking a moment to understand why we perform these actions and ensuring we do them correctly adds immense value to our Ramadan journey, especially with a trusty planner by our side. Through the lens of spiritual reflection and introspection, we uncover the transformative power of prayer – a fundamental pillar of our faith

Salah, the heart of a Muslim’s day, holds deep significance in Islam. It’s not just about going through the motions; it’s our direct line to Allah SWT, where we express gratitude, seek guidance, and strengthen our connection with Him. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) stressed the importance of regular prayer in many hadiths, emphasising salah as the cornerstone of our faith and the pathway to success.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said “The first thing for which a person will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayer. If it is complete, then the voluntary (prayers) will also be recorded for him (as an increase). If it is not complete then Allah will say to His angels: ‘Look and see whether you find any voluntary prayers for My slave, and take them to make up what is lacking from his obligatory prayers.’ Then all his deeds will be reckoned in like manner.” (Sunan Ibn Majah).

This hadith reminds us of salah’s pivotal role in our spiritual journey and the importance of performing it with sincerity and dedication.

Consider setting alarms or reminders for each prayer time to stay on track throughout the day. Designate a quiet, clean space in your home where you can focus solely on your prayers, free from distractions. Additionally, try to learn more about the meaning and significance behind each word during salah, allowing you to approach each rakat with a deeper understanding and reverence. Strive to perform sunnah and voluntary prayers whenever possible, as they serve as additional acts of devotion and can compensate for any deficiencies in our obligatory prayers. 

Reflect Before Praying: Review the significance of salah before each prayer. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The two Rak’ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.” (Riyad as-Salihin)

2. Understand the Purpose: Learn the purpose of each prayer for deeper devotion. E.g. Asr prayer is witnessed by Angels. It is narrated in hadith: “The angels of the night and the angels of the afternoon go to you. And they gather at dawn prayer and Asr prayer. Then the angel who guards you up to Allah Almighty asks them – and Allah knows their circumstances (His servants) -, “In what state did you leave my servants?” The angels replied, “We leave them in a state of being set up for prayer. So when we go to them, they are in prayer. “ (Sahih al-Bukhari)

3. Stay Focused: Minimise distractions and maintain concentration during prayer. 

4. Set Personal Goals: Strive to enhance focus, memory, and recitation skills. Implement techniques like setting distant alarms that require physical movement to turn off. Additionally, leave necessary items strategically placed, such as a bucket of hot water after taraweeh for fajr ablutions, or covered food after iftar to prompt movement for fajr/suhoor.

5. Pray in Congregation: Prioritise praying with others whenever possible. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: `Whoever prays `Isha` and Fajr prayer in congregation, it is as if he spent the night in prayer (qiyamul-lail).” (Musnad Ahmad)

6. Seek Forgiveness and Guidance through Du’a: Use salah as a time for repentance and supplication. I always set aside some time at the end of my prayer to read all my duas.

7. Consistency is Key: Stay committed to your prayer routine throughout Ramadan. Your fast could be rendered invalid as not praying could take you out of the fold of islam.

Implementing these tips can help you make the most of your salah experience during the blessed month of Ramadan.

Reading the Qur’an 

In Ramadan, the Qur’an takes on a special significance, with each verse recited holding multiplied blessings. After all, this blessed month marks the period when the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ

Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede on behalf of Allah’s servant on the Day of Judgment.” (Mishkat al-Masabih).

When we dedicate ourselves to reading and understanding the Qur’an in Ramadan, we’re rewarded with blessings beyond measure, showcasing the profound impact its teachings can have on our lives. 

1. Set aside dedicated time each day for Qur’anic recitation, preferably during the early morning or evening when the mind is fresh and focused. I prefer after tahajjud prayer or just before fajr if I’ve woken up early.

2. Create a tranquil and distraction-free environment for reading, whether it’s a quiet corner of your home or a serene outdoor setting. Maintaining focus in this environment will nurture a deeper connection with Allah

3. Break down your Qur’anic reading into manageable portions, aiming to complete at least one chapter or a set number of pages each day. (The Ramadan Planner has a great Juz tracker!)

4. Engage in Tadabbur on the verses you recite, contemplating their meanings and relevance to your life. 

5. Consider enrolling in a Qur’anic study group or online course to deepen your understanding of the Qur’an’s teachings and foster a sense of community with fellow learners. There are some great classes up on Faith Space where I’ve learned a lot. 

6. Seek guidance from scholars or knowledgeable individuals if you encounter difficult passages or concepts in your reading. 

Lastly, approach your Qur’an recitation with sincerity and humility, seeking Allah’s guidance and blessings in every verse you recite.

Nurturing Spiritual Reflection through Gratitude Practices

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the blessings that surround us. However, Ramadan provides a unique opportunity to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude for the countless favours bestowed upon us by the Almighty. Incorporating gratitude practices into our Ramadan routine can serve as a powerful catalyst for spiritual reflection and growth. 

By nurturing a mindset of gratitude, we shift our focus from what we lack to what we have been given, fostering contentment and peace within our hearts. Through these simple yet profound practices, may we deepen our appreciation for the countless blessings of Ramadan.

1. Dedicate a Few Minutes Each Day to jot down three things you’re thankful for. Reflect on the blessings, big and small, that enrich your life. Create a visual reminder of your blessings by making a gratitude jar or board. Write down moments of gratitude on slips of paper and place them in the jar or pin them to the board, creating a tangible representation of your blessings.

2. Express Gratitude Before and After Meals: Before breaking your fast or partaking in any meal, take a moment to express gratitude for the food and nourishment provided to you. Similarly, offer thanks after you’ve eaten, acknowledging the sustenance you’ve received. 

3. Engage in Acts of Charity: Share your blessings with those less fortunate by engaging in acts of charity and kindness. Donate to organisations supporting vulnerable communities, volunteer your time, or simply lend a helping hand to those in need. 

4. Reflect on Blessings During Prayer: Incorporate gratitude into your daily prayers by reflecting on the blessings bestowed upon you. Take a moment during sujood (prostration) to express your gratitude to Allah for His countless favours. 

5. Practice Mindfulness: Throughout your day, cultivate mindfulness by staying present and attuned to the beauty and blessings around you. Take notice of the small miracles and moments of joy that often go unnoticed. 

6. Express Gratitude to Others: Take the time to express your gratitude to family, friends, and colleagues. A simple thank you can go a long way in fostering connections and spreading positivity. 

7. Recite Gratitude Duas: Incorporate these duas into your daily routine, such as “Alhamdulillah” (All praise is due to Allah) and “SubhanAllah” (Glory be to Allah). These phrases serve as constant reminders of our gratitude to the Creator. 

As we navigate through the sacred month of Ramadan, let’s remember the value of practical approaches like intention, goal setting, and prayer routines. By incorporating these strategies into our daily lives, we not only fulfil our religious obligations but also deepen our connection with Allah. I sincerely pray that Allah grants us the opportunity to witness another Ramadan, offering us the chance to utilise our time effectively and, together, strive towards attaining Jannah. May our personalised routines during this blessed month serve as a means to draw closer to Allah and contribute to our collective journey towards eternal bliss.

Dina Aziz is the author of Ramadan Planner: A guide to reflection and growth during the holy month.

Dina Aziz

Dina Aziz

DINA AZIZ is a social media personality and influencer who has captivated a vast following with her modest sense of fashion, inspiring lifestyle, and captivating artistry. With each Ramadan, Dina shares glimpses of her planner, providing invaluable support and preparation for her eager followers embarking on their spiritual journey. As a result, one download link to a page in her planner was clicked over 1 million times. With her authentic and heartfelt approach, Dina spends her time sharing her thoughts, guidance, and time to connect with people online and in person. Follow her on X and Instagram: @dinaaaaziz