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Productivity in Ramadan: Balancing Ramadan and Responsibilities [Part I]

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Ramadan for many is a turning point in their lives, as it was in the life of the early Muslims. Due to their dedication towards this month, they spiritually prepared themselves for the rest of the year. How Merciful is Allah! He gives you the chance to change your habits, and sets the scene for a better and more dedicated you, and He helps you through it – but the effort begins with YOU!

I remember my turning point, it began in Ramadan. As a Muslim teenager, I had an attachment towards Islam, but I struggled to practice my faith. However, many years ago, Ramadan was different. I made a commitment to the prayer – I made a commitment to Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala, and it changed my life. The next few years were symbolic for me as they were full of tests, trials, and the struggle to survive peer pressure, the pulls of this life, whilst holding onto my faith. I truly believe it was due to the sacrifices I made during the month of Ramadan, only by the permission of Allah, that I am blessed today. It is our sacrifices which define us, not our circumstances.

I want to remind you, Maryam Alayhi salam was a single mom whereas Asiya Alayhi salam lived with a domestic abusive husband, and they did not depend on their husbands spiritually – they focused on themselves. Many times, women, and our youth think, my parents are praying, they’ll save me, or that my husband is praying tarawih, he is fasting, or seeking knowledge – this is enough for my family. They will stand for themselves, you will stand for yourself, with your deeds.  Ramadan must be about your own spiritual sustenance. I was discussing marriage with a sister, and she told me, her husband is her best friend, but marriage is full of struggles, and through these struggles when her husband may not have understood her perspective, she turned to Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. Truly, Allah is the Ultimate aid. 

Hence, it is not your circumstances which lead you to success, rather your willingness to change. Many people wait for the situation to become perfect, so they can come forward. I’ll do more when I am married, or when my children grow up. I’ll commit myself when I’m old. You may never get the chance.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) will throw tests after test at you. In this arena, in this life, you need to take the first, second and third step, and even when you fall, you need to keep going.

Ramadan is about you. Don’t get left behind.

In this short article I want to share several suggestions on how to maximize Ramadan, and I pray they help you, as much as they’ve helped me. Firstly, change your mindset.

  1. Change Your Mindset:

Ramadan revolves around change. One of the major themes is redefining you. This is illustrated by one of the many meanings of Ramadan. Ramadan comes from ‘ramada’ which translates as ‘intense heat.’ Many of you may think, I have sinned too much, how can I ever change? Or you may not believe that you can change some of your habits which are tearing you down, but science tells us another story. In intense heat, the most strongest metals are bent, and shaped. Similarly, Ramadan can and will shape the strongest of sinners, and those who are habitually scarred by their desires.

It will re-shape you, and Allah is Al Karim, the Most Generous. He is Al ‘Affuw, He will negate your sins, as Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) mentions in the Qur’an:

“…And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us…” 1Productivity in Ramadan part1-inside image

 

In this verse, Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) mentions three things, in order:

He says, ‘Affuw ‘annaa. Linguistically ‘Affuw means to erase something completely; to obliterate something; to completely destroy something and leave no traces of it whatsoever. The person who makes this du’a is asking Allah to make ‘affuw of their sins, to remove them completely, and give him a fresh start.

Then Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) says, Waghfir lanaa. Linguistically ghafara means to protect, and this is why a helmet is called a mighfaar. It protects a person from severe trauma, and death. You are asking Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He), and if you do not ‘affuw our sins, if you do not erase them, then please, forgive us, and protect us from the consequences of them.

Then, in His mercy, He says: Warham naa. Rahmah is mercy, and Allah has two names related to this quality–Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem. Finally, the person is begging Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He), he begs Him, if you do not even forgive our sins, then have mercy on us! Save us, as we are in dire need of Your mercy.

Many times our minds, and hearts are occupied by limiting beliefs. Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to begin a mission to force these limiting beliefs out of your heart. This short verse shows us that Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala can completely erase our sins, and when He does; it is a fresh start. Ramadan gives you this chance.

When the Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam experienced revelation for the first time, he was terrified. He ran to his wife, Khadijah FEMALE Radi Allahu Anha and she reassured him. She reminded the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam  he had the capability to take on the task of Allah – to call the people to the truth. Similarly, with Ramadan approaching, I know many of you are excited, and looking forward to Ramadan, but there may be a few – just a few of you, who are worried. You are wary, will I change?

If you fall in this category, then let me reassure you. You can do it. As a busy person, as an individual who may be perfect, you have the ability to make the most out of Ramadan. Perfection belongs to Allah, the rest of us – are imperfect.

Islam is for everyone, and as it is diverse – for people of all colour, all occupations, all roles, so is Ramadan, it is full of opportunities, for all types of people. You can be a busy mother, with one, or two children, and still reap all the rewards of Ramadan. You can be a student, who is at the brink of exam period, and still make the most out of Ramadan. You can be working, nine to five, and still have all your sins forgiven. It begins with the belief, that you have been given all the resources to live Ramadan to the fullest.

Even if you have little, whether it is time, give with sincerity and Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) will transform your time, your money, and ultimately your sincerity into a mountain. There is no comparison. Give little, with the best of intentions and Allah is Most Appreciative.

ACTION POINT: Make a list of all the things you would like to improve on this Ramadan, and let this list be a guide for eradicating these bad habits and sins from your life.

Secondly, recharge your purpose.

  1. Recharge Your Purpose:

Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an, “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” 2

My Dear Brothers and Sisters, Ramadan is the time to recharge your purpose, and this leads to the question, what is your purpose in life? It is to put Allah first. It is to prioritize Him, and seek righteousness, because it will lead you to Jannah. This life is hard. This life is temporary. It is full of painful tests, and Ramadan is a reminder, you will not attain anything without hard work. You have to put in the work. Many of you will understand this concept, a woman carried her child in her womb for nine months, she experiences nausea, sickness, tiredness, but in the end, she cries out of joy, as she holds her child in her hands for the first time. A student stresses through exam period, but at graduation he sighs, relieved that he passed the test. This life is the greatest test, and Ramadan gives you the chance to revive your purpose. I have been through both, and recharging my purpose reminded me, it was worth the struggle.

Recently I read the tragic story of three young men who were killed in a car crash, and it was the wedding day of the sister of one of these youth. We think we will live forever, we won’t, we never know when death will hit us. You need to prepare, and live this Ramadan as if it was your last, because I tell you brothers and sisters, it may just be.

With death in mind, remember, Ramadan is coming to help you reform your behavior, and to make it in line with what Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala (glorified and exalted be He) wants for you.

ACTION POINT: In every Salah, make it one of your main intentions to remember death. Use this painful reminder as a steering wheel to do more good deeds. But, don’t let the fear of death control you, as this is a trap of Shaytan. Use it to guide you, as this is the way of those connected to Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala.

In the next part, we will look at how we can set powerful goals and focus on our opportunities at hand to make this our best Ramadan ever! Please share your suggestions in the comments section below. 🙂 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sister Alima Ashfaq is the founder and director of “I am Alima”, and “Women Of Ilm”. Her aim in life is to assist Muslim women in coming closer to Allah  Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala through Islamic knowledge. She has studied under various scholars and students of knowledge in order to gain an extra insight into her religion and to better herself in her role as an “I am Alima” instructor. Sr. Alima has been a part of various organisations and has also held a number of leadership positions. Besides this, she has also lectured in all the main Universities in the UK, including the University of Birmingham and the Sheffield University. She also has a flair for writing and has authored  Du’as of Superstars, Love Unveiled and Falling in Love. Furthermore, she has compiled and edited the Threads of Hope in conjunction with Sh. Muhammad Alshareef and I am Alima. 

  1.  Surah al Baqarah, 2:286
  2.  Surah Al Baqarah, 2:186

Comments

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If you liked the article, do leave a comment down below

37 Responses

  1. zaffakih@yahoo.com'
    Zulfa A. Fakih

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Alhamdulillah that I got this opportunity to read this article. I started reading it and found it so engaging. At the end when I saw it was written by Sr Alima my happiness got doubled. If you read my comment sister I want to share this with you especially. On 30th May I sat glued to my laptop in order to catch your webinar but Masha Allah due to certain technical issue I just could not watch it. I really was looking forward to it. And now I am waiting for the recording in sha Allah.

    The article is really inspiring. I really liked reading the meaning of affuw. Do come up with more such articles. May Allah help you write more such articles.

    Wassalam

    1. alima@iamalima.org'

      wa ‘alaykumassalaam wa rahmatullah sis Zulfa,

      It is inspiring comments like yourself which motivate writers like myself to write, as we seek pleasure in benefiting you, and reaping the rewards from Allah (subhanahu wa ta ‘ala). I pray you have an outstanding Ramadan!

      Finally, I’m writing another article right now, hence aameen to your du’a!

      Your sis,
      Alima

    2. alima@iamalima.org'
      Alima Ashfaq

      wa ‘alaykumassalaam wa rahmatullah sis Zulfa,

      It is inspiring comments like yourself which motivate writers like myself to write, as we seek pleasure in benefiting you, and reaping the rewards from Allah (subhanahu wa ta ‘ala). I pray you have an outstanding Ramadan!

      Finally, I’m writing another article right now, hence aameen to your du’a!

  2. abulkhairomeri@gmail.com'
    Afsarullah khan

    Dear sister,
    The article is very informative and inspiring in which you have pointed out how a person should spend the month of Ramadan in a better way.
    May Allah accept your effort and make you write such articles down! Ameen

  3. maliharshad19@gmail.com'
    Milli

    Dear sister Alima,
    Assalam o Alaikum.
    I read your article and it had given me a new hope and desire to make this ramadan the best one so far inshaa Allah. One of the things that you mentioned in the article was that “the fear of death is the trap of shaytan”. Can you please guide me in this regard or post an article specifically on overcoming the fear of death as I am really scared of it. I pray 5 times alhamdulillah and try to keep death in my mind at all times but then this fear affects my whole life and worldly chores making me a feel helpless.

  4. Zeena171@gmail.com'
    Zeena Bint Hussain

    Absolutely Inspiring, Alhamdulillah ? I recite the last two Ayahs of Surah Al Baqrah every night before sleeping, and this reflection in your article has helped me internalize and ponder on the true meaning of the ayah.

    May Allah bless you with the best in the dunya and Aakhirah

    1. alima.ashfaq@gmail.com'
      Alima Ashfaq

      Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

      Firstly, there is no need to live in fear, as what will hit you, will never miss you, and what is ordained for you, will always get you. Death is an inevitable part of life, and as Muslims, we have been given everything to prepare for the Hereafter.

      Allah (swt) says: “Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and good, and to Us you will be returned.” [Al-Qur’an, 21:35]

      However, Islam is balanced, and this is why we have Paradise, and Hellfire, we have good, and bad, we have death and life. You, as a believer, need to maintain a balanced outlook, and ensure that fear and hope are balanced. Have fear of death, but hope that the mercy of Allah will protect you, because His mercy overcomes His wrath.

      Allah (swt) reminds us: “O My servants who have transgressed against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Al-Qur’an, 39:53.

      The best advise I can give you is, be balanced, and every time you become fearful, and it affects you remember the names and attributes of Allah. He is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, Al-Ghaffar, AlGhafur, Al-Ghafir, and Al-Afuw. All of these Names and Attributes focus on His forgiveness, and mercy, and use them to become back to the notion that Allah (swt) loves you, very much! He wants you to have a part of this life, but have it in your hand and not your heart.

      May Allah (swt) make it easy for you. You are in my du’as!

  5. Pingback : Productivity in Ramadan: Balancing Ramadan and Responsibilities [Part II] - IOU Blog

  6. ahlam1368@gmail.com'
    Ahlam Ahmed

    Aselalemu Alykum WerahmtuALLAHI Webrkatu

    ALhamduliah for all the blessing that ALLAH gave us a chance to be forgiven inshALLAH Remedan .Remedan Mubarek to u all .Brothers and Sisters in IOU i am very much blessed to have the best teaching from you all Sukren May ALLAH increase u all in Iman and Afiaya May ALLAH increase u all in Knowledge i am always inspired by the way u convey the message .

  7. aysher01@yahoo.com'
    Aisha

    Assalamu Alaikum sister, May Almighty Allah bless you abundantly and make us change ourselves for the best and grant us goodness in this dunya and akhirah. Ameen
    love.Aisha

  8. amozidu@yahoo.com'
    maryam

    Assalamu’alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Jazakillahukhayran sister for this wonderfully inspiring article.

  9. beebah42k9@gmail.com'
    Habiba

    This article was so beautiful Masha Allah that I just grabbed a pen and started taking notes. JazakAllah khayr. And i’d also love to get the recording of your webinar. How do I access this?
    BarakAllahu feek!

  10. Sfcmilt@yahoo.com'
    MiltK

    Allah allowed me to experience Islam at the age of 50….I am still struggling to learn. You have helped an old man…may Allah continue to inspire you and may others be energized by your thoughtful comments and explanations.

  11. halimo_sacdia@hotmai.com'
    Sacdia

    Asalam aleikum. Jazakallahu for the informative artickle. My question is how do women benefit from ramadan when they either have menstration period or bleeding after child birth? They cannot fast, pray or read quran. I will appreciate your answer.

    1. cmjfive@gmail.com'
      Constance

      Editor: Plz forgive me, this is the final edited version. I was typing on KY phone and had not notice the errors.

      Corrected version:

      Assalaamu alaikum, sister!  The good news is that women can still be very involved in Ramadan during times they cannot fast or perform prayers, etc., and they can actually derive huge blessings and spiritual growth during this time!  First, they can contemplate the Quran whilst listening to others’ recitations.  This is especially easy in this age of technology, as we can use CDs and digital Quran devices.  When unable to perform salah, women can also do dthikr (recite praises of Allah) and make du’a  (personal prayers to Allah) at any time–even continuously throughout the day.  Though unable to fast, they can cook meals for the fasting people or pay for their food, from which act non-fasting women will share in the rewards of fasting and giving.   Further, in Ramadan, Allah vastly multiplies the rewards of all good deeds, and all women can do as many good deeds as possible during this Holy month, whether fasting or not.   Rewards are by intention, and Allah can generously reward even those people who were unable to do a good deed, if they ardently wished to be able to do it for His sake.  Beyond fasting and praying, Ramadan is about sacrifice and trying to become a better person. Even in Ramadan, our struggle remains real to remain patient and kind 24/7 with children, spouses, some “annoying” extended relatives, and rude or inconsiderate strangers.  In Ramadan, women who strive for Allah’s sake, toward conscientiously morally noble behavior, full of patience, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, and charity in their responses to others, are enabled to gain huge rewards.  Ramadan is also about giving and charity.  Time off from fasting and the performance of prayer in no way inhibits women from being as charitable as possible during these fleeting 29-30 days.  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was most generous during Ramadan, especially during the last 10 days–“more generous than a swift wind bringing rain” (Sahih  Bukhari & Muslim).  In Islam, “charity starts at home,” because if everyone took care of there own, very few would be left in need.  It is also important to try to extend our charity as far and wide as needed.  Those who have money and resources can seek the most effective ways to give to those who are in most need, anywhere in this world. For those who lack material resources to give, charity in the form of help and kindness is a constant resource at their disposal.  Even those who have money should strive to be as helpful and kind as possible during Ramadan, to gain the most spiritual benefit and try to maximize their rewards.  One particular way that non-praying women can be extremely helpful is to sacrifice their time to watch the children of parents who have brought their offspring to the masjid, perhaps because they had no one at home to leave them with.  We all know that unruly or unhappy young children can be a major distraction for worshipers during congregational prayers, and those who are not praying can help alleviate this problem.  In sum, Ramadan can be extremely uplifting and rewarding even at times of missed prayers and fasting days.  It all depends on your intentions and efforts, while seeking the grace and help of Allah, only through Whom all things are possible.  Final thought:  Allah ta’ala tells us in the Quran that He does not do anything for us but that which is for our benefit.  We need to realize that women’s break from fasting and formal prayers is the result of Allah’s decree, His generosity, and His wisdom.  It is therefore beneficial for women, not a misfortune in any way.   Allah Himself has promised that He will not allow anyone’s reward to be lost–One of His Holy Names is Ash Shakur–the Appreciator. Allah appreciates even our tiniest efforts and intentions.  So let us women thank Allah for His incomparable Generosity and Mercy, and understand that in His Wisdom, He knew that these “off times” have benefit for us.  He is in no way depriving us of any chances for gaining rewards during these times, and we can use these times for our spiritual growth. It is up to us to try to take advantage of the countless ways and  opportunities Allah has blessed us with for doing good and becoming closer to Him.  Simply seek to remember Allah, obey Him, and do good, whenever and wherever you can!   

  12. Pingback : 4 Easy Ways to be Productive this Ramadan |

  13. salman_imtiaz@yahoo.com'
    Mohammad Salman Imtiaz

    Assalamo-alaekum
    First of all jazakallahu khayran for this knwledgeable post. This post is a lesson for me through this i can tell my brothers and sisters how to think in ramadhan as you have mention the example of metal.
    Plz keep posting these kind of knowledgeable articles
    Fi amanillah
    Allah hafiz

  14. Wafasyedk@gmail.com'
    Wafa

    Amazing article, the main line that it’s not our circumstances that define us its our sacrifices that do, struck my heart.

  15. ktandjigora@gmail.com'
    Kaba Sallymata

    Assalam aleikoum sister,
    First and foremost Ramadan Mubarak to you and the entire Muslim umma!

    JazaakAllahu khayran for this wonderful article. I enjoyed reading it and it is a great reminder. May Ar-Arahman reward you for your effort.

  16. ericarif121@gmail.com'
    Mohammad Arif

    Assalamu Alaikum

    The article is really inspiring.Do come up with more such articles. May Allah help you write more such articles.

  17. shariq.godspeed@gmail.com'

    Assalamu alaikum,

    MashaAllah article is superb and was very effective. I am really proud of your hard working. May Allah accept this and make us able to implement on these.
    Ameen

  18. moghal.ritaj@gmail.com'
    Ritaj

    Asslamualikum Sister ??

    Mashallah what a beautiful article! May Allah give you loads and loads of health and success. Allhamdulliah I read this article made me realise my faults. Continue spreading Imaan for us sisters

  19. alima.ashfaq@gmail.com'
    Alima Ashfaq

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum!

    I want to say jazakumAllahu khayrun for all your lovely comments, encouragement, and improvements. They have been graciously accepted. You are all in my duas. I thank Allah (swt) for this wonderful opportunity to help you all, through His message, and holding myself to a higher standard.

    May Allah (swt) protect all of you!

  20. Pingback : Ramadan – Let generosity reach its peak! - IOU Blog

  21. yahayaissaku@yahoo.com'
    Yahaya

    Hamdu Lilahi for this wonderful and inspiring piece.Sis we appreciate and love you for your devotion and dedication for the Ummah.May Allah continues to bless you.

  22. arizacheagus@yahoo.com'
    ariza

    Thank you Sister Alima. I love reading this article whenever I feel the struggle to made sacrifices in the month of Ramadan, it is a reminder and helps me to align my intention and goal and energy in reaping the most benefit of this blessed month. May Allah continue to bless you and to bless us with your inspiring written word. Ameen.

    1. alima@iamalima.org'
      Alima Ashfaq

      SubhanAllah, I have been reading all your comments, and I wish I could reply and thank every single one of you for your kind messages. We know all our actions are for the sake of Allah, and they should be solely for Him. However, in our deen we are also taught to go further, to think of His creation too, and have the best adhab towards them. Your kind replies reflects this adhab, and is very motivating for me, especially as a mother of a very, very active baby, and other countless wife, teaching and studying responsibilities, so much so, that I have written several articles and I cannot wait to share them with you all inshaAllah.

      May Allah (swt) bless you, forgive you and make you all outstanding believers, aameen!!

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