Think. Learn. Act. Remind.
Mothers of small children know that they don’t have time for pretty much anything of their own in any given day. So how can they have a productive Ramadan? While others are busy doing lots of Ibadah, reading Quran, going to the masjid, praying Taraweeh and tahajjud, we mothers seem to feel increasingly inadequate when it comes to achieving anything meaningful in Ramadan.
How can we change that? Or is there even a solution to this problem?
Before we begin though, let’s remind ourselves what Ramadan is NOT about:
– it is not a 30-day weight loss plan;
– it’s not just a 30-day Ibadah (worship) routine;
– it is not the only month when the five daily prayers are obligatory;
– the focus in Ramadan is NOT on iftari and food;
– it is not okay to sleep ALL DAY in Ramadan
– it is against the spirit of Ramadan to spend your day watching movies
– it is not about constantly declaring how weak you are feeling because you are fasting
– it is not about showing off to others regarding how you are fasting and spending Ramadan
Unfortunately, in many cultures these are exactly the sort of things Ramadan is made up of for many people. Those living in such cultures
– want to either sleep through suhoor (sehri/ Pre-dawn meal) or make it into an elaborate affair by going out to eat at restaurants famous for their sehri menus;
– some people even skip fajr salah (morning prayer);
– the entire focus in a typical day is on making the best iftaari (evening meal) or on all-you-can-eat meals at Pizza Hut and other places;
– they complain about how difficult the fast is, how long the day seems, how thirsty and hungry they are and when it’s time to break the fast, they attack the food as though they haven’t eaten in days!;
– they diligently weigh themselves every day to see how much weight they are losing;
– they continue to backbite, skip prayers, not read the Quran, get angry, etc, etc
– they spend the entire day either sleeping or watching movies or playing video games
You get the drift…
This is a month to do lots of Ibadah (worship) with the aim of getting closer to Allah (SWT), to seek Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness, to read the Quran, to avoid sins like backbiting, lying, cheating, swearing. It is a month during which one cannot lose one’s temper so controlling one’s temper becomes all important. In fact, if somebody tries to make you angry, you are supposed to remind the other person and yourself by saying, “I am fasting, I am fasting!”.
But none of this can happen without a plan.
Mothers with small children in particular have a big problem when it comes to taking the time out to do extra acts of worship.
Here are a few things we busy moms can do to have a productive Ramadan:
1) Make a plan for the entire month and set goals
2) Don’t make goals that are too far-fetched – determine how much time you can realistically devote to worship … Only you can determine that because only you know how your day really ends up getting spent
3) List 2 or 3 important things you really think are achievable and create a timetable
E.g. Last Ramadan I had two small children at home and I was expecting another one, so I just set a simple goal for myself which was to do the detailed tafseer (explanation and commentary) of Surah Yaseen … Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda was doing 30 minute sessions everyday in Ramadan as video lectures that could be viewed on YouTube … I knew that I had half an hour of free time in the morning hours after my children had had breakfast and were busy playing, so that was the time I did the tafseer… On most days, I was able to do all 30 minutes in one go, other times I had to split them up into 10-15 minute sessions but I managed to finish it Alhamdulillah in Ramadan!
Other things that may be on your list could be: sunnah and nafil prayers after every salah (prayer); 2 pages of Quran after every salah or in a day depending on your responsibilities; Quranic arabic grammar lessons (I am doing those on Bayyinah.tv which are 10 minutes long each), memorizing one long Surah like Surah Rahman, Surah Mulk, Surah Yaseen, etc.
The key is to have things you can do in your own time and that are short enough to be doable.
4) Try and involve the children in your learning efforts … E.g. I invite my 4-year-old to watch the Quranic Arabic lessons with me … I try and do them when my other children are sleeping so it becomes an exciting thing for the two of us to do together, especially since I let him share my earphones!
5) If your children are too small, investing in a portable Internet device such as an iPod or iPad may help … Download some apps for Quran reading or memorizing and use them while you are nursing or putting the children to sleep. iQuran is a really good app (search for it on the Apple app store).
6) Buy some ready-made parathas (bread) and prepare some of what you plan to have at sehri the night before. For example, if your family eats leftovers from dinner then that’s great. But if they eat parathas and omelette like our family then chop the onions and tomatoes the night before and add them to the beaten eggs … Then just fry the omelette at sehri time. Keeping meals simple helps save time especially since with small children you can never predict how your morning time will be spent.
7) When you wake up for sehri, try and get up ten minutes earlier than your planned time so that in case the children also wake up and don’t let you do things on time, you don’t run out of time for your own sehri.
8) Waking up ten minutes earlier for sehri will also give you enough time to pray 4 rakahs tahajjud prayer.
9) Having a partner in your educational endeavors (like Quran learning, tafseer or grammar) really helps since you can motivate each other to study even when you feel you can’t. Find someone whom you can easily reach on phone or in person. Of course if your husband wants to be a part of this plan, then that’s even better!
10) Even if you cannot do any of these things, make sure you make lots of istighfar (ask for Allah’s forgiveness) during the day and make lots of Duas at all times.
May we all have a blessed and very productive Ramadan. Ameen.