How can we garner for ourselves some exclusivity with God during the last days of Ramadan, to focus on worship?
Unplug the ‘Cord’: Block or Restrict Online Social Media Access
Tapping, clicking, and typing away on our phones, notebooks, tablet PCs and desktop computers has become second nature for most of us.
Many Muslims are online on social media websites and apps almost 24/7 nowadays, either by choice or due to work. Thanks to the short nights of Ramadan, most of which are spent awake due to prayer and meals, connectivity is even more “real time”.
Try to “switch off”. Tell yourself that these last nights of Ramadan come just once a year, whereas our distractive online conversations, comments, status updates and information sharing go on for the rest of it.
Snap yourself away from your latest online friends’ updates, photos, and tweets. Even avoid articles, over-sensationalized breaking news, and random television viewing.
Also try not to get attracted by commercial advertisements of sales, coupons, discounts and shopping deals in magazines, newspapers and brochures to avail them for Eid!
Resist the Urge to Host or Attend Suhoor or Iftar Banquets at Homes or Restaurants
It is wise to reserve all our energies during the last ten nights of Ramadan for worshiping God at night. This will not be possible if we go out of the house earlier in the day to attend a banquet for iftar, or if we spend hours in the kitchen preparing to host one at our own home.
Many Muslims attend late night qiyam al layl prayers in congregation during the last odd nights of Qadr (Power) which culminate with lavish suhoor banquets.
Though well-intentioned, some of these gatherings end up having a festive, ‘party-like’ atmosphere and turn into social events, with some attendees breaking away from prayer to sit together in cliques at the back, eating and chatting away about worldly matters, while their children run around playing even as congregational qiyam al layl prayers are going on. This is quite uncalled for during the precious last nights of Ramadan.
Resist the Desire to Go Eid Shopping
I don’t know about others, but the special Eid sale and discount-deal advertisements displaying couture and fashion accessories that started cropping up on screens and billboards in my cosmopolitan city ever since Ramadan started, strike me as extremely dichotomous!
Eid is all about celebrating the fact that we, the Muslim ummah, spent a whole month in devout worship, doing righteous deeds and remembering God more than we normally do. Eid preparations should therefore never become the cause of distracting us from worship during Ramadan!
We should make a conscious effort to keep our discussions, actions and attentions focused on worship and repentance during the last few nights that Ramadan is still with us; instead of on what to buy, what to cook, what gifts to give, and what to wear on Eid day.
Spend Less Time in the Kitchen
Even if you are not attending or hosting banquets, you can still end up spending more time in the kitchen than in devout worship, if you cling to ‘old school’ methods of cooking and insist on needless culinary perfectionism.
Try to rely on healthy ‘ready-made’ foods for suhoor and iftar, such as dates, fruit, milk, nuts, and packaged breads.
And try availing affordable takeout or simple, one-stop, one-pot, easy-prep baked or simmered meals to do the work for you, such as slow-cooker or oven-bake recipes, stews, casseroles and grilled meats that do not require much chopping, kneading, frying, sautéing or cooking time.
Exclusiveness Even From Your Spouse
The Prophet was the most pious amongst us, yet even he abstained from having sexual relations with his wives (which is halal) during the last ten nights of Ramadan.
He would isolate himself from social interactions in the masjid for a ten-day exclusive period in solitary communion with his lord, a praiseworthy, Ramadan-related social isolation known as i’tikaf.
During this time, he would review Quran as usual with Archangel Gabriel, as was his routine during Ramadan every year, in addition to praying qiyam al layl. As the above-quoted hadith states, he would also encourage and involve his family members to pray at night.
If the tired but exhilarated athlete who is approaching the finishing line of this marathon, having spent the last many laps physically disciplining his body into optimum performance and unswerving mental focus on achieving his goal, allowed himself to get distracted by the hordes of awaiting, cheering, waving, and applauding fans gathered in the sidelines to witness his “win”, would he not lose focus and end up spoiling his whole previous preparatory effort to achieve a record-breaking sprint, at the very last minute?
It is time for us to get cracking on night prayers, Quran recitation, tearful repentance and intense, deep, dua’!
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)