Balancing Ramadan and Responsibilities
We’re halfway through Ramadan and the routine is starting to set in. Waking up for sahur, going to work or school, going to the mosque at night for tarawih prayers. Occasionally, we would have one or two iftars with old friends (if they all agree to meet up, that is). Does this sound like a normal Ramadhan, something you can relate to?
Ramadhan for some means having to eat sahur on the way to school because their family moved out of town and they had to leave home an hour before Fajr. It might mean missing terawih because someone had to work night shifts at a 24/7 convenience store to make ends meet for their sick mum and younger siblings. It could mean spending hours reading notes for a huge exam that you have and not being able to finish reading the Quran. Ramadan can also mean being extra helpful for our sister that found out they can’t fast tomorrow.
For some, Ramadan is the spiritual retreat they need to cleanse themselves and reinvigorate their souls. For others, it is more about juggling their everyday responsibilities while at the same time, if their busy schedules permit it, slip in a page or two of the Quran, or any deed that takes up a few minutes. Considering this, here’s a few ways you can still reap the rewards of Ramadan if you are currently going through a hectic phase in life.
Number 1. Set a good intention for everything that you do
Yes, everything. It is mentioned in a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever intends to perform a good deed but does not do it, Allah will record it as a complete good deed. If he intends to do it and does so, Allah Almighty will record it as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred times as much or even more”.
The rewards of a single good deed are ten rewards and are further increased based on the sincerity of our intentions of doing a certain act. Intentions also turn a simple chore into act worship. How so?
When we go to work, we intend to find halal income for our families. Providing sustenance for the family is an obligation, therefore by placing this intention, we are turning our jobs into acts of worship. Similarly, if someone is mugging for an exam or rushing an assignment, make the intention of seeking knowledge, of benefiting your family and the community with this knowledge, of gaining closeness to Allah through this knowledge, and many more. Reflect on the things you do every day and how you can intend good things from it.
A simple hack would be to say: “I intend all that the pious predecessors intended in their actions”.
Number 2. Share your iftar with someone
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will have a reward like theirs, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest”.
When you share food with someone, even if it were a date, you gain the rewards of that person and the deeds that he did during the day. Especially for those whose routine involves being in the office all day, perhaps a good suggestion would be to donate a box of dates or anything simple like fruits to the mosque near your place. It is both an opportunity for you to gain easy rewards and allows you to know your fellow mosque-goers.
Number 3. Make constant zikr
Maybe for some people, being able to make sunnah prayers at work or school is harder than it seems, or perhaps the responsibilities that you have required a great deal of concentration, or maybe for our sisters, praying and reading the Quran is not an option. What you can do is to make zikr.
You can read any zikr you are familiar with and still be able to do your work. It is the easiest act of worship for someone who cannot afford to stop for breaks and bears huge rewards. One great example was the baker who practised Istighfar when he was making bread. One day, when an old travelling was not allowed to stay in the mosque for the night, the baker offered the man to stay with him. The old man thanked him and noticed the baker making Istighfar as he kneaded the bread and asked how this practice has benefited him.
The baker told the old man that Allah had accepted all his supplications, that is to meet the great Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali madhhab. Amazed, the old man revealed himself to be the great scholar, Ahmad bin Hanbal.
Allah says in the Quran: “O you who believe, make abundant remembrance of Allah”
At the end of the day, all of us love being in the blessed month of Ramadan. We appreciate the serenity that the month brings, the incentive to do better and the ability to come together as a community on a daily basis. However, we all need to prioritise our responsibilities too because they are an Amanah. At the end of all this, Ramadan is meant to help us become more conscious of Allah, and for us to constantly try to become better.
Contributed by Ustaz Mizi Wahid of Safinah Institute as part of #SalamTodayRamadan series with SalamToday and SalamWeb.