6 Steps to Plan Your Ramadan!

6 minute read

Ramadan 2021 is just around the corner, and there is this beautiful festivity and excitement in the air as we all wait anxiously for the month to arrive. 

Around this time of the year, I am usually opening up my journals to plan out how I want this Ramadan to go. When we want to achieve the best in something, we always tend to have a plan. As the quote goes, ‘If you fail to plan, plan to fail.’ But sometimes we forget to apply the same system to our Hereafter too.

My first time I tried actively planning for Ramadan was around 3 years ago, when I first started bullet journaling. Its been an ongoing experiment these past 3 years, but there’s so much I’ve gained by taking this up and so I wanted to share a few tips to help anyone begin their Ramadan plan.

So, here’s 6 steps to plan for your Ramadan. 

1. Reflect

Before you begin to plan for this Ramadan, sit down with yourself and reflect on how your previous year since last Ramadan went. We want to make sure every Ramadan was better than the previous and to do that we need to first identify how the previous one went. Journaling comes in handy as it gives you access to exactly how your days played out. However, if you are not a journal-er, fret not. Simply think back to last Ramadan and jot down: 

  • What you think went well 
  • What habits were you able to sustain throughout the year
  • What you think did not go as well 
  • Why do you think this happened

Here is an example –

What went well: I prayed taraweeh every night

What habit was I able to sustain throughout the year: The 12 Sunnah salaahs

What didn’t go so well: I didn’t have as much khushoo in my prayers as I would have liked. 

Why: I didn’t cut down on my social media use and so had the same level of khushoo outside Ramadan

Jot as many as you can think of, as all these reflections will help to shape a better Ramadan for this year.


2. Dunya Schedule

Identify what type of worldly obligations and responsibilities you have. As much as we would all like to dedicate our full days to just ibadah (worship), work and study is inevitable. By not taking into account these variables, we end up setting unrealistic goals for ourselves which inevitably leads to disappointment.

 So, do you have classes, meetings, deadlines, exams? Set out a calendar for the month of Ramadan and mark down all these events. By doing this, you are now able to create goals that are realistic to your situation.


3. Things to cut down on

Ramadan is a month of doing as much good as possible. However, before we consider what extra deeds we want to do in the month, we first have to decide what we want to cut out. This is a step that is often overlooked, but one that is extremely crucial if we want to truly benefit spiritually. 

Reflect on this Hadith:

“Verily, when the servant commits a sin, a black mark appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart.”

(Tirmidhi 3334)

Think back to last Ramadan. Look at your step 1, to the points about what did not go so well for you. Were you spending your mornings with the Quran, standing the nights in prayer, listening to reminder after reminder, but found yourself unable to truly feel connected in prayer, unable to cry during your dua? If this is you, this could simply mean there was some other deed that was stopping you from really reaching that connection. If there was a sin you were indulging during the month, there may have a been a few extra black spots on your heart for it to truly take in the blessings of all the good acts you were performing.  


Keep in mind that a lot of the time, the deeds that stop this are not exactly sins in themselves. They are in between and so we tend to guiltlessly indulge in them without realizing that this leads to a lot of ghaflah (heedlessness) and waste of time. Both these effects seep into our good deeds without us realizing, preventing us from truly gaining spiritually.

There are many different acts that can cause this; excessive socialising, entertainment, etc. And a big one — social media. While a lot of good can be found, we all know what happens when you start scrolling through meme pages. The best course of action is to limit your use, whether it be placing time limit apps or installing them only for a particular time in the day. 


4. Things to add on

Since we have considered what we are going to cut down on, we can now move onto what we want to add. 

I like to break this down into:

  • Habits I want to build
  • Extra acts of worship

Habits I want to build

These are acts that you want to continue for the rest of the year. Ramadan is the perfect time to build new habits. It’s the New Year’s resolution time for the Muslim, and Allah gives us a month where the Shaytan are locked up to make it easier for us to set it in stone.

These habits can range from wanting to pray all 5 Salaah to more Dhikr or Sadaqah. But keep in mind 2 points when deciding what habits you want to build. Firstly, consider your why. Why do you want to build this habit, what is your intention? This helps you stay motivated to stick with the habit. After that, we need a course of action for how you are going to achieve it. This means giving it a time in your day to implement it. Without assigning a time, it becomes very easy to overlook it. My favourite way of doing this is attaching it to an action that I’m already consistent with. This makes it a lot easier to build the habit.

For example:

Habit I want to build: Reciting 100 istighfar a day.

Why: Because the one who is constant in seeking forgiveness, Allah makes for him “a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” (Riyad as-Salihin 1873)

Course of action: Recite 20 after every prayer.

A reminder to not try to become too ambitious with the number of habits you want to add. These are habits you want to keep past Ramadan, for life. Try to limit yourself to 2–3 and keep in mind the Hadith;

“the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

(Bukhari 6464)


Extra acts of worship

We know every good deed in Ramadan is multiplied immensely in reward, so we want to make sure we exert ourselves in good deeds. These are the main areas to consider when deciding on what extra acts you want to do.

  • Quran — more recitation, reading the translation, reflecting on the meaning
  • Salaah — the 12 Sunnah, Salatul Duha, Taraweeh
  • Sadaqah — setting an automatic daily charity system, helping out with Iftar, volunteering
  • Dhikr — morning and evening duas, Istighfar, Salawat

These are all just examples. Think back to your reflections from step 1 and decide which good deeds went well for you last Ramadan and which new ones you would like to add to this year. 


5. Timetable

Steps 1 to 4 gave us all the jigsaw pieces to achieve the best Ramadan. Now, it is about putting the jigsaw pieces together. I do not recommend having an hour-by-hour timetable as that can feel too constraining and harder to stick to. Instead, I usually take this in 2 steps.

Firstly, planning the day in slots, revolving around Salaah. Decide what you want to slot in from one salaah to the next. Your Dunya Schedule from step 2 can help identify which slots you need to dedicate to your worldly obligations, and which slots you can use for your ibadah (worship).

Secondly, extending your Salaah breaks to stay on your prayer mat for a few more minutes than usual to incorporate some good deeds from step 4. For example, reciting x amount of Quran and y amount of Dhikr after each prayer. This is a beautiful yet simpler way of incorporating those habits you want to build. It also adds this amazing barakah to your day since everything is revolving around acts of worship and it also means you do not have to dedicate chunks of your day to solely one action as that can feel difficult to maintain long term.


6. Dua list

Although this isn’t a point explicitly connected with planning, making a Dua list is something I highly recommend. This is where you note down, in a list, all the Duas you want to ask Allah. Apart from the list helping you to not leave out anything, the most beautiful part is when you look back on this list, days or months later, and realise how many of your Duas Allah has been answering. There is no moment of greater gratitude. 

If you are struggling where to start, below are a few categories. Remember to make this Dua list personal to you. Feel free to add Duas from the Quran and Hadith but also keep in mind that Dua is your personal conversation with your Lord. 

  • My Hereafter
  • My family and friends
  • My Deen (relationship with Allah, Quran, knowledge)
  • My Dunya (career, aspirations, marriage)
  • My internal state (character, state of heart)

اَللّهُمَّ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

I pray that Allah allows us all to reach this Ramadan and fully reap all the benefits from it. Ameen.

Making the Most of Ramadan: Light on the Tongue

3 minute read

Light on the Tongue But Heavy On the Scales

So often we get caught up in the rush of life to the extent that we can go for long periods without remembering Allah outside the obligatory acts. We may utter Alhamdulilah or Subhanallah or Masha’Allah in response to certain situations, but do we ever stop to really ponder the weight of these words?

Allah says in the Quran:

“O You who believe!  Remember Allah with much remembrance” [33:41].

Dhikr grounds us; when we are busy chasing the dunya it’s a means of reminding us that we are in fact seeking far greater than it. It’s the perfect act for us to incorporate into our days, requiring nothing more than for us to move our tongues and engage our hearts. It is something we can do whilst walking around campus, or cooking or doing some other mundane task. When a man came to the Prophet ﷺ  complaining that the laws of Islam were too many for him, and asking for something he could hold onto, the Prophet ﷺ replied:

Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah [Sunan Ibn Majah – 3793]

Below are some small phrases we can repeat as a form of dhikr and reap the generous benefits from doing so:

1.     Subhanallah wa bihamdihi subhaanallahil adheem

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There are two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the Scale, and beloved to Ar-Raḥmān: “Glory is to Allah and the praise; Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent. (Subḥān Allāhi wa biḥamdih, Subḥān Allāhil-Aẓīm)” [Tirmidhi]

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea. [Sahih al-Bukhari – 6405]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “He who recites ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi’ in the morning and in the evening 100 times, will not be surpassed on the Day of Judgement by anyone with better deeds except the one who says the same words or more.” [Muslim]

2.     Astagfirullah wa atoobu ilayhi

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said: ‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him one hundred times each day.’ [Ibn Majah]

3.     La hawla wa la quwwata illa bilaah

The Prophet ﷺ said to Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari  : “Should I guide you to a word which is one of the treasures of Paradise?” He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet ﷺ said, “La hawla wala quwwata illa billaah.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

4.     Subhanallah wal hamdu lilahi wallahu akbar

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “He who says ‘Subhānallāh’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than 100 camels. He who says ‘Alhamdullilāh’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than 100 horses on which he sends 100 warriors. He who says ‘Allāhu Akbar’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than freeing 100 slaves.” [Ibn Majah]

5.     Alhamdulilah

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“Purity is half of Iman. Alhamdulillah fills the scales, and subhan-Allah and Alhamdulillah fill that which is between heaven and earth. And the Salah (prayer) is a light, and charity is a proof, and patience is illumination, and the Qur’an is a proof either for you or against you. Every person starts his day as a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [an-Nawawi – 23]The ultimate form of dhikr is the Quran. As the above hadith states, the Quran can either be a witness for us or against us on the day of judgement. Ramadan is the perfect time to work on our relationship with the Quran so that bi’thnillah it will be a proof for us on that day. We should set aside some time each day to read and reflect on the Quran, and if we do not know Arabic, to read the translation alongside it and try our best to understand and reflect upon the meanings.

Who is Allah? Al-Witr, The One and The Unique

3 minute read

Al Witr – The One and The Unique

Allah is the One who each and every one of us depends on and, He is the one and only Deity that we believe in. Allah swt is One in His being, meaning there is no other like Him. He is unique in His essence, in all His attributes and there is nothing equal to Him in any way.

Linguistically the word ‘Witr’ means that which is odd-numbered, uneven or not equable. Allah’s name Al-Witr is related in meaning to His beautiful names Al-Ahad and Al-Waahid.

Al-Waahid shows that He is One and that he has always been One. There was never a time where there were multiple Gods, and there never will be. Al-Ahad conveys the meaning that there is no one similar in His uniqueness. Allah swt is absolutely unique in His attributes and characteristics. His listening and His hearing are not like anyone else’s listening and hearing. This is supported by the ending of Surah Ikhlaas – ‘nor is there to Him any equivalent’.

And Al-Witr is the One, the Odd, and an entity that cannot be divided. Allah swt has no match, He is unparalleled and unequalled. He cannot be divided and there is no one that can become equal to Him or that can become His counterpart.
Allah says, “All praise be to Allah Who has neither taken to Himself a son, nor has He any partner in His Kingdom, nor does He need anyone, out of weakness, to protect Him.” (Al Isra 17:111) Similarly, when the polytheists came to the Prophet SAW and said to him “tell us about the lineage of your Lord”, Allah swt revealed Surah Ikhlaas to highlight there is no lineage for Allah swt. You do not talk about Allah the way you talk about the creation. You do not liken Allah to the creation – when you look at the creation you wonder; where is its origin? Where did it come from? But Allah swt is the Creator, He always was and always will be One.

Allah swt has created the entire creation in pairs, as he says, “And of everything We have created two pairs” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:49) such that they have an opposite or counterpart. It is only then it is complete, i.e., the is no concept of light if there is no darkness. Things are known by their opposites, if not their existence would be incomplete. However, Allah swt is independent of ALL. He is perfect and complete in and of Himself. He alone is the Creator and there is no Owner besides Him. He has absolute authority and power over the creation.

Therefore, all of these names are teaching us that Allah azza wa jall is One and Unique in His essence, all His powers, knowledge and abilities. He is One in His Uloohiyya, no one has a share, He is the only One that deserves worship. All attributes of divinity are solely confined to Allah and this is why we believe in the concept of Tawheed.

So how can we live by this name?
Study the meaning and increase your understanding of the Oneness of Allah (Tahweed). It is important to live with the understanding of the Oneness of Allah swt. If you don’t know about the oneness of Allah, then you are missing out – you are missing out on life and on your true purpose of existence. Tawheed is liberating, it is a beautiful wholesome concept which satisfies our minds and hearts and brings us clarity. Tawheed is the greatest reality because it is the reality of our Creator.

In this life, when you believe that it is Allah swt who is the giver and disposer of all affairs, He is the one who has all power. You ONLY need to strive to please Allah. Allah is Al-Witr, the One who your complete focus should be on. Give Allah swt importance over everything else. Remind yourself each day Allah swt is the only one who can give you Paradise, so put Him first and not what people think or want of you or even what your nafs whispers to you. Once you are able to do this, everything else falls into place. This is when your heart will truly be at peace; you will have found your purpose in life.

Lastly mention and declare His Oneness when making Dua.
O Allah, Al-Witr, we bear witness that there is no God but You, we know that You are One and Unique. Help us to remind ourselves of Your oneness and turn to You only for all our needs and us of those who consistently pray the Witr Prayer.’ Allahumma Ameen♥️

Making the Most of Ramadan: Intentions

2 minute read

Each year, when Ramadan comes around, it’s very easy for us to feel overwhelmed – there is so much we would like to get done in a day, but we’re often limited by the hours we have. We may begin Ramadan with ambitious goals, only to reach the end of the month realising that we came nowhere close to achieving them. Being students, we sometimes feel frustrated that we’re not spending as much time in Ibadah as we’d like, due to university and other commitments, but it really shouldn’t have to be like that.

Ramadan is a blessed month in which the rewards of our actions are increased many times over, and we should take full advantage of this. It is a time in which we can move closer to Allah, free ourselves from the whispers of Shaytaan and our own nafs, and continue on the path to attain taqwa. By beginning to incorporate some of the simple acts mentioned below into our day, we hope this Ramadan will encourage us all to take a step towards maximising our time and therefore our reward, insha’Allah.

Through a series of blog posts, we hope to give you tips on how best to make the most of your Ramadan, insha’Allah!

Everything begins with our intention:

Before lifting a finger, we must firstly decide what we intend by our actions.

After all, the Prophet ﷺ said ‘Actions are but by intentions and every person shall have only that which he intended’ [Sahih al-Bukhari – 1] and this is something we can use to our advantage. Of course, when we fast, pray, or recite dhikr we may intend it as worship, but what if we could apply this concept to even the most mundane, everyday tasks? What if we could turn sleeping, eating, and even bathing into an opportunity to earn ajr?

The key to this is our intentions and being mindful of them. So often we are on autopilot and we catch ourselves doing certain acts purely out of habit. To avoid this, we must pause before we pick up the Quran, or raise our hands to begin salah and ask ourselves why am I doing this?

Similarly, when we do things we wouldn’t necessarily think of as obvious acts of worship we should pause to think, is there some way I can make what I am about to do a form of Ibadah?

For example, when we would like to sleep, we can set our intention as fulfilling our body’s rights over us and gaining strength with the intention of waking up to pray tahajjud, or fajr, or do some other good with it.

When we break our fast, we can begin with eating an odd number of dates with the intention of following the sunnah of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. When we eat, we can intend it so that we are nourishing our bodies so we can stand to pray taraweeh.

If we adopt this mindset and seek a means to make everything we do an act of worship, we will bi’ithnillah begin to understand what Allah means when He says:

“I did not create jinn or man except to worship me” [51:56].

Who is Allah: At-Tayyib, The Good, The Pure

2 minute read

At-Tayyib. The Good, The Pure.

Allah (swt) is utterly good whereas his creation is not. He is unconditionally pure and good and no creation has that attribute associated with it. He is The Good, The Kind and The Pure in His Essence, Names, Attributes, Actions and Words. He does not accept any deed or saying from us, except that which is good.

Allah (swt) is free from all imperfections and is pure in his being. Its narrated in Sahih Muslim “Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good. And verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers”. He makes what he wills good and pure to accept it. Allah (swt) destined good people to good deeds, He guides them to everything good in life because of their goodness. He chooses the best of His creation for Himself such as His Messengers and the righteous. He blesses His obedient servants with good provision, just as He did for His Messengers, peace be upon them.

So how can we use this name? Well we as muslims must ensure our hearts and bodies are good and pure, void of any bad desires or doubts. We must adopt the attributes which agree with some of the Divine attributes, i.e. we have to be good and pure in our manners and character, we should distance ourselves from the filth of sins, and the harming of people, we should race to good deeds, for ourselves and for the people. We should be good in our relationship with our Lord, worship him sincerely and good in treating people. We as the slaves of Allah (swt) should not praise ourselves and describe ourselves as good. The worst kinds of praising is to describe ourselves with a quality that is not in us, or another person with a quality that is not in him.

One of my favourite duas which we should all make in order to become purer and to become from those that strive for goodness is:

‘O Allah! Assist me in remembering You, in thanking You, and in worshipping You in the best of manners’
Allahumma Ameen.