Staying Productive After Ramadan
After Ramadan, you need extra reminders to boost your motivation because you will not have the same community support as before in performing worship.
Ramadan has passed! In those past 30 days, all Muslims have written their own story through their unique planning and commitment, their dua and hidden tears, inner peace in their hearts, and their relation with Allah
Apart from the good spirit of Eid that fills our hearts with joy, two important questions are certainly on everyone’s minds: Have I done enough? How can I sustain my religious and social productivity after Ramadan?
First of all, let us be honest with ourselves: who has ever succeeded in perfectly executing his or her Ramadan plan?
As humans, no one is perfect and neither are we expected to be! All of us have certain goals that we could not carry out as efficiently as we had hoped to. It could be because our schedule was a little bit exaggerated or because of unexpected incidents. Many of us may have really tried hard, but with little success. Please, do not feel bad or label your attempt as a “failure”. Focus rather on how much you tried and be proud of your attempt.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “(The value of) an action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended.” [Muslim]
This hadith is very reassuring because it does not only explain the importance of the intention, but it also indicates that the reward we are promised does not depend on what we eventually accomplish. Rather, the reward depends on what our true and honest intention was before we set out on doing the act. In other words: the reward does not depend on the results. Instead, it depends on our efforts even if the circumstances did not help us fully accomplish our intended act.
A worry that fills the hearts of parents is that they spent the majority of Ramadan working outside or inside home, instead of doing ibadah (worship). Here is where they need to make a perspective shift. Their devotion to provide their family with a decent life is not only ibadah, but an important source of sustained and continuous reward.
Accordingly, every minute you spend at work, in traffic, every little effort in housekeeping and caring for your kids is considered a blessed mission even on normal days. So imagine how much more rewarding it would be to do the same in Ramadan?
Now review your Ramadan planning. If you find that you had committed to 50% of your Ramadan schedule, that is a great sign! It means that you have boosted 50% of your productivity in 30 days.
But how can we sustain our productivity?
When Allah gives us the privilege to be forgiven, on the last day of Ramadan, if we fast out of sincere faith and hope for His reward, all the expressions used by Him indicate that ALL our sins will be completely wiped off and our life will be like that of a newborn, pure baby.
If we really appreciate this new start, we will not take a step forward without caution and planning. We need to take this opportunity to carefully measure the progress we have made, assess where we had gone wrong and strive to be one of those who are the best of those who make mistakes, as described by the Prophet when he said:
“All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of sinners are those who repent often.” [Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
Here are some tips to help you in planning for and sustaining your Ramadan productivity levels.
1. Make Dua to Stay Productive
We complete the month of Ramadan with remarkable levels of spirituality and positive energy. . The conflict between our ego, our spirituality and satan is not a battle that we can win easily. Making dua is essential to guarantee Allah’s support throughout our daily struggles.
2. Pay Attention to Your Environment
Many of us have normal routines such as having a morning coffee or breakfast at work. Unconsciously, we miss doing some mistakes we used to do as well. Returning to our daily routine will include returning to the same environments that bring up those unpleasant desires again (extra free time and energy to waste, friends you used to smoke or waste time with, gossip or even miss salah). Paying attention to your environment is essential to sustain your productivity.
3. Commit to Attending a Weekly Halaqa
Worship is easy in Ramadan because of the collective focus on it. It is a universal month when all Muslims around the world engage in more worship. The act of fasting itself is a good reminder about focusing on staying spiritually productive throughout the day. However, after Ramadan you need extra reminders to boost your motivation because you will not have the same community support as before in performing worship. Moreover, with the busy pace of life, we gradually lose our spiritual energy. Attending halaqa (religious study group) once a week is a great way to bring us back to and stay on the right track. It keeps you aware of Allah and helps you keep your Afterlife in view always. Attending halaqa keeps you in good company: people whom you can discuss your religious feelings, reflections and experiences with.
4. Set a New Schedule
It is not heroic to attend taraweeh when every Muslim in your community does so. However it is heroic to remain consistent in performing 4 rakahs (units) of voluntary prayer every single night even if your friends are waiting for you to watch a football match, or when the lights are turned off and everyone is asleep. This is the heroic mission that we should stick to: to worship when everybody returns to his or her usual routines.
5. Keep Track of Your Ramadan Records
If you revisit your Ramadan, I am sure you will find a couple of things that you succeeded in doing even though you never thought you could do them before. That is why you should keep your Ramadan programme as a reference of your hidden potential. Every time you miss qiyam or reading the Qur’an because you feel tired, or stop doing zikr, because you are thinking about everyday problems, return to the records you set in Ramadan and get a dose of “yes I can inshallah” energy.