When Ramadan left you last year with a concern that you didn’t do it well, you might think,
“With all the surrounding supportive atmosphere and friends by my side, I’ll certainly do better in my Ramadan next year!”
Unfortunately, nobody expected Ramadan to return with extraordinary demands this year.
We are only days away from Ramadan. Yet the world is still preoccupied with combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and its related issues.
At the same time, the world economy is facing the threat of recession, with millions already on the verge of losing their jobs, and with no clear future in sight.
Although many cities are still in major lockdown, the death toll from Coronavirus around the globe is rising non-stop.
Like it or not, you and everyone in the world will have to take a giant leap of change in your daily activities.
That would include how you will be experiencing Ramadan this COVID-19 year.
How your COVID-19 Ramadan could be ruined
Currently, your life might still be in the adjustment mode to the COVID-19 control measures.
Yet, your mental and emotional might are already exhausted with all the days of strict control and constraints enforced by the authorities.
With the overwhelming COVID-19 news and updates, this year’s Ramadan could just be daunting, especially if you are the type who depends heavily on group activities to lift your Ramadan spirit.
Be prepared for the prospect that there will be no communal Taraweeh prayers and Iftar in the mosque this year. Not even when you think the mosque might organise it with people in the Saff (line) distancing by one-metre from each other!
And be prepared that you will not be able to do your other Ramadan Ibadah – I’tikaf and night prayers (Qiyamullail) – with your usual group of pious friends in the mosque. For this COVID-19 year you are totally on your own, and doing those ibadahs in your house.
Not to mention that other Ramadan things of delight such as the street Bazar Ramadan, and the luxurious charity or private Iftar buffets at the five-star hotels and restaurants might also be off.
And not least, you might miss the usual Eid shopping spree during the last 10 days of Ramadan, as well as the extra pocket money you used to get from delivering Ramadan talks or being the grand Imam of Taraweeh prayers.
Can you think of what other ways that your or others’ normal Ramadan could be ruined due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year?
5 useful tips to save your COVID-19 Ramadan before it’s too late
The good news is you actually have the power to prevent Ramadan from being ruined by these COVID-19 measures before it’s too late!
We bring you 5 useful tips that might help you to mitigate the negative COVID-19 impact on your Ramadan this year :
The first step in dealing with any problem is your acceptance of the situation. Accept that this year’s Ramadan is going to be different.
Failure to do so will cause you to take for granted as to what you should and should not do during Ramadan this year.
By accepting the fact that it will be a COVID-19 Ramadan, you are preparing your mind to be ready to embark on a new experience. You would expect the change, and not deal with things the way you used to.
Set your goal for this year’s Ramadan and make sure that it is S.M.A.R.T. enough — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
For instance, do not simply stop at piety as your goal of Ramadan. Instead, define what sort of piety you are aiming at in the COVID-19 Ramadan.
In defining your goal, extend your perspective beyond individualism and the narrow Hereafter. This COVID-19 madrasah of Ramadan should teach and tarbiyyah you to think about the Ummah around the globe, and how to help remedy their situation.
Ramadan should turn us into an álim as well as a mujahid.
Think about the Jihad of the Sahabas in upholding Da’wah whereby Islam consequently brought about a systemic change to the world civilisation, and apply it to this year’s COVID-19 Ramadan.
2. Prepare your strategic plan.
After you put your thoughts into your goal and mindset, lay them out clearly.
Introspect yourself on the key points that could affect your Ramadan. Analyse your personal strength and weakness. Is surviving Ramadan by yourself a concern for you, or are you spiritually independent?
Is your home during this COVID-19 movement restriction sufficiently conducive for Ramadan?
Also, identify the external opportunities and the possible threats that may influence your Ramadan performance this year. Plan your way around them.
List down the new knowledge you want to master during this COVID-19 Ramadan, the ibadah you want to discipline yourself with, and the akhlak you want to adorn yourself with.
Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, determine the measurable performance indicators, and make a checklist of them.
By following the steps you have drafted, you should be able to track and monitor your progress and effect a timely intervention when needed.
To summarise, put together your customised COVID-19 Ramadan strategic plan this year. Do not simply follow the flow as what you probably did last year.
Finally, don’t worry about the difficulty of drawing your Ramadan strategic plan; we will assist you in preparing it.
Like any marathon, you have to practise before, not after, passing the starting line.
You already have your personal list of what you want to improve yourself on. Do not wait until Ramadan has started. Tie your shoe and start walking now before you can run later.
Start slow and do not push yourself too hard. Wipe the dust off the Quran you left on top of the shelf last year, and start reciting it from the first letter.
Start being modest with your meals. Start allocating your time to pray in time.
Start looking for spiritual inspirations from the Seerah. Revise your knowledge on Ramadan, and that should include going beyond the Fiqh of Sawm (fasting).
Seek spiritual and emotional lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic so your heart will soften.
The key here is to start. Once you have started, however small it is, you are already on the track to develop your spiritual quality.
By the way, you don’t need to worry if you are slowly going through the marathon. For your journey is to win against yourself, not against others.
4. Prepare your surroundings.
What you should already have considered in your strategic plan is your supportive surroundings.
Unlike your typical Ramadan where you went to the mosque for the Ramadan ibadah, this COVID-19 Ramadan will see you doing without the communal ibadah in the mosque.
Instead, you will be going through your COVID-19 Ramadan in your house, on your own, or with your family.
Develop your own supportive home atmosphere. How will your house be filled with the Ramadan mood? How will your family members contribute to that purpose?
Similarly, how will your group of friends support each other virtually to make the most of this year’s Ramadan? Will you schedule a daily video chat with them to share the lessons of the Quran, or give spiritual advice to each other?
Will you share your Ramadan strategic plan with them so they will assist you if you are underperforming? Will you have them do the same with you?
Have all the necessary tools. Do you already have your own Mushaf? Have you purchased the religious books required for your Ramadan strategic plan?
Also, have you purchased the necessities for Suhoor and Iftar? All of these preparations are crucial to reducing distractions from your effort to achieve your Ramadan goal.
5. Prepare your rebound kit.
Your rebound kit is about an intervention plan you have to execute when you realise you are not doing so well in Ramadan.
What is worth noting here is that you should not wait until the Eid to realise, with regret, that you have wasted your COVID-19 Ramadan.
So, have all the steps planned beforehand as to what you should immediately do if you are losing motivation or not utilising your time in Ramadan well.
Monitor the checklist of your Ramadan strategic plan on a daily basis.
Revise your performance every 10 days or more regularly. Identify what you have missed and what adjustment you should immediately make to mitigate the negative impact.
This way, you will be able to evaluate yourself before you reach the end of the month. Even though you can still improve yourself after Ramadan, you should be able to avoid wasting the great opportunity of Ramadan.
Make the most of Ramadan 2020!
With the guidance of, and adherence to, your Ramadan strategic plan, we are convinced that your COVID-19 Ramadan this year would be a whole new favourable experience.
It is not that your previous years of Ramadan were not good enough. It is that given the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, your Ramadan this year needs to be different.
May you graduate from this COVID-19 school of Ramadan as a pious Daie and Leader for the sake of the Ummah!