Here's some advice to try and make your Ramadhan experience that little bit more beneficial insha'Allah. So, starting TODAY and as a list of minimums:
Read one entire juz'/siparah of the Qur'an in Arabic each day starting right now before the first Tarawih. Use a mushaf which is nice and easy for you such as one of those Pak or the South African printed ones. The focus here is on attaining reward for reading as much as you can as opposed to anything else.
At the same time or straight after, read that same juz'/siparah of the Qur'an in English. If you have the time, read it with some commentary from Darussalam's Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Again this is before Tarawih prayer.
If you don't understand Arabic, pick a few words on each page which seem unique and non-repetitive on that page and make them your anchor points. Check the translation of each of those words and get an idea in your head about what message or narrative each of those words is representing on that page in that chapter. That way, when you're following the Imam's recitation that night, whenever you hear your words you can anchor that entire experience with reflecting over the meaning in line with the recitation. That's how I started connecting with the Qur'an in my first Ramadhan when I started practising in the 90s and I highly recommend it to you now.
Don't kid yourself in thinking that you will ban yourself using social media and the Internet etc etc. cos' you just embarrass yourself, make things hard for yourself and actually end up gorging on it at times when you shouldn't be. Social media is part of our lives now. It's like telling someone to stop talking to other people. That's its place in our lives today.
Therefore you need to control it instead of going cold turkey. Facebook won't suddenly become haram in this month but you should be mature and cute enough to realise that there's a lot of work to get done and that you should perhaps cut down to going online say only twice or a few times a day for a small period of time where you can check and respond to messages and read some news etc, have a smile, and then turn off to get back to maximising every single second of this limited time.
With the long days and less wasting time on the net and especially TV etc, you need to grab any chance for a little rest whenever you can in the late afternoon or early evening after work so that you're refreshed when you read and pray and start new projects and get active with good deeds and initiatives. Don't feel guilty getting that short nap because this is the Month of Action contrary to popular belief, and action needs good rest for it to be effective. Believe me, any new ideas or things you were planning, start them in this month and watch the barakah flow. More on this later.
With this extra time on your hands during the long day, watch at least a new lecture each day. And I mean watch it fully, not skipping here and there. Learn something about Tafsir, about Fiqh, about anything which inspires you in your Din. Yes this is the month of Qur'an but for those who are looking to rediscover their identities for the first time perhaps, which many of you reading this will be hopefully, then you don't worry about that. You just make it the Month of Din. And that will do you and me fine.
Finally, I looked at every single issue to do with this month and its controversies whether that was moonsighting, calculations, sehri times, Iftar menus, Fajr times, number of units for Tarawih prayers, what day is 'Eid, the whole lot. And I realised that there's not a single thing here which is from the essentials of your faith and practice. Nothing here will affect you being a good Muslim or not. But being sincere with Allah in your worship of Him this month and then remembering, helping and being on the right side of those who need you so desperately right now such as in Syria, Egypt, Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and everywhere where the Believers are being oppressed, well, that's a fundamental of your faith and truly determines your identity as a true Muslim. It is this which will make or break your Holy Month. Don't ever forget these folks who are fighting one way or the other for what makes up your identity.
The very best blessings of this month to you and yours from myself and my family. Ramadhan Mubarak and may Allah jalla wa 'ala accept all our good deeds and forgive us for all our many bad ones. Indeed He is capable of that. Amin.
(s) Posted by Abu Eesa on Facebook on 9 July 2013CE