Business people often say: “work smart, not hard.” In other words, instead of spending every waking moment working on something, make strategic moves that will cut your workload without decreasing your success.
In Ramadan we are inundated with reminders on how often we should recite the Quran and how many hours we should stand in tarweeh. But those of us who are parents understand that sometimes dedicating all those hours to worship and reflection is just not possible. Instead of feeling inadequate because we aren’t able to be at the mosque every night, or our children don’t allow us the time to recite the Quran for long periods of time, we can worship smart.
Here’s what I mean:
Be a master of your intentions
The truth is, as much as we would like to dedicate all of our time in the month of Ramadan to acts of worship, we all have responsibilities and commitments that don’t cease simply because Ramadan starts. That’s why turning every “mundane” action into a form of worship is the optimal way to stay engaged in worship throughout the day.
For example, cooking iftar can cut into valuable time during the day. You can be irritated that you’re “wasting” your time on cooking, or you can transform your intention. You’re now cooking to feed your fasting family:
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Whoever gives iftar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.”
If your intention is to please Allah through making food for the people you love, every moment you spend stirring and kneading and rolling and baking will be rewarded inshaAllah.
(And you may not agree with me, but not every iftar has to be an elaborate meal. Pizza tastes just as good in Ramadan!)
The same applies to lots of other “mundane” actions you preform throughout the day. All of them can take become acts of worship simply be refocusing your intentions.
Small ≠ meaningless
Ramadan is meant to propel us into a better state of faith and practice – it is not meant to burn us out. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” So use Ramadan as your motivation and springboard to develop good deeds and habits that are consistent and will continue after Eid.
If you’re ignoring your responsibilities in order to recite the Quran, or you’re falling asleep during tarweeh because you haven’t had a chance to sit down and rest since fajr, maybe you should revaluate your worship goals.
Make personal and meaningful goals to recite Quran, pray night prayers, give charity and remember Allah. To you that might mean one page of Quran each day, 2 rak’ahs of prayer after you tuck your kids in, or one dollar a day.
You may only be able to do these deeds that seem “small” in the eyes of others, but praying two rak’ahs with concentration and understanding is enormously better than dizzily standing all night in prayer without any semblance of understanding. That’s when you’ve crossed the line from actual worship to mechanical ritual.
Ensure that your Ramadan is full of meaningful worship that is at least somewhat sustainable and can be incorporated into your post-Ramadan routine.
Multiply your deeds
Ramadan is a blessed month where Allah (swt) multiplies our good deeds. Finding ways to take advantage of this without necessarily adding to your workload is paramount to worshiping smart.
For example, if you’re cooking or baking something special for your family, wrap some of it up and give it to your neighbours. It doesn’t require any extra effort on your part, but considering the immense rewards of being kind to your neighbour, the rewards of this action can be enormous.
Or, if you’re going to donate some money to a certain cause or needy family, ask your friends if they’d like to donate with you. The Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever guides (another) to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it.” By encouraging others to take part in charity, you reap the benefits of not only your own donation, but the donations of everyone else who follows your lead.
The possibilities of multiplying your rewards are endless.
Incorporate remembrance into your day
You may not be able to sit down and recite Quran for extended periods of time because your toddler insists on prying the book out of your hands or your infant needs you to sleep next to him or else he’ll wake up in a panic, etc.
That doesn’t mean you’ve lost your chance at accumulating good deeds in this blessed month. Every moment you’re occupied with something can turn into a moment of remembrance with words that are light on the tongue but heavy on the scales:
La illaha illAllah
And many more. (Here’s another you can refer to.)
(And here’s a on Ramadan tips for moms.)
May Allah (swt) allow us to use our time well and skillfully this Ramadan, and may He accept our deeds. Ramadan mubarak!