Ramadan is very well-known as the month of fasting for the Muslims. As Malaysians, there’s no doubt that Ramadan is associated with Bazaar Ramadan, taraweeh prayers (congregational night prayers) at the mosque, breaking fast together with family and friends, and many other traditions.
Nonetheless, the atmosphere in welcoming Ramadan this year is different from that of the previous years. With the extension of the Movement Control Order, it is impossible to celebrate Ramadan as usual. There is no denying that some of us may feel sad and foreign with this new experience, but that does not mean I, and other Muslims, cannot put our best effort into making this Ramadan a meaningful one. Taking the perspective of psychology and even the Islamic teachings, instead of focusing on what we have no control over, it is better to shift our paradigm to something that is achievable within our capacities. One way of doing that is by utilizing the spiritual context of Ramadan ergo embracing it as one of our protective factors in overcoming the challenges experienced during this trying time.
As I was browsing online for advice on how to channel my energy towards making the best of Ramadan this year, I encountered a meaningful phrase, “Make this Ramadan good enough”. It was so beautiful as the definition of ‘good enough’ varies from one individual to another. One may find a ‘good enough’ Ramadan by having dozens of lists of what to do in this holy month. Another person might see this Ramadan as an opportunity to kickstart a brand new Ramadan experience, hence that is considered ‘good enough’ for him.
In this humble post, I will share three tips on what can be done to embrace Ramadan during this MCO period. I hope that this may shed some enlightenment and ideas for you to welcome your Ramadan this year.
1. Set SMART goals
Firstly, it is very important to have clear goals or plans on what you want to achieve this Ramadan. As Muslims, we believe that this month holds many rewards and blessings for us, hence it would be a great loss not to utilize the chance given in this holy month.
The following SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goal technique is a good approach that one can practice in establishing Ramadan goals:
SPECIFIC: in which you have to write or state your goal clearly, as well as detailed actions that you will take
MEASURABLE: find a way to track your goal progress
ATTAINABLE: the goal should be challenging yet still possible to be achieved
RELEVANT and TIME-BASED: Your goal needs to be aligned with your values and capabilities, and there should be a timeline or target date set which serves as a motivation for you to work on the goal.
For instance, this Ramadan one of my goals is to cook one meal for my family to break the fast, 3 times each week. Straightforward and simple, isn’t it?
Secondly, we can make the most out of this Ramadan by utilizing the time at home to reconnect with what we have been neglecting previously. Truthfully, there are many things that we may have taken for granted. It could be having a meaningful reconnection with God through prayers and practicing spiritual activities. Though one may have already practiced this, it would be a rekindled experience to incorporate mindfulness into our spiritual practice to connect with a Higher Being. In addition, it could also be a time of reconnection with family members or long lost friends, be it at home or virtually. Updating each other on daily routines can be a good start to re-ignite the spark of warmth in our relationships with our loved ones. Again, we can practice being present and fully engaged in our activities and connection with others.
3. Be Kind to Others
Lastly, even though this period is challenging for most of us, it is also important to practise being kind and giving back to others. By that, I don’t just mean making donations or charity-based works. Some of us may be tested with work or families or any form of obstacles during this time, but remember that there is no standard definition of kindness. One can start simply by spreading positivity to those around us. Act of kindness could include sharing the right and reliable information on the updates of MCO and the pandemic outbreak, encouraging others to follow the guidelines of physical distancing and self-hygiene, practising our own self-care routines, and perhaps helping out with house chores at home. There is no need for the kind gesture to be big. A small good deed is actually good enough.
In a nutshell, I hope these three tips will be helpful for you to kickstart your Ramadan with grace and a conscious mind. As Eleanor Brown said, “... when you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” I strongly believe that we are capable in overcoming this challenging period together as a community, even during Ramadan. The impact of the pandemic outbreak is undeniably big. Nonetheless, I have faith that we are strong to walk through this journey because “with every hardship comes ease.” Share with us how you are going to spend your Ramadan this year. Stay safe, stay well, and Ramadan Mubarak ❤