Goals This Ramadan
This Ramadan, make a commitment to your goals and targets for the month. Be careful, while Ramadan is about getting closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and reforming yourself, it is not time to be a monk (that is only in the last 10 nights!). Instead, try to diversify your goal portfolio and create a launching pad for new habits that you can carry forward throughout the year. Here are some ideas for areas to set goals for this Ramadan.
Fard: Five times a day, an absolute must! This is a great time to focus on Fajr prayer if you are having difficulties with it.
Sunnah: Try to hit as many of the 12 sunnah raka’ahs in a day as possible.
Duha: This pre-noon prayer is a great habit to develop this Ramadan.
Taraweeh: Nothing more relevant in Ramadan than praying taraweeh! Just remember that the priority is to pray the Isha prayer in the masjid, even over taraweeh.
Witr: The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) never left this prayer, even when he was traveling. With the imam usually leading this prayer after taraweeh, it is a great way to begin to incorporate these prayers into your life!
Tahajjud: In the last 10 nights, many offer the extra night prayers to try to catch laylat ul-qadr. This could be a great chance to begin incorporating tahajjud into your routine outside of Ramadan as well.
At the masjid: This Ramadan, see if you can attend prayers at the masjid regularly, especially the fard prayers.
Nafl: Do not limit yourself to the prayers I have mentioned above. Feel free to offer as many voluntary prayers as your heart desires!
Read it in your language: The most important thing with the Qur’an is to understand it so you can feel the effect it can have on your heart. If that means reading it in your language, I advise you to prioritize this. It can help you understand what is being recited during taraweeh. But do not neglect learning Arabic so you can understand it in the language in which it was revealed.
Read it in Arabic: Even if you cannot fully comprehend it, there are countless blessings in reading the Qur’an in Arabic, not to mention the reward. It may even inspire you to continue your studies of the Arabic language!
Listen to it in Arabic: Everyone has his/her favorite reciter and this is the perfect month to try to listen to as much Qur’an as possible. Personally I try to do at least one khatmah (full reading) of the Qur’an just by listening in the car or at work, for example.
Memorization and/or review: Many people study and memorize the Qur’an outside of Ramadan, but all will agree Ramadan is one of the best times for reviewing and memorizing more of the book of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Feel free to mix in this goal with the rest of your Qur’an goals.
I’tikaf: The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would go into the masjid and would not come out during the last 10 nights to maximize his productivity and ibadah. This is a unique act of worship that is not typically performed outside of Ramadan, so be sure to take advantage of it.
Dua: When prescribing the fast for us in surah al-Baqarah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentioned a verse (186) that almost looks out of place (God forbid). While in the middle of describing the fast, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) suddenly switches gears, saying “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 186]. This shows the connection of dua to this blessed month. In a later article, I will be sharing the 8 duas you need to be making this Ramadan, In sha Allah.
Dhikr: There are plenty of types of adhkar to be made, including those of the morning and evening, before bed and after rising, istighfar, tasbeeh, etc. The important thing is, you pick a goal and stick with it.
Tafakkur: Spending time in tafakkur during i’tikaf might be a great way to hit two birds with one stone and spend some time pondering the overwhelming Might and Power of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).
Da’wah: Although Ramadan is not really a month of da’wah, it can be a great opportunity for those of us not living in Muslim-majority countries to explain this beautiful month and the traditions we practice.
Ramadan is an undeniably social experience. From group iftars to group prayers in the masjid, every night you are seeing people. Use this as a time to connect with your family over iftar so they feel the blessings of Ramadan. Try to reach out to old friends as well.
I got the help of my wife, a nutrition and fitness expert, to write this section:
Hydration: The number one challenge in Ramadan during summer is that long days do not allow for enough time to get hydrated. Many people mistakenly focus on the feeling of hunger so they binge eat without realizing they are actually thirsty. Set a target amount of water to drink every day, and carry a water bottle of known amount with you everywhere you go to make sure you drink at least that much during the non-fasting hours.
Rest: Long fasts can really drain you, especially if you are dehydrated. Therefore, you should set targets for the amount of rest you get each day and night. Perhaps you should plan to take naps, or adjust your schedule to accommodate a different sleeping pattern.
Diet: The types of foods you eat will have a dramatic impact on the amount of long term energy you have throughout the day and night. Do not overdo it during iftar as it will make you feel less energetic and more bloated.
Supplementation: It is challenging enough without Ramadan to get all the nutrients our bodies need. Consider taking supplements and vitamins to help bridge the gap, after checking with your doctor if necessary. I have also recently picked up juicing. It is an efficient way to get lots of nutrients in a short amount of time. It also gives a lot of energy! I highly recommend it!
Fitness: Some say Ramadan is a time to maintain or expect losses in the fitness department. Many actually gain weight during Ramadan because of all the night-time binge eating. But real fitness experts like Rehan Jalali actually say that Ramadan is the time to make massive gains! What fitness goals do you have this Ramadan?
Believe it or not, you can have goals even for the type of fasting you are doing. Imam al-Ghazali raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) said there are three levels of fasting. Which one are you targeting this year? Don’t worry, you can always build on that for next year, In sha Allah!
Level 1: Fasting from food, drink, and sex during the daylight hours.
Level 2: Fasting from performing evil actions and deeds.
Level 3: Fasting from having evil thoughts.
Sadaqah: “The Prophet was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan…[he] used to be more generous than the fast wind” [Sahih al-Bukhari].
Sponsor iftars: A great way to reap the rewards of someone else’s hard work is to feed the one who fasted. Do you have a target for the number of iftars you would like to host in your home? What about sponsoring iftars at the local masjid?
Zakat al maal: Many people use Ramadan as a time to remember to give their zakat al maal. Certainly this will be a goal that requires preparation and planning!
Zakat al fitr: Everyone must pay this zakat in one way or another, so make the intention from now and be sure to pay it as early as possible.
Umrah: What a wonderful goal, praying taraweeh at the Ka’bah and performing umrah at the same time! I have not had the honor of doing this during Ramadan before, but I pray I can one of these days, In sha Allah.
Last but not least, Ramadan is a great time to review your character and see which areas could use improvement. You could set goals for certain character traits like truthfulness, humility, kindness, patience, modesty, trustworthiness, mercy, or something else I did not list. You could also set goals for controlling your anger or even visiting the sick.