Ramadan comes with a full package of opportunities and spiritual environment that no one can deny: Fasting and patience, iftar parties and the social aspect, taraweeh prayers and Qur’an recitation…etc. All of that are great and they put you (or force you) into the Ramadan zone.
However, your battle with your desires and your inner-self (nafs) isn’t over. The only change is in the battleground and hence in the weapons used and the potential “casualties”. In this article we talk about a weapon that tends to take over many Muslim minds and hearts in Ramadan: Time Robbers.
The fourth quarter of your life
Al-Hassan Al-Basri said:
“O Son of Adam, you are no more than a few days. With every day that passes, a portion of you goes; it is only a matter of time before all these portions add up and you are gone.”
If every day is a part of “us”, then the days of Ramadan should be the dearest; if our time on earth is precious, then our time during Ramadan is priceless. You have to realize that the Ramadan minutes are more precious than the 15:00 minutes in the fourth quarter of game 7 in the NBA finals: every second counts, every move matters, full concentration is needed, and some turnovers or even distractions might be fatal.
The increasing amount of distractions
Back in the days, we had certain TV shows every Ramadan known as “fawazeer Ramadan (Ramadan quizzes)”. These were extended later on in many Arab channels to include historic series, talk shows, drama, and comedy programs, all dedicated to entertain the “Ramadan audience” especially during the nights of Ramadan. With the advent of social media, and spread of smart phones and tablets, the sky is the limit to how much someone can waste time and get distracted from spirituality and worship.
I cannot say that watching these in Ramadan is “HARAM”, but I can strongly say that they defeat its purpose. You become similar to the one going to a gym but not workout a single muscle.
Fasting aims at freeing your mind from its bodily needs and desires so that you turn to the needs of your soul. Well, guess what? You just killed your soul, and buried it with useless shows, songs, and images (assuming that all these are HALAL to begin with); you are choking it and making it more difficult to reap the benefits of fasting, taraweeh, and the Qur’an.
Becoming an expert “listener” to lectures
Don’t get me wrong, the online Islamic websites and social media are offering a great opportunity for students of knowledge – especially in the western hemisphere – to grab the wisdom of various scholars and speakers in the comfort of their homes: Nouman Ali Khan’s awesome tafsir lectures; Imam Siraj Wahhaj’s moving talks; lectures for Suhaib webb, Khalid Yassin, Yassir Qhadi, and others. I personally know a lot of young men and women who rely on these resources to gain Islamic knowledge and maintain their spirituality in a non-Muslim environment. The problem lies in:
• Becoming an e-student of knowledge; i.e. relying solely on these resources and hence neglecting the role of the masjid, local community, Imam, and righteous company.
• Becoming a couch potato: to think that your act of worship is in simply watching lectures and listening to reminders. To move from a webinar to a local halaqa to a daily reminder, but without actually doing the work. It is great to listen to a lecture about remembering Allah, but what is more important is to seclude yourself after that lecture and start the actual dhikr.
The current situation made many Muslim scholars and preachers strive to be expert SPEAKERS (commonly known as infotainment); on the other hands, the audience are becoming “expert” LISTENERS; both parties may start focusing on the lecture itself (content, method of delivery, examples used, the fun and the relevant part of it) more than the action item. Again, this is not to discourage people from giving or attending lectures but to balance knowledge with action and give every portion its due.
To make sure this article is not an added knowledge with no benefits, here are some action items for you and me this Ramadan; please feel free to add more into the comments section, and to share this advice with others:
1. Follow every opportunity of knowledge you get (lecture, article, discussion, advice) with an action item, no matter how small it is.
2. This can be an act of worship of the limbs (two rak`ahs, helping a friend, calling a relative, sharing an advice online) or of the heart (dhikr, reflection on one’s mistakes and shortcomings, silent sincere du`aa’)
3. Surround yourself with “Ramadan buddies” who are always efficient and effective in their use of time during Ramadan.
4. Assign for yourself some practical objectives to achieve (finishing the whole Qur’an in reading, memorize one chapter, understand one page of the Qur’an every day) and work with your Ramadan buddy on disciplining yourself to achieve those goals.
5. Check Islamic websites such as our Ramadan page and Productive Ramadan for some cool resources on Ramadan and time management.