When the days of Ramadhaan leave us, we get a feeling of emptiness. Many of us may have achieved a great deal during the month whilst others may have been disappointed in how they spent their blessed Ramadan days. The passing of Ramadhan so quickly usually leaves the hearts of Muslims around the world saddened. But, what is it that truly saddens us? Is it the end of the iftar feasts? Or perhaps something much more important and frightening. The fear of not being able to maintain as much ibadah and the distractions of life that overwhelm us soon after Eid.
The fear of not maintaining a relationship with the Qur’an.
Whilst this may be the case, like in any battle, the soldiers must prepare themselves to win. Our battle in this instance is to maintain a relationship with the Qur’an and continue to build on whatever we have accomplished this Ramadan. Even if it was not as productive as you would have liked, to learn from the mistakes made in Ramadhaan and kick-start a solid relationship with the Qur’an in the coming months is important.
Abdullah ibn Masud said:
“The house in which the Qur’an is not recited is like a derelict (forsaken) house that has no one to maintain it.” [Al-Musannaf]
Never let your home become forsaken; so long as you have breath in your lungs, you are able to hold tight to the Qur’an and its teachings. Regardless of whatever deadlines we have, our souls need to be taken care of. We all take time to ensure we smell nice, look good and eat well. So, give your soul as well the food it requires by nourishing it with the Qur’an, and never neglect it. Our bodies are finite entities, so feed the soul that will hold you up when your body is no longer strong. Feed the soul to keep your heart awake.
1. Treat every month as if it’s Ramadhan
“And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” [Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 89]
While the blessed days have passed, our mentality towards worship should not change. This verse applies to every day; Ramadan is a special time to spend with the Qur’an but that does not mean we should neglect it outside of this month. Try to shift your perception of Ramadan from being a once a year peak performance demonstration, to seeing Ramadan as a glimpse of what you’re capable of doing every day. Think of all that you were able to achieve whilst fasting, and now imagine what you can do outside of Ramadan.
Sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle of daily life, the Qur’an can seem like an added burden to make time for. Allah says:
“We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed” [Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verse 2]
Adjust your mindset to see the Qur’an as something that you need, that will undoubtedly bring you peace and contentment. The truth is, any day could be our last and it’s what we invest into the next life that is worth more than anything this life can give.
2. Set your goals
Set a target for yourself. Do you want to complete the entire Qur’an or focus on particular surahs? Is there a portion you want to successfully memorize? Whatever the case may be, setting yourself realistic and measurable goals will help keep you focused to achieve it insha’Allah.
This is a personal goal for you, your abilities and what you are in need of to boost your iman. Not what someone else can do. Write it down in your diary, phone or wall – keep it around you before your eyes so you always remember what the goal is. Make it a tangible goal where you can see real progress.
Your goals don’t have to be massive, they can be small. They just need to be consistent.
“Is any one of you incapable of reciting a third of the Qur’an in a night? They (the Companions) asked: How could one recite a third of the Qur’an (in a night)? Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: “‘Say: He is Allah, One’ (Qur’an. cxii) is equivalent to a third of the Qur’an.” [Muslim]
3. Set a time for Qur’an
We can set as many goals as we like, but without being prepared or planning the journey to that destination, it can be extremely difficult. On a weekly basis, work out when you will have the time to read the Qur’an and associated activities that you are focusing on.
Are you able to have a set time? Maybe during your commute or in the morning when you wake up? Or perhaps before you sleep? It is great if you can but if not, do not panic. Use whatever time you have to do as much as you can. Some days may be busier than others and you may not be able to read whatever portion you had planned for. Hold yourself accountable for this and ensure to catch up with what you have missed on top of the planned activities for the next day.
This is important in ensuring you have a regular habit in place that you try to maintain to attain the goals you have made for that month. Even better, create a post-Ramadan Qur’an group with your friends to help you stay motivated and connected to the Qur’an even when you feel your enthusiasm dipping. Remember that whatever time you spend with the Qur’an, it will come back to help you in a way that you can’t even imagine.
“Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: O Lord, I kept him from his food and desires during the day; let me intercede for him. And the Qur’an will say: I kept him from sleeping during the night; let me intercede for him. And they will be allowed to intercede.” [Sahih Muslim]
4. Don’t let Shaytan undermine you
We procrastinate with excuses as to why we cannot regularly recite and ponder over the Qur’an.
- You might “lack time” – but you are reading this which means you have time to surf the net! Cut out idle activities or wake up 15 minutes earlier.
- You feel bad because “you don’t understand” what you read – find a Qur’an teacher, read translations and tafsir or start learning Arabic.
- You may think “you’ll do it on the weekend” – give yourself the reality check of life. You may not have tomorrow so do what you need to today!
Sadly, it may just be a case of “I don’t know why, I just can’t get in the habit” – In order to make a habit, you must strive. The climb up the mountain is never easy but if you stop midway you will never reach the top. Small steps are better than no steps.
Remember that Shaytan comes for you when you take a step towards Allah . Now that he’s out after Ramadan, he’ll use all sorts of mental games to stop you from becoming a better version of yourself, and make you come up with a million excuses to delay spending time with the Qur’an. Catch him whenever he gives you an excuse.
In a world of information overload, our brains are used to idle easy useless information being the easiest to focus on. But with anything in life, what you get out is what you put in. If you haven’t given the Qur’an importance in your daily life, then how will you get any barakah from it? In the beginning, it may feel like a struggle, and easy to just change the app on your phone and play a game instead. However, it’s in those moments of discomfort that you become stronger and build good habits whilst letting go of negative ones.
Whatever is worth having, will not come easy. So especially in the beginning, invest in the Qur’an and stay committed, and after that beginning hurdle of difficulty, the Qur’an will become something that you cannot go without.
5. Give yourself a reward
“[Whoever recites a letter] from Allah’s Book, then he receives the reward from it, and the reward of ten the like of it. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
Allah has given us innumerable rewards for reading His book, but with any habit in life, rewards make them easier to keep. Think of bad habits for example. The reason they’re so addictive is because they have a short-term immediate reward. It’s what keeps us drawn to them. However, good habits can be as addictive as bad habits. Think about what reward will you give yourself for time spent with the Qur’an. Maybe it’ll be your milestone before you make that new purchase. Maybe your reward will be your favorite meal. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you’ll savor that reward knowing the hard work that you put in for it.
6. Take time to understand the Qur’an
As well as reciting the Qur’an, make time to read the translation and tafsir. This could be by reading them on your own, or by attending classes at a local masjid or institute. This is really an important part of developing an understanding of the Qur’an; many of us fall out of the habit of reading it because we fail to understand what it is that we are reading.
Allah says that the Qur’an is “a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 184]
We should not miss out on obtaining this guidance because we do not understand the language. Make it a goal to learn Arabic, however in the meantime, utilize the translated works available to understand, absorb and implement the message of the Qur’an in your daily life. There is so much available out there already, so take advantage now.
“But which one do I follow? There’s so many out there.”
Come to the Qur’an with sincere intentions, and Allah will guide you in the best way. Have no doubt about that. He will put the people in your life that you need to give you the answers you’re looking for.
7. Recite out loud
The Qur’an was made to be recited out loud. Can you remember a time where you heard a Qur’an recitation that was so moving, that it had you in awe?
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Make your voices beautiful when you recite Quran.’” [Nasa`i]
I was once sitting with 2 friends where one of them was frustrated that she wasn’t getting a spiritual experience from reciting the Qur’an, so the other one asked if she was reciting out loud or just reading silently. She explained that Allah’s book was sent down orally to be recited out loud, and that you miss out on a significant part of the spiritual experience if you only ever recite silently in your heart.
But what if your pronunciation isn’t that great? Or you don’t know your tajweed rules? What if you don’t have a nice voice?
Practice, practice, practice! Every master was once a beginner. Every reciter you listen to has put endless hours of practice into beautifying their recitation. Thinking that you’re going to be perfect with no practice is a self-sabotaging form of procrastination. Not only that but the struggle you go through to read means you get double the reward.
“He who finds it hard (to recite the Qur’an) will have a double reward.” [Muslim]
8. Implement what you learn
The stories in the Qur’an are full of lessons. Take time to ponder over them and ask yourself how you can implement what you have learned into your life? The Qur’an highlights for us the imperfections we have, whilst giving us the ideas on how to change for the best. Listening to the Qur’an can be healing and soothing, however, the fundamental reason for the verses to be revealed is to guide a person to the straight path. Whatever portion you read, ask yourself how you can change your life based on it. Keep a journal with the points you have learned and how you will work towards developing a personality complementary to the Qur’an. Remember the hadith of Aishah :
“The character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur’an.” [Abu Dawud]
9. Beautify your salah
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “It is a bad thing that some of you say, ‘I have forgotten such-and-such verse of the Qur’an,’ for indeed, he has been caused (by Allah) to forget it. So you must keep on reciting the Qur’an because it escapes from the hearts of men faster than camel do.” [Bukhari]
With anything in life, the moment you stop practicing, you become weaker at it. The same goes for Qur’an. Without taking regular time to practice, what you’ve learned will leave you. When we take a shower, it doesn’t mean we never have to take a shower again. When we eat lunch, it doesn’t mean we won’t become hungry again.
One of the best ways to retain your Qur’an is by reciting it in your salah. Salah can sometimes feel like a repetitive ritual if we only stick to the same short surahs at the end of the Qur’an. So when you read Qur’an, make an intention to recite what you’ve learned in your salah. It’s an easy and effective way to retain Qur’an and make your salah more meaningful.
10. Make Dua
Lastly, but by no means least – always ask Allah to help you in your quest to understand His words. We are unable to achieve anything without Allah granting us the ability to do so. The beauty of this is that Allah can help us achieve that which everyone else thinks we are unable to do.
Never let the words or actions of others put you down; whatever your goals are concerning the Qur’an and understanding it, put your trust in Allah that He will make it possible. Whatever rocks, boulders or mountains come in your way, never forget that Allah knows your soul can handle the struggle. Break down whatever blocks that try to prevent you from grasping the Qur’an by always turning to Allah and asking Him to make the Qur’an the light of your life and heart!
Be an orange
A believer who recites the Qur’an is like an orange whose fragrance is sweet and whose taste is sweet; a believer who does not recite the Qur’an is like a date which has no fragrance but has a sweet taste; [Muslim]
Qur’an is one of the few things that never decreases or takes away from your time. It has so much power to bring you contentment and ease in every part of your life if you welcome it. So let’s make a goal from now to build and strengthen our relationship with His book.