Aisha (R.A) reported: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (S.A.W) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari]
Have you ever tightened your waist belt for something in life? (Not literally but metaphorically… meaning have you ever prepared yourself physically and mentally for something tough?) I’m sure you have. All of us have to do that at some point in life.
Like many others, I’ve done it for my professional end-of-the-year exams. Some of us do it for a tough period at work. Others do it before moving to a new country. What did you do it for?
What does it feel like? Like you’re about to do something harder than normal? Something more important than the regular stuff? And more rewarding than usual? That’s exactly what the last 10 days of Ramadan are like. They are slightly tougher than usual, more important than everything else and way more rewarding than anything in life. Check this out:
Allah (S.W.T) says in the Quran: “The Night of Decree isbetter than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.”[Quran: 97:3-5]
Tell me if you agree: Nothing you do can compensate for a lost “83 years and 4 months” of your life. Right?
Instead of thinking that you can gain 83 years worth of reward, think about losing them. Because that’s what will happen if you don’t avail these last 10 nights of Ramadan… you lose over 83 years. Of REWARD.
And that’s no minor loss, young grasshopper. According to our Prophet S.A.W, the person who doesn’t avail the night- is the truly deprived one. 🙁
Abu Hurayrah said “When Ramadan would come, the Messenger of Allah would say, “Verily, the month of Ramadan has come to you all. It is a blessed month, which Allah has obligated you all to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled. In it there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived.” [An-Nasa’i]
It’s much more horrifying to think about losing something you “already have” than losing something you “could” have.
These last 10 days of Ramadan- it’s not a matter of “we MAY have the Night of Power in them”.
It’s a matter of staying awake and doing sincere Ibadah during the last 10 nights and “we already have availed the Night of Power” Insha’Allah.
Lailatul Qadr is not playing hide and seek with us. It’s there. Even if we don’t know when it’ll show up. Even if we can’t witness it with our eyes. We have been told by Allah S.W.T that it’s there.
So you do the math- if the Night of Power is there within the last 10 nights… and if you’re sitting there doing sincere Ibadah during the last 10 nights… it’s not hard to figure it out- you get the Night and the associated reward. Period.
Abu Hurayrah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet (S.A.W) said: “Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. And whoever spends the night of Lailat Al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
But how do we do that?… Stay awake all throughout the 10 nights and do Ibadah too?
By using your time and most importantly- your energy smartly.
How to use your energy wisely during the last 10 days of Ramadan…
That’s because staying up all night to do Ibadah is not the norm for most of us. We’re usually drained by the night-time and we can’t even do Ibadah properly.
So distributing your energy smartly matters a lot if you want to avoid burnouts and energy drains that eventually lead you to dropping everything after the first few days of intense Ibadah.
Although “10 nights” itself is only a handful, if you don’t use your energy smartly, you may end up standing in prayer or reading Quran without khushoo because your mind was too out-of-focus.
The goal is not just to spend the nights in Ibadah. The goal is to spend the nights in Ibadah with khushoo.
Organizing your daily activities in the last 10 days of Ramadan:
The first thing you do is you completely BLOCK the night time. Block the full night-time from Maghrib to Fajr, for Ibadah and the two meals- Suhoor and Aftaar. I’ll go over exactly what type of Ibadah you can do, at the end of the post. For now, block the time away.
After that, you’re left with everything else you have to do for that day including the major time-chunks taken by- work and sleep.
Let’s go over each one of the major activities that you have to do during the day-time:
SLEEP: Get some sleep after Fajr. You can also make up for sleep by taking a nap during the day.
WORK: After you’ve blocked out the sleep-time from the day, from the remaining time in the day, you can set a few hours to work (i.e. unless you have a 9-to-5 job).
Now since there are so many other activities that we may have to do in the day, besides work and sleep, the only way to make time for everything else is by cutting hours from work and sleep.
But you can’t cut too many hours from sleep or else by the night-time, you’ll be drained and out of focus… which is the last thing you want if you are to avail the nights.
So maybe you can cut an hour from your usual 7-8 hours of sleep-time (maximum an hour and a half = 1 sleep cycle).
That leaves us with work. So it goes without saying, work should be among the lowest of your top-priorities during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Yes, lowest. No matter how important you feel it is.
Because here’s what happens when you continue making it your top-priority…
If you don’t cut hours from work (or study), you’ll inevitably push all the other regular activities for the night-time.
Activities such as making aftaar, buying groceries, distributing aftaar, taking a shower, house chores such as cleaning and everything else that we do in a typical day that we can’t really skip.
So if you don’t cut back time from your work during the day, you’ll have your hands full with all these other mundane tasks during the nights. They’re like mosquitoes, sucking away at your time one by one. 😀
This will not only cut your Ibadah time short, it will also deprive you of your energy that you were so carefully reserving for the night. That’s also because when we make our WORK the top-priority, it takes up the larger chunk of our daily mental focus and energy.
And none of us has an unlimited supply of energy.
These are the things that you have to think about to avail the special Night of Power. You can’t take these things casually, just like you’d never take your final exams or a major job interview casually.
You’ll make sure you get the right amount of sleep at the right time. You’ll eat carefully because you don’t want to blow up during an interview. 😀 You’ll save every hour of your energy and time, and spend it preparing for your goal. Basically, you’ll adjust everything else around your top-priority goal.
Well, our top-priority goal for the last 10 nights is doing Ibadah during the nights. Everything else, including your work, is secondary and needs to be adjusted around your night Ibadah, because we don’t want to miss Laiylatul Qadr.
Now, after organizing your daily activities during the day, let’s move over to the nights.
How can you spend your energy during the nights so you can get the maximum Ibadah done?
Here’s an action plan you can use as a guideline. You can adjust the activities according to your personal situation, of course.
An action plan for doing Ibadah during the last 10 nights of Ramadan:
- Break your fast the Sunnah way: with dates and water. Pray Maghreb (in the masjid) immediately after breaking your fast. Don’t just sit around to have an hour-long aftaar meal before finally getting up for Maghreb prayer.
- After prayer, have a light Aftaar meal. Start with fruits, give them 30 mins to digest. Then drink 2-3 glasses of water before eating your meal. Have a vegetable salad with your meal (keeps you full for longer and doesn’t drain your energy like fried food does).
Remember: How you eat at aftaar has a MASSIVE effect on your mental focus. Don’t eat to your FULL or else you’ll be extremely lethargic and won’t be mentally fresh for Ibadah.
- Prepare yourself for Taraweeh prayers. Take your time to make wudhu meaningfully. Clean up, dress nice, smell nice and go to the masjid (for men). Pray Isha and Taraweeh prayers.
- After Taraweeh, come back home (or stay in the masjid if you want to). When you get home, freshen up a little. Drink water, eat a little food, have a few dates, and then find a spot in the house where you won’t be disturbed by your family.
- Write a list of all the personal duas in your diary, that you want to ask Allah S.W.T for during the last 10 nights. Keep that diary with you in your Ibadah spot. Also, keep your Quran with you, a bottle of water and a few dates if you want.
- Leave your phone, laptop and all other gadgets elsewhere. Keep all distractions away from your Ibadah spot.
- Don’t sit for long discussions with your family. Avoid all kinds of talk, including online chats. Staying silent is the best way to keep away from all the sins of the tongue.
- Now it’s time to get busy with more Ibadah. Focus on three things during this time: DUA, QURAN and nafal PRAYER. You can pray Salat-al-Hajat and ask for all the important things you want from Allah or ask Allah S.W.T to remove any particular difficulty in your life that you’re going through.
- Read Quran by absorbing yourself completely in the act.
First, recite the pages that you have to recite in order to finish recitation at least once in Ramadan. Recite in a loud voice in your best voice (find a spot where you can recite loudly without disturbing others).
Second, read the meanings of the verses (you can start from the beginning of the Quran if you haven’t been reading the Tafseer, or you can continue from wherever you left last). Pause and think about the meanings. Don’t be in a rush to quickly finish as much as you can. It’s all about making use of the time to do Ibadah. If you’re spending an hour reading Quran and doing nothing else, it doesn’t matter if you can’t read more than a few ayahs. You should not compromise the quality of your Ibadah just to get “more” done.
Narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) said: “Fasting and the Quran will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say, ‘O Lord, I deprived him of his food and his desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.’ And the Quran will say: ‘I deprived him of his sleep at night so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will intercede.” [Ahmad]
Third, memorize any short Surahs that you can. Or revise Surahs that you memorized in the past but have forgotten now.
- Any time in between prayers and reading Quran, make this special “Lailat-ul-Qadr” dua: Aisha (R.A.) reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (S.AW.) replied, “You should supplicate: اَللَّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ ، تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [At-Tirmidhi].
- Before the last third of the night, you can close your eyes for a few minutes to regain your focus, not to go in a deep sleep, just enough to give your brain a small reboot.
- During the last third of the night, make fresh wudhu (the water will freshen you up and revive your mental focus). Drink a few glasses of water and begin your Qiyyam-al-laiyl. Pray at least 8 Rakahs of prayer. During prayer, make the sujood and the Rukooh longer and meaningful. Cry and immerse yourself in the prayer. Make longer duas after the nawafil and witr.
- Eat a short suhoor an hour before the Adhaan so you can avail the last 30 mins before Fajr adhaan to make sincere dua. It’s the one last push you give yourself after suhoor, almost as if you’re making sure you’re among the ones standing in front of Allah S.W.T in Ibadah… right until the last minute.
They used to sleep but little by night (invoking their Lord (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope). And in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness, [Quran: Surah Adh-Dhariyat, Ayahs 17-18]
And Allah S.W.T knows best!
I pray that Allah S.W.T gives all of us Taufeeq to make the best possible use of all of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. I pray Allah S.W.T blesses us with Lailatul Qadr and all of its rewards, Ameen.