The holy month of Ramadan proves an important time for Muslims to come together as a community, give to those in need, pray, and of course, fast. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for thirty consecutive days leading up to Eid al Fitr. Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and arrives 11 days earlier every year. In the past few years, Muslims have grown accustomed to celebrating Ramadan in the summer. Since Ramadan intersects with classes and Covid-19 this year, Muslim students may find that the stress-free spiritual month they’ve grown accustomed to over the years is a little more difficult to achieve this semester.
Regardless of Covid-19 and classes, it is still possible to have the tranquility and togetherness of Ramadan. Read on for five ways to have a great Ramadan.
While you’re fasting and taking classes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus on the meaning of Ramadan. Decorating proves a great way to get into the spirit of Ramadan all month long. Whether you’re in your dorm or back home, hanging up a simple Ramadan calendar and some lights go a long way to brighten the mood and bring good vibes.
“Being part of a minority religion, it can be hard to really get into the spirit of the holidays. Ramadan and Eid are the most celebrated days in the year for Muslims across the world, but unlike in places such as my home country Syria– where the streets would be lined with decorations and the air filled with festivities– it can tend to feel a little dull. That’s why house decorating is a crucial part of celebrating the holidays for me,” College of Staten Island junior Sarah Morad said. “It’s a great way to get into the Ramadan and Eid spirit. It’s also a great family bonding activity, especially since seeing extended family and friends is so difficult this year because of COVID. Decorating my home with moon/star lights, lanterns and shimmering banners is the perfect way to add a touch of my home country into my house.”
You can buy Ramadan decorations effortlessly now from Amazon, Party City and Etsy. Decorating gives an opportunity to educate others on the holiday. If your non-Muslim friends show curiosity about the lanterns you have lit on the shelf or the crescent shaped pendant on the wall, take the time to explain the significance of Ramadan to them. Decorating this year will make Ramadan more special and starts a lovely tradition every year.
2. Make a journal and set goals
Journaling while setting goals helps immensely with reflection and self-improvement during Ramadan. Whether it’s a journal specifically formatted for Ramadan or an old spiral notebook, this activity allows you to focus on what you wish to achieve during Ramadan. Ways to grow this Ramadan include setting realistic goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself and think about where you want to be by the end of the month.
“A great tool that has helped me stay focused this Ramadan is my Ramadan journal! It can get difficult juggling my classes and prioritizing my religion, but my journal has allowed me to keep track of prayers, Quran reading and duas,” St. John’s University junior Dania Twam said.
It can get difficult to prioritize your time while fasting– journaling helps significantly with time management. Setting aside a specific time to catch up on assignments and write down your main objectives for the rest of the semester. Journaling allows for a peaceful and therapeutic activity that gives you a chance to build new good habits and get rid of bad ones. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you feel less overwhelmed and improve your overall mood. Small businesses like @theduajournal on Instagram sell a variety of journals for Ramadan to guide you and keep your connection with Allah.
3. Visit Your Local Mosque
Although the pandemic made public places unappealing to visit, many mosques reopened and follow Covid safety guidelines to pray safely. Taking free time to visit local mosques is an essential part of Ramadan for those able to go. Many look forward to taraweeh prayer, a nonobligatory prayer that comes after the fifth and last obligatory prayer of the day. Although one can perform it at home, taraweeh prayer feels best when it’s performed around fellow Muslims on the carpet of the local mosque.
Taking the time to read the Quran and make dua (connecting with God, asking for forgiveness and favors) are other important aspects of Ramadan that feel best when performed in a mosque. Sitting on the prayer mats in the mosque with a full stomach, listening to the lectures of the Imam makes for a perfect way to end the day.
4. Virtual Eid gift exchange
With many of our friends and family living far away, dorming or social distancing, virtual activities provide a perfect way to pass time and see familiar faces. Eid gift exchanges make for an exciting activity to prepare for during Ramadan! Online programs and apps make it easy to divide and pair people by emailing them without spoiling it.
“Exchanging gifts during Eid gives that American holiday feeling. I feel like every Muslim is a little envious of Christmas and exchanging gifts gives that vibe and allows us to feel remembered. In my house we do gift lists and buy gifts for each other off that list. It’s something to look forward to after Ramadan,” University of Texas at Arlington junior Yassmin Slaimi said.
Spending some time during Ramadan to prepare for an Eid gift exchange will put you in the holiday spirit and make for an exciting month. Similar to Christmas, many Muslims grew up finding presents for themselves on Eid morning. For some, this tradition dies down as they get older, bringing back gifts on Eid for those who don’t usually receive will make the holidays even better and leave them feeling like a kid again.
5. Check in on loved ones
With Covid-19 and classes present during what we are used to having as a peaceful month, it takes a toll on many of us. This makes it essential to check up on our friends and family this Ramadan. We’ve gotten used to seeing our family constantly in Ramadan, especially during big dinners where everyone catches up with each other before breaking our fast.
“Ramadan is usually the time when we see our loved ones the most. But staying, and keeping others, safe and healthy during this tough time is top priority. This is the right time to say Alhamdulillah for the technology we have right at our fingertips to aid in keeping in touch with friends and family. During Ramadan, I try to send a text in greetings following a dua every once in a while, to my family members I don’t get to see this month. Sending a plate of food or two helps as well. This is to remind my family members and friends that they are loved and not forgotten during this time,” College of Staten Island junior Neamah Matani said.
During Ramadan spreading joy and giving to others remains as a significant part of the month. Just the gesture of a phone call, drive by or food drop off shows that you genuinely care for that person in a time when no good deed goes unnoticed. With a hectic schedule and finals creeping nearer, seeing a familiar face may work wonders for someone under a lot of stress.