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Ramadan Tips for Students


Ramadan is the most blessed time of the year, and the most awaited for all of us as we look forward to reorienting our hearts towards Allah (SWT). As this time is so blessed, we want to make sure that we make the most of it and really maximize the benefit that we can get out of it. As students, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the assignments and feel guilty about all the work we have to do, and on top of that, while fasting! These fears are valid, but how many times has it happened where you expected your Ramadan to be really difficult but Allah made it easy? Perhaps it was the long summer days, or taking an exam while you were fasting. You see, Allah controls our physiology and our psychology. He is in charge of our inner world and our outer world. When we give up something for the sake of Allah, He gives us what is better. We put our trust in Allah, but we also tie our camel, as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) instructed us. So here are some things you can do to tie your camel this Ramadan:

1. Be Aware

Author James Clear mentions in his best-selling book, Atomic Habits, that “the process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them.”

Are you the student who is always on top of things? Do you always get A’s and cannot stand getting lower than a 96? Or are the one who is struggling to keep their head above water, not being able to find the time nor motivation to complete your assignments?

Make a list of your study habits. When are you most distracted? When are you most focused? Does studying alone help you focus better or studying in a group? If you are surrounded by people who are motivated to succeed and who can give you a healthy push, you are more likely to succeed. Whereas if you are surrounded by people who are lacking motivation and seriousness regarding their studies, their attitude and habits are likely to rub off on you as well. Start to think about and write down what pushes you and what holds you back when it comes to your studies.

2. Make a Plan.

Write down your study goals. Write down what assignments you need to complete and what tests you need to study for in order to get the grade that you want. Make a weekly plan and a daily plan. Prioritize the assignments that you need to complete. Some students also find it helpful to complete the easy assignments first, because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue, rather than getting stuck on a difficult assignment and losing all motivation.

Now, add to your study plan your Ramadan plan. Don’t try to overdo it. Aim high, but be realistic. If you are a fluent Qur’an reciter, you may be able to read one juz everyday, thus completing the Qur’an in 30 days. If you are a beginning reader, however, maybe aim for not a portion, but a time frame, like an hour, or even 30 minutes, and whatever you are able to complete in that much time is your capacity. “Allah does not burden a soul beyond their capacity.” (Surah Al-Baqarah)

Sometimes we burden ourselves with huge, elaborate plans of what we want to accomplish during Ramadan, and then we beat ourselves up when we fall short. We think that what Allah wants from us is more, more, more. This is not true. The end goal of Ramadan is a clean heart, a purified heart, and increased Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). Ramadan is a spiritual development program. It is not a race, it is a marathon. Taqwa is not developed by overburdening ourselves with things we cannot handle. It is developed through consistent actions, through habits that we build over time to get closer to Allah.

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.’ (Ibn Majah). He also said. “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small.” (Bukhari).

Allah loves consistency. It is better for you to do one small thing everyday then do a bunch of big things in the first few days of Ramadan and then give up by the time day 15 rolls around.

3. Focus on the Process, Not on the Results

I am a therapist, life coach, and a spiritual mentor. One of the things I always tell my clients is: “Rely on Allah, don’t rely on yourself.” Alhamdulillah by the grace of Allah, this has helped my clients tremendously as they tell me that practicing this has allowed them to let go of the pressure to be perfect and it has also helped alleviate some of their anxiety. We get anxious and overwhelmed because we are always wondering if what we are doing is enough, if everything will turn out okay, if we will see the fruits of our labor…and so on. What we need to remember is that Allah controls the outcome, not us. Allah brings about the results, not us. We just have to put our best foot forward, and then Allah will surprise us with His Generous Bounty, inshaAllah.

4. Focus on Habit-Building

The best thing to focus on in Ramadan is how to build good habits. In this section, I will combine strategies for building both good study habits and worship habits inshaAllah.

Salah is the second pillar of Islam and it comes before fasting. If you are not someone who prayed regularly, the first priority in Ramadan should be to become regular in your salah, inshaAllah. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Therefore, the second priority should be to spend quality time with the Qur’an. This should be done through both recitation of it in Arabic and looking up the translation and reading or listening to tafsirs of what you have read in order to help you really connect with Allah’s Words. Because we want consistency, it is important to convert our goals into habits. In his book, James Clear mentions the Four Laws of Behavior Change that help build better habits:

1. How can I make it obvious?

2. How can I make it attractive?

3. How can I make it easy?

4. How can I make it satisfying?

1. How can I make it obvious?

Salah, Qur’an, and studying. As a student in Ramadan, these are your three priorities. Listen to lectures that talk about the importance of salah and Qur’an. Even if it is information that you already know, the reminder will give you newfound motivation. Make your intention if you have not already done so that you are gaining knowledge in order to honor the gift of knowledge and understanding that Allah gave you and so that you may increase in gratitude to Him. This will turn all the time you spend studying into ibadah, inshaAllah! Allah is the Most Generous.

2. How can I make it attractive?

Set a reward for yourself for when you complete your tasks for the day. If you pray all your salawat on time, read your portion of the Qur’an for the day, and complete your assignments, then you can treat yourself at iftar. See if you can friends to join you on this journey and you can hold each other accountable in a group chat. Some people also vlog about their days to keep themselves accountable and also to motivate others. If this is your vibe, go ahead and do it! If people get inspired to set a good Ramadan study schedule because of you, you get a share in that reward iA!

3. How can I make it easy?

Remove distractions. Put your phone on silent. Or better yet, leave it in another room. Studies have shown that even having your phone in the same room can hurt your attention span significantly!

Sit at a desk where you have a view of nature so it calms you. Or face the wall if even that is too distracting.

Bundle your tasks. After each prayer, read Qur’an. And complete one assignment for school. If you do this everyday, inshaAllah you’ll meet your deadlines without stressing about them.

4. How can I make it satisfying?

How often have you dreaded starting a task thinking it’ll be so difficult but by the time you’re done, you think, “I was stressed about this?” Our mind is often lying to us, and so is shaytan. And this often occurs with things that are good for us, like reading Qur’an, or attempting to study Tajweed, or attempting to write that paper for school.

Once you start a task though, and you still find yourself not enjoying it, chances are because you haven’t removed distractions. We tend not to enjoy things when our heart is not in it. This is why going into a flow state is absolutely crucial. When you don’t remove distractions, you can’t get in a flow state. A flow state is a state in which you are so immersed in the task at hand that you lost track of time because of how enjoyable it has become. Yes, it is possible to go into a flow state even while studying.

5. Remove Distractions

We already touched upon this a little, but it is important enough to reiterate. When we don’t enjoy our salah and gain peace from it, it is because we are distracted. We are so caught up in dunya matters and our to-do lists that we simply cannot focus on our salah. Our pious predecessors used to prepare for the salah during wudu. One of the scholars of the past would go white in the face when making wudu, and he would do so very slowly and attentively. Someone asked him about this physical state they observed where he seemed to be overcome with fear and awe. He replied, “Do I not know Who I am about to stand in front of?” This scholar was in a state of mindfulness. He quieted his mind during wudu of all thoughts other than Allah so that when he approached the prayer mat, he would be ready to enter into a sacred conversation with the Divine.

The energy we carry with us throughout the day is the energy we bring to our salah. In the salah lies our success. In the salah lies our nourishment, our rizq, our peace, our happiness–if we give it its due right.

We live in a world where everything always wants our attention. Our phones are constantly going off. We get distracted with the upcoming tasks in the day. We get distracted by phone calls, messages, emails, what to eat for iftar, what to wear on Eid, etc. But Ramadan is a time of focus. If we want to really build a relationship with Allah and take care of our dunya and Akhirah, we need to have balance. And building balance in our lives is impossible if we are constantly distracted by one thing or another. We must value our time. We must value our energy. We must learn to say no when we are over swamped with commitments.

6. Ask for Help

Sometimes we think that we must do everything ourselves. As a student, you may hesitate to ask for help because you don’t want the professor to see you as unintelligent. Or perhaps you want to skip office hours and hang out with friends instead. It is important to remember that you are not meant to do it all alone. You are not meant to carry burdens and stresses by yourself. It is okay to ask for help. If you are in a particularly intensive program, or you have major exams scheduled in Ramadan, don’t be afraid to talk to your professor to see if they can delay your exams or if they can give you an extension. Help is always available when you ask for it. Allah does not want you to overburden yourself. “Allah wants to lighten for you your difficulties, and mankind was created weak.” (4:28)

7. Make Du’a

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “There are three whose du’aa’ is not rejected: a just ruler, the fasting person when he breaks his fast and the prayer of the oppressed person. It rises above the clouds and the gates of heaven are opened for it, and the Lord, may He be glorified, says, ‘By My Glory I will answer you even if it is after a while.’” (Tirmidhi)

Make du’a throughout the day for whatever tasks you are attempting to complete. Who better than Allah from whom to ask for help? Ask Allah for ease, for success, and for aafiyah. Ask Allah to make you into the person He wants you to be and to make you pleasing to Him in all that you do.

May Allah allow you and all the Muslim students to succeed in Ramadan and outside of it. May Allah allow you to come closer to Him through your salah, your Qur’an, and your other ibadah, whether it is attending classes or completing assignments while you are fasting. May Allah be pleased with all of us. Ameen.

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