By Nargis Rahman
Do you like to prep ahead for Ramadan or just wing it? Maybe you are somewhere in the middle of the two! With busy schedules, family responsibilities and time carved out for ibadah (worship), Muslim women have a lot on their plates to juggle. Whether you’re preparing ahead for Ramadan or winging it, here are some tips to make things easier!
Number one tip - Either way is fine! :)
Sometimes I reflect on the days when I was young and my biggest Ramadan concern was completing my prayers, reading the Quran and adding extra sunnah ibadah to my schedule. I prayed tarawih in jamaat (congregation) at my local masjid, had little distractions from my Quran reading and could rest when I felt tired from a long day of classes or work.
I quickly realized when I was pregnant with my first child that all of that was about to change. I was no longer able to stand in long prayers at the masjid and did not feel comfortable in the crowded masjid as a heavily pregnant woman. I thought it would get better by the next Ramadan, but then I had a little child who needed to sleep by the time it was time for tarawih.
Just like that life changed year after year, and Ramadan took on a whole different meaning for me as a mother. I realized I wouldn’t be able to do as much of the physical ibadah I wanted to, rather replacing it with acts of worship in the form of taking care of my children and teaching them about Ramadan.
So, each year I attempt to prepare for Ramadan mentally and physically and schedule out what I’d like to do throughout the month. About one-third of the way through, depending on how things are going with my schedule, I either found myself staying on top of planned iftars and sharing food with my neighbors or most decidedly fell off the wagon. And some years, I purely winged it and went with the flow.
Allah blesses us with the ability to fast some years with strength and motivation, and some other years we may be pregnant and have to take extra care of ourselves, have small children who are young and need nurturing and wake up in the middle of the night, or sick relatives who need our love and care or any number of things. So, don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not able to do everything you plan or imagine you’ll do during Ramadan.
Whether you are in the prepping frame of mind or will just take Ramadan as it comes, we have you covered both ways!
Let’s Get to Prepping!
1. Take care of major shopping needs. Buy anything and everything you possibly need for iftar and suhoor that’s not perishable and can be bought in bulk so you don’t have to go shopping too often in Ramadan. Examples would be household items such as napkins, toilet paper, snacks, dates for the month, whatever non-perishable food stuffs you need, toiletries, etc. I also purchase foods such as chicken, meat, fish (and freeze it), and spices for the month.
2. Create pre-packed meals or parts of meals that can be frozen and thawed for later use. I cook large pots of meat and chicken with biryani spice mix then package them in quart-sized ziploc bags. When I make biryani for iftar, having the meat already prepared streamlines the cooking process. I also pre-boil chana (chickpeas) and package them into ziplocs as well. Similarly, you can make freezable goodies, such as kabobs, samosas and chicken nuggets (flash freeze them) and fry or bake them throughout Ramadan - whatever it is your family likes to eat.
3. Plan ahead what you’d like to eat in suhoor. Maybe you want to make smoothie packets of frozen fruit and spinach (or whatever your favorite recipe is), so you can easily blend up smoothies for suhoor. Half the battle is planning ahead what you’ll eat that day and then making sure you have the ingredients at hand.
4. Create a calendar for family and friend iftars. Add in the days when you may be on your period. You may have more energy to cook and host people during those days. Create reasonable goals for the month. Perhaps if you have small children, you may not realistically have an hour to read Quran everyday. But, you can make sure you read 15 minutes before or after fajr (hopefully none of the kids wake up).
5. Wash ALL the laundry you can possibly wash before Ramadan. Include salwarkameez, abayas, thobes and whatever you and your family members may wear during Ramadan. I strongly dislike doing laundry during Ramadan. That should last for about two weeks.
Tips for Winging It
1. Grab a box of dates a few days before Ramadan.
2. Make sure you have something to whip up for iftar and lots of breakfast items for suhoor. Protein bars are an easy thing to eat in the early morning hours. Buy something on your way home from work if you can’t figure out what to make or don’t have time to make iftar. Some restaurants have “iftar boxes” you can pick up a few hours ahead.
3. Take the family out to eat at a restaurant or join iftar at the local masjid. Pick up something to share with everyone else.
4. Listen to the Quran when you’re doing chores or work if you’re not able to sit and read in peace.
5. Engage in family ibadah and pray tarawih at home if you can’t get out to the masjid. Parents can take turns reading the Quran aloud and running mini halaqas (study circles) with the kids. You don’t have to prepare ahead of time - it can be on any simple topic!
Whether You Prep or Wing It, These Resources Will Help You
1. The Family Youth Institute
has a readiness toolkit
to help people think about Ramadan in terms of everything from personal development, fasting in school and work and fitness. The toolkit includes tips for teachers who may want to create welcoming environments in schools as well as provide alternatives tasks for fasting students to keep them busy during lunchtime.
2. Productivity is a key to staying on top of things during Ramadan.
The Productive Muslims group has tips
on how to get the most of your time during the month. Their articles also cover how to maximize your ibadah during the last 10 nights and carry on the lessons from Ramadan after it’s over.
3. Follow a daily calendar or a Ramadan app
to remind you which acts of ibadah you can/should do during the month. These are broken into smaller goals per day. You can find this free printable calendar on the blog Simply In Control
to help in goals planning.
4. Check out this article
by our own Haute Hijab blog editor Dilshad Ali about simple tips
to spiritually ready yourself for Ramadan - a perfect compromise between prepping and winging it!
So, do you like to prep hard for Ramadan, or do you just wing it? Let us know in the comments below how you prepare for the fasting month!