If you’re a student when Ramadan is in the summer, the holy month and summer break go hand-in-hand. Like backyard cookouts and vacation trips, the month of fasting, worship, and seeking forgiveness is now a vital part of your time off from school.
Having no studying, papers, or exams to do comes with something else: a lot of extra time. So much extra time that we get too comfortable and don’t do as much as we could in Ramadan. By the time Eid comes around, we wonder where the entire month went.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. With a little bit of planning, pushing ourselves, and following the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we can have the best Ramadan we’ve ever had by the help of Allah.
1. Write out your daily schedule to identify your free time
Summer break means a lot of doing nothing. While you may have activities, a job, or even a summer class, you will have free time in your schedule. Make a daily schedule for Ramadan to identify your free time. You will know exactly when you can fit in the extra worship needed to make this month count. As the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us, we should take advantage of “free time before becoming busy” (Al-Hakim, Ahmad).
2. Make measured worship goals you can actually achieve
Decide what extra worship you need to do and set how much of it you’ll do throughout the month. By setting a measurable goal, you will have an amount to work toward more easily and make up if missed.
For example: if you want to read Qur’an every day, set an amount to that goal. “I will read two pages of Qur’an every day before iftar” would be a great start. If you miss a day of reading, you can make it up the next day, because you have a measured goal to work with.
3. Push and pace yourself throughout the month
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to push himself during Ramadan. The same goes for his Companions and the generation that came after them. To continue that legacy, go extra hard this month. You have the time off and Allah is watching. Show Him what you’re capable of doing as His servant. An example of this is to get a head start on the month by reading extra Qur’an.
At the same time, pace yourself accordingly. You don’t want to begin the month going so hard that you burn out by the end of the first week. As the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if they are small” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Push yourself, but make sure it’s something you’re able to do consistently all month long. You will find yourself worshipping in a much more effective way.
4. Use this month to give up sins forever
Every Muslim will stop certain harmful activities during Ramadan. Whether it’s not lowering your gaze properly, listening to lewd music, having an illicit relationship, or smoking, even the most habitual sins die out during Ramadan because we’re more conscious of Allah watching. Allah says in the Qur’an that He prescribed fasting, “so that you may attain taqwa” (2:183). The fact that fasting has this affect on us is a testament to His word in the Qur’an.
The goal of giving up these sins is to give them up forever and not just for Ramadan. This will only happen if you intend to do so. Identify your most habitual sins, eliminate them during Ramadan while Shaytan is locked up, and use this time as a boot camp to never commit them again.
What’s a great way to do this during summer break? Hang out with good company. If you make your social plans in Ramadan with people who remind you of Allah, not only will you not have time to sin, you won’t even want to.
5. Get forgiven this Ramadan
When Angel Jibreel made du‘a’ that whoever finds Ramadan and doesn’t have their sins forgiven enters the Hellfire, he commanded the Prophet, peace be upon him, to say ameen. And so, the Prophet did (Ibn Hibban).
This shows the seriousness of having our sins forgiven this month. We have to make it one of our top priorities, or else we’re in trouble in the next life.
That being said, don’t lose hope. There are countless opportunities to have our sins completely forgiven this month. Simply fasting can have our sins wiped out. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said “whoever fasts Ramadan with sincere faith, hoping for the reward, Allah will forgive them for all their sins” (Muslim).
Add to that praying in the nights, countless opportunities for charity, and worshipping on Layatul Qadr, and you have opportunities for forgiveness throughout all of Ramadan. In other words, how can we not be forgiven? We just have to ask for it.
With these tips, you’ll be able to better approach Ramadan during summer and have the best month of worship you’ve ever had. May Allah, subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, allow us to live through this Ramadan, many Ramadans more, and forgive all of our sins.
Saqib Shafi is a community speaker and youth mentor in Chicago. He has run numerous Islamic programs since high school, college, and into his professional life, focusing on youth development and media production. Saqib works in the field of User Experience and is pursuing a degree in Islamic Studies under the supervision of Shaykh Akram Nadwi with As-Salaam Institute in the UK. He also runs Muslim Eater, a food blog that focuses on educating Muslims about the food that they eat. Saqib enjoys cooking, photography, and serving the Chicagoland Muslim community where he lives with his wife and two sons.