Don't Despair About Your Ibadah in Ramadan
As we enter the blessed month of Ramadan most of us are filled with excitement over the many goals and aspirations we have set for ourselves for the month. Perhaps we are going to complete the whole Qur’an, perhaps we will pray twenty rakats tarawih each night and pray tahajjud before we sit for our suhur, or perhaps we are going to surpass all years with the amount of sadaqa we will donate. All our goals are set in hope that we will reach degrees and stations with Allah swt that we have yet to reach. The month presents a golden opportunity. The Shayateen are locked, the reward is increased, and there’s a movement of collective striving across the globe. But the truth is, many people do not fulfill all the goals they set, and this reality is even truer for mothers of young children. As a result mothers often find themselves feeling disheartened, frustrated, or even disadvantaged. They watch their husbands leave for the Masjid where they will pray tarawih in congregation, listening to the beautiful recitation of the Imam, and weeping with the community long into the night.
They hear their friends who do not have young children tell how they recite large portions of Qur’an for long periods of time each day. And then of course, they remember. They remember the days before the baby/ies when they would slowly pray in a room of silence and their heart would fill with khushoo. How different life looks after children! It is difficult to pray without worrying about a baby with a diaper filled with nijasa climbing on you and breaking your prayer, or to be able to concentrate over the bellowing cries. Time is now restricted between cleaning bottoms, cleaning up accidents and feedings.
Where’s the time for long recitations, the silence for deep reflections, or the ease of mind to lose yourself in your prayer? This is all realized and felt more in Ramadan when everyone around you seems to be increasing their worship by vast degrees, while you’re still struggling to do your obligations the way you want to.
However, as Sh. Nuh Keller once pointed out, what the young mothers often do not realize at that time, is how the sacrifices a mother is making in raising the children, is raising her in spiritual degrees she could never attain through the other acts of worship. Here are 7 ways to help you with your ibadah in Ramadan:
1. Remove Your Sadness
So first let the mothers out there remove the sadness from their hearts and realize that raising the future Ummah is a great act of ibadah. Remembering that Allah swt gave that totally dependent trust to you to raise as a slave of Allah swt. Allah swt, the All Knowing, knows what we are capable of and what our restrictions are. Mothers should not be hard on themselves. They should renew their intentions each day in raising their children, remembering that it is all for the Sake of Allah.
2. Increase Your Worship
Maybe you won’t complete the whole Qura’n or pray 20 rakats tarawih every night, but what is doable is to increase in your worship. Indeed Allah loves what’s consistent even if it is small. Make a small intention for yourself each day. One that is reasonable, i.e. it is conceivable that it will be easy to keep even on those difficult days. The point is to be consistent, if it’s completed and one still finds time they can always do more. Be aware that it is one of the tactics of Shaytan to make one overload themselves in their worship so that he can later convince you that you are incapable. The result being that the worshipper gives us and ends up with no consistently completed intention.
3. Seize Every Moment
Seize every moment, every opportunity, utilize your time ….when your child naps take a just a few minutes to recite Qur’an, or after laying them down to sleep pray a few rakats tarawih. Tarawih can be prayed alone at home, any time after praying Isha. Recite Qur’an or read an Islamic book while nursing, rocking a child to sleep, or in place of the time when maybe one would get on the computer and waste time.
4. Make More Dhikr
And then there are those acts of worship that do not require an isolated period of time or to be alone. One can essentially make dhikr all day long. Nothing can prevent you from this except being in the bathroom and even then you can make dhikr in your heart. Increase your dhikr and say it out loud to let the little ones benefit too.
5. Multiply Your Intentions
Multiplying your intentions also does not require a time alone. By multiplying your intentions you will multiply your good deeds. Remember acts are by intentions. That means if you sincerely intend an act, even if you do not get to accomplish it, you will still be rewarded as if you did it. Through this, every act you engage in can become a multitude of ibadah! The pious wouldn’t even drink coffee without attaching four or five intentions - all for the Sake of Allah swt.
6. Increase Good Deeds Simply
Increasing in good works doesn't have to be complicated. You don’t need go out and volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Simply make a little extra food to share with the neighbor or a homeless shelter, pick up an extra bag of sugar to donate to a food pantry, call relatives to strengthen kinship ties, or just make a conscious effort to smile more.
7. Worship With Your Children
If your children are a little older ….instead of seeing them as a preventative element to your worship see it as a golden opportunity to instill in their heart the love and longing of worship. Don’t feel you’re ignoring them when you worship. As long as their needs are met, their watching you is the most effective element in raising them to be devout worshipers. Remember children will do as you do before they do as you say! If you can, involve them in what you’re doing. you could do things such as:
Sit them on your lap and make dhikr with them
Read the Qur’an out loud to them in the language they understand
Ask them to pray tarawih with you
Depending on their age, you could make a family Tahajjud night. Wake the whole family, make it exciting and fun for the children by telling them about it before hand, give them something sweet or a toy when they wake up, and pray tahajjud as a family. They will remember tahajjud as a joyous childhood memory when they’re older.
Conclude with Daddy telling a short, but exciting Islamic story
Let the angels make du’a for you this Ramadan…invite righteous sisters who inspire and strengthen you. Let their children play with yours while you remember Allah swt together. Most importantly remember…. abundant empty rituals will not come close to one act of worship done with full sincerity.
We can constantly work on our sincerity by checking, re-checking and renewing our intentions. May Allah swt increase the mothers of this Ummah and strengthen them all to fulfill this momentous task of raising the future ummah. Ameen.
AUTHOR ARSHIA: I left my childhood home in rainy England and settled in the US after graduating from a London law school. When my two little ones came along, I quickly realized that I had another endeavor upon me - to pursue tarbiya and homeschooling. The feeling of responsibility for such an immense trust that our children represent, has never really left me from the moment they were born to this day. Knowing the deen with firmness, depth and beyond mere ritualism, is necessary to fulfill the trust to raise obedient, devout slaves of Allah. Undeniably, tawfiq is from Allah alone. At present I am a stay-at-home mommy, student of ilm, and author of articles and children's stories.