For many of us, fasting during the month of Ramadan away from home is a first, or perhaps it is the lengthier hours in the UK compared to other parts of the world. For others, it is the exams during Ramadan that are daunting.
And so, the most merciful, peaceful month of the Islamic year becomes filled with anxieties and fears. And that fear prevents us from looking forward to the most rewarding and needed month of the Islamic calendar.
In striving to do our best, with endless preparation for upcoming exams, we neglect the spiritual well-being and nurture that our souls crave.
We are so caught up with the timings and deadlines of our temporary world we forget that Ramadan is a blessing, perfectly planned and in time according to Allah.
This Ramadan, try not to worry about being physically unprepared, instead, know that the Muslim’s day and his life is shaped and in accordance with the movement and laws of nature. It is such that the length of our days and fasts, the timings of our prayers are according to the Lunar calendar and each year our bodies adapt, travellers adapt, and the month fades with us only yearning for Ramadan. Trust that Allah’s wisdom and the endurance he has blessed us with will see us through.
Focus on the virtues of Ramadan: it is a month of rethinking and renewing your intentions, aligning and outlining your goals, refocusing your mind.
During Ramadan I find myself focusing and reflecting on what is truly important to me, my goals seem clearer and more in sight. Take this time to plan your spiritual, academic, health goals because the best time for reflection is near.
Though Ramadan away from home will initially seem different and the sense of community felt during Ramadan, distant, remember that in Cambridge there is a unique and diverse, ever growing Muslim community.
A community that can be a home away from home, as students we stay within the university spaces often forgetting that beyond it exists welcoming communities and families. Take time out during the week, attend a communal prayer, suhoor or Iftaar in the prayer room, a gathering in the Masjid, or a lecture at the Cambridge Muslim College, and soon enough the community here – can and will become a home away from home.
The sense of routine that is felt at home can be recreated too – plan your day.
Adjust your routine by figuring out when you will have bursts of energy and feel most awake during the day. Put this aside for the most intense studying – this could be after Fajr prayer, or between Esha prayer and Suhoor. Plan the kind of revision most appropriate to the time of the day – for instance maybe planning essays during the day or condensing revision notes followed with writing exam questions in the evening.
Follow the Prophet’s (PBUH) Sunnah and take short naps during the day to make up for missed sleep: remember that rest is necessary to spiritual well-being.
And a personalised routine will help you to make the most of Ramadan and adjust to the month.
Often it seems our responsibilities are conflicting at this point, but the importance of acquiring knowledge in our faith should be remembered. The book Allah sent down to mankind to spread Islam begins with a single and valued command.
The command to read – to acquire knowledge, to be a student of knowledge.
Recite in the name of your Lord who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite and your Lord is the most Generous – Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not.” [Quran, 96: 1-5]
As students then, we are in a privileged position, we are in the service of Allah – our occupation pleases Allah and carrying out this command will only be more rewarding in the month of Ramadan.
It is only when we associate this beloved act of worship with stress that we are anxious, rather than truly focused.
Use Ramadan as a time to consistently refocus and remember your intention – to live and lead by your purpose and the intent behind your actions.
Your acquisition of knowledge and your endless hours of studying does not go unnoticed by Allah, and the service to others, to your community that you endeavour to bring about will not go unnoticed by Allah.
Ramadan Mubarak – may you feel ease and make the most of this beautiful month and may Allah accept our fasts.
Keep me in your prayers,