5 Non-Cliché Ramadan Ibadah Tips
Ideally it would be great if we utilize every second of Ramadan but that will unlikely happen. We want to finish the Quran – One Day One Juz (ODOJ)-, we want to perform leg-shaking long hours of Qiamullail, we want to donate as much money as we can, we want to smile as much as we can, we want our do zikr as much as we can but truth be told, that’s impossible.
So the reality would be a minimum Ramadan ibadah routine of reciting the Quran – OPOD (One Page One Day), Qiamullail when people organize Qiamullail related events, Tarawikh at where the Masjid finishes fastest, Iftar at the Masjid to save money and etc.
Still, minimum ibadah is better than nothing. In this write-up, I would like to suggest 5 ways of doing Ibadah differently and maybe more exiting.
1- Recite Quran to understand it, not to race to finish it
The moment I posted this article, I am 26 years old. Normally, a human male reaches the age of puberty at 13. So that means, I’ve gone through thirteen times of Ramadan.
Let’s take our knowledge on Quran for example, everybody is racing to finish reciting the Quran, but how do we really understand the 6236 of verses and 77,436 words we’ve recited?
The concept of Ramadan to me is to recharge spiritual strength, as much as you can, in order to last the upcoming 11 months. Ramadan is not a start but a jumpstart to rekindle the stagnant spirit.
Counting the previous Ramadans we’ve filled with the race to finish the Quran, 5 pages after 5 times of prayer making one juz a day, what have we gained other than the reward of recitation?
I have repeated this drill over and over again and I feel stagnant. I don’t know about others but I feel empty. I feel that I’ve learned nothing over the past Ramadans. Yes we recite the verses word by word but what do the verses say?
To fill in that feeling of emptiness, I’m planning for this Ramadan, I would not go for quantity (of verses) but quality (in understanding).
It is okay, I believe, to grasp little of the Quran but thoroughly understanding it rather than reciting the whole Quran without knowing what we read.
Reading the Quran translations by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall or by Abdullah Yusuf Ali can be a good start to understand the simple meaning of the words we read.
For me, I’m reading “The Koran Interpreted” an impressive translation by Arthur John Arberry who is a non-Muslim. The translation is presented not in a normal verse by verse translation by rather in a poetry form.
Arberry wrote himself that the Quran is “For the Koran is neither prose nor poetry – but a unique fusion of both.”
Reading the translation is like reading a long poem book!
2- Contemplate upon various Quranic Exegetes
The past year, I gained interest in Philosophy. I attended classes and read books on philosophy. But since its Ramadan – the month of Quran-, I’d like to suggest a way to extend our basic knowledge in Quran.
To make this Ramadan more exciting, why not we bring my suggestion number (1) on to the next level. Reading the Quran translations are good but a more comprehensive attempt is to read inter-exegetes (tafsirs).
There are many exegetes in the market. To name a few: Tafsir Al-Azhar by HAMKA, Tafsir Fi Zilal Quran (In The Shade of the Quran) by Sayyid Qutb and other exegetes by prominent exegetists you can see on this Wiki list.
Should time is insufficient to make a cross-comparison between exegetes due to occupational hazard, we need not to read many tafsirs, one tafsir is adequate.
For me personally, I wish to read Tafsir Al-Azhar starting from Juz 30 and see how it goes from there.
3- Finish a book and make a commentary out of it
In the back of the minds of many, Ramadan should be filled with sadaqa’, solah, Quran, zakat, Liqa’, Qiamullail, Tarawikh and other rituals but that are what’s usually done.
Let’s make this Ramadan different. Reading books and writing book reviews are also good deeds.
Prior to Ramadan, many people like to post pictures of the books they bought, and the books they are about to read. “Look what I bought?” the caption says but seldom share their review of the book of what can be learned or what is their criticism of the book.
After posting the pictures online, then the books are put back and remain untouched on the book shelf for eternity.
4- Masjid Hopping
Tarawikh is a type of prayer to be remembered. It only happens once a year. And this time of year only, the Masjid is full for a full-fledged month – something that doesn’t happen all year.
Instead of praying tarawikh at the same masjid every night, why not hop from one masjid to another. You get to gain all sorts of things from different designs of the masjids, which masjids have the best air-conditioning, the colorful people you’ll meet to the best-musical Imam recitations (and of course which masjids prepare the best moré – after tarawikh meal).
One night at Masjid Wilayah, the other night at Masjid Negara, then Masjid Shah Alam, then Masjid Putrajaya, then Masjid Besi, then Masjid Cyberjaya. Prayer at masjids like these are like entering masterpiece monuments free of charge.
5- Prioritize iftar is for the needy
Another event not to be missed is iftar (breaking the fast). In Ramadan, most masjids will prepare free iftar and many opportunists shall take this window of chance to get free food. Well, who hates free yummy food?
But, maybe, this time around, why not we step back and give chance for the needy to get the free food. If we want to feel the togetherness, we can bring our own food to the masjid.
No harm will be done if we eat the free Iftar, but maybe not all the 30 days straight. Twice or thrice a week is okay.
This refraining from taking iftar is recommended for working people I guess, but for students who studies by study loan or the poor or the asnafs can enjoy the free iftar.
Ramadan is a magical month. It is month raining with mercy, a month where everyone smiles (or smiles more often).
I don’t how it is done but how can a man, prior to Ramadan who probably never prays, suddenly prays all prayers 5 times a day plus 8 rakaat of long tarawikh at a masjid? Or a person who is an avid smoker can refrain himself from smoking in daylight? Or a Muslims who never wears a hijab wears the hijab out of respect to Ramadan?
Everyone is kinda productive in Ramadan. Let us not waste this productive period to be a productive person doing productive efforts.