By Aisha Hasan
Some of the most blessed nights of the year are here; the last 10 nights of Ramadan. Among them, the greatest jewel, Laylatul Qadr, the night the Quran was revealed!
But after 20 days of fasting, working or studying full time, caring for our husbands and children, and trying to make the most of our day, come maghrib it can be hard to prepare ourselves for a night of worship. And where to begin? We seek that spiritual high, but what do we actually do to get it? So if you’re looking for some tips on organising your evenings, read on!
1. Be realistic about how much time you can spend in ibadah
If you’re working full time, or studying for your exams, its unrealistic to think you can spend the whole night in prayer. With the short summer nights also, its important to actually plan how much time you will have, to then know how to spend that time most productively. Whether its half an hour or 3 hours, the essential thing is to approach it with sincerity and humility.
2. Get some isolation
Find a spot away from everyone else to lay down your prayer mat. If you can make that your permanent spot for the next 10 nights do so. Let people know that they shouldn’t disturb you there, and away for the distractions of family, food and television, turn to the qiblah. Make it your own little space, put a tasbeeh, the Quran or some dua books around you as you start the night, to feel prepared for a nigh of peaceful worship
3. Read the Quran – and the meaning
Contemplation is hugely important in Islam. Understanding what Allah (swt) is conveying to us is equally, if not more rewardable to reading the Quran in Arabic. Take some time to read some of the translation of the verses before you begin, and contemplate on what Allah is saying, and the depth of His revelation
A story recorded by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal shows the importance of this reflection
The Noble Prophet (saws) asked Abu Hurairah: “How do you contemplate?”
“As stated by Allah in the Qur’an: ‘(Men of understanding) reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth.’. I too reflect upon the wonders of the heavens and the earth,” he replied.
The Noble Prophet (saws) remarked, “One hour of your contemplation is better than one year of worship.” Then turning to Ibn Abbas, he asked, “How do you contemplate?”
“I reflect upon death and the horrors of the Day of Judgment,” replied Ibn Abbas.
The Noble Prophet (saws) said, “One hour of your contemplation is better than seven years of worship.” Then, he asked the other companion, “In what manner do you contemplate?”
The companion answered, “I reflect upon the fire of Hell and its dreadfulness and severity.”
“One hour of your contemplation is better than seventy years of worship,” the Noble Prophet (saws) stated.
4. Extend your prayer
You don’t need to be behind an imam to pray taraweeh. Even if you don’t know many surahs, read from a Quran while you pray and make an event out of your salah Take that time out to spend as long as you want in each action, and concentrate on the fact that this is a private conversation between you and Allah. Its not about quantity, its about quality. Praying 2 rakah with concentration is better than 10 in haste.
5. Make a dua book
Write down all the things you’ve ever wanted. Things in this life and the akhirah. Things for your family, friends and the Ummah. Write it down and take control of your dua; have it in front of you when making dua to remind of you what to ask for and beg Allah for each one individually. Dont hold back. Remember, Allah (swt) loves His servants to ask him, and feels ashamed to leave His servant empty handed. He is the most merciful and wants to respond to us
6. Take a break
If you’re feeling sleepy, have a quick power nap. If you’re hungry or thirsty, grab a snack and some water. Don’t make your worship feel like a burden on you. Allah (swt) has made this religion easy. You don’t have to exhaust yourself in order to feel close to Him.
7. Expect the best!
These nights hold so much mercy and blessings for those who make effort. Always remember that Allah (swt) loves us more than our parents do, and He wants His servants to turn to Him. It is never too late to turn to him and ask for His mercy, no matter what we’ve done.
The Messenger of Allah (saws) said, “Were you not to commit sins, Allah would create people who would commit sins and ask for forgiveness and He would forgive them.”
May Allah (swt) let us all reap the benefits of these blessed days!
Aisha Hasan is the founder of the Qarawiyyin Project. A Middle East researcher in London, she is also an aalima student and a Quran teacher. She has been active in the community for several years, appearing on television, radio shows and delivering talks at universities around the country.