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5 Ways to Keep Ramadan Momentum Alive

5 Ways to Keep Ramadan Momentum Alive

Ramadan is almost over, but there are tons of opportunities that you can use to keep the Ramadan spirit. I hope that you will find the following 5 tips handy, especially during the first half of Shawwal (lunar month following Ramadan in the Islamic calendar). This article is based on what is known in behavior science as the “Habit Loop”.

The Habit Loop

Ramadan comes with an emotional and social package that makes worshipping Allah easier during the blessed month. The reason why many people fail to keep their gained habits and deeds after Ramadan is simply the lack of a “Ramadan environment”. With the help of Allah first, you may be able to recreate this environment on a mini scale by understanding how habits work.

Based on Charles Duhigg’s amazing book, “The Power of Habits“, there are three components in a habit loop: The Cue (External factor that enables the habit loop), the routine (the actual habit or action), and the reward (whatever craving your mind has that drives the routine). An action can be deemed a habit if it is not taking you a lot of mental power to start the action (such as praying the taraweeh prayer, or fasting the long days of Ramadan once the first few days are gone and you get used to it).

The key here is simple: search for special Ramadan “cues” and keep them alive after it. A Cue is defined as an external factor that is outside of your control, but can cause your mind to crave a certain reward. In this case, the reward is the emotional /spiritual connection that you felt during Ramadan, but unable to maintain afterwards. Here are my five suggestions for cues, which can be remembered by simply memorizing their initials (ISLAM):

ISLAM = Iftar, Sweet, Lectures, Ayah, Mate

1. I for Iftar: Organize regular Iftar Dinners

Let’s admit it, we all love iftar parties. Yes people may waste time and money preparing lots of food that may be thrown away, BUT no one can deny that Iftar dinners are a major ingredient of the Ramadan cultural package.

So the first practical advice is: take the lead to organize regular iftars with your friends or at your local mosque or group. This should encourage others to fast outside Ramadan (such as the 6 days of Shawwal, Mondays /Thursdays, or the three white days of every month). In order to make this idea successful, remember the KISS advice: Keep It Simple and Sequential.

2. S for Sweet: Pray in your “Sweet Spot” at your favorite masjid

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Duhigg talks about many hidden cues that affect people’s behaviors and trigger their habit loops. One of the obvious cues that encourage us for more worship are the houses of Allah. The advice here is straight forward: visit the masjid that witnessed your “Ramadan High” moments more regularly, at least once a week other than Fridays.

The following saying by Ali Bin Abi Talib should encourage you to build that connection with your “masjid sweet spot”:

“When a righteous slave dies, the spot that he used to pray at, and the location where his deeds ascend to the heavens, both will cry on him”, and then he recited (an ayah describing Pharaoh and hi folks), {the heaven and earth wept not for them…} (Ad-Dukhan 44:29)

3. L for Lecture: Keep a list of your Favorite “Ramadan Lectures”

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Ramadan offers a great opportunity to listen to lectures, Friday sermons, and short speeches. Whether in your local mosque or online, try to “add to your favorites list” some of those motivational speeches that affected you during the holy month. If you attended a lecture in person, try to take some notes, at least the 3 MIT’s (Most Important Things) that you got out of that lecture. According to many of my teachers, the spirituality that stems out of knowledge is a deep one that will survive and will be there for you at a moment of weakness.

4. A for Ayah: Bookmark your favorite Ayhas from the Qur’an

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So you can save the words of great speakers and knowledgeable scholars, but don’t forget the words of Allah: They are indeed more powerful. We all believe that the Qur’an is a great book, and that all its Ayahs (verses) are nothing but a pure miracle. However, each of us has their favorite verses, chapters, or passages that we relate to the most under different times or emotional states. If you happen to hear or read a moving verse, Bookmark it and “save” that spiritual connection with that particular verse for later.

 

5. M for Mate: Connect with your “Ramadan Mate”

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Islam is a system that is based on congregation, team work, and friendship. You will need the support of a righteous companion, spouse, friend, or youth group to keep the Ramadan spirit. What I love about Ramadan the most is the opportunity to meet those people and interact with them in a spiritual environment, whether it is a community service event or a taraweehprayer. Those people turn to be the best friends I have ever had, and they definitely give me some dear memories from my Ramadan exposure with them.

While I got my 5 “ISLAM” tips, I am sure there are many, and every one reading this article can come up with their own version of these Ramadan cues. Dear brother/sister: feel free to share this article with friends, especially your “Ramadan Mates”; Also, you may write down your own personalized list in the comments section, and hence benefit me and others who might be reading your comments.

Happy Ramadan, `Eid Mubarak, and may Allah allow all of our days and months to be similar to those dear moments that we witnessed during Ramadan.


About Dr. Mohannad Hakeem

Mohannad Hakeem, Ph.D. Research Engineer - Engine Controls Research and Innovation Center Ford Motor Company

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