Well, this year can be different. I have found (at least for myself) that the key to making lasting changes is having small, sustainable goals rather than grand, unreachable ones. In fact, this is even a concept in our religion that Allah loves those deeds that are done consistently, even if they are small.
Here are 10 simple spiritual practices that we can all start now and easily continue after Ramadan has passed:
1- Pray 5 Times a Day
I know this one sounds really basic, but for a lot of people, praying on time 5 times a day is a struggle. However, this is a pillar of Islam and something that we should all be doing; so even if it’s a challenge, we should do it in Ramadan as well as year-round.
Some people benefit from having a buddy system where they are accountable to a close friend or family member, so this might help if praying all five times is something you struggle with.
2- Mindful Speech
This is a tough one for me. I want to have total command over my words, since Paradise is guaranteed for those who restrain their tongue and private parts. That means no gossiping/backbiting, talking back to parents, lying, using swear words, etc. Speaking in a way that is gentle, fair, honest, and productive is a good goal to have as Eid approaches.
3- Having a Relationship with the Quran
Some people are able to recite the entire Quran in the month of Ramadan, or even more than that. This is awesome, since it is so rewarding and Ramadan is a month of building our relationship with the Quran. But keeping that relationship up even after Ramadan is over is also very important.
This could be different for everyone. For some, it will mean continuing to recite large chunks every day. For others, it might mean reading just five verses and pondering over the meaning.
4- Giving Charity
I have been getting an email or message nearly every day this month to remind me to give sadaqah or zakat to a beneficial organization. Many people give the most charity during this month since the rewards are multiplied. But charity is something that we’re encouraged to give all the time, even if we don’t have much to give. For those who can afford it, monetary donations are always needed. For others, voluntary service or kind acts go a long way.
This one is easy to squeeze into even the busiest schedule. It’s just simple words and phrases praising and remembering Allah. We can do Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) even while driving or doing the dishes. There are YouTube videos available to learn more if it’s something you’re not used to doing.
6- Ask Allah for Forgiveness
Let’s be honest—nobody is perfect, no matter how much we might try to be. We all make mistakes, whether they be big or small. Although we do seek forgiveness from Allah during Ramadan, it’s important to keep this up after Ramadan. It also doesn’t have to take long, but it does require remorse, sincerity, and humility.
7- Be Grateful
Every so often, I remember a blessing that I took for granted and I wonder why I haven’t shown more gratitude for it. Well, today is a chance for a fresh start and a more grateful attitude. Allah gives us more than we realize, even when life doesn’t seem to be going so great, so we should try to express our gratitude more. Plus, gratitude has mental and even physical health benefits.
8- Pray for Others
A beautiful thing about taraweeh is that it often ends with the imam praying for the ummah, while the congregation emotionally says “ameen” behind him. We can continue this great practice after Ramadan as well, privately. Plus, if we pray for others, the angels will pray for us.
Not only does smiling more naturally make us feel better, there are also many virtues of smiling that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized.
Fasting does not have to be something that’s only done in Ramadan. For those who are able, voluntary fasts are very rewarding. We can keep These fasts throughout various times of the year and even within each month. A bonus point is that they make it easier to fast in Ramadan, since our bodies are already used to it.
These are only 10 spiritual practices and good deeds that we can keep up after Ramadan; but hopefully they will allow us to benefit from the special month throughout the year.