Ramadan is a month of spiritual renewal and self-discipline–a path that is characterized by struggles and challenges that are unique to each person. While this will be a physically distant and spiritually different Ramadan, our current situation does not prevent us from catching the blessings of Ramadan. The Family and Youth Institute is here to serve you during these times. We conducted a needs assessment about the concerns and needs of American Muslims as they prepare for a COVID-19 Ramadan–you can read about the findings here. Based on the findings, The Family and Youth Institute has prepared this Ramadan Toolkit with practical tips on how to nourish your spiritual selves during this COVID-19 Ramadan.

This toolkit was authored by Madiha Tahseen, PhD, Saara Patel, LLMSW, and Romiesa Ahmed, BA. It was designed by Sarrah AbuLughod, MA. 

 


Cultivating Spirituality in the Home

One of the key findings from The FYI’s Needs Assessment was about how much people are missing their spiritual communities. The central place of spiritual connection and growth has shifted from the masjid back to the home. So how can we motivate ourselves to feel the spiritual high of Ramadan from our homes? Here are some ways to obtain that spiritual high:


Bring the Ramadan “Feel” to your Home

Know that the masjid misses us as much as we miss it.  It is missing Quranic recitation, people giving sadaqah, the barakah of people worshipping Allah, and more. For more on this topic, check out this webinar by our very own FYI Community Educator, Duaa Haggag, about how to keep the masjid alive in our hearts during this month. 

Now, more than ever is a time to create a Ramadan home environment that appeals to all of your senses. Many of us do this already if we have children, but now is the time to also do this for ourselves, as adults. To do this, you must reorient yourself to a new reality. Create a spiritual or masjid atmosphere within your home by trying some of the following:

Home Masjid. Make a physical space in your home where you will pray, read Quran, make du’a, and/or reflect. Have a Quran, thikr beads, du’a cards/journal/book, and prayer rug easily available for use.

Mimic the masjid feel by ensuring that the adhan can be heard aloud in the house five times of the day

Try to pray at the time of congregation according to your local masjid’s congregation schedule.  Lead your family in prayer at these specific times

Choose a designated salah and consider having a daily family halaqa. This could entail listening to a short reminder by a speaker, reading and reflecting on verses from the Quran or hadith

After salah, make a family du’a that verbalizes how much you miss the masjid, ask Allah to keep your heart attached to the masjid, and allow us to return sooner rather than later (For individuals with children, this serves to help model your love and value for the masjid, which we hope they will internalize)

Jum’uah. Create a special routine for Jum’uah within the home.

Use this as an opportunity to learn the etiquette of and practice giving khutbas

Have a post-Jum’uah halaqa or listen to one of the many online lectures being shared to maintain the connection

Pray outside if possible to feel connected to Allah’s creation

While you may not be able to physically go to the masjid for Jum’uah, you CAN complete the other sunnah that the Prophet (S) practiced that you can complete

If you’re not used to reading all of Surah Kahf on Fridays, start off by reading it together with family and friends, each person reading a section to the group

After Jum’uah is a time when many of us may meet up and catch up with our family and friends. Host a post-Jum’uah virtual meetup and share with your family and friends so you can catch up with them after Jum’uah

Remind yourselves of the blessing and rewards Jum’uah brings–even if it can’t be done as a community

Taraweeh Prayers. Revive the sunnah!

Learn how praying taraweeh at home was how our beloved Rasullulah (S) and Sahabi prayed it

Re-frame how we feel about a taraweeh at home. Consider our situation as an invitation to spend alone time (khalwa) with Allah

Pray outside if possible to feel connected to Allah’s creation

 

Quranic Recitation. If you long to hear the Quran being recited, set that up in your space.

Play your favorite qari’s recitation while you are doing chores 

Recite out loud

Encourage your kids to recite out loud

Have  family Quran competitions with prizes to keep everyone motivated: 

Who read the most minutes/day 

Who completed reading the most amount of the Quran

Who spent the most time in reading the meaning of the Quran

Who shared the most number of personal reflections of the Quran

Who has the most beautiful recitation of the Quran

If you have children, family togetherness will be even more important during this time. Check out the family bonding section of the toolkit for much more about bringing the Ramadan feel to your home. 


Structure Your Day

Now that we are in quarantine, making a schedule allows you to keep a consistent routine while ensuring that your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and social needs are all being met each day. There will be days when it is hard to follow the schedule, so be gentle with yourself and allow those days to happen. 

Start your day with a post-Fajr group that recites morning du’a and surahs over the phone

Designate times to recite your favorite thikr and du’a

Start a gratitude journal writing at least 3 things you are grateful for each day.  Then supplicate and thank Allah for these blessings

Set time to hear the recitation of the Quran using headphones or playing it near you while working

Plan to listen to a weekly lecture/talk that is live–check out this calendar for ideas. Set it up on your TV for the whole family to watch together

Pick the days you will call a family member, neighbor, or elderly person during the week

If you have children, refer to the family bonding section to create a schedule with them

 

Strengthening social relationships and community bonding

Another challenge in Ramadan that was highlighted in The FYI’s Needs Assessment was the lack of physical togetherness beyond our homes with extended family and the larger community.  How can we replace the sense of togetherness we may have had during this month? Find new ways to be together–to engage in social ibadah:

Moonsighting.

 

Participate in sighting the moon yourself or with your family. If you have young children, build the excitement with nasheed and crafts, such as making binoculars or observing the phases of the moon

For older children and adults, use this as an opportunity to recite and remember the du’a, or supplications of sighting the moon

Share your picture of the moon with family and friends

 

Ramadan/Eid Cards. 

Adults and children can make Ramadan and Eid cards together to mail to family and friends

Remember to include a personal reflection or Ramadan inspiration with friends or families

Virtual Iftar.

Coordinate a virtual iftar with family or friends, or plan a youth iftar for your child and their friends

Pack a couple of dates with a traditional iftar snack to share with your family and friends–follow social distance regulations

If you are able to, support organizations that are arranging for iftar food packages

Virtual Gatherings.

For those that are missing collective spiritual gatherings, find out if your masjid offers these programs online. Check out this calendar for many online programs 

Be sure to find the virtual youth halaqas if you have kids 

If not, make a suggestion for a youth leader or imam to lead a spiritual talk for the community online, host Kahoot!, games, storytimes and so on 

Set up virtual connections to check in on each other, read and reflect on Quran together, and follow up on each other’s Ramadan goals. This can help re-create the increased sense of community enjoyed in past Ramadans

  Join Shoulder to Shoulder’s Ramadan Table initiative and get to know your interfaith neighbors through this virtual iftar program

Check-in with others. 

Do a 30 days with 30 calls challenge- pick a family member or friend to call each day during Ramadan and find out how they are coping

Taking the time to listen first and show empathy

Reflecting and being grateful for having Muslim family and friends to connect with can improve your mood

 

 

Reflect. 

Many in our Ummah may not have a strong support system or sense of community–new Muslims, single parents, and people struggling with mental illnesses. Make them a part of your virtual community! 

Call or send a message letting them know you are thinking of them

Do a drive-by visit to brighten their day…and yours!

Drop off some dates or food that can be heated following CDC guidelines

Virtually invite them to any activities you are doing online such as a halaqa or book club

Personal Development

Ramadan is usually a time when you may strive to change your habits, heal from hurt, or set new goals. Even though we are socially isolated and missing our communities, this is the perfect time to turn our focus inwards and think about what we want to improve about ourselves. 

Watch this video to understand the science of behavior change. Greater knowledge will increase the likelihood of success in reaching your goals

If you are planning to break bad habits, this video highlights how bad habits are formed, maintained, and eventually reformed

As you embark on personal development in a Ramadan that feels spiritually different, your success can be bolstered by setting SMART goals

Use these goal setting tips and tools to increase the likelihood of your success. Try to be comprehensive in your goal setting–track your Ramadan goals, progress, and reflections using the Ramadan Legacy app

Consider including goals to improve your marriage, family, or parenting skills

For women, menstrual cycles or young children can sometimes derail from your goals–be compassionate with yourself, understand your reality, and focus on what you CAN do! 

Reduce your mental load when thinking about your goals for this month

Bonding with Family

We have gotten so used to connecting with Allah (swt) through the community and leaning on the community to provide the Ramadan space.  As we are all home-bound, Allah is giving us the opportunity to strengthen our “spiritual muscles” through isolation and reconnection as a family unit. 


For Married Individuals, Use this Time to Strengthen your Relationship! 

Use these relationship strategies to help with togetherness during this month

Be a good partner during the quarantine

Learn productive ways of dealing with conflict

Find techniques to lessen stress on your relationship 

Recognize that some partners may shut down/stonewall as a way to cope

Refer to these programs and services for domestic violence victims, survivors, and communities

Check out The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit for more relationship resources

Relationship Q and A with The FYI’s Community Educator, Steven Hernandez


For Families with Children or Teens: 

Listen to The FYI’s Community Educator, Duaa Haggag’s spiritual guidance on how to approach Ramadan this year as a family. Most importantly, be kind to yourself during these times. 

Reframe your way of thinking 

Help your kids, teens, and youth to see the silver lining in this coming Ramadan. Ask them: What is Allah trying to tell us or teach us? What’s the wisdom in having our Ramadan like this? 

Try to understand what your child or teen is going through

Validate their disappointment

Help them practice mindfulness and take charge of their own well-being

Learn about Prophetic examples and examples from believers before us who became better and grew from moments of solitude and isolation: Yunus (AS) in the whale, Yusuf (AS) in prison, Hajar in the desert, Maryam, the People of the Cave, Moses (AS), and Prophet Muhammad (S) in the cave of Hira.

Have the older kids research one of these stories and present. For younger kids, prepare and make a storytime after iftar. 

Help find creative ways to emulate the isolation of the Prophets. Create a “cave” or a “tent” or “corner” for thikr. 

Learn the different du’as that these different Prophets used during isolation and memorize them together (example: Prophet Yunus’s (AS) du’a).

Create New Family Traditions

Don’t spend too much time trying to recreate the traditional Ramadan experience as previous Ramadans in the masjid. Be flexible in your thinking and expectations

Learn to slow down, be mindful, listen, and reflect

Bring the masjid to your house

Make a part of your home a “masjid

Mimic the masjid feel by ensuring that the adhan can be heard aloud in the house five times a day. Have a designated muezzin (one who calls to prayer)

Pray outside or under the stars and the moon as a way to connect to nature and the belief that Allah (swt) is constant no matter the circumstance

Create mobile pieces you can take out to signal “masjid” for the family. 

Use rugs, nice smells, dim light, and clean, beautiful clothing that all signal salah time

Attach loving gestures and connectedness to thikr activities. Follow the sunnah by playing games and hugging your children after salah

Set goals with your children 

Talk to them about goals and character development–this helps them develop a growth mindset, and builds their resilience

Brainstorm with your children about ways that they want to change. Empower them to make a change with helpful tools

Help them document their success through written goalsjournals, and Ramadan charts

Check out Ramadan advent calendars as creative ways to provide incentives to kids for sticking to their goals

Set up a “good deed everyday” goal

Craft a gratitude tree to encourage kids to consistently reflect on what they’re thankful for

Increase the visibility of Islamic materials around the home, like placing Islamically-relevant children’s books and magazines out on display

Decorate together. Listen to Ramadan nasheed (Islamic songs) or play the Quran to help get everyone in the Ramadan spirit as you decorate the house

Involve them in the meal planning and cooking, iftar organizing, and general house preparations for Ramadan

Spend time learning together as a family. Watch a short Islamic video, read a verse from the Quran, hadith, discuss Ramadan related ayat and hadith, or simply share reflections on what each person is grateful for. Keep it short, simple, and have fun as a family

Engage in charity together, Giving charity is an important aspect of Ramadan, both as a teaching tool and as a way to bond together. In a covid-19 Ramadan, how can we engage in charity with our children? 

Get them in the habit of giving money intentionally–how much are they willing to share of what Allah (SWT) has gifted them? Help them create a budget for donations, research and evaluate charities’ impact and effectiveness, explain the rationale behind donations, and then let them choose where the donations go

Discuss other ways to do common good, especially with your teens

Make use of free time

Children may have a lot of free time these days. Here are some Ramadan-based activities that children can do:

Ramadan Curriculum: 30 Days of Activities

Noor Kids’ Ramadan activities and Ramadan Camp

10 Arts & Crafts activities

Activities to do with Toddlers and Young Children 

Use non-religious activities as a teaching opportunity–help children make a positive intention for engaging in them so that their time, even in Ramadan, is spent earning reward and getting close to Allah (swt). 

Games that involve physical activity and movement indoors

150+ enrichment activities for children

150+ educational shows on Netflix

Audible is an audiobook service that is offering free stories across different age groups

Indoor activities for children and their parents 

Work with your teens to still serve others

WISE Bucket List Challenge 

Coping with Anxiety and Other Mental Illnesses

Coping with illness in the month of Ramadan is not easy–it may be even harder as some of us lose our social support systems and face increased anxiety during this pandemic. Using coping tips and strategies are key to making the most out of Ramadan as someone who struggles with a chronic illness. When thinking about medications for mental illness, take these considerations into account when deciding to fast or not.

Check out these resources for dealing with anxiety you may be feeling during a covid-19 Ramadan:

Managing your anxiety and stress

Reduce anxiety and learn the Four M’s of mental health

Rely on coping skills and self-care that can help reduce your stress

How to regain calm and benefit from your time

Understand your feelings and whether you are experiencing grief

Ramadan, for individuals struggling with mental illness, can sometimes feel isolating.  The following personal narratives may help you realize you are not alone.  

Tackling Ramadan With A Mental Health Condition

Ramadan in the Shadows: Mental or Chronic Illness 

Struggling with an Eating Disorder During Ramadan

If you are a health professional who works with Muslim patients, check out the following resource for guidance regarding general advice for fasting, modified pharmacotherapy, and other planning strategies as your patients prepare for this month.

Experiencing Ramadan as a Convert/Revert

For recent converts/reverts to Islam, the first few Ramadans as a Muslim can be both exciting and challenging. A socially distant COVID-19 Ramadan may exacerbate these issues.

Start with these videos specially developed for converts to help prepare yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually

Learn the basics about fasting and use resources to guide you through this experience

Focus on these 12 Super Sunnahs

Trying to figure out how to explain Ramadan to your family who is not Muslim? This video shares some advice on interacting with your family during Ramadan

Unfortunately, sometimes converts/reverts experience emotional difficulty due to lack of family support. This resource highlights some struggles faced, such as isolation and loneliness

Overcoming these emotions is not easy, however, this article offers practical advice for new Muslims


For Those Born Into Islam

NOW is the time to offer even greater support to our fellow revert/convert brothers and sisters. Include them as part of your “virtual” community:

Call or send a message letting them know you are thinking of them

Do a drive-by visit to brighten their day…and yours!

Drop off some dates or food that can be heated following CDC guidelines

Virtually invite them to any activities you are doing online such as a halaqa or book club

Ramadan for Youth

For once, this Ramadan may alleviate some stress for young Muslims – with no physical school, youth may be able to sleep in and engage in late night ibaadah. They may no longer have to suffer through lunch periods or school activities while fasting but may be missing out on connecting with friends at the masjid or during school. Here are some ways to meet your differing needs this Ramadan as a young person: 

Acknowledge and Cope with How you are Feeling.

It’s okay to be feeling disappointed or anxious  

Cope with it by practicing mindfulness and reducing your stress

See how you can stress less

Set Goals for Yourself. 

Setting goals helps you build a growth mindset

Set SMART goals- also check out this resource for more information

Make a journal to track your progress

Come up with ideas to earn good deeds throughout the month

Make a Ramadan calendar with activities to fill your day

Reconnect with Your Friends in New Ways.

Join or create virtual hangouts to do Ibaadah together

Sign up or create a Ramadan challenge

Share your Ramadan goals and hold each other accountable

Arrange a virtual iftar 

Hangout online after taraweeh prayers to create the same feeling of togetherness 

Find new ways to volunteer together

Study Smart!  

Reserve the hardcore studying (learning new concepts), for when you can eat and get some brain food in your system. Lighter studying is more doable when fasting (making flashcards, reading through old notes, checking homework). Here are other general studying strategies you can use to prepare for exams during Ramadan

Check out these strategies for being productive while taking online classes

Stay Physically Active. 

Try getting some fresh air by taking a short walk outside while practicing social distancing (this is a great time to listen to some Quran, too!)

Getting a dose of natural sunlight can help set your circadian rhythms and will help you sleep better at night

Physical movement/light exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better, and can boost your immunity

Make Du’a. 

Never underestimate the power of a sincere du’a. Make du’a for an easy and beneficial Ramadan during covid-19 and ask Allah for help with your studies and exams

Ramadan While Working

Many people who can, are working from home this Ramadan. While there may be some added flexibility with schedules, many people are finding their workload has increased and shifted in different directions rather than lightened up. Days that used to be filled with meetings are filled with Zoom calls and additional projects as industries try to adapt. Nonetheless, Ramadan is here. Read on for tips on how you too can adapt.

  Make the most of your time during this blessed month by:

Overcoming disadvantages of virtual working and being productive when working from home

  Maintaining productivity and balancing fasting with workplace demands

This resource can be shared with your coworkers to help them understand how to support you in Ramadan. 

Employers: refer to this guide for how to support your Muslim employees  

Fitness and Nutrition

**Disclaimer: These recommendations are for healthy adults, if you have any medical problems please consult your physician**

During this COVID-19 Ramadan, stress and anxiety levels are likely high–which may have an impact on your physical health, and in turn impact your productivity in Ramadan. This month will be the most important time to counter effects of stress and anxiety during this month by investing time into your health, fitness and food choices in order to maximize your potential in Ramadan! For a refresher on the basic nutrients your body needs daily and how to meet these needs during Ramadan, refer to this resource

Prepared by medical experts and Islamic researchers, this Ramadan Health Guide provides more detailed information about balancing nutrition while also maximizing the benefits of fasting. The guide also contains a section for doctors and medical professionals, to enable them to provide more informed services to their patients.

Even though your usual fitness centers may be shut down, finding new ways to maintain your fitness routine will be key. 

Replace your gym routines with free at-home workout options with Peloton and Daily Burn

These guidelines provide information about the timing, duration, and quality of your workout during Ramadan, as well as specific plans for men and women

Creating a 30-day meal and fitness plan may help you stay motivated and focused

Many women wrestle with the choice to fast or not during pregnancy as well as while nursing. As an expecting mother, it is important to assess your health and speak with your physician and religious leader in order to determine what is appropriate for your situation. Similarly, as a nursing mother, the potential impact of fasting on low milk supply is important to consider, as well as alternative forms of ‘ibaadah (worship) one can engage in if she is not fasting.

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