How To Create A Ramadan To Remember

Categories: Ramadan

By Aliya Vaughan

The results of the effort you put into creating an exciting Ramadan atmosphere is never fully realised until you look back over the years and reminisce, especially if you had children and they recall fond memories as adults. The things you thought were insignificant become core memories, from the nostalgic sights of Umrah pilgrims circulating the Kaaba on the TV screen; to the sounds of Quran recitation and the melodic call of the adhaan at the time of iftar; to the smells of bukhoor emanating in every room throughout the house, and the aromas of freshly cooked food and thirst quenching drinks that create that Ramadan ‘feel good feeling’ after a long day of fasting.

This year you too can create these life-long memories. It’s never too late. You’re never too old and you don’t even need children to create them. And if your children are slightly older and you think you may have missed the boat – think again. If you have never experienced an ‘amazing’ Ramadan or you’ve previously associated it with negative emotions and unhappy memories, you can still cultivate exciting and positive new associations. Make the intention this year to create your best Ramadan ever. The suggestions I propose in this blog are not exhaustive and they are not just applicable to those of you who live with family. You may live on your own or with your husband, with your non-Muslim family or perhaps you are a student in your own flat or room. Whatever your situation, you can still make Ramadan special. You owe it to yourself. This is the one time of the year where you can create your own deeply personal, spiritual experience, and set time for self-reflection, purification, and improvement, and an opportunity to re-connect with Allah to gain taqwa (God consciousness, remembrance, repentance, gratitude, obedience, and worship). Ramadan doesn’t have to be dry and boring or mechanical. Be creative, be playful, be imaginative and have fun – treat yourself. Bring out the inner child in you and create an experience of wonder and exploration.

Ramadan is one of  the greatest spiritual gifts of the entire Islamic calendar,  so our efforts to make Ramadan a special occasion should begin a few weeks in advance, if possible. The anticipation of this annual event is one that can never be underestimated. Non-Muslims spend the whole month of December getting excited for Christmas that lasts only one day. Muslims should spend weeks if not months getting excited for the greatest spiritual event of the year that lasts a whole month and the celebration of Eid that lasts up to three days. If we cultivate a love of Ramadan in our home, we will enjoy the blessings of fasting, the opportunity to increase our faith and the warm feeling of ‘togetherness’ as a family and community. Even if we cannot obtain the spirit of the latter in person, it can be obtained through virtual means, thanks to the online global community. It’s not quite the same but for someone who is old enough to remember life without Internet, it is truly a Godsend and a blessing!

Tips to make Ramadan a special occasion

As well as the examples already mentioned in my first paragraph, you may want to try some of the following suggestions:

Make a Ramadan poster

Every year I make a Ramadan poster with my children. It consists of cutting out cardboard letters to spell out the words ‘Ramadan Mubarak,’ designed and painted by my children using brightly coloured poster paints. We add a calendar with the iftar times for each day and the dua for breaking fast, read in Arabic as well as English. You can use transliteration or Arabic script depending upon your children’s reading level. I also print off 30 Ramadan-related reminders consisting of well-known ayahs and hadiths. Each day throughout Ramadan my children take it in turns to tear off a strip of paper with a reminder on it and read it out loud. When my children were younger they relished being in the spotlight to show off their reading skills to the rest of the family. Now they are grown up they have become very familiar with these verses and sayings. Other duas or short surahs can also be added to the poster to memorise, as well as quotes/sayings/images to encourage good deeds throughout the blessed month i.e. pictures of the Quran, certain foods such as dates, a prayer mat, images of coins and paper money as reminders for giving in charity, the Kaaba, names of Allah and so on. Then stick brightly coloured stars and shapes around the outside frame of the poster and glitter (if you are brave enough!!). Your poster should add colour, interest, and cheer to brighten up any room!

Attend Ramadan workshops

These are often sent up in your local masjid or community centre. Workshops are excellent for bringing sisters and children together to learn about Ramadan and to create an exciting buzz with long lasting, happy memories. If there aren’t any workshops nearby, then you could get together with other like-minded sisters to create your own workshop. Even if you live in an isolated area where there isn’t a big Muslim community, you could set up an online community yourself. It may take a little more ingenuity to think outside the box, but it is ‘doable’ in sha Allah. There are plenty of art and craft ideas, songs to sing, games to play and create competitions with prizes to win. You can also make goodie bags for kids with jokes, small toys, and sweets to snack on or save for older children after they have broken their fast (it’s something for them to look forward to!)

Make a charity box

Every Ramadan I would make charity boxes out of stiff cardboard using a template and cut a slot on the top for the coins to fit through. My kids would paint the boxes to resemble the Kaaba or decorate them in their own style and write their name on the side. Each child would be given a handful of coins to add to their own charity box every day throughout Ramadan. This was a great way to instil the love of giving in charity to those less fortunate. At the end of Ramadan all the money would then be given to a worthwhile, charitable cause. By the way, you do not need kids to make one of these or a lot of money to put inside them as its just pennies. Give it a go!

Story telling

Story telling is something everyone loves, even adults. As parents we should try to read every day with our children. I would also recommend reading with your spouse. It helps with bonding, improves imagination and reading ability, and improves knowledge on a wide range of subjects including learning about our religion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at bedtime especially if you’ve been fasting all day during Ramadan, but bedtime is always the best time when kids are winding down and relaxed. There may be a local book club or library you can join. If not there are plenty of stories in adult and children’s books, audios, and videos on Muslim platforms, ranging from the seerah (life) of the prophet, the Companions, the prophets, Ramadan related themes and other moral stories. They are excellent for boosting eemaan, teaching lessons, acting as reminders, heart softeners and problem solvers and offer a more positive lens and narrative to focus on in our own lives, circumstances, and tests.

Congregational prayers and talks

Although it’s not obligatory for women to attend the congregational prayer in the masjid, and it is better and more rewarded for her to pray in her house, there may be some benefit in terms of personal and spiritual fulfilment i.e. by creating new friendships or gaining volunteering opportunities in the community. If you are raising children (boys particularly) it is also good to get them familiar with praying in congregation and attend some of the taraweeh prayers, (personal circumstances permitting). Attending the Friday prayer and listening to the khutbah and other talks may also be spiritually uplifting. If you do not have a local masjid nearby, there are many 30-day Ramadan series and online talks by renowned teachers that you can enjoy anytime in the comfort of your own home.

Join WhatsApp groups

If you can join a local WhatsApp group you will be better informed about sisters’ activities in your area. There are also UK wide and international social media sister groups that help, encourage, teach, and uplift one another during Ramadan and beyond. They may share Islamic reminders, links to talks, promote social activities or opportunities to study an Islamic course, Arabic or Quran program. Solace has their own What’s On service where revert sisters can join WhatsApp groups in various UK regions. For more information click on this link .

Plan your Eid

The next most important event to add to your diary and plan for is the day of Eid – to attend the Eid prayer and join sisters in celebration activities. I recommend you actively seek out and join other sisters on this special occasion and create happy memories. Revert groups are providing events in various cities so check them out and register early, as they get booked up quickly.

You may be extremely busy this year with family or work, or going through personal challenges but try to set aside some time to make this Ramadan special for you. Be proactive. Plan a few things that are a bit different and out of the ordinary. Make them stimulate your senses and be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, soothing to the ears, thought provoking and intellectually inspiring to the mind. And if you have any of your own special suggestions, don’t forget to share in the comments section below.

May Allah reward and bless you all with an enjoyable, beneficial, and memorable Ramadan & Eid!

About the Author

Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 29 years and lives in the UK. She is an award-winning children’s author and her stories ‘A Race to Prayer,’ ‘Turning back to Allah,’ ‘Tides of Change’ and ‘Wrestling against Anger’ are available from Kube Publishing. You can follow @aliya_vaughan on Instagram.

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