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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

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”

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.

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