30 Days of Ramadan, Day 1: Schedule Tight, Niyyah Strong

Once again the blessed month of Ramadan is upon us, and once again the prep for the month doesn’t ever seem to be enough; at least, that’s where I find myself, again, every year.

To start, I knew that the first night of Taraweeh was near. I knew I should have started fixing my sleeping schedule and shifting my workout schedule to prep. But did I?

As a responsible adult, of course not. Most masjids held their first night of Taraweeh prayers last night – the special prayer specific to Ramadan that takes place after Isha prayer. Most masjids also got done with their first Taraweeh prayers after midnight. When you factor in travel time (because everything in Houston is understood to be at least 30 minutes away), masjid socializing, and finally getting home and getting ready to rest…well you’re really looking at about two to three hours of sleep before getting up to eat and start the first day of Ramadan.

The rest of the day is a blur of work, prayers and trying to remember not to eat or drink. Before you know it, it’s time to break your fast with Iftar, pray some more, and head back to the masjid to do it all over again.

Tight schedule, right?

Here’s the thing though: the schedule only feels tight the first week of Ramadan. You find yourself falling into it, propelled by the fact that it’s only a 30-day journey, and remembering how much you wish you had more time the last time it was over.

So we bustle on by keeping our niyyah strong.

Niyyah is the Arabic word for intention; before doing anything, you make the intention for it. How many of us are stumbling across our last Ramadan’s goal lists and thinking “wow…I need to better”? Well, niyyah is the key to doing better. It’s the first internal push to face the direction we need to go to progress.

This year having a strong niyyah in every aspect of Ramadan will shape our attitude and perseverance for a month of blessings of course, but also a month of trials, from the basics of waking up on time, doing extra prayers, not eating and drinking, to the harder tasks of forgiving, finding humility, and forcing courage externally when internally things get complicated. If you think about it, making niyyah is the most simple yet most important step. It’s just intention – the thought that you will do something. Yet that’s all it takes to make a conscious effort toward betterment.

The tricky part is after Ramadan, when the hunger quells and we start getting lukewarm (but we’ll leave this for another post as well).  For now we focus on tightening those schedules, making strong Niyyah, and moving forward with faith. It’s only the first day and I’m already dreading the way time flies during this blessed month.

Internal struggle of the day: I can’t believe I waste so much of the day on the regular! Why does it take Ramadan for me to realize this??
Internal affirmation: Praying on time is much easier when I know I can sleep right after.

The 30 Days of Ramadan blog is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-Houston’s Operations Coordinator.

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