YOUR NIGHTS MIGHT be filled with little cries and diaper changes, feedings and a lot of rocking your little newborn back to sleep. You might be stumbling through your day, trying to take care of a whole new person’s completely dependent needs while still trying to figure out how to find time for a shower or how to stay fully productive at work.
Being a new parent is such a gift and blessing from God, but it can turn your world completely upside down. Still, how do you even think of preparing for a blessed Ramadan in the midst of all this change and the new demands on your time and energy?
How to prepare? Consider these suggestions:
Yes, extra prayers, extra reading of the Quran, extra fasting, are all beautiful ways to come closer to Allah in preparation for Ramadan. But realistically, when you’re taking care of a newborn, it can be really difficult to even complete your obligatory actions on time and with concentration. So, what do you do?
- Remember that everything halal, with the right intention, can be an act of worship. The Prophet ﷺ taught us,Indeed, actions are by intention. (Bukhâri)In other words, every time you speak to your baby, every time you throw out the trash because of the growing number of diapers, every time you feed them and swaddle them and try to calm their cries – inshâ’Allah, all of those moments are ones when you’re actually worshipping Allah. You raising your child, with the right intention, is in and of itself worship!
- Know that with every effort you make to comfort your child, Allah is with you. The Prophet ﷺ taught us,…Whoever has fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever has brought his brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever has screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection. (Bukhâri)
Who is more deserving of your efforts to fulfill their needs than your helpless babies? Who is more in need of your comfort than your completely dependent infants? And who would appreciate your screening them because of the mistakes they’re making through this new and difficult path than your spouse? Your family are the first who deserve your support and your forgiveness and mercy. Intend to be there for them, and may Allah be there for you.
The Prophet ﷺ taught us,
The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’ (Bukhâri)
You might be stumbling out of bed to attend to your newborn’s feeding needs in the middle of the night, or multiple times throughout the night. You might need to change their diaper. You might need to stay awake because they refuse to go back to sleep, instead choosing to smile at the curtains or stare intently at the recycle bin – despite it being 2:30 am.
It may cross your mind that you should pray, but you’re exhausted and you know you might have to be back up in another two hours to feed your baby again. But despite your exhaustion, you may be aware that these moments are those in which Allah is closest to the earth, moments in which He is ready to answer all of what you call upon him for. But you’re so exhausted, you can’t think straight! So, what do you do?
- Make a dhikr, duʿâ’ and salah plan for your nightly rendezvous: Once a week, make a plan for your weeknights. Decide whether you’ll be focusing on dhikr, on duʿâ’ or even on salah for different nights of the week. Accept that your plan will be is adaptable: you may wake up too tired to think straight, or, you may end up being up and able to physically perform salah. Either way, make a general outline of your nightly plans so that while your baby has time with you, you also have time with Allah, subâhânhu wa taʿâla.
- Choose which athkâr (verbal forms of remembering Allah, i.e., “subhânAllâh”) you will say and make a duʿâ’ list beforehand. Choose which athkâr and which duʿâs you’ll be saying for that night. This way, you’re already prepared with a set agenda for your nights even when you’re too tired to fully comprehend what’s happening.
- For example, on Wednesday nights, consider making istighfâr, asking Allah for forgiveness over and over by simply whispering, “astaghfirullah” with every suckle your baby takes. On Thursday nights, from your long list of duʿâ’, perhaps make 3 specific ones over and over. On Friday nights, if you aren’t working on Saturday or if you know you’ll get extra rest if you’re a stay at home parent, then try to also include two rakʿahs of prayer at some point in your night.
The point is, you’re no longer simply blindly waking up and stumbling around. You’re using those moments, even if you’re still stumbling around blindly, to worship Allah and to plead for His blessings and forgiveness and protection for yourself and your loved ones.
And while doing all of this, make the intention that you’re hoping these efforts will be a means of increasing your heart’s preparation for the most effective Ramadan you’ve ever experienced, with Allah’s blessings.
When you sit to feed your newborn, use one of those feedings to read Quran. You may get through only one page, but that is already a lofty goal to stick to, as long as you can do it consistently. The Prophet ﷺ taught us,
The deeds most loved by Allah [are those] done regularly, even if they are small. (Bukhâri)
You may hear of people encouraging you to finish the whole Quran before Ramadan to prepare for the month of mercy, but you know that’s not realistic for your situation. Instead, commit to do something consistently, even if it’s just a little. Pick a surah you’ll start with, plan to read it with a translation so that you’ll understand what you’re reading, and choose an amount you’ll do daily whenever you’re feeding your baby.
Listen to the Quran constantly: Even if you aren’t able to fully focus on the verses while you’re caring for your newborn, have them playing in the background with the intention that you will tune in as much as you can and that you want your baby to associate warmth, security, love, hope and being taken care of, with hearing the words of the Quran.
Help them get used to the sounds of the Quran by making it a part of their daily routine, and this way, it’ll become a part of yours as well. If possible –if you do not understand Arabic– play a recitation that also includes a translation. This way, you’ll also continue your own efforts in understanding the words of Allah.
Charity doesn’t have to be from your money only. It can be from your time, with your words, with your actions. The Prophet ﷺ said,
Every act of goodness is charity. (Muslim)
Think of your baby as the recipient of your charitable acts. If you were giving someone a gift, would you yell at them? Would you sigh loudly? Would you seem annoyed? Your being attentive to your newborn, even through their loud screams and their constant explosive diapers and their constant need for you, are all forms of charity to your tiny baby with the right intention.
Having a newborn is a gift that so many people deeply desire but cannot have — out of Allah’s greater wisdom. It is such a test to be unmarried, to be infertile, or to lose your baby to a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a premature death. It is a reality that new parents might go through depression –and post-partum depression specifically– which should not be taken lightly.
I am not suggesting that you should just ‘be happy’ because you have what others may deeply want; if you are struggling with depression, make sure you seek professional help. But for others who are experiencing the natural exhaustion and potential frustration and the myriad of emotions that come with having a newborn, remember to be grateful for this blessing of Allah, especially in dealing with the difficulties. Allah says,
If you are grateful, indeed I will increase you. [Sûrat Ibrâhîm, 14:7]
Increase in your saying of, “Alhamdulillâh,” and from the depths of your heart remember to thank Allah for your miracle. And in that thanks, ask Him to soften your heart for Ramadan and increase the blessings He sends upon you and your family in the blessed month because of your trying to recognize His enormous favors even in moments of hardship.
You may not have the time or energy to prepare for Ramadan as you might have done before, but remember: With the right intention and with a few small but consistent deeds, inshâ’Allah, your heart will be ready for this month of mercy.