Many Muslims are unaware of exactly how to utilize the last 10 blessed nights of Ramadan. How do we keep ourselves engaged for the whole night? Won’t we get bored and burnout? Nobody really tells you HOW to worship during these nights but just mention its benefits. So I decided to write up some brief suggestions that I hope will be of benefit to you all insha’Allah. Please note that these are ONLY recommendations and you don’t need to stick to it word-for-word, rather, you can add/subtract/modify as necessary according to your own circumstances. The objective is to provide some sort of sample structure because I know many Muslims are not aware of it and don’t know WHAT to do. They start something but just end up getting bored and falling asleep.
The key thing to keeping yourself engaged in the last 10 nights of Ramadan is to diversify the types of worships that you do. If you stick to doing just one thing for too long, then you risk burning out and just falling asleep due to boredom while you should be staying awake! Thus, I suggest to compartmentalize worship during the night into the following categories:
This is the most important worship that one should be doing during the night. It is the greatest form of dhikr. The Angel Jibril used to finish the Qur’an with the Prophet (ﷺ) every Ramadan and in the last Ramadan of his life he finished it with him twice!
The early Muslims (salaf) used to strive in Ramadan to finish reciting the Qur’an multiple times in the month not just once. Imam Shafi’ used to finish it 60 times in Ramadan and it is reported about Imam Malik:
وكان الإمام مالك إذا هلّ هلال شهر رمضان يُغلق كُتبَه، ويترك مجالس العِلم ويتفرّغ لِقراءة القُرآن الكريم، ومدارسته وحضور مجالسه
“When the new moon of Ramadan would be sighted, he would close his books, leave his gatherings of knowledge, and devote himself to the Qur’an by: reciting it, studying it, and attending its gatherings.”
Now, I realize most of us don’t have what it takes to do it 60 times but we can learn something from the above on how to use the Qur’an during the last 10 nights. We diversify between: recitation, reading tafseer, listening to tafseer lectures, and anything else related to it. Devote some time to each of these activities to keep yourself busy each night. Find verses/surahs that intrigue you and go to your favorite tafseer books and delve deeper into them. Ponder and reflect over their meanings. Go to your favorite tafseer lecturer (Arabic or English) and devote some time listening to tafseer of the Qur’an. And of course, don’t forget to dedicate some time to just plain recitation in Arabic. For those who do not have any tafseer books in the house, then I make the following suggestions:
- Arabic Tafseers
- Ma’ariful Qur’an (English)
- Ibn Kathir (English)
- Ahsan al-Bayaan (Urdu)
- Ibn Kathir (Urdu)
- Tafheem al-Qur’an (Urdu)
- Ma’ariful al-Qur’an (Urdu)
Stand in Prayer
The salah combines many different types of worship into one: dhikr, supplication, sending prayers on the Prophet (ﷺ), and recitation of the Qur’an. This is why it is an excellent choice to engage yourself with during these blessed nights as well. You can either do it yourself or with others so it’s up to you. Do whatever is easier for you. Some people feel they can focus better if they do it on their own while others feel more energetic when they join others. If you do it on your own, then don’t rush through it but just take your time and go slow reminding yourself whom you are standing before!
The Hanbali and Shafi’ scholars allow reading directly from the copy of the Qur’an in supererogatory prayers (nafl), therefore, this is another option for you if you do not have long surahs memorized. Try to read half or one full page in each unit (rak’ah) of prayer.
Make use of the numerous adhkaar that are mentioned in the sunnah. You can use a book like Hisnul Muslim for this which is available to download from the web (just Google it or download one of the numerous apps for it). The key is to repeat the dkhikr over and over again slowly and really reflecting over its meaning. The best dhikr is to say:
- SubhanAllah (سبحان الله)
- Alhamdulillah (الحمد لله)
- Allahu Akbar (الله أكبر)
- La ilaha illa Allah (لا إله إلا الله)
- La hawla wala quwwata illa billah (لا حول ولا قوة إلّا بالله)
If you kept yourself to just the above if you don’t know anything else, it would suffice! You can also add the phrases, “SubhanAllahi wabi hamdi (سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ), SubhanAllahi al-azeem (سُبْحانَ اللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ)“, which the Prophet (ﷺ) described as light on the tongue but heavy on the scales on the Day of Judgement. Just keep saying it to yourself over and over again reflecting over them.
I would also spend some time sending prayers on the Prophet (ﷺ) due to numerous virtues mentioned regarding it. You can use the same darood prayer we use in our salah or just simply say, “Allahumma Salli ‘Alaa Muhammad! (اللهم صل على محمد)”
Of course, this is the weapon of the believer. Spend some time sitting there and just making lots and lots of supplications for your worldly goods and especially your afterlife. I would suggest that outside a handful of du’as mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, spend more time making supplications in your own language with your own words humbling yourself before your Maker. That is the sincerest type of supplication. Pray for yourself, your family, the ummah, and the world.
If you are one of those who are not able to do du’as on the spot, then write them down during the day and make them at night by reading them off the paper.
One of the best supplications to make in these nights is:
اللَّهمَّ إنَّك عفُوٌّ كريمٌ تُحِبُّ العفْوَ، فاعْفُ عنِّي
“O Allah, you are generously forgiving, you love to forgive, so forgive me!”
The whole point of spending the last 10 nights in worship is to catch Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a 1000 months! This means if you catch it and worship Allah in it and He accepts it from you, then it is as if you worshipped Him for over 1000 months. It’s a lifetime of worship in one night. Charity is one of the best deeds to protect oneself from the Fire as the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned. This means if you give charity during the night of Laylat al-Qadr, then it is as if you gave it for over a 1000 months! It is multiplied. I suggest diversify your charity each night. With technology, this is very simple now. Choose a different charity each night and give something to them in these last 10 nights. Just donate and turn off the device, don’t get distracted!
The following is a suggested schedule that one can use as a guide to get an idea of how to implement the above in a structured way. You can change the duration, times, and activities according to your own needs. I’m making it below for those who have flexible hours with work and can spend the whole night awake. If you cannot, then you can still do it by either shortening the duration and activities and then going to sleep or shortening the duration and activities and doing it by waking up later at night, maybe an hour before you usually get up to eat? It’s up to you. However, please be sure to make the schedule for the night during the day so that you are prepared!
The schedule below is based on the Washington D.C. time, which is my time zone. I’m starting with Isha because before that people are usually busy with iftaar, putting kids to bed, etc. I personally prefer 30 minutes intervals because that works better for my focus but you can adjust according to yours:
10:00 PM: Pray Isha and taraweeh
10:45 PM: Make du’a (focus more in your dominant language)
11:00 PM: Make a donation to a charity
11:05 PM: Dhikr (diversity between general dhikr and salah on the Prophet (ﷺ) switching back and forth every 5 minutes)
11:30 PM: Recite some Qur’an
12:00 AM: Listen to a tafseer lecture
12:30 AM: Read a tafseer book on a selected surah or verses
1:00 AM: Rest (drink tea/coffee, snacks, but don’t load up on lots of food)
1:30 AM: Dhikr (diversity between general dhikr and salah on the Prophet (ﷺ) switching back and forth every 5 minutes)
2:00 AM: Make du’a (focus more in your dominant language)
2:30 AM: Do qiyaam and end with witr
3:00 AM: Listen to a tafseer lecture or read some tafseer
3:30 AM: Recite Qur’an
4:00 AM: Make du’a (focus more in your dominant language)
4:15 AM: Prepare for sahoor
For those who cannot stay awake all night and wish to sleep first and get up later at night, I suggest the following schedule:
1:30 AM: Make chai/coffee
2:00 AM: Recite Qur’an
2:30 AM: – Dhikr and du’a
3:00 AM: Do qiyaam and end with witr
4:00 AM: Prepare for sahoor
We should keep the following hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) in mind which he directed towards a woman, who used to excessively engage in lots of prayers (salah), from which we learn that we should take it easy and not overburden ourselves. Do whatever you can to the best of your ability without burning out:
عَلَيْكُمْ بِمَا تُطِيقُونَ، فَوَاللهِ لاَ يَمَلُّ اللهُ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا. وَكَانَ أَحَبَّ الدِّينِ إِلَيْهِ مَا دَامَ عَلَيْهِ صَاحِبُهُ
“Do [only] that which you are able to endure. I swear by Allah, He does not get tired [of rewarding you] until you get tired and the most beloved deed to Him is whatever is done on a regular basis.”
So the above is all I had to say on this topic. If you found it beneficial and plan to use it in some way, then I ask you to make supplication for me and my family as well during these blessed nights. 🙂
I’ll end with the following report about the Prophet (ﷺ):
إذَا دَخَلَ العَشْرُ شَدَّ مِئْزَرَهُ، وأَحْيَا لَيْلَهُ، وأَيْقَظَ أهْلَهُ
“When the last 10 days of Ramadan would arrive, he (ﷺ) would tighten his lower garment, remain awake at night, and awake his family.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)