Assalamaualaikum wa-rahmatullahi wa-barakatahu,
With just a week for Ramadan, I hope all of you have your Ramadan goals set! 🙂 If not, you still have time, alhumdulillah, start brainstorming and decide what is it that you want to do this Ramadan, what do you want to achieve?! InshaAllah if time permits I will be posting Ramadan prepration articles and sources that can be used, until then you can also read the articles I shared last Ramadan – Ramadan 2011.
But to begin with here is an article I wrote for HabibiHalaqas. Anything good from it is from Allah (swt) and any mistake is from my weakness or shaytaan. May Allah make this article be a source of inspiration to all of us.
8 ways to make Ramadan a month of change
Originally published at http://www.habibihalaqas.org/2012/07/8-ways-to-make-ramadan-month-of-change.html
I always believe change is good. It’s a part of our life. If everything in life was stagnant, life would cripple us. Thus, all that we feel or experience is a blessing in disguise from Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and so is change.
We all know the change that comes with the month of Ramadan. Our entire day-to-day routine is changed- While we were struggling to wake up for fajr throughout the year, we see ourselves up an hour before fajr during Ramadan. While we are disconnected from the Quran throughout the year, we try hard to complete the entire Quran during Ramadan be it by reading it on your own or in tarawaeeh prayers. But have you ever sat back and thought that why this change is only temporary in most our lives? We do see these changes as something positive, right? We all know how important it is for us to establish our Salah on time, how important it is to stay connected to Quran but yet we let these actions fade away so easily once Ramadan is over! Some of us even go a step further and give up our bad habits like listening to music this month, but just the day after Eid we are back to square one watching TV, listening to music and what not! Makes me question – Are we just Muslims during Ramadan? Surely not we might say, but our actions definitely depict that, astaghfirullah!
Did you know that it is a scientifically proven fact that repeating a task every day for 21 days in a row makes it a habit and doing it for 30 days ensures that your new habit gets well established? 
So, the blessing of Ramadan is in the fact that we perform an action consistently for 30 days, which means if some action is being performed with the right intentions then that action can become our habit, inshaAllah!
Dear Readers, let this Ramadan be not the one where we stop doing the good things once it ends. Let this Ramadan be not the one where we lose connection with Allah after it’s over! Rather let this Ramadan be one of change that is permanent and not temporary. Change that will keep you close to your deen and help you lead the life that is pleasing to Allah.
Here are 8 ways to help you hold on to the habit even after Ramadan ends:
1. INTEND TO DO IT FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH:
Keep your intentions for the sake of Allah and to achieve the ultimate goal – Jannah (paradise).2. REPLACE “HAVE TO” WITH “WANT TO”:
During Ramadan we do things because we have to do it and not necessarily cause we want to do it. For e.g., you get up for suhur because you have to! Now what happens when Ramadan ends is that the need to wake up also ends, since that’s how we have programmed our mind for it. But in order to establish a good habit we need to be willing to do it, and not do it just for the sake of it! For this we replace the “have to” with a “want to” and of ‘course intend to do it for a good reason. Thus, instead of saying “I have to wake up early tomorrow for suhur”, you can say “I want to get up early so I can establish the habit of waking up for tahajjud for the sake of Allah”.3. MOTIVATE YOURSELF:
Stay motivated by reminding yourself why you intended to do the act in the first place; remember how Allah is pleased with it. Read about the virtues of the actions that you are performing, make a mental note of it or write it on a stick note and put it up in a place where it will serve as a reminder for you.
For example, if you have developed the habit of reading Quran everyday then remind yourself of this hadith:
“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter.”  Or if you are working on getting up for fajr then remind yourself:
“Whoever prays fajr is under the protection of Allah. Do not put yourselves in a situation where Allah has to call you to account for your negligence.” 
NEVER give up. You might slow down a bit but make sure you don’t stop doing it completely. The moment you see yourself falling, pull the “danger” trigger and lift yourself up again!
4. FIND “IMAAN BUDDIES”:
A sister mentioned that one of the reasons she is unable to keep up her habits after Ramadan is because of absence of family participation. So, one way to tackle this is by finding an imaan buddy. They can be anyone from your close friends or even a family member, someone who will help you hold on to your habits and you help them with theirs. You also keep a check on each other’s Imaan levels and give it a lift when there is need. Make a pact with them and help each other to keep the spirits high even after Ramadan.
If you do not have any family members or friends who can help you with this then find someone online in an Islamic forum or group.
In worst case if you do not find anyone, then don’t give in. Remind yourself you are doing this for the sake of your akhira and on the day of judgement you are going to be questioned alone!
5. DON’T LET SATANIC WHISPERS DEMOTIVATE YOU:
Satan will try everything possible to get you out of any habit that is bringing you closer to Allah. But don’t give in to his whispers and suggestions. Remember he promised to do everything to lead us astray, don’t let him win! Seek Allah’s help at every step.
6. ENERGIZE WITH WUDU AND NAFL SALAT:
A dear sister always recommends performing wudu and offering 2 rakat nafl salah repeatedly until we feel energized. So, whenever you feel like giving up or the day you feel too weak to continue with what you are doing then try this mantra. It works wonders, mashaAllah!
7. DON’T LET BAD HABITS RELAPSE:
I’d like to share a personal experience when it comes to breaking bad habits:
One Ramadan, I gave up watching TV and alhumdulillah I managed to continue this for about 2 months after that. But then it so happened that I was oblivious to the other things I can do, since most of my time was spent in watching TV otherwise. Once I was extremely “bored” and had nothing to do, so to kill time I decided I’d watch some TV but restrict to watching just good stuff like Discovery and National Geography. Now, that was enough for my habit of watching TV to relapse, I didn’t even realise when I started watching those addictive soaps again, astaghfirullah.
The reason I mention this is because if you too have decided to give up on some bad habit then be sure that Satan will try to get you back into doing it, so don’t let yourself get even close to that habit. Stay away from it, the people and the place that might make it relapse again. Above all, keep yourself busy!
8. BE CONSISTENT:
Don’t forget Allah loves deeds that are consistent even if small.
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah’s is the most regular and constant even though it were little.” 
I understand that it’s easier to do things in Ramadan because firstly the devils are locked up, so we have only our nafs to fight against and secondly there is a positive vibe in air that keeps us going. Like a sister put it there is a disciplined structure that comes with Ramadan and there are a lot of communal activities happening that motivate us and with Ramadan even these end, so it becomes a lot harder to hold on to the good that we were doing during this month. But let’s remember – anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
2. Sahih Bukhari
4. Benefits of reading Quran – http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/quran/quran-benefits.html
5. Reported by al-Tabaraani, 7/267; Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 6344.
6. Sahih Bukhari