Based on our research findings, we recommend the following practices to increase positive thoughts that will help us thrive during this blessed month.
Tip 1: Reflect on the Qur’an regularly
مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ
We have not revealed the Qur’an to cause you distress.
We found that people who reported reading the Qur’an regularly were more optimistic about Ramadan and saw more blessings in life. This relationship is expressed in the verse, “We have sent down to you the Book to clarify all things and as guidance, mercy, and glad tidings for the Muslims.”
The Qur’an is intended to be a source of peace and comfort for the believer in both this life and the next. Find solace in the Qur’an this Ramadan by reading and reflecting on passages of personal interest. Reflect on Sūrat Yūsuf (Chapter 12) to discover and understand Allah’s wisdom in the events that Yūsuf عليه السلام
went through. Try and connect his life to your own. Ponder over the life of Prophet Mūsá عليه السلام in Sūrat al-Qaşaş (Chapter 28), and empathize with how Musa felt when he had to flee his homeland. Immerse yourself in the stories, metaphors, and parables of the Qur’an.
Tip 2: Have an intimate conversation with Allah
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
And when My servants ask you [O Muhammad] about Me, indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [in obedience] and believe in Me so that they may be guided.
We found that people who consider their relationship with Allah to be intimate expressed more optimism about this Ramadan and plan to be more generous with their donations. While we are currently isolated from people, we are never isolated from Allah. Allah tells us, “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in a group, I mention him in a better group [of angels]. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go running to him.”
Set aside a few moments each day (e.g, after Fajr
or before Maghrib
) to have an intimate conversation with Allah. No matter what you are feeling or thinking about, Allah’s door is always open.
Tip 3: Practice gratitude journaling and letter writing
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ
And remember when your Lord proclaimed, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor.”
We found that people who see many blessings in life are more optimistic about this Ramadan and plan to be more generous. Gratitude has been shown to improve life satisfaction, sleep quality, mental health, prosocial behavior, and increase optimism.
There are two gratitude practices that we suggest for this Ramadan. The first is to start a gratitude journal today and write down five things each day that you are grateful for. These blessings can be big or small, from the roof over your head to the smell of a rose in your backyard. The second practice is to write a gratitude letter (or email) to someone who you deeply appreciate but never had a chance to properly thank. This practice is in line with the Prophet’s statement, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah.”
Tip 4: Create a virtual community to feel connected
We found that people who reported feeling they needed a community to thrive were less optimistic about this Ramadan. Feeling socially connected is a basic human need and has always been an important part of Ramadan. We recognize that not being in the masjid with friends and family will be difficult this year. However, you can still create a sense of community by regularly having video conferences. Try to set up video conferencing for reading Qur’an with friends, hosting a virtual ifṭār party, or hosting a party for a tafsīr lecture. We may be apart from family and friends in physical distance, but never in heart. Remind yourself as you stand alone in prayer at home that millions of people around the world are simultaneously facing Makkah in worship.