March 17, 2014

Maria Islam on the Ramadan Battle Plan

Maria Islam is an El Salvadorian mother of three, currently living in New Jersey, USA. She designs personal planners for busy Muslims on

What were your Ramadans like before you had a battle plan?
I converted in April 2006 and I created a planner to keep me from burning out. I like to do the best I can and I was enthusiastically trying to do everything about Islam at once and I always had this nagging feeling I was missing something. It helped me pace myself and solidify good habits.  I was also concerned about my first Ramadan so I fasted sporadically through that summer to builds stamina.

When Ramadan came it was a breeze, Alhamdulillah.  I’ve always done a loose map of what I wanted to achieve each Ramadan or even what needs to get done on a day to day basis but no rigid structure. My worship is tied to my other tasks in my life as Islam is my core. For example my toddlers have been “praying” with me for quiet a while, they see me praying and they come.

I have a minimum that I feel comfortable doing each day that if that is the ONLY thing I do that day, it was a day well spent. My aim is always to do more but if I dip below that minimum it’s a warning that I need to shape up.

What was your inspiration for creating the Ramadan Battle Plan and for how long have you been making them?
I’ve been making planners since high school as it helps me visualize the steps I need to take to achieve my goals. In 2011, I had miscarriage of twins and it was a very rough time for me. Although I no longer needed my planner to remind me of the 5 prayers and sunnan, I did feel that I was drowning and needed to re-focus on something other than my sadness.

I took my old trusty planner and revamped it with a focus on Ramadan. The idea was to get me in the mental state of Ramadan and make the most of it. Ramadan has always felt like a refuge to me and I look forward to it every year. Alhamdulillah. I released it to some friends and they shared it with their friends and it spread by word of mouth. The first batch was hand bound and I made digital copy free to download for anyone who wants it.

I want to help as many people make the most of their Ramadan. I also want to maximize how many good deeds I can get and there are only so many hours of the day. I figured if I help others improve their Ramadan then I would be getting some my way too Insha’Allah. 

What does the plan contain?
I have a monthly view of Sha’ban, Ramadan and Shawwal. Each day of Ramadan has two full pages dedicated to it so people could plan out their night and day worship. It has a 30 and 20 day Qur’an Reading schedule and hadith and ayat relevant to Ramadan to keep you motivated and focused insha’Allah.

How is the Ramadan Battle Plan different from other Islamic productivity tools out there?
It’s not meant to be a productivity tool although it may be for some.  I really dislike the term because in my experience it’s just an excuse to cram days with things that aren’t important but give the appearance of productivity and make us feel less guilty about what we should be doing.  

This planner is meant to be a hard copy record of your progress each Ramadan.  It’s the main reason I chose the name Battle Plan because it invokes action.  Not a wishing my Ramadan was better but a here are the steps I'm going to take to make it better insha'Allah. I provide a structure and you customize to fit your needs.

In your own personal experience as a wife and mother, how has using the Battle Plan helped to improve your worship before, during, and after Ramadan?
I see improvements before I even use it because I spend most of the year incessantly working on it which means I’m constantly listening to lectures about Ramadan, looking for ahadith dealing with it and being constantly surrounded by the awesomeness that I love so much about Ramadan which helps keep my iman up. 

This year I included mind mapping and a more in-depth section on achieving goals. I was stuck on those for a long time so I took two classes dealing with each topic and it helped tremendously. Usually once Ramadan does come the planner helps me stay consistent and serves as a keepsake of my progress but by this point it’s like seeing an old friend.

I also LOVE data and I want to see progress even if it is slow. This is the 4th year I do it and some of my users tell me they keep their planners year to year to monitor their progress.  Right before the Ramadan they take it out and review what they could do better this Ramadan.

Tell us about this year’s Battle Plan.
This year’s the largest I’ve ever done topping at over 120+ pages. Every year I survey my users and if I see a pattern of similar requests, I take those and try to incorporate them in the planner. Some work and some don’t but every year is a trial and error with my community being as much engaged in the creative process as I am. 

For example, many requested more space to plan out their day so I increased it to two pages per day. Another request was to expand the hours to accommodate night worship and those who work at night. Something I didn’t think of adding was a 20 day Qur’an reading schedule.  Even colors! I want to keep the planner neutral in colors but there was quite a few requests for a purple planner this year and its currently being offered as a limited edition only available during the Kickstarter campaign.  

Last year I also picked up quite a few recent converts and their #1 request was a glossary of the Arabic terms I used in the planner. That request made its way into 2014’s version. It also explains why this planner is so large. At the end of Ramadan 2014 I will be surveying them again seeing what they liked and didn’t like and I’ll start molding the next year’s planner insha’Allah. I suspect I will be trimming it down but will wait to hear their feedback. ;)

To order your Ramadan Battle Plan, visit  to back Maria Islam's project and place your pre-order. Pre-order sales will be accepted until March 18th, 2014. After that, the planners will be available for $30 inshaAllah. May Allah make it a success and grant everyone a blessed Ramadan, ameen. 

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