Posted in Film Reviews, Me Thinks

Quartet Film Reviews – Part III

Behold!

Suicide Squad

These hommies ain’t no Avengers, that’s for sure.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The plot is weak. Like reeeally, reeeally weak. Hilarious even, that one of the same people they recruited turned on them and they spent the whole movie fighting that guy. Amanda Waller should have just died of shame then and there.
I liked Jared Leto and his joker and even more his relationship with Harley Quinn. Those scenes were probably the best.
The absolute worst thing in this movie is Cara Delevigne’s portrayal of the Enchantress. She’s the complete opposite of a villain you take seriously.

This film was fun to watch but I’ve already forgotten about it and I don’t feel the urge to see it again.

 

War For The Planet Of Apes

I’ve loved every single Planet of the Apes movie so far (the new ones) and this was brilliant too!

My Rating: 4.5/5

They stir something inside you. Caesar is tremendously amazing to watch. The emotions captured on his face are so absolutely beautiful to see. Andy Serkis is a genius! It was deeply affecting and I loved every minute of it.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

My Rating: 4.5/5

It’s Marvel, duh. I had stopped doubting them ages ago.

Well, this Peter Parker is legit the worst superhero ever, and it’s freaking adorable. The kid is having the time of his life trying to catch criminals. He succeeds half the time, the rest he just ends up pissing people instead. He’s so caught up in this fever that he unwittingly displays mild jerk behavior. But it makes sense, what he’s going through.

I love all the main and supporting characters, I love all the cameos and I love the villain. He actually wasn’t as menacing as the trailer made him out to be. The thing that pleased me the most is the use of the Spider-Man theme song as the main soundtrack of the film. That was GENIUS. Why didn’t anybody ever think of that before?

Wonder Woman

BADASS.

My Rating: 4.75/5

You know what the best thing about this film is? The message is handled so subtly and effortlessly, without doing it too much or beating it on the head like a stick, it’s powerful and effective and so damn refreshing. So there was none of that (although I was expecting it):

Nothing in the film is overdone. I LOVED IT.

The film carries the same DC tone: gritty, dark and brooding but it’s also emotional, funny and action-packed. Gal Gadot is SPECTACULAR and the supporting characters are amazing!

The Amazons fighting is the thing you never knew you wanted to see. The action-sequences are LIT, the acting is RAD, the story is LEGIT and Wonder Woman is BAE.

This is the end of Quartet Film Reviews for now, I believe.

Cheers!

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Posted in Film Reviews, Me Thinks

Quartet Film Reviews – Part II

The rampage continues…

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

My Rating: 5/5

Now, now. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. Regardless of what Rotten Tomatoes’ rating shows, it’s a good film. On an entertainment scale, it’s a solid five stars. And since that is the reason I watch a movie in the first place, to be entertained, I’d say it does its job pretty well. The movie’s main theme is beautifully composed, Henry Turner is MAJOR eye-candy and then you have the usual ridiculousness that made me guffaw uproariously in plenty.

The humor is positively priceless and the chaos happening all around is only too easy to be immersed in. But even though I did not care about such things as the plot and et cetera, I couldn’t help but notice a few, shall we say, off things.

  • Captain Jack has, mostly, lost his old charm. He’s more of a drunkard fool than the legendary pirate he once was. Seriously, he does nothing but run and scream and drink rum and be silly. Not a moment of seriousness or even a scene where he gets to show what makes him him, you know?
  • The film is predictable. I’ll take one instance that proves it: Karina the scientist has been struggling her whole life to find what her father supposedly wanted her to. When she gets mixed up with the pirates she finds her father *GASP* unknowingly and the moment she realizes who he is, he dies. Now there’s a waste of a perfectly good character.
  • There is too much happening at once. The writers were like yeh bhi daal do, yeh bhi daal do, sab hi daal do and they didn’t do it very coherently either. There’s Henry trying to break his father’s curse, Karina trying to find the island, the British Empire is chasing the pirates, Salazar screaming bloody murder after Jack and he’s like sandwiched between all of this, helpless.

  • It feels to me like the plot was written by a kid. I mean, random things happen that are supposed to connect the dots but they are just so, random. Find the book, wait for the blood moon, read the book, look at the stars, keep driving, arrive on an island, the island has stars, fit the missing piece, the sea will divide, and on and on. It’s like an ancient, cheap and unimaginative treasure hunt game.
  • Nothing makes sense. What the heck did Jack’s compass had to do with imprisoning the Spaniard and his crew, I don’t bloody know. Barbosa said something about the bald witch having a hand in the curse but the compass was the thing keeping them in the triangle? What’s so special about that compass? Also, since Salazar and his crew died and were cursed AFTER that, shouldn’t they all have died when the curse was broken? Instead they came alive.

Ah, well. I still retain that it was an enjoyable film but a not very structured one. The reunions were really sweeeet.

After Rewatch: I didn’t come any closer to understanding what I didn’t the first time except for the fact that the witch didn’t have anything to do with Salazaar’s curse, she was talking about cursing Barbosa’s enemies to repay his favor. No, it was, inexplicably, the compass. Huh. Also, I’ve come to really admire the music of the film. The main theme is so hypnotic.

 

Alien: Covenant

I hate Space. HATE IT.

Like, literally, every space movie besides the Guardians of the Galaxy should be renamed “Shit that can happen in space and 101 excellent reasons why you should never go there” parts I, II, III and so on…

This film is one major GAG-fest. I am stuck like a pendulum between giving it one star and giving it 3+ stars. Because the film is not that bad, I just happen to not like horror. Plus, these particular films give off very haunting vibes what with all shades of black and blue and gray and the frequent splashes of red. So…

My Rating: 2.5/5

I’ve seen Prometheus and I tried to watch the first Alien film, never got past John Hurt’s chest bursting open. I guess I wasn’t in the mood. These are prequels so I have no idea what happens in the future.

I totally saw that Walter/David switch coming. A horror science fiction film with killer aliens where people come out alive and stay that way? Whaaat? You speak nonsense, I dare say! My heart broke a little, I was shipping Daniels and Walter real hard. Michael Fassbender is awesome but it was a bit off-putting watching him kiss himself.

Yeah, so, why DID those Engineers want to kill humanity by that pathogen? This film doesn’t answer that question. And if David didn’t deem humans worthy, why the HECK did he kill all those aliens?

I may or may not watch the next films to find out. GAAAAAG.

 

The Mummy

My, my. This film is terrible. Like, literally, it’s the worst film I’ve seen in a while and definitely the worst Mummy film ever. The mummies must be turning in their, uh, caskets.

My Rating: 1.5/5

This half star is for Jake Johnson. For the short while he was there, he provided a nice distraction. Because this film is a complete mess. Russell Crowe is a bit of a stretch, even Tom Cruise couldn’t save this. It’s too dank and dry and the little moments of humor feel forced. No, I prefer the original Mummy series. Brendan Fraser may not be Tom Cruise but he’s still the man!

This is an accurate facial review of this film by the way. Tehehehe. I was like, whaaaaaa, go home, bitch.

So, no, in conclusion.

 

Assassin’s Creed

Ah, Michael Fassbender, we meet again!!

Cure for violence and aggression? Genetic code of Free Will? EH? *shakes head* I thought these people were supposed to be smart.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Not only did much of the film not make sense, it was so underwhelming. The ending especially. I was like, MEH. Visually breathtaking but empty of energy inside. Empty of a lot things actually, like common sense for example. I mean, cure for violence? ARE YOU NUTS.

The score was nice and the roof-jumping too.

Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? Let’s rant/fangirl!

 

 

 

Posted in Film Reviews, Me Thinks

Absolute Favorite Animated Films (AFAF)

Holla! Me again. This time I’ll bedazzle you with the list of animated movies that have stolen pieces of my soul one by one. With my consent, of course.
As before, I’ll list them in categories; the top ones and the honorable mentions.

ZE TOP 10+:

So these are the ones that I love and adore equally and I can’t really choose between them, they’re all so different and unique and awesome. I’ll further divide these into two segments:

#1) Childhood Favorites:

Spirited Away:

This is an Anime, a Studio Ghibli film and best one. I saw this years and years ago and despite watching it just once, it stayed with me for a long, long time until I decided to rewatch it. I didn’t know that I could love it more than I already did. It’s spectacular and strange and filled with incredible weirdness. It’s a classic.

Sinbad The Legend of the Seven Seas:

Why in the world is this film so flipping underrated? WHY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH HUMANITY? I never really could understand it. From the music to the story, the visual, the plot, the humor and the characters, it is MAGNIFICENT. It has one of the best openings to a film ever. It made me happy then and it makes me happy now. Brad Pitt voices Sinbad and he might just be the most endearing animated male character you have ever seen. Seriously, people, watch this movie. You can thank me later.

The Emperor’s New Groove:

The humor of this one is RAD. It’s why I loved it so much when I first watched it. I was about 10 or 12 and I remember laughing throughout the duration. The protagonist, Emperor Kuzko is an ass, Pacha and his family are so stinking cute and Kronk and Yzma make you guffaw with their antics. It is pure, unadulterated fun.

The Corpse Bride:

It’s creepy and nightmarish and garish and basically Tim Burton at his finest. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter voice the leads. It is as far removed from a cheery, happy film like Frozen as you can get and I have been smitten with it since FOREVER. The visuals are stunning, the songs are gloomy and it is unlike most, if not all, animated films which is a biiiiig plus in its favor.

Mulan:

Yeah, nope. I don’t think I need to elaborate why I love this. Any body else fight the urge to stomp their feet and yell HI-YAH! during I’ll make a man out of you?

Beauty and the Beast:

For detail, please visit one of my earliest posts about why I love Beauty and the Beast and what I think about the live-action adaptation. Chop-chop!

https://inaholetherelivedme.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/animation-to-live-action-thoughts-on-beauty-and-the-beast/

The Road to El-dorado:

Again, it was the humor. Kids watch things for the fun of it not to understand the deeper meaning behind things and if the film is funny, it’s destined to remain with them forever. Two best friends, con men actually, go on a hopeless quest to find the lost city of El-Dorado rumored to be made of gold. The music is wonderful and catchy and The Trail We Blaze by Elton John is one of my favorite songs.

Oh, and the blonde one? That’s Kenneth Branagh.

#2) Recent Ones:

Howl’s Moving Castle:

This one, though. AAAAAH. I watched this because I was bored and couldn’t find anything else. Little did I know that it was going to blow my brains out. Studio Ghibli films are freaking GEMS and this is the best one. Tee Hee. I told you I could never choose. Fun fact, it is based on the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones and the two despite being NOTHING alike are amazeballs in their own special ways. The people who drool over fictional men take note, Howl will forever remain in your heart. He’s sassy, arrogant and adorable. Read the book version too so you have a better idea.

Coraline:

Living daylights will be scared out of you. I promise you that. And you might just start hating buttons after watching it. *wink* It’s bloody fantastic!! Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a genius piece of art and I dare say the film is better than the book.

Anastasia:

This film was such a surprise. I had no idea it would be as delightful as it was. Once upon a December is an incredibly haunting and beautiful song and it’s also one of my favorites. Anastasia and Demetri’s dynamic was glorious and for a cartoon character, Demetri was disarmingly attractive. It’s based on a historical figure, a Russian princess if I’m not mistaken.

Rise of the Guardians:

Ooooooh! I HEART THIS.
Reason # 1: Alexander Desplat’s score.
Reason # 2: Jude Law’s seductive voice. He plays Pitch Black, the boogeyman.
Reason # 3: Jack Frost. ASDFGHJKL.
Reason # 4: The Sandman. Adorable as HECK.
Reason # 5: Santa Clause, Jack Frost, Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny all together.

Big Hero 6:

I’ll never get over Tadashi Hamada. You hear me? NEVER! And I’m most certainly NOT satisfied with my care. *sniff sniff* Everything in this movie is cute. Hiro, Baymax, Tadashi and Fred I loved above all. It’s sublime, yo. And the cameo at the end by Stan Lee? GENIUS.

How To Train Your Dragon:

Toothless and Hiccup are MY BABIES. It does not get any cuter and awesomer and magnificenter and bloody fantastic-er than this. The first film was SO good, I was pretty much obsessed with it until the second one came out which did not help at all. Cressida Cowell’s books are hilarious but they are very different from the movies. Hiccup is a cinnamon roll through and through but I’m glad for the movie version of Toothless. The book one is a Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus and it is a very unruly and tiny dragon.

Brave:

Scottish accent – Check
Scottish pipe music – Check
Kilts – Check
Red Hair – Check
A Defiant Female Character – Check
Archery – Check
Your arguments, if there were any, are beyond invalid.

ZE HONORABLE MENTIONS:

These are the ones that hold a special place in my heart for various reasons but they are one or two levels lower than the ones mentioned above. I’ll be dividing them into two parts as well.

Childhood Favorites:

In no particular order, mind you. We had some of these as CDs and we destroyed them by watching them over and over again.

Lilo and Stitch:

My brother and I have probably seen it about 53765825283529 times as kids. I’ve also played the game which is totally awesome.

Hercules Zero To Hero:

It was in a CD and I remember this more than the first one because of that. The ones that we had we replayed them as soon as the movie ended. My elder sister used to get so riled up with us for doing that. The game version of Hercules is fabulous too. This was funny beyond doubt.

The Prince of Egypt:

Both films but I liked the Moses one the most perhaps. Deliver Us was a perfect song with beautiful lyrics, the part with his mother in particular was tearful.

Basil The Great Mouse Detective:

Also on CDs. I remember enjoying this but also being a little scared, the villain rat is positively horrendous. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. But then again, it’s probably true for a lot of other films.

Ratatouille:

I don’t like cooking but I think this is the kinda film that can make you want to cook. A rat that gets to fulfill his dream of being a chef by hiding under a human’s chef hat and controlling his movements? What? It’s intelligent and delicious and downright brilliant!

Shrek:

Donkey, two words: SHUT. UP.”
I had forgotten how much fun I always had while watching Shrek. The start where he’s bathing in dirt and shit is my favorite, obviously. Truth time: I never liked the fact that Fiona turned into an ogre instead of Shrek turning into a human. That was mini-me’s opinion, one that hasn’t changed since.

Brother Bear:

All three of us siblings loved this one! It was heart-melting. Again, mini-me didn’t like the fact that Kenai was turned into a bear forever but oh well.

Treasure Planet:

Another underrated film. It’s such a shame because this is spectacular from literally all aspects.

ACOTAR fans, you’re welcome.

Aladdin and the King of Thieves:

Aladdin 2, not 1. The best part? Robin Williams’ genie. There’s a party here in Agrabah…

The Hunchback of Notre Dame:

I found this film to be dark and a little horrifying. It was hard to take it lightly because I couldn’t decide whether to pity Quasimodo or be disgusted by him or love him. The film had a sombre atmosphere but it was undoubtedly a great one.

The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride:

Don’t look at me! We watched and rewatched the ones we had on CDs and that’s why we loved them more than the others. We weren’t aware of that pesky little thing called the internet back then. But I do love the first one too. We are one is the sweetest song everrr!

The Incredibles:

I waited and waited and waited and am still waiting for a sequel. Seriously Pixar.

Recent Favorites:

Tangled:

Remember that movie that had THE most amazing songs and THE most handsome and charming rapscallion called Flynn Rider in it, the one that came before Frozen? Yup, that one. Guess what? I love it more.

Boxtrolls:

I found this to be funny and fun but when I showed it to my friend she absolutely hated it. I guess it’s one of those movies. What you can’t deny is that it is unusual and weird, for me, in a good way.

He’s called Eggs. Isn’t he just adorable?

Strange Magic:

This film was strange. Weird AF. Both visually and in terms of the story. I thought the songs were too over the top except for the last one between the Bog King and Marianne. I have seen this exactly one time. It didn’t stick with me but it stuck with me. Get it? It’s been described as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the Beast does not turn into a human. And herein lies the reason why it’s strange and wonderful at the same time.

The Lego Movie:

Why is this one so cool? Why does Chris Pratt sound so cool? How does a cool being like Morgan Freeman even exist? Lego Batman and Lego Dumbledore are two things I didn’t know I needed in my life. The level of coolness this movie has is off the charts.

The Croods:

When both father and daughter squeeze Guy and break his bones, when Grug tells his kids stories that always end with “AND DIEEEED”, when he attempts to be more intelligent than Guy, EMMA STONE!!!! I could go on. It’s basically a treasure trove of priceless moments.

Whisper of the Heart:

Another Studio Ghibli gem. I fell in love with it so hard. It’s a romantic film and it’s sweet and lovely and charming. Anime is LIFE, man.

I know there are legit HUNDREDS of other more popular animated films out there. They aren’t in this list either because I haven’t seen them yet or despite being amazing, they didn’t make much of an impression on me.

Comment your favorites down below and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

 

 

Posted in Me Thinks, Urdu Novels

Urdu Women’s Digests and How I Feel About Them

Before I truly got into this book-reading madness, this totally insane bandwagon of fangirling bookworms, I used to read story books for children in Urdu and other local kid’s magazines like Bachon Ki Dunya and Talim-o-Tarbiyat. I hadn’t been properly introduced to English literature then, though God knows how badly I wanted to read a Harry Potterany Harry Potter book. There was this akhbar (newspaper/magazine) called Akhbar-e-Jahan. I stuck to it for a long, long time. It was, is in fact, an all-in-one kinda magazine and the reader in me was satisfied every week when I got my hands on it, although I was always disappointed when I finished it so quickly.

As I got older, I began to crave for more. I would latch on to any magazine I could find when we would visit our relatives. My sister aptly named me “Magazine Licker” because of how fast and how eagerly I would go through them. One time, at my aunt’s, I found this small but bulky book filled with stories. I was entranced! I immediately began reading until I was unceremoniously told, “don’t read that, you’re too young for this!”. A word of advice, if you want a kid to stop reading/watching something you think he/she is too young for, don’t say that. Try something else, something creative, like pulling their attention away from the thing, perhaps? If you forbid them or stop them outright, it’ll only intrigue them more.

Which is exactly what happened with me. When it came to reading, I could NOT stop being curious. So I kept on reading and that lovely bulky volume turned out to be none other than a women’s digest. In retrospect, I understand why I was told not to read them and I fully agree with parents or adults who think it’s best to keep a child away from certain things until they become old enough  to understand it rather than “letting the children explore for themselves” which is just, no. Children are growing up faster these days and there’s a reason behind this. I digress.

So anyway, why my mother/older sister/aunt thought I shouldn’t read digests was simple; the digests were for women and consequently filled with stories with shocking amount of realism, highlighting the struggles of women in our society such as sexual abuse, marital and family issues. We’re all exposed to these things when we grow up sooner or later, might as well shield the children for a bit longer.

The stories published in digests are primarily of the romance genre but what I like about them now (and would not have earlier) is that they are very rarely mushy and fluffy. These are hard-core and often depressing stories with powerful messages. Well, they used to be anyway and some do even now but lately I’ve begun to see the quality of stories decline.

These digests are very popular among married and unmarried Pakistani women alike. Even the ones who are “not into reading” read them eagerly. For one, about 80% of the stories revolve around marriage and marital struggles which the women find relatable and for another, like I said, they are romantic stories and few women can resist those. Me included.

A typical digest cover.

Another great thing about these digests is that the monthly episodic stories published in them, on completion, are published as separate books and quite a few of them are INSANELY popular and for good reason. Umera Ahmed, Nemrah Ahmed and Farhat Ishtiaq are three of our most prominent digest writers and whose stories I personally prefer over the others. I have also grown fond of Sumaira Hameed’s writing which is beautiful to say the least.


There are a LOT of ’em and every contemporary Urdu story I’ve ever read came from there. There is Aanchal Digest, Dosheeza Digest, Hina Digest, Khawateen Digest, Kiran Digest, Pakeeza Digest, Shaheen Digest and Shuaa Digest, to name a few. The digest is a paperback and costs about 60 rupees more or less which is as cheap as it gets. Each issue has 300+ pages. The pages aren’t of uber high quality and the entire digest is in black and white.


From the page quality and font to the format and the stories, I quite like them the way they are. I feel that these particular digests, with the covers always displaying a woman, either in a bridal dress or something similar (which often seems like it was dug out of a decades-old closet), posing the same awkward poses and also in the ghastly illustrations inside, are unique to our culture (though I’m sure every other language has their own). The fact that they are completely and undeniably in Urdu makes me love them even more. What I believe I’m trying to say is, if it were up to me, except for ensuring that the stories were quality-checked and weren’t repetitive and one other thing which I’ll get to soon, I wouldn’t change a thing about them.

The Format:

This is from an old issue but not much has changed since then as far as the layout of the digests goes.

This is the index of the issue. There are a lot of advertisements in it, in the beginning, end and in between but this is where the issue properly starts. Each issue has the following things:

  • Note from the editor
  • A summary of what’s inside the particular issue
  • A section dedicated to religious content
  • Letters from readers and their comments on the previous issue
  • Interviews
  • Novels (ongoing, each issue has an episode)
  • Full novels (a complete story, longer in length than an afsaana)
  • Novelette (short novels, also have episodes)
  • Afsaaney  (short stories)
  • Poems (ghazals and nazms)
  • Recipes
  • Beauty Tips
  • Articles about psychological well-being
  • Jokes
  • Quotes
  • Other contributions by readers
This is what the pages and the writing look like. Urdu is denser and easily compressed which makes one Urdu page equal to about 2 pages with English script, maybe even more.

The Illustrations:

This is what prompted me to write this post in the first place.  It’s the part I don’t like. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Whoever is responsible for illustrating these stories, I’d like to have a candid (read: heated) conversation over strong tea with this guy/gal. 99 out of 100 stories have illustrations that:
a) Have no correlation with the story
b) Are basically copied versions of model photo shoots
c) ALL LOOK THE SAME (wtf whyyy?)
d) show women wearing clothes which are way out of fashion

Exhibit A:

The ingenious art that distinguishes this story from the others: showing three women in various dramatic postures, a man, two hearts and the silhouette of a building. *FACEPALM*

Exhibit B:

Even when there is no wedding in the story, the woman will be wearing bridal attire. *FACEWALL*

You know, I get it. These digests are for women, most of these women are either married or interested in the concept of marriage and fashion and whatever. But to repeat the same thing with every story in every issue of every month? I mean, there is a thing called creativity. You might have heard about it?
There might be exceptions to this as there always are but I know with certainty that they are pitifully few.

It’s not that difficult. Every story or episode of the story has a central idea, grasp that idea and translate it into art. If the illustrator cannot be bothered to read each piece, simply ask the writer to provide you with a theme. Most of the episodic novels don’t have titles. Nemrah Ahmed’s Naml and now Haalim have titles with each episode and that surely makes it easier to know what the episode is about. The first episode of Haalim was called Gadley Paaniyon Ka Sangam (the Confluence of Murky Waters). The very first lines narrate a dream that our protagonist is having. The dream has a phoenix at the same place the title mentions. Idea #1. Throughout the episode the protagonist is obsessed with finding a bracelet and a coin that make a key. Idea #2. Was that so hard?

So what was the awe-inspiring art for the first episode of Haalim? This:

I GIVE UP.

It gets worse with the second episode which literally presents the central idea on a platter. It’s titled Ghaayal Ghazaal (the Wounded Deer). But of course the illustration of a deer would have been such a scandalous departure from tradition, right? Because this episode had the same art as the previous one.
Dude, if you can do such complicated ones with ghagras and jhumkas and whatnot then you can surely draw a key, a phoenix or a deer. Like, what even? This is literally your job, to illustrate. Take it seriously.

Thus ends my rant. And the odd blog post. This is totally and unforgivably my own opinion. You are welcome to disagree with it, I would not stop you. I may be picky and a bit demanding at times but I do so within perfect reason. Visually creative and striking illustrations are one of my weaknesses as a reader, hence the disappointment with the digest “art” which is impossible for me to, wait for it, digest. Get it? Get it? ;P

Please share your own views and let me know what you think below!

Posted in Me Thinks

A Bookworm’s Ramazan Guide

The most important month of the Islamic Year is here. It’s something we all look forward to eagerly but also dread a little. The notion of fasting for 30 days straight seems like a Herculean task and in Summers it almost is. The hesitation doesn’t last forever, hardly even a day. Such is the nature of this month, in time you can practically feel the tranquility and peace that descends over your life. Just as the feeling of joy and contentment spreads, so does the realization that this would be over soon. Too soon, in fact. It’s a bittersweet experience, the coming, staying and going of Ramazan and the only time of the year you want time itself to stop.

Ramazan isn’t just about fasting and then sleeping it off all day. A roza or fast without ibadah is incomplete. For many years I did exactly that: nothing. A dear friend of mine was responsible for making me realize that this was wrong and that Ramazan is about so much more than this.

It’s that month of the year when bliss and blessings are showered upon us by Allah for very little in return. Every minuscule good deed is rewarded by a hundredfold. The quiet and calm that this month brings is something you ache for the rest of the year. But you can’t expect to just lounge in your bedroom all day sleeping or surfing the internet and be engulfed in Allah’s blessings. That is lazy and also, extremely stupid.

It demands some effort on your part, some form of sacrifice. I’m not asking you to murder chickens, the ‘sacrifice’ here is on a personal level. Your Ramazan routine should be drastically different from your non-Ramazan daily routine. For the sake of Allah, for gathering His blessings, to make Him happy and keeping in mind that your every good deed will be rewarded by substantially more than it is worth, leave your everyday pleasures or at least cut them down, show Allah that you are willing to do this for Him. Remember, what matters here is ‘trying’.

The Holy Prophet (SAW) said:

When the month of Ramazan starts, the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils (shayateen) are chained.

(Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

You don’t have to be super-religious to do that. This is pretty basic stuff. Stuff that no one tells their children these days because like every form of ibadah there is, Ramazan and every thing it entails has become a matter of choice. Unfortunately. So here’s my guide to helping you sort out how you can go about making the most of this month:

STEP 1: PREPARE

The very first step would be to familiarize yourself with the “masa-il” of Ramazan or just as a refresher if you already know. Learning the proper way to do something before you actually go ahead and do it is essential. This is ibadah, people, not a joke. If you can go to extreme lengths to please people, you MUST go to extreme lengths to please Allah. The fiqaah solutions usually encompass topics like ‘when you can break your fast, what makes the fast faasid, what are the common misconceptions about fasting’, etc. I suggest reading Beheshti Zevar if you have it or downloading a free ebook of these masa’il or even listening to a scholar.

STEP 2: PLAN

The second step would be making a Ramazan plan. This will include your ‘revised’ daily schedule. Ehehehe. It depends on the person really but make sure that you remember the ‘making an effort to please Allah’ part in mind. I’ll show you my plan for this Ramazan to give you an idea. (NOTE: This is NOT me showing off what a goody-godder I am. My sole intention here is to put you into the spirit of Ramazan. Whether I succeed or not depends on your willingness.)

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I will say it again, it depends on YOU. YOU decide how you are going to change your routine and YOU know best how much you can or need to do.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

1-Goals for Ramazan:

You must do this. It’s the building block for your plan.

2-General Behaviour:

Again, make the effort, try to bring about a change. Respect the fact that its Ramazan and your diligence will be handsomely rewarded. (I need to remember that most of all)

3-Ibadah:

Fasting without ibadah is incomplete. And yes, Taraweeh, all 20 rakaat, is near-obligatory for both men AND women.

4-Dua and Tasbeehaat:

Muslims are urged in Ramazan to make as much dua as they possibly can. There is a higher chance of the acceptance of dua in Ramazan compared with normal days especially during the time of ‘sehri’ and ‘iftaari’.

5-QURAN:

This is frankly the only thing that should be on our tbrs. Read and reread.

6-Avoid Social Media:

This is perhaps the most important and difficult thing you would have to do. The more you have to struggle, the higher the sawaab. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, whatever it is you are ‘addicted’ to, LEAVE it or cut it down by 50%. Don’t stay longer than is absolutely necessary. Post something, check your inbox, reply to messages (do all of it quickly) and then STOP RIGHT THERE. Here’s another thing:  Do not give minute by minute updates on how your fast is going. Nothing will waste your time faster than this. This also counts as showing off which is extremely counterproductive.

STEP 3: EXECUTE

The first few days will be a bit disorienting, changing your daily schedule is not easy and I speak from experience but you’ll get used to it, this also from experience.

If you do go through with this you’ll remain pretty busy and won’t have much time for anything else which is the primary goal here. But there’ll be a couple of hours at least when you’ll find yourself unoccupied. Here’s what you should do: read.

What kind of books should you read in Ramazan:

I’ve seen people take up Ramazan challenges like ‘read all Muslim authors this month’ and the like. My personal opinion is that this is approach is incorrect. It should be ‘read clean books in Ramazan’, the clean books being the ones with little or no romance in it. These can be:

  • Children’s or Middle Grade
  • Books such as cookbooks, motivational books, guides and the like.

Last year I read Charlotte’s Web, Dealing with Dragons and How to Train Your Dragon series.

My Reading List:

  • Naml (This’ll be a re-read and it is sure to be inspiring)
  • Darke (Septimus Heap #7)
  • The Pathfinder Series
  • Curiosity House Series

With the exception of Naml, these are all children’s books.

That’s it with my Ramazan Guide. I hope I didn’t sound patronizing. Do voice your thoughts in the comments section. Let us all bask in the glory of Ramazan and remember each other in our duas!

P.S: I write ‘Ramazan’ instead of ‘Ramadan’ which is the most widely used spelling. The reason being that ‘z’ is close to the actual pronunciation of the alphabet ض than ‘d’. So many people pronounce it as such when in fact, the ‘d’ sound is erroneous.