Its never easy when holidays end, family or friends depart or books reach their end. In what ever way the ending comes, it brings with it a bitter sweet feeling.
The date for my journey was drawing closer, yet I had not decided on the appropriate gifts for my cousin and her three children. I was very excited and mentally doing a countdown but knew I couldn’t travel without any gifts.
It has been almost two years since I last saw them, so I wanted to get them something simple yet special; which they will love and find meaningful – a little token to show that I was thinking about them even across the miles.
Now let us look closely at this gift. What do we expect to find? Any surprises? We know that Ramadan is a month of…
– Forgiveness & Mercy
– Patience – Generosity
– Laylatul Qadr (Night of power) ~ better than a thousand months of worship
Or what price tag would you put on this gift of Ramadan?
Originally posted on habibihalaqas.org
Whether it is the start of a career, moving into a new home or working on a new project/ piece of writing; A start always evokes a sense of excitement and the thought of a fresh beginning adds some mystery, regardless of the unknown hurdles looming ahead.
But, even with the awareness that it will not be a simple track to achieving the new goals, such energy sparks from within linked to that sense of hope that comes from the breathe of possibilities.
The newness carries with it bright lights pumping actively towards the goals and dreams.
With such beginnings is the readiness to travel along a bumpy road, even when the bright lights fade out to a wondrous end – marking an accomplishment with rewards beyond measure.
As we begin Ramadan (Month of fasting), it comes with such feelings … Excitement to hope & joy … All directed at rewarding deeds of the blessed month. 29-30 days of opportunities building up from a fresh start.
An opportunity for a brand new relationship with Allah. Knowing Him, getting closer to Him & submitting to Him.
It all begins with an intention, let’s make it pure – seeking only His reward and pleasure as we glide into the month highly faithified.
For all those ready to accomplish their goals, purify your heart and reboot your faith. Moving from the beginning of hope to the wonderful end filled with gratitude and faith.
“Whoever fasts in Ramadan with Iman and seeking reward (from Allah), his past sins will be forgiven”. (Bukhari)
In the final part of this series, let us keep up with the countdown by trying to keep our lenses on how to bust a common syndrome.
As Ramadan brings with it the opportunity to get more rewards from doing the usual good deeds – from charity to supplication and even community work; So also can the reward be profound if we plan ahead.
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) when asked which Charity is the best, said that ‘Charity in Ramadan’ [Tirmidhi].
Yet, at the same time many find during this period the opportunity to indulge in more of eating, spending, sleeping and time wasting.
Whether on the left or right side, is it enough to simply go through the familiar routine of fasting from dawn to dusk?
This routine involves waking up for the early morning meal, performing the five daily prayers, going through work hours, preparing for the iftaar meal, attending tarawih prayers, giving charity when possible, watching some of Islam Channel/ Peace TV or Huda TV, getting some sleep, and so the cycle continues.
Then repeating the motions till the last ten days when the night time prayers become longer. That is what I call the RRS – Ramadan Routine Syndrome. The routine engine is started and automated when the moon is sighted for Ramadan, and turned off on Eid morning or the night before Eid.
And all to what effect? An empty stomach, heart and soul with little or no spiritual connection. A struggle with no deep meaning.
Let’s stop & think!
Should one simply stay hungry for most of the 29 or 30 days thinking, if I want more reward I must maintain these fasts till the end of the month – no more, no less!
Well, it obviously isn’t about denying yourself food and drink for the entire month, it is much more than that. The inner struggle is meant to rise beyond the physical motions and RRS.
Since we are all human and want to fast the entire month with the hope of gaining all the countless bounties, what we need to make this struggle wholesome is a little reminder about the ‘why’ of fasting.
Why do we fast?
There is no doubt that fasting is supposed to bring us closer to our Lord. But the question is, how? The Prophet [PBUH] said, ‘Every act of the son of man is for himself except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward it.’ [Bukhari]
This secret act is meant to discipline the character, awaken one’s spirituality and faith-i-fy the heart. With an attentive heart, one can easily enter a state of utter submission and surrender to Allah – foregoing all desires – and hence draw closer to Him with deep consciousness.
Scholars have described the month of fasting as a school for great training of the soul and purification of the heart. It holds various doors all leading to goodness. So ask yourself, WHY do you fast? Reflect, then assess yourself now.
If you want to increase your presence of mind, stay balanced and committed while partaking actively in rewarding deeds this Ramadan…. Ask yourself, Why am I fasting?
Reflect on your ‘Why‘ before Ramadan, then every morning you wake up for the pre-dawn meal….. ask yourself the same question. Begin your daily fast with this sense of purpose.
Imagine the feeling of connecting with your Lord in Ramadan, learning and growing through ripe blooming seeds of Taqwa! An amazing bundle to last beyond Ramadan through the coming months till the next Ramadan In Sha Allah.
What better gift would you desire this Ramadan?
And don’t you deserve it?
Wishing you all a deeply connected + RRS – free Ramadan.
As we continue with the countdown to Ramadan, it is important to try and maintain a balanced outlook. The reality of fasting may not be the same as we wish to experience it, so rather than get over-ambitious with the planning, let us try to give each activity its due right.
Aa’id Abdullah al Qarni described the righteous predecessors in his book ”Thirty lessons for Those Who Fast”, as ‘people who accepted fasting as a season for goodness and also an opportunity for competition’.
He further explains that when a person fasts, the soul is humbled, the heart is subdued, ambitions curbed and canal desires are dispelled. Thus, his/her prayers are answered because of his/her closeness to Allah”.
We should therefore strive to remain close to that primary path of reward from fasting; The path of gaining consciousness of Allah. And avoid getting overwhelmed from an overdose of plans – all aimed at gaining rewards.
Being excessively busy is no guarantee that one is engaging in rewarding deeds because the sincerity of intention and manner of striving matters a lot.
So, rather than plan to read the entire Qur’an two or more times during the entire Ramadan while holding a demanding job or running a business; And also caring for children or significant others after work hours; In addition to planning to attend nightly tarawih and pray tahajjud.
Why not have a focus, say completing the Qur’an once – while reading the tafsir + translation along the way? The reward for reading the Qur’an should not be underestimated but appreciated so as to read it with attention and intention for the reward involved.
It is important to be realistic, knowing the limits of how much you can achieve in Ramadan due to responsibilities and priorities.
It is tempting to get carried away by the quantity of what we want to achieve – rather let’s switch that with a heart full of sincere intention and polishing one’s worship and actions during the month with it.
This is no way encouraging laziness or making excuses – but rather seeking balance, partaking in healthy competition for rewards, and maximising the opportunities within the special month.
Consider seeking balance in various circumstances during the month of fasting and even beyond.
- Extravagance/ Waste vs. Miserliness… Think charity & sharing
- Complete seclusion vs. Unnecessary socialisation… Think keeping ties & community projects
- Overburdening the self vs. Laziness… Think small but consistent acts
- Wasting time with random activities vs. Hanging around till iftaar time… Think preserving time
- Backbiting/ Slandering vs. Sleeping all day & night… Think pure speech e.g Reading the Qur’an & books of Tafseer, engaging in Dhikr (remembrance) & Dawah.
- Negligence in worship vs. Ignorance in worship… Think consciousness in worship
- Excuses + Regrets at sins and transgressions during fasting vs. Arrogance & show-off over the many acts of worship one is engaging in… Think pleasure & submission from seeking blessings and rewards of fasting.
Let’s countdown to a Balanced Ramadan!
Resources to getting you more Balanced In Sha Allah
Check out Part 1 of the [Welcoming Ramadan] series HERE, in case you have not read it.