Youthful Reflections on Faith

Posts tagged ‘Balance’

[Welcoming Ramadan] #2: Think ‘Balance’

Balance

Balance (Photo credit: ant0720)

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

Click HERE on ”Tips for Balancing Work, Home and Spiritual Obligations During Ramadan”. By Sr. Kimberley Ben

Click HERE on ”Working in Ramadan” by Sr. Saiyyidah Zaidi

Check out Part 1 of the [Welcoming Ramadan] series HERE, in case you have not read it.

Following the dictates of Culture

Tying one’s life to certain cultural practices brings about little or no benefit except earn the acceptance of people and gain popularity. The kind of acceptance that comes from following the crowd so as not to feel left out.

And in the process cause many difficulties – financially, morally, emotionally and so on to the doer. Just because they do not want to be labelled as different or strange, find it easier to melt into the crowd rather than do what is right. They may say ‘what else can we do’ or ‘we dare not do it differently’?

The culture despite all the beauty it holds should not be our first reference point, we need to reject it sometimes. And instead cling ourselves tightly to the Qur’an and Sunnah no matter how hard or strange it may seem.

Here are some typical scenarios:

– People studying courses they don’t care about;

– Marrying people they don’t want to;

– Spending money they don’t have and incurring debts;

– Speaking in manners different to who they are;

– Feeling superior to others from a different culture,

– Boasting and showing off in gatherings;

All done in order to fit into cultural norms and practices.

There is undeniable beauty in the various cultures that span the breadth of this globe, from the dressings to the greetings and down to simple mannerisms. Experiencing part of these sights and sounds either through the media or during our travels, never fails to intrigue our senses and thoughts.

Sometimes, it makes one wonder in pure amazement or even disgust; other times it educates the mind leaving it open to newer frontiers. Such moments, we crave to capture in words, videos or pictures, so as to relive it time over time.

Similarly, the stories from different cultures are usually fascinating, so are the lifestyles found within them. From virtually naked communities to others being completely covered; To some eating only rice meals, vegetarian meals or spicy dishes; Children learning to swim from birth. The list is never ending.

Some of these customary ways infuse qualities such as bravery, shyness, honesty, integrity, boldness, cowardice, pretentiousness etc in individuals – consciously or unconsciously. Morals of simple living, unity, sharing and so on may be imbibed in other cultural practices.

Can we then separate who we are from where we are from?

We all come from a culture with its unique history, and defining mix of weaknesses and strengths along with certain behaviours & tendencies. These inner tendencies surface inevitably in our day to day dealings with others, as well as in the choices we make.

These behaviours on their own add flavour to life. But typically problems occur when negative attitudes such as discriminatory ones surface or negative pressure from cultural dictates emerge. These are all unwanted excesses.

Our aim should be for the inner and outer to sync – to have a culture and faith balance rather than a clash. So while our culture defines us to a large extent, it does not necessarily have to become our only defining way of life. We must emerge from our cultural shells and embrace our faith tightly.

The lesson here is to surround one’s life with faith, rather than try to infuse bits of our faith practices around a cultural stronghold.

%d bloggers like this: