August 31, 2009
A couple of days back I had the wonderful experience of listening to the recording of a lecture by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Shareef. In that he talked about the problem of the “Ramadaan Dip”. As we know we start off Ramadaan with great motivation and aiming high but in the first few days the level of excitement starts to go down and the precious days of Ramadaan start passing by us like routine normal days. To overcome this problem we need to understand why it happens and then inshaAllah we can learn how to save our energy for the precious time of Ramadaan before it becomes a past which cannot be brought back at any cost whatsoever. The following is the link to the lecture
As for those who cannot listen to it, I am going to pen down some of its important points InshaAllah:
1- first of all we must recognize that being human beings our level of motivation keeps changing. At the start of any project we feel highly focused and energetic but after the initial excitement there follows a “dip” which means decreased incentive and energy. This thing happens in Ramadaan too but since it is such a precious time… a rare gift from Allah, so we must learn to preserve our energy and don’t waste this precious time in being sad and gloomy because we don’t feel any motivation for the targets that we had set in the beginning. Alhamdulillah we can learn to overcome this problem.
2- For this we must remember that our REAL goal in life is to be an obedient slave of Allah and we cannot be obedient without having Taqwa. Taqwa, as I disussed in a previous post, is the consciousness that Allah is looking at me and I cannot do anything in His presence which might displease Him. Now Taqwa is not something that you can have without any training therefore Allah sent us this precious month in which He specially created an environment in which the “Nafs” is being deprived of its desires of eating, the shaitan is closed up, and so with both these distracting things in control we learn to have the consciousness of Allah. But we only acquire it if we recognize it to be our true objerctive of all the worship and sadaqas in Ramadaan. Otherwise if we think of the “rituals” as an end in itself and congratulate ourselves day and night of all the ”activities” we are doing then the real objective will not be gained.
3- Although there are many good deeds to be done in Ramadaan but the two main things we should focus on are Qiyam and Quran. Qiyam-ul-lail (standing in prayer at night) is the most effective way to learn “Khushu”; which means the deep humility and concentration of the heart in Prayer. It is also a great reminder of the standing in front of Allah on the day of Judgement. But the main reason why people cannot remain consistent in this Ibaadah is because they are getting so over stuffed in Aftar time that they don’t have any air left in them to breathe. According to a Hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w)… ” Fast and you shall become healthy” But we don’t attain this objective because we think of Ramadaan as a month of feasting. The result is that the whole day the body is working hard to cleanse itself of all the toxins which we collect on it during the whole year, but at the end of the day we flood our body with so much food and drink that it has a totally adverse effect on us. On the other side the Nafs which had to become strong to control desires becomes even weaker when so many temptations are placed before it. Thus it cannot acquire the Taqwa that we had hoped to achieve.
4- Fasting of the body was meant to detoxify our bodies from toxins, and fasting of ears, eyes and toungue is for the detoxification of our soul. But there is also a third area which needs cleansing and that is our heart. How much poison we collect in it through negative feelings such as jealousy, arrogance, hatred, grudges etc. So it happens that we may be eating moderately and doing all Ibadah in the right way but our heart is not focusing on the prayer… and we feel confused why is it happening? We don’t understand that it is connected to our diseases of the heart. So please make this your top most aim to forgive your enemies and cleanse your heart from all grudges. Forget the petty little disagreements and focus on the real issue which is the upcoming test of the hereafter.
5- Another weight on the heart is the undue stress we place on it concerning with the affairs of the duniya. So many worries and anxieties… self pity, regrets etc etc. Then there is the weakness in faith and doubts in religion… that in itself is another illness which we need to cure. The good news is that all these evils can be rooted out by reading Quran with lots of focus on its meaning and applying its teachings in real life (not just in discussions). This will take care of all the detoxification needed by your heart:) InshaAllah!!
And now for some practical tips:
1- Eat healthy and use a tea saucer as your dinner plate. That way you will consume only what you really need:)
2- Sleep and wake up on the same time daily so that your body stays in balance and your mind remains fresh.
3- Make a Ramadaan Buddy (preferably your Mom) who should motivate you towards your Ramadaan goals.
4- Record your activites and ideas in a daily journal. A good choice is to download the “heartwheel journal” specially designed for the 30 days of Ramadaan. It can be accessed at www.heartwheeljournal.com
5- Do an emaan building activity… Stand up and visualize that Allah is looking at you and will grant you two wishes… one from the duniya and one from the akhirah. Now imagine what will be those two wishes? Write them down and make this duas daily at iftaar time. (good news is that you can add to the list as many wishes as you want!!)
May Allah make this Ramadaan a means of forgiveness and Allah’s blessings in both worlds. Ameen
August 26, 2009
In all the time I have spent with the Quran, I have experienced this helplessness against time and situations in which I cannot accomplish what I want to do. The motivation of the Quran is so great. It urges me to go forward and do all the good deeds with excellence so that I might be one of the fortunate people who will be forgiven on the day of judgement. But then when the time comes to apply the lessons, my reactions are mostly not according to what I have learned from the Quran and Hadith.
Yesterday as I was reading Quran, I came upon a couple of verses from surah An-Naziyat, which explained to me why we fail to act on our knowledge. This is what Allah says:
And as for him who had feared to stand before his Lord and restrained himself from evil desires.
Then indeed, Paradise shall be his abode. (79:40-41)
I understood from these words that despite knowledge our actions and reactions are mostly controlled by our habits which in turn are based on our desires. Even though it seems like these habits have made us helpless and we cannot do anything to correct them but fortunately there is one thing which has even more control over us than desires and that is fear of consequences. For instance you are sitting with people whom you respect very much and want to be on your best behaviour in their presence. Now even if something happens which irritates you, you will not shout nor will you frown but will gently let it pass… why? Where is your habit gone? It is still there but you have managed to control it because you fear to displease your esteemed companions. There can be a hundred examples from daily life where you control your desires/habits because of fear (or respect) of a person. But this control is only temporary and the moment that person is out of sight you return to your “normal” self. Therefore there is no development of the character.
For that we need to be on our best behaviour all the time… feeling the eyes of Allah upon us… our motivation should not be to impress people but to please Allah. Because at the end of Chapter-74 (Al-Muddathir) I found these beautiful words of Allah:
He Alone is worthy to be feared and He Alone is worthy of forgiving those who fear Him
This realization that Allah is looking at me and I don’t want to do such and such things in his presence… can be acquired through sincere and focused zikr and specially while we are fasting for His sake. I find that duas during Sajdahs, as well as at sehri and aftaar times are most beneficial.
So make the most of this Ramadaan and use its spiritual atmosphere to develop the habit of controlling your habits. InshaAllah if we are genuine in our desire for self purification, and our efforts are consistent and sincere then Allah’s help is very near
August 25, 2009
Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Alamin (All praise and thanks to Allah) for giving us this beautiful month of Ramadaan. To me it seems like a whole package of hope and opportunity…
An opportunity of attaining closeness to Allah,
A hope of coming out of the negative habits,
A chance of getting forgiveness from past sins
AND a great time for converting all dreams, wishes, desires into duas… having such excellent moments of special acceptance from Allah…
But what is the ultimate objective of all these activities?
Allah says in the Quran:
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may get Taqwa.
What is Taqwa?
Taqwa means the highest level of awareness and inner strength with which we not only recognize the good from bad but also have the motivation to follow the right and abstain from the wrong ways.
We have all experienced this dilemma that we know something to be bad for us but still we cannot resist it… or sometimes we might have the highest dreams and ambitions and also have the clear vision of what is the way to achieve that but we somehow don’t manage to do the things which we know to be most essential for our success… why is it so?
It is because we don’t have the desired level of Taqwa in our hearts. This lack of Taqwa makes us weak against our Nafs and so we continue to make decisions according to our desires, instead of knowledge.
So here is our golden opportunity to build up on our Taqwa in this blessed month. Every good deed that we do (including fasting) should be done with this consciousness that it is not an end in itself… rather it is to purify my heart from all bad things… I want to purify my character from all bad habits… I want to cleanse my life from all sins and I want to build up this inner awareness and strength called Taqwa…