(an article written for the community newsletter)
Farewell…Until Next Time, inshaAllah
As I sit here contemplating how I should fill this space with words of benefit, I can’t help but feel the pressure of this task. It is not the lack of ideas or topics that I would love to share that brings upon this difficulty, but rather, a worry that whatever might be presented would not suffice to meet the expectations of Muslims who have just witnessed, alhamdulillah, another month of Ramadan.
It is with great sadness that I write this, knowing that I have one week left of this blessed month. During these past few weeks our community has observed many touching events. The news of death, newlyweds, newborns, halaqas, and iftars brought us together to share these bitter sweet moments of life. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that I looked forward to waking up early at 5 a.m. in hopes of gaining ajer by following the sunnah of the prophet salla Allahu alaihi wassalam. After all, who doesn’t like getting ajer for the mere act of eating?! Our daily routines have never been as organized and well planned. We have been committed to our worship. We were dedicated to attending prayers at the mosques and we were motivated to stand in long prayers at night. We gave up many things and tried our ultimate best to act with full piety. We were in constant remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and always aware of our actions. We did this for a whole month! Surely, we learned how to be patient.
As I reflect on my actions during Ramadan, I wonder how I will be after it. I wonder how much I have learned from this month and the degree to which I will apply this knowledge as the days roll on. I wonder if I will open up my Qura’an as often and I question if I will stand in prayer for three hours from Isha’ until midnight only seeking His forgiveness and mercy. I wonder how far away I will have to park and if there will be brothers directing traffic when I come for a ‘regular’ Isha’ prayer. A friend of mine recently asked me: ‘Have you ever realized that Ramadan is neither the first nor the last month of the Muslim calendar?’ It comes in the middle! Ramadan is not an isolated month and should not be treated as such. We should not isolate Ramadan with ibadah and worship and leave the other 11 months lacking connection to our Creator azza wa jal. Over the past month we have been able to strengthen our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and this should only keep increasing. Ramadan was a chance for us to learn that we CAN do it. We CAN go to the mosque on a daily basis. We CAN be kind to people and patient with calamities, and we definitely have time for reading a couple of pages of Qura’an a day. I once learned during a past Al-Maghrib seminar that it takes 21 days to overcome a habit or to develop a new one. Come to think of it, Ramadan was definitely more than 21 days, and so, which of the habits from this Ramadan will we pick up and continuously practice inshaAllah? Have we set new goals and values that we will work on and improve from now onwards?
What is it that really allowed us to go through Ramadan? What kept us going day after day? There are many reasons, of which most important is the tawfeeq of Allah azza wa jal. But after analysis, one can note that there are two things specifically that kept our motivation and thrill to worship; Positive influence of people and the presence of a deadline. The positive influence is clear and obvious, when we see others around us in worship that only pushes us to be at our best. What is this deadline you ask? We know that Ramadan is only one month. We know that it will end and we have it set in the back of our minds that we are reaching the end of it. We are working towards a final goal that has a fixed time limit. With that in mind, we continue to strive to it in a sense of accomplishment. As soon as Ramadan ends however, we lose a special connection with time and the year seems long. And this is how procrastination starts…Imagine though, if you thought of another month coming up and you planned to accomplish something by the end of it…How much would you accomplish with another deadline coming upon you? Will you continue with your Qura’an reading knowing that you have to finish yet another round of it before the end of the next month? Will you count the number of nights you stayed up in prayer? Remember that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is always present and not merely during Ramadan! Remain steadfast on the little acts of worship you started and look forward to reaping their fruits on the Day of Judgment. Find a support network who will work with you on accomplishing little tasks for long periods of time. Pick your friends and motivators wisely and ensure that you are sticking to your original goals by treating yourselves when you accomplish your targets. Work small and keep increasing. During this Ramadan, I noted many people divided their days in certain ways to help them accomplish bigger missions (such as reading 5 pages of Qura’an before every prayer to finish the whole book, reading 5 hadeeths a day, etc.). Keep this way of thinking alive and don’t let it die out now that you have become accustomed to it. Continue to strive until you reach the next dream level you are imagining. It’s not far. Most importantly, make dua’a! Make dua’a that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala helps you along your path and accepts your actions from you.
With that, I pray that Allah azza wa jal grants us life to witness many more Ramadans, each one leaving us more dedicated to our worship than before. Farewell dear Ramadan, I pray that we all come to witness you next year inshaAllah as improved worshipers. Marhaban anticipated eid, our gift from our Lord. Ahlan wa sahlan with your joy and happiness…Eid Mubarak wa kulla a’am wa antum bi khair…
Wassalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
P.S. Oh and remember to renew your intentions before, in the middle of, and at the end of all your actions for maximizing success and ajer inshaAllah!
Here are a few tips and ideas compiled to fit into our daily routines:
– Try breaking up big tasks you want to accomplish into little ones that don’t take much time or won’t divert your attention away from other tasks at hand. For example, now that you are used to waking up a bit earlier than Fajer for suhoor, why not continue this habit and instead of having a meal, performing two raka’ahs as qiyam?
– Take out a consistent sadaqah each day (no matter how small!). Continue to remember those who are less fortunate after Ramadan and specify a monthly amount to be donated to the needy. Remember that this does not have to necessarily be money. Think of different ways you can benefit others like teaching something new you have learned or helping a family member in homework or a chore.
– Did you get used to taraweeh? Perfect! Why not spend half an hour after Isha’ prayer teaching your family and kids the seerah of the Prophet peace be upon him? Why not open up a book of tafseer or Hadeeth instead of staring at a box flipping through channels? Or better yet, just read some Qura’an J (and if you want to aim even higher, start memorizing it by learning two verses a day!) By doing any of these tasks, not only are you rewarded, but it’s a good chance for you to review your knowledge and memorization… Plus this will add to the quality family time many Muslim families unfortunately lack these days.
– If you are a student commuting by car or working in a lab, take a CD with morning and night athkaar/supplications and say the athkaar as you drive. Take advantage of your hearing sense as you drive and download your favorite lectures on an MP3 player. Always make sure you are listening to something beneficial as you go on with your work.
– Female tired of chores? No matter what activity you are engaging in, you can easily make your intention sincerely for Allah’s sake – for example: raising your kids as pious children, pleasing your husband/family by cooking for them. There’s no reason you can’t be rewarded for everything you already do on a daily basis!
– Keep the thikr of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala on your tongue. There are many simple things one can say and repeat that have awesome rewards and help take away from our sins. Open up a dua’a or supplications book and memorize some of the ones you can say throughout the day. Remember that dua’a is the essence of worship and ask for anything you want from the One who can actually grant it to you in an instant if He wishes..
– Always remember that the most beloved of deeds to Allah are those which are continuous, even if they are little.