Many would associate Ramadan with fasting.
But there are layers to this!
Despite understanding why Ramadan has been simplified to become associated only with fasting, the holy month can encapsulate a holistic transformation of oneself like no other. I can personally attest to that.
The month of Ramadan brings challenges and rewards, but ultimately for me, it's a month which can launch an individual to places they've never imagined. I hope this blog can give you a taste of how and why that is possible in a month that is no different to others in duration but different in meaning, feeling, & awakening.
Ramadan has come to mean reflection, action, discipline, & consistency to me.
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said: "An hour of contemplation is superior to an entire year's worship."
Tadhkerah al-Haqaiq, Page 29
It is advised upon a Muslim to reflect. Reflect on oneself. Reflect upon the world they live in. Reflect upon the direction they are going. Every single individual will have a reflection personal to them. Before the beginning of the month, I like to assess myself based on the following:
- My relationship with Allah
- My relationship with my family and friends
- My physical health
- And my assessment of my mental health
I do change how I assess things from time to time. But I like my approach because it takes me outside the usual objective assessment of metrics and data. My process takes the subjective evaluation and how I truly feel inside. Holding yourself accountable for how your loved ones perceive you is a different feeling; sometimes, you must think differently to open up a side you never knew existed.
Islam is not a religion of faith alone but of action. For that very reason, I try to understand what steps I can take which will allow me to achieve my goals internally and externally.
Internally, what can I improve regarding my spirituality?
What acts can I do externally that will supplement/strengthen me internally?
I have realised that the two are not mutually exclusive, and I think the combination of mind, body, and soul can encompass them. With internal peace coming when all three are harmonious. Once there is an imbalance - I don't feel right.
Discipline and consistency
Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (a) said: "The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) of God dispatched a contingent of the army (to the battlefront). Upon their (successful) return, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: 'Blessed are those who have performed the minor jihad and have yet to perform the major jihad.' When asked, 'What is the major jihad?' the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) replied: 'The jihad of the self (struggle against self)'".
Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 19, p. 182, hadith no. 31
The most significant difficulties that any Muslim faces are not doing the act or having the intention to do the action but being disciplined on doing the action consistently; whenever you're exhausted, lack motivation, or life gets busy.
Numerous things in life make it difficult to do the things we want to do. However, genuinely developing and becoming one's best self requires consistency and discipline. But that is not to say we must always be perfect. Since imperfections allow us to appreciate and be grateful during those times of 'perfection.'
Daily life is complex, and it only gets more complicated as you get older. But Ramadan is the month in which I can recalibrate, not lose sight of my ultimate goals, and appreciate the blessings Allah has bestowed upon me.
From my family to yours, Ramadan Mubarak!
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