slip-sliding away…..

Archive for the ‘Ramadaan’ Category

The Ramadan that never was (…or was it?)

Posted by Yacoob on July 23, 2014

What went wrong?

 

Day 25, and the month is almost up. What usually is a time of abundant inspiration – especially in terms of writing – has been quite the opposite for me this year. This is the first I’ve written, publically, in the whole month. Privately, it’s not been much better.

Spiritually, it’s also been pretty lean. There have been Some highs, many lows, and large chunks of mediocrity – making this the most unusual Ramadan in my own memory.

What went wrong?

The focus of my attention and energy, this year, has mostly been on my kids. The older one is almost 5 years old, with the younger nearly 1 year. My wife and I have a lot of help from others – alhamdullilah – but for most of my time at home, our energy goes to seeing to them, spending quality time with them, and doing all the things parents need to do for small children.

Perhaps it’s our own weakness and shortcoming that we can’t make most of our time with them spiritual. And that, when it comes to our own spirituality and striving in ibadah, we have to confine that to the hours they’re asleep (which, alhamdullilah, are not that few since we have long Winter nights in our part of the world).

It can be frustrating wanting to make extra salaah, wanting to read more Quran, even wanting to listen to / watch Islamic lectures – yet being curtailed by the sometimes never-ending demands of young kids who depend on you so much.

A different perspective

Now, so far, this may sound like a big list of complaints. And although it does sometimes get to that stage, I think I’ve come to a healthy perspective on all this:

While spirituality and striving in ‘formal’ worship (salaah, Quran, dua, etc) is critical in Ramadan, failing to excel in those areas doesn’t mean you’ve lost your month…if you’ve filled your time with other kinds of worship.

I’m no scholar, and my understanding is perhaps primitive as compared to the more learned amongst us, but the way I see it, Allah has given us kids as a gift and a responsibility. It’s our duty to take care of them, raise them, and do the best we can for them – just like our parents did for us.

So, maybe we didn’t get to read a few pages of Quran. But instead, we tended to a sick baby that needed frequent comforting and attention. Maybe we didn’t go for taraweeh many times, but instead we endured the long process of putting the kids to bed (actually, they put us to bed too ;) … then ended up making Esha really late, and being too tired to do much else afterwards.

Maybe we didn’t FEEL spiritual, or feel a close connection to our Creator. But we felt LOVE and closeness from precious little beings that our Creator entrusted to us. And by fulfilling the trust He placed upon us, does that not make Him pleased with us? Does that not strengthen the bond we have with Him – even if we can’t really feel it in the constant mill of unspiritual-but-necessary activity?

That’s the way I see it, and I think – for parents with young kids – if you struggle to find spirituality in Ramadan, it’s an optimistic perspective that really needs to dominate your thoughts. There’s no room for despondency and depression in Ramadan.

Spirituality would be nice. Feelings of closeness to Allah would be awesome. But always remember:

WE DON’T WORSHIP FEELINGS. WE WORSHIP ALLAH.

Our obedience to Allah’s commands, staying away from His prohibitions, and striving in His cause – no matter what area of life it’s in – are all to please Him…for His sake.

We don’t do it just because we want to feel a certain way. If those feelings come, then alhamdullilah – we have been blessed with a gift from Allah. But if the feelings don’t come, we don’t get depressed…we simply keep striving and hope for it in future.

So if your kids are taking over your month, don’t let it get to you. There’s a bigger picture to look at. As long as you are taking care of them with the right intentions – that you’re doing it to please Allah, and wanting it to be considered an act of worship – then insha-Allah you are successful, even if you can’t feel it right now.

May Allah help all of us to see things positively, and strive in ALL our acts of worship – whether those be ‘traditional’, or the necessary, day-to-day activities that are just part of our lives as humans.

 Final notes

And no matter how difficult we perceive our circumstances to be, may we always remember those who face the most challenging of situations – like our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, children and elderly who are enduring the insanity of life in Gaza, Syria, Burma, and elsewhere at this very moment.

Eid mubarak to all; and please try to take forward the goodness from this month into the next 11 to follow. And what you feel for the people of Gaza (and elsewhere) right now, please remember that even when the bombs stop falling, and the media stops reporting on it, they will still be suffering. So keep them in your duas at all times, and support them as best you can all year round.

Image source

Posted in Advice, Ramadaan | Leave a Comment »

Setting the bar

Posted by Yacoob on June 13, 2014

With each Ramadan, you (hopefully) feel a sense of hope. A renewal of imaan. Another chance to reset and delve deep into your inner being – your soul, your heart, and your relationship with your Creator. The culmination, for many, is Laylatul Qadr, wherein you have the ultimate opportunity to beg for anything your heart desires.

But all of this doesn’t just fall into place instantly. To hit the ground running, and make the most of Ramadan, you need to start prepping well in advance.

And while I’ve been a big advocate of this for years now (see the Early Bird Challenge and Ramadan planner), this year, I’ve failed.

We’ve gone through an extended period of trial in our family recently; and that – along with my own weaknesses – has sapped me of enthusiasm and time to do even the basic groundwork which I consider an annual necessity.

But there’s still 2 weeks, insha-Allah. So I hope to get into gear and finally put down some goals and plans – even if they be haphazard and modest.

As for you, my dear reader, how has your runway to Ramadan been so far? Have you planned? What are your goals and schedules like?

Share your thoughts in the comments section, and insha-Allah you’ll inspire others (including me) to strive harder in the coming weeks.

Posted in Ramadan preparation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ramadan around the corner

Posted by Yacoob on May 21, 2014

BJHNsOtCAAAbkIp

 

A little reminder from Mufti Ismail Menk: Download Ramadan around the corner (48:50 | 22.36 MB)

Image source

Posted in Ramadan preparation | Leave a Comment »

Guess who’s coming?

Posted by Yacoob on March 3, 2014

Masjid Al-Aqsa - seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 – AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

In the Islamic calendar, two major events stand out: Ramadan and Hajj. Both of them are seasons of barakah, wherein the sense of community is high, and on a personal level, our good deeds can be multiplied exponentially.

In terms of timing, these seasons are close together – occurring in the 9th and 12th months of the lunar year. Outside of that, there’s an 8 month gap wherein it can be especially difficult to stay motivated and strive to better ourselves. It helps to be surrounded by good company, but even with that in place, the grind of day to day life can wear down even the best of us – weakening our resolve and making it easier for us to fall into bad habits (both spiritual and worldly).

Coming alive in the dead zone

At this moment, we find ourselves in the midst of that ‘dead zone’ – more than halfway between the last Hajj and the next Ramadan. In times of difficulty, it’s good to look for inspiration, and for the Muslim ummah, we need only look to the best generation among us: the sahabah (r.a.).

Their connection with Ramadan was so deep that it’s reported that they looked forward to it 6 months in advance, and once Ramadan was over, they’d spend the next 6 months asking Allah to accept the deeds they did in that month.

The work starts now

We may not have the same enthusiasm and level of commitment as our pious predecessors, but that’s no reason to be despondent. Each of us knows our own level of spirituality and connection to Allah, and with ample time left until next Ramadan arrives, we can slowly but surely start building ourselves up to the coming month. Early preparation will, insha-Allah, enable us to hit the month of Ramadan already on a spiritual high – which will better equip us to make the most of the amazing opportunities ahead.

To give you a practical roadmap to your Ramadan prep, check out the Ramadan early bird challenge. The series, which is built upon the foundation of gradual change, gives you a personal, step-by-step path to looking at your own life and improving – little by little.

Each instalment focuses on a particular area, and you can choose the one(s) you feel most pertinent to you, working at your own pace to identify your challenges, come up with viable solutions, and ultimately overcome your weaknesses in small but consistent steps. Also included are valuable resources – such as audio and video lectures – that can help you in your path to improvement.

So if you’d like to make the coming Ramadan your most productive one yet, give the series a try. Areas covered are:

May Allah fill the coming months with barakah, help us to take advantage of the time available to us, and bring us to the coming Ramadan in the highest state of eman and taqwa.

Posted in Ramadan preparation | 1 Comment »

Your Eid gift: The Hajj Chronicles e-book

Posted by Yacoob on August 8, 2013

Eid cupcakes

On behalf of myself and my family, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones Eid Mubarak – wherever you are in the world, and whichever day you celebrate(d) on. May this day be one of beautiful celebration, togetherness, and happiness – all within the boundaries of halaal, of course :). And may the spiritual gains from this Ramadan be ingrained into you so that you can take them forward into the coming months and at least maintain your spiritual levels, if not improve upon them as this blessed month fades into history.

The primary objective of fasting in Ramadan is to attain taqwa – sometimes translated as consciousness of Allah. The next big event in our Islamic calendar is Hajj, wherein the best provision for the journey is the very same taqwa.

So for those going on this blessed journey, Ramadan serves as a means of building up taqwa – which you’ll need to maintain and build even further as you near the biggest 5 days of your life – i.e. Hajj.

With this in mind, and as promised during Ramadan, I’ve compiled the entire Hajj Chronicles series (the 24 already online, plus the 6 to still come) into an e-book. You can download it here:

Hajj Chronicles e-book: PDF (3.7MB) | MS Word (3.4MB) (Right-click and choose ‘Save as’)

The e-book is provided absolutely free, for the purposes of promoting the Hajj and educating others about it. I encourage you to share it with those who are interested in the journey of Hajj.

Of course, the content is obviously copyrighted – so don’t steal my work ;). If you want to use parts of it for commercial purposes, please contact me to discuss it. Otherwise, you may use parts of it for your own personal or academic purposes, but reference it properly, and link back to this blog.

I hope you enjoy the book and benefit from it. And if you have any feedback or queries, feel free to email me.

Enjoy!

Yacoob

<Image source>

Posted in Hajj Chronicles, Milestones, Ramadaan | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Ramadan ramblings

Posted by Yacoob on July 17, 2013

This month is usually one of great inspiration for me. In previous years, the words have overflowed on these pages each Ramadan – both in reflective postings as well as practical advices. But this year is different. I find myself being stifled by both time and circumstance; unable to bring forth even a shadow of the writing effort I exerted in years gone by.

Still, though, the spirit – and habit – can’t be buried any longer, and I find myself writing this post not so much out of inspiration, but more because I need to write. I can’t let another night go by taking the great benefits of the month (which I am enjoying), without expressing something from within.

So here I sit. I’ll probably stay awake far later than I would like, with the sole intent of pouring forth something that I hope will result in some benefit for both myself and you, the reader.

Planning to not plan

So, we’re more than a week into Ramadan, and for the most part, I’m very pleased with the spiritual revival it’s brought me personally. Due to circumstances that I’ve mentioned later on, I totally abandoned my usually-detailed Ramadan planning this year. My only plan was to ‘do a little more – consistently’, because I knew that any grand plans would be bound to fail given the impending events (again, read on to find out what I’m talking about).

So far, mostly, I’ve managed to stick to the vague plan – doing a little extra each day. And it’s been beautiful because the very concept that I always harp on – i.e. doing small and consistent deeds (which is from a hadith of the Prophet s.a.w.) – is what’s kept me spiritually ‘inflated’ so far. Prior to this, I felt like I’d been in spiritual ICU for far too long.

Work – spiritual life balance

I think probably a big contributing factor to that state was my job. I’ve been in a new job for nearly a year, and it’s been hands-down the most demanding position I’ve ever had. Compared to my previous job – which was actually quite easy – this one is really the answer to what I was seeking in a professional position. It’s filled with good challenges that help me grow, while still being something I can just manage – if I apply myself and look at it positively.

I’ve already taken precious lessons from an incident earlier this year, which was the biggest professional disaster I’ve ever faced. And as the weeks pass, I realise that that situation wasn’t necessarily an isolated example of pressure. By my standards (which are based on a relatively easy career path up to now), it is a really high pressure job, and I can see why the department I’m in has a reputation for having one of the highest sick rates in the overall institution.

Still though, my pressures are still small compared to others. (Though to be fair, the same can probably be said of my salary – so it works out in the end :) ).

Anyway, my point here is that being under this much pressure for such an extended period has taken its toll on my spiritual state. And I realise now that, since this is now the permanent state of my professional life, I need to work harder on my spiritual side – to balance out the harder work and bigger focus that my work has demanded.

Without pushing myself spiritually, the worldly matters are going to continue to eat up more and more of me, until there’s nothing left but a superficial shell.

So there’s lesson number one for this post: When worldly pressures compromise your spiritual state, push harder on the spiritual side to maintain the balance.

The never-ending story

Aside from that, another big thing occupying me is home-related maintenance. We’ve just come through a few very challenging months of home maintenance related disasters. The biggest culprit was a leaking pipe, which in turn spawned hectic plumbing repairs, tiling, painting, and 2 rounds of re-flooring. Add to that separate electrical problems, a not-so-water-resistant window, and geyser issues, and you get many weeks of frustration.

These things just dragged on and on and on, and it was actually funny at times to think that when one thing was finished, you could pretty much expect something else would come up soon after.

Alhamdullilah – as of today, it seems that it’s finally over.

Mind you, we’ll need to get a few compliance certificates soon, so there’s a chance that the inspections will uncover even more work to be done….but by now, I really don’t care anymore. We’ll just have to deal with whatever comes up if it does.

Is there a lesson from this? Well, nothing deeply insightful. Just practical: when you move into a house (or before that, actually), get good, trustworthy people to check out your plumbing and electrical stuff. The previous resident isn’t necessarily going to tell you about all the flaws (or they may not even know), but it’s better for you to spend the money upfront, find out potential issues, and deal with it at the start – so that once you’re settled in, you don’t have to turn your house upside down with repairs.

Of course, you can never anticipate all the things that could go wrong – so it’s best to still expect trouble.

Actually, one other lesson for me in all this was to remember to be grateful for what I have. If you look at a home, there are so many wires and pipes running all over the place – in hard to reach places like walls and floors. Sure, one or two things may go wrong and become a headache. But what about the hundred other things that could have gone wrong but didn’t?

Bear patience in the things that do go wrong, and thank Allah for all the things that didn’t go wrong. And if you’re grateful, insha-Allah He will give you more (see Surah Ibrahim, verse 7).

The big event

And that brings me to the impending events mentioned earlier. What should have been my biggest focus for this last while, but hasn’t been: baby number 2 is due near the end of the month, insha-Allah.

Four years ago, before the birth of our first child, I wrote these reflections on this blog. I read through it again last night, and have picked up a recurring pattern: back then, I could barely remember the period before marriage – which was odd since that was the most emotionally intense period of my life. As life moved from one stage to the next, the old stage was forgotten.

Now, the almost-2-years of marriage before our daughter was born seems like a hundred years ago. Again, as I moved from one stage of life to the next, the old stage faded tremendously in my memory.

Chances are, this current stage I’m in is going to suffer that same fate in a few years. I’ll probably look back on tonight, and this post, and not remember much about how it was to be married with just one child.

Such is life: it moves on. What was once so important to us, and so immediate in our minds, becomes a vague memory, as we have new things to focus on.

And on and on the pattern continues.

I guess the lesson from this segment is: appreciate what you have in the moment, and take what benefit you can from it now, because in time, it’ll become nothing more than a memory. Related to that, if your current situation is one of extreme challenges, remember that in one year, five years, or ten years, it’ll probably meet the same fate – becoming just a memory. You just need to get through it now, be patient, try to take whatever benefit you can from it, and know that it’ll pass. Life moves on. And so will you, insha-Allah.

Final thoughts

So there we have it. The Ramadan magic strikes again – inspiring lessons through the process of writing, and I hope that – first and foremost – I will remember and apply these lessons going forward.

As for this blog for the rest of the month, you’ll have to forgive me if I write nothing else after this. It’s looking like the baby will be arriving in 2 weeks’ time, so hopefully I’ll get something else up here before that – but after that, I’m going to have my hands full.

As mentioned before, though, you can expect the Hajj Chronicles series to continue roughly every 2 weeks – finishing in late September insha-Allah (which is just before this year’s Hajj). For those wanting to read the rest before then, though, I’m hoping to have the complete e-book version ready by the end of Ramadan, and make that my Eid gift to you.

There are about three weeks remaining, and we’re heading into the mid-month slump in which our efforts usually wane. If that’s the case for you, remember that this month is a very precious and extremely limited opportunity – just a few days and nights, which you may not live to see again next year. Even if you start slacking now, keep striving to some degree – even if it’s only a little extra you do. Just do it consistently, and with the right intention.

If you can, check out Mufti Menk’s daily 30 minute tafseer from Cape Town – Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. These kinds of reminders are especially beautiful in this month, when our hearts are softened.

Remember to make dua for all those suffering across the globe – especially in Syria, Burma, Palestine, Guantanamo, and Egypt; as well as the Uighur Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, and everywhere else where Muslims are deprived of Ramadan by the authorities.

Also, when the final 10 nights come around, don’t fall victim to 27th night syndrome.  Keep pushing until the end, and insha-Allah you’ll see the benefits stretching far into the year ahead.

Wherever you are in the world, enjoy the rest of your Ramadan. May it be the best month of your life, and one which will inspire in you the greatest spirituality that will bring you ever closer to Allah both now and in the months and years to come.

- Yacoob

Posted in Meanderings, Ramadaan | 2 Comments »

Ramadan 2013 is almost here

Posted by Yacoob on July 8, 2013

Masjid Al-Aqsa - seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Festive Ramadan lights in Jerusalem (2009 – AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

OK, so admittedly, I haven’t posted much in the lead-up to Ramadan. The truth is, I’ve had a lot of other things occupying me, and with a new baby due near the end of the month, chances are I won’t be too active on this blog during Ramadan. (Other than the Hajj Chronicles series, which is actually finished, and scheduled to be published every 2 weeks or so.)

But since we’re on the doorstep of Ramadan, I’m recycling from last year ;)

Take whatever benefit you can from this post, and I make dua that this month is spiritually, physically, and emotionally uplifting for each and every one of us. And every night when we break our fast – which is a time when dua is readily accepted – let us consistently make a dua for our brothers and sisters suffering in Syria, Palestine, Burma, Guantanemo, Egypt, and every other place facing trials; as well as the Muslims who are so severely restricted / targeted during Ramadan (and outside it) – in China, Russia, and elsewhere.

If you’re in Cape Town, try to get to Gatesville this year, where Mufti Menk will be leading taraweeh insha-Allah; with his tafseer series this month titled “Pearls of peace from the Noble Quran”. Insha-Allah it’ll be posted online as well for those who can’t make it.

The Ramadan prep bits follow below:

Although the Ramadan 2012 Early Bird Challenge focused intensely on specific areas of preparation, it’s also important to do more general planning for the month – such as outlining the kind of schedule you’d like to keep, along with listing other areas you want to work on and actions you’d like to take forward beyond Ramadan.

With this in mind, I’ve updated the Ramadan planner template – which is a compact 2-page template you can use to help you prepare. It’s rather amateur – but it’s only a template, so you can customize it according to your own needs (including making it more visually attractive if you want).

Download: Ramadan planner template v2 (50Kb)

Resources:

1. The Fasting and the Furious

I highly recommend listening to Muhammad Al-Shareef’s “The Fasting and the Furious” – which contains many important lessons for the month, and especially the middle of the month (when we lose momentum).

Follow these links for the video and the MP3 audio. (Note: If the links don’t work, just search the Internet. The talk is quite popular, so you should find it easily).

2. Ramadaan inspiration

One of my favourite Islamic speakers is Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar of Chicago – who has a knack for using easy to understand analogies to help make the listener understand some spiritual aspect.

His website contains a treasure chest of awesome audio material; including an in-depth series on purification of the heart, which I started writing about (kind of a transcription) in this article.

Anyway, for this month specifically, you can find hours of Ramadan-related talks in the Ramadan section.

All the best for the coming month. May it serve as a means of purification for our hearts, minds, and bodies – and benefit us in ways that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.

If you’ve found the template, any of these resources, or the Early Bird series beneficial, please share them with others. A person who helps spread goodness gets a piece of the reward – so be generous to others and think of what you yourself can also gain from sharing.

JazakAllah

Yacoob

Posted in Ramadaan, Ramadan preparation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ramadan reminder

Posted by Yacoob on March 18, 2013

Masjid Al-Aqsa - seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 – AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

There are just a few months left until Ramadan. Last year, this blog hosted the “Early Bird Challenge”. While it’s not being repeated this year, the series isn’t really time-specific, so for those looking to get an earlier start on Ramadan prep, feel free to browse through the series and use whatever will benefit you.

Last year’s themes were:

  1. Salaah
  2. Dua
  3. Unhealthy habits
  4. Quran
  5. Speech

May Allah allow us all to prepare for this blessed month, and see the fruits of it – both in this world and the next.

Posted in Ramadan preparation | 2 Comments »

27th Night Syndrome

Posted by Yacoob on August 15, 2012

Here in South Africa, it’s the 27th night of Ramadan – popularly referred to as ‘Laylatul Qadr’; even though there is absolutely NO certainty that the 27th night is indeed this auspicious occasion.

ANY of the odd nights of the last 10 may be Laylatul Qadr – so it’s wiser to treat each odd night as if it were the night of Power (i.e. ‘seek’ the night – as the ulama so often advise). Yet year after year, the mindset of many of us is that it’s the 27th night. The calendars all say so, and everyone talks about it as being this way. And so, despite a lull in masjid attendance even into the last 10 nights, the 27th is the night when the masses flock to the masjids. It seems that popular opinion disqualifies any other night from this honour – it’s ONLY the 27th night.

And to make things worse, some people even begin to bid farewell to Ramadan at this point.

With attitudes like this, it’s easy to then let the last few days and nights fall by the wayside. Relax, put your feet up, and now channel most of your energy into preparing your wardrobe and kitchen for Eid. After all, it’s human nature to want to wind down after a period of intensity. And it really is important to prepare for Eid – since Eids are our only legitimate days of celebration in Islam.

However, in the fervour to get ready for Eid (and thereafter a return to ‘normal life’), many of us seem to forget that the month actually isn’t over yet. There’s still much to be gained from Ramadan, and it’s hardly likely that our ultimate role models (the Prophet s.a.w. and sahabah r.a.) took the attitude that many of us fall victim to – which is to spend the last days of Ramadan obsessing over outfits and Eid lunch.

Such pre-occupation is not going to help us gather up the final drops of barakah that so abundantly shower us in Ramadan. (In fact, it would be wiser to get your clothes and plan your food stuff well in advance so that you’re not spending Ramadan’s last days and nights on these things.)

Imagine Laylatul Qadr is on the 29th night, but because you succumb to the popular misconception of ‘it IS on the 27th’, you spend that night shopping for clothes, looking up recipes, or wasting away your time on the Internet or chatting with friends.  So a night in which you could earn over 83 years of worship and reward, you’ll get almost zero – because you just followed the crowd and let your focus drift away from the reality: that Ramadan is NOT OVER YET.

Maybe you had an awesomely spiritual Ramadan so far. Or maybe it’s been very challenging, and far, far from what you’d hoped for. Whatever the case, insha-Allah you still have at least 3 days and 2 nights to get as much as you can from the month. By pushing yourself in these last moments – despite the fact that many others will be relaxing – insha-Allah you can squeeze out tremendous rewards from this Ramadan, and put in place structures that will help you maintain your good deeds (or at least some of them) for the next 11 months to follow.

When Ramadan goes, it becomes much harder to maintain good deeds and taqwa. And if we succumb to the ‘27th night syndrome’, we let our decline start early – which really helps set us up for failure in the 11 months to follow.

So, however your month has been so far, now is the time to consolidate your achievements and make one last push so that you can end the month on a high. And to take the goodness of Ramadan forward, try to plan ahead: look at what you’ve achieved, by Allah’s mercy this month; and what you can take forward. Putting in the effort now will, insha-Allah, help prevent – or minimise – the tendency of falling back into bad habits and laziness once Ramadan ends.

May we all make the most of these precious last hours of Ramadan, and permanently eradicate the ‘27th night syndrome’ from our lives.

Image source

Posted in Ramadaan | 3 Comments »

(D)ramadan

Posted by Yacoob on July 31, 2012

Many times in life, we build expectations about how certain future events should be. We make our plans and get excited…and then things turn out totally differently.

And when things don’t go the way we wanted, it’s easy to become disillusioned and feel like all is lost.

Recently, it almost happened to me.

You see: my current job ended the day before Ramadan started, and I’m due to start my next job tomorrow insha-Allah. That gave me a good 11 day holiday – covering the first third of Ramadan. For this period, I’d set out a list of how I’d like to maximize my time – taking full advantage to work on the spiritual / religious and (some) worldly aspects of my life that need attention.

The first few days kind of slipped away – as I’d anticipated they would due to Ramadan starting on a weekend. And although the day after that was relatively productive, I still didn’t cover what I’d planned to. “No worries”, I thought – “there’s still more than a week to set things right”.

Wrong.

The next day came an explosion in my personal life. A kind of drama that comes up from time to time – a recurring conflict that’s haunted me for years, and had been dormant for almost a full year – until now.

I won’t go into any details – other than saying that it’s not something that can be easily resolved, because the core of it is two diametrically opposed points of view; and neither side will change – unless by miracle. (And since it’s a month for miracles, I’m hoping for one.)

So while this month so far – this ‘holiday’ of mine – was supposed to be about spirituality and peace and progress, instead it’s largely been one of inner turmoil, stress, and worldly pressures dominating my thoughts and robbing me of the tremendous opportunity I thought I’d have in these days.

For a long time, I couldn’t let it go. I’d hoped the situation would be resolved quickly – one way or another. But that wasn’t to be. It was being drawn out longer and longer, and I eventually realized I couldn’t let it eat at me the way it was doing. Shaytaan may be locked up this month, but hallmarks of his whisperings are still with me: my internal bad habit of obsessing about problems and having imaginary arguments in my head dragged on and on for far longer than I wanted.

While all this was going on, I was aware of the fact that my Ramadan was slipping away. I just couldn’t get into the spirit of it. I couldn’t / didn’t do as I had planned due to this drama – and it felt like the time was just passing me and I was powerless: like this amazing ‘train’ of barakah (i.e. Ramadan) was moving, and I was being left behind.

In such a situation – as I said above – it’s easy to just lose hope and give up. Be angry at what happened and blame it for ruining my entire month – because even though there’s still most of the month to come, my start was spoilt in a horrible way, and my ambitions were in tatters.

But – alhamdullilah – that didn’t happen. Regarding the drama, I was eventually able to just let it go. A resolution did come in the end, and although the episode wasn’t pleasant, it’s something I’m comfortable with, and something that’ll need to move forward – regardless of the opposing views.

And regarding my plans, I resigned myself to the reality that I wouldn’t get close to what I’d hoped to achieve. But the bright side was that I did manage to maintain a decent level of consistency in some things. And like I often say – in reference to a hadith –consistency in small things is far better than a few big efforts that aren’t sustainable.

Plus, much of my time in these days was filled with a different experience – one that I hadn’t anticipated: spending a tremendous amount of time alone with my daughter (which is rare in the ‘normal’ routines of life – when I’m working). So while I missed out on my personal development (as I had planned), I got amazing and priceless moments with her – which I hope will be of maximum benefit to us both as life now returns to ‘normal’ from tomorrow insha-Allah.

It would have been easy to write off this month – fall into the trap of despair and inaction due to the challenges that derailed me. But I know there was some greater purpose in all of this – the timing of what happened, and the pain and trouble that it came with. Although we plan, Allah is the best of planners – so I know that even though I’m not yet sure what the lesson is, I have to accept that this is what Allah decreed for me at this point; and that this was what was best for me.

So to round off here, the moral of the story is to always try to keep the bigger picture in mind – particularly in difficult situations: Allah is in total control, and whatever happens to you is what’s best for you. So even if you can’t understand why things are ‘going wrong’ at the time, know that it’s not the end of the world: try to bear patience, keep the link with Him strong (via dua and consistent good deeds and ibadah), and insha-Allah once you get through the difficulty, you’ll see the wisdom in the experience, and appreciate the benefit and strength you gained from it.

Parting message

If I don’t write again this month, I’d like to leave one final message which I hope will suffice for the remaining weeks: focus on your relationship with Allah – your personal relationship with Him. Whether you’re facing difficulty or conflict, or you have some desperate need, or even if things are going well and there are no problems in your life – in all cases, the bond between you and your Creator is the thing that’s most important. This is a bond that will serve you well both in terms of worldly endeavours and the spiritual realm, and both in this life and the one to come once you leave this world.

And even if you can’t feel it right now or don’t feel sincere enough in it, that doesn’t limit His closeness to you, and His ability to give you everything you need and want – even if you feel you don’t deserve it.

All you need is sincerity. Humble yourself to Him, and realize your need of Him, and insha-Allah your heart will drive you to the best of thoughts and actions to find the fulfillment you need.

Posted in Ramadaan | 4 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers

%d bloggers like this: