Posted by Yacoob on September 1, 2009
At this time last year, I wrote my first Ramadaan post. One week into that month, I was scared of missing out on the blessings of the month. My main goal – at that point – was to develop my self-discipline. Up till that point, it hadn’t been a very productive year in terms of personal development. At least, that’s what my perception was.
But looking back, in all those months, the foundations of improvement were being laid. And, even though – soon after Ramadaan ended – my commitment to self-discipline disappeared, things picked up for me in ways I was oblivious to for much of the year.
Ramadaan is the best month of the year for me. It’s the time of year where it’s easier to take stock. The time of year where it’s easier to focus on the things inside that need fixing. The time of year where many of the distractions of life can – largely – be subdued, relegated to a lower priority – while the more important things – those related to my true purpose in life – rise to prominence. This truly is a month of mercy. Because if it weren’t for this blessed month – this amazing, annual opportunity – I don’t know how I would fare in life.
The tone of this month is different – because Muslims share this time communally. I mean: we all experience this month. We all know how special it is. We all know it’s the one time of year where we have to focus on matters which, ordinarily, we can be so easily heedless or careless of.
There’s an atmosphere of peace. There’s increased individual and collective remembrance of our Lord. There’s enhanced service to humanity and goodness to others within our own circle of family and associates. All of these blessings descend upon us in this month, as the doors of Heaven are opened, and the doors of Hell are shut – with the devils being tied up.
Three years ago, I experienced my first Ramadaan ‘alone.’ And I had all these bursts of inspiration. I recorded these ambitions, hoping that they’d carry over into long-term life improvements. But alas, in my time alone, I saw that many of those plans never materialised; despite all the enthusiasm and commitment I felt when I wrote it all down.
At this time two years ago, my life rapidly moved to a new level. I ended that Ramadaan on such a high note – feeling at the height of spirituality. I knew what one of my ultimate goals was for the coming year – and indeed, my entire life to come. And I thought, with the impending changes which I’d dreamed of for so long – my personal dream coming true before my very eyes – that it would be even easier to strive towards that goal. As I came to find out, Allah had other plans for me. My ambitions for that goal, plus everything that was built up in that Ramadaan, seemed to be turned upside down and forgotten in the tumultuous months that followed. But, alhamdullilah, things settled down and progress was made (see the intro, about foundations) – albeit in a very different setting to my life of solitude.
One year ago, I began this month hoping that it would mark a change. I hoped that it would bring me back on track because, as noted above, I felt that the year up to that point was not going well: taking me backwards, rather than forward. Admittedly, last Ramadaan started slowly, but alhamdullilah, it picked up so beautifully. The inspiration returned, and I found myself writing in the vein of previous years – hoping that the words which flowed through me would be of benefit to others, whether the topic was the middle of the month or sustaining the goodness after the month had passed. By the end of that Ramadaan, I again felt a high that only comes after a month of sustained goodness.
And now, here I sit, one week into this Ramadan, and it’s once again been a slow start. But, like last year, I feel the momentum picking up. However, there’s been a monumental change in my circumstances this year: I’m now a father. And although that has occupied a lot of my time and energy, it hasn’t taken away that much from my Ramadaan. This is mostly because I’m not living with my wife and our baby, yet. But on Saturday (insha-Allah), that changes – when they come home. The timing isn’t ideal from a personal perspective – because the last 2 weeks of Ramadaan, and the last 10 days especially – is the time where we need to intensify our efforts; and gather up as much reward as we can, while doing as much as we can to make sure that the goodness we’re taking advantage of this month carries through to the next eleven months. But with this change in life – a ‘personal perspective’ is a luxury. It’s a selfish attitude – because my life must now become one of sacrifice: sacrifice for my family, and what they need, even if it means I won’t feel the spirituality that I crave.
I admire my wife so much for her sacrifice thus far. I know how sad she is to be ‘missing’ out on this month – because a baby is more than a full-time job: you get a break from a full-time job; but with a newborn baby, you don’t really get breaks. I only hope that she attains tremendous rewards for everything she’s doing – even more reward than she would get in a ‘normal’ Ramadaan. Motherhood is really the jihad of a woman; and that’s something that us men will never truly understand. The level of sacrifice a woman must make for her child makes it clear to me why Islam gives such importance to a mother.
Anyway, I wrote this post because I felt I needed to say something about this month. I needed to write while I still had the opportunity – because writing is something so dear to me, and so essential to my inner self. Ramadaan has – for the past few years – been the most inspired time of year for me. With this post, I’ve tried to combine my current thoughts with links from previous years’ posts; and I hope that, if you do read some of those previous posts, you’ll find something beneficial that will help you to make this month the most special of your life. (You can find all my Ramadaan posts here).
All the best for the coming days and nights. Use the time wisely, and remember that, whatever level you are on, this is the ideal month in which to push yourself forward in your spiritual and personal development.
Ramadaan mubarak to you and your family. May Allah strengthen you in your iman and taqwa, and make you of His most beloved servants.