This Ramadan, the recurring theme for me and my family has been dua: supplication; calling on Allah. Mufti Menk often says that whatever message reaches you (whether that be something you heard or saw) – it’s meant for you. Don’t take it as some general advice to the masses. Allah specifically chose that message to get directly for you. So you need to pay attention to it.
And this Ramadan, time and time and time again, myself, my wife, and even our daughter – all of us – have been getting this message of calling upon Allah.
Personally, I know that it’s something I really need. When I came ‘back’ to Islam, it was through dua. It was through need. Immense, desperate need which drove me to one direction alone – Allah. And so this form of worship – the very essence of ibadah – was essentially my ‘first love’ in Islam.
But over time, as responsibilities grew and my spiritual side became buried under the dust of a more hectic life, I lost that lifeline. Don’t get me wrong, dua was always there, and I was still making dua consistently. But the connection to Allah seemed lacking. The feeling, the sincerity, the intimacy of this most important relationship with my Creator. It eroded and almost disappeared as dua became more of a routine. For the most part, it was reduced to a daily habit of making the same duas, over and over – with little concentration and little focus on what I was really asking for.
More often than not, it was only in times of difficulty that my ‘dua life’ was really revived. When it comes to that which draws one closer to their Creator, there’s nothing more effective than trials and struggles.
Institutionalising the bond
This Ramadan, I took an online course which centred around goal-setting but wrapped in dua.
While I wasn’t able to make the most of the course (due to the rigours of normal working days and family responsibilities), I believe that I have – insha-Allah – still taken great benefit from it. Part of the course included visualising various aspects of your ideal life, working hard to define some “dream duas”, then institutionalising those duas – making them a daily habit.
Now, obviously as time passes, the feelings and excitement of those duas will fade, but that is natural. What’s most important is to strictly set yourself a single time every day where you will make these duas. That way, every single day, you will be asking from the One Who provides – for these things which are so important to you.
Then again, 6 months later, you start the process again and select some new dream duas (or reworked versions of some previous ones – if you’re still passionate about them).
Some people don’t really like the approach of the teacher (Sh. Muhammad Al Shareef, of Al Maghrib Institute), but personally, I find that this kind of practical approach is what I personally need. Spiritual feelings are, of course, amazing, but we cannot make these the driving force of our acts of worship.
We need to draw closer to Allah via acts of worship consistently – even when it doesn’t feel very sincere or spiritual.
And so this ‘dua habit’, I hope, will be the first step on a road to many good things in my life.
As Ramadan will soon leave us, sadly, many of us will fall back into the same old slumps we were in before the month arrived. We hope to take forward at least some of the goodness and new good habits, but keeping up with them becomes exponentially harder as time passes – especially with the shayateen unchained and running wild for the 11 months between Ramadans.
My advice – to myself and you, dear reader – is to make dua right now, asking Allah to help you retain at least a few core elements that made this month special for you. Ask for the toufique to continue to do your part, and His help in manifesting the spiritual benefits from those actions.
We’re fortunate to still have the most blessed 10 days of the year coming up (1st 10 days of Dhul Hijjah), but after that, it’s a loooonnnnggg stretch until the next major period of spiritual striving.
So, make your intention now – in these precious final moments of Ramadan. Ask Allah now – in these remaining hours of the blessed month.
Then go forward with hope and a proactive attitude, so that insha-Allah your Ramadan will continue to benefit you all the way until next year, insha-Allah.
Eid Mubarak to you and your family.