Ramadaan 2016: Get into the spirit

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)

With Ramadan almost here, it’s a good time (even if a bit late) to start planning how we’ll spend the month. In the video below, brother Nouman Ali Khan gives some critical advice for preparing. Even if you’re not able to follow it all, try to implement some of it.

Also on the topic, here are some other resources that might help:

  • The Ramadan Planner: MS Word template to help you plan your Ramadan.
  • The Ramadan Early Bird series: An in-depth planning series that helps you to gradually improve various aspects of your life – with Ramadan in mind.
  • The Fasting and the Furious: A lecture by Sh. Muhammad Al-Shareef focussing on having a consistent Ramadan – especially avoiding the middle of the month dip.

If you have any other resources that would benefit myself or others, please feel free to post them in the comments section.

May this final week of Sha’baan bring us maximum benefit, and help us to build enough momentum to kick start our Ramadan and take the most out of it.

Vicissitudes of life

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It’s been a challenging period of late, with illness, stress, and the burdens of life weighing heavily on me. I’m not complaining, though, because my struggles are miniscule in comparison to millions of others on this planet. People who suffer and persevere through the most cruel of circumstances, day after day.

As a resident on this planet – in this world – one should be very aware that trials will come your way. They are a part of life and should be expected at any time – regardless of how physically, mentally, or emotionally comfortable you are. And your job is to take each challenge and do the best you can with it. Recognise that what is put in your path is no accident – no mere matter of misfortune – but in fact a deliberate and calculated event, designed just for you, and given to you by the One Who controls all things.

When you can recognise the tests…when you approach challenges with that mindset, it becomes easier to be patient. It becomes a little easier to persevere through the difficulty. You know that there’s purpose to this occurrence…even if you don’t immediately recognise what that purpose is. And you know that if you keep calm and navigate your way through this, as best you can, you’ll come out better for it. You’ll come out stronger.

Getting to that mindset, however, is a challenge in itself if you are living well – carefree and without difficulties. It’s similar to remembering death. We all know that it’s highly virtuous – and beneficial – to remember death often, yet how often do we actually do this? How many of us actually live our lives with our impending death constantly in our minds? Or is it only when someone else departs, or is critically ill, that the reality sinks in?

But even then, the remembrance is temporary – short-lived – because we get back to ‘normal’ and are once more in our default state of heedlessness.

Living in an age of luxury and affluence only deepens this internal crisis, because we are so distracted from the reality of life.

I recall the story of a wise man, centuries ago, who dug himself a grave right next to his bed. And each night, before retiring, he would go and lay in it for a while, to remind himself of his future home. The home that – although temporary – is still far more long-lasting than the time we’ll spend alive on Earth.

None of us would go that far in today’s times; nor would we want such a stark and close reminder.

But maybe it’s just what we need to help us throw off the shackles of heedlessness that keep growing and tying us down, over and over, as we navigate through these minutes…days…years of our lives.

Regardless, though, whatever your struggles are on this day, I pray that you are blessed with the right mindset and the necessary patience and strength to see it through, and come out of it better and wiser…until the next challenge arises.