Peace and blessings upon you all! xo
It’s almost time to welcome Ramadan again and I couldn’t be more excited. With the holy month right around the corner, everyone is preparing in their own ways. Restocking the house, putting together a Ramadan game plan, getting their abayat* ready, slowly trying to build up their self-control, etc. It’s awesome.
Feeling that “spiritual high” right before and during Ramadan is natural (and more than OK). It’s exciting – I totally get it. But the real trick here is to keep up that commitment towards trying to progress in our faith post-Ramadan, too. Which for a lot of us, myself included, can be extremely challenging. This is why I disagree with the notion that fasting is the hardest part of the holy month. I believe the most difficult part is obtaining that self-control and “spiritual high” when those four weeks are over – and that’s really what Ramadan is all about.
Sometimes people overlook the purpose of this special month and conveniently state that it’s about “feeling” with those who are less fortunate. This is not false, but it’s also not true. Indeed, it’s a great way to be in solidarity with victims of hunger and truly puts life in perspective for us — however, Ramadan is more so about your relationship with your creator and bettering your nafs.*
The beginning of Ramadan reminds me a lot of New Years Eve. Everyone is bursting with excitement for this chance at a “new beginning.” Resolutions are thrown left and right – but a few days later and most of us slip into old habits again. I am in no way saying that resolutions are stupid and we’re all doomed. In fact, I’m here to tell you the opposite. Creating resolutions is good – but putting in the effort to commit to those resolutions is better.
So here are 4 tips that have personally helped me on my spiritual journey during previous Ramadans, and I hope they contribute to yours, too!
1. Make The Intention
Islam is truly centered around your niyyah, or intention. We make our intention before we pray, before we fast, and before we initiate anything basically. It’s so important that even the best of your actions will be invalidated if you don’t make the intention to do it for the sake of Allah (SWT) and him alone. Not only will making that intention put barakah* in your actions (insh’Allah), but Allah will help you achieve those actions, too. So why not get in the habit of making sincere intention before anything by starting with your Ramadan resolutions! One example can be to stop missing Fajr prayer. If you find it difficult to wake up for it, try to cleanse your heart with tawbah*, and then make the sincere intention to not miss the prayer. No matter how big or small your tasks, resolutions and deeds are, intention matters x 100.
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّىٰ
He has succeeded who purifies himself, who remembers the name of his Lord and prays. (Surah Al-A’la 87:14-15).
2. Personalize Your Resolutions
Going back to the example of salah (prayer); of course this is a super duper important resolution, but also try to go further. Ask yourself, what is something you’ve been struggling with for so long that you sometimes forget it’s a negative attribute? Could it be backbiting? Having too much pride? Holding grudges? Disrespecting your parents? We’re all guilty of something one way or another – so find your weaknesses and take advantage of the holy month. The doors of forgiveness are open and shaytan (the devil) is locked away — it’s time to break old habits and start new ones. Better ones.
Tip: to avoid becoming overwhelmed and giving up, start small instead of making a bunch of life changing goals that will be difficult to follow up with. Add to the list as time goes on. Be realistic but don’t underestimate yourself either.
3. Ramadan Planner
Ah, my favorite part! I am a die-hard list maker, planner keeper, calendar enthusiast, and everything in between. Lucky for me, I came across this perfect Ramadan-themed to-do list from a cute little blog called Gilded Dunya. The list includes different kinds of ibadah* from reading Quran after Fajr to making daily istighfar.* It even has space for you to write down your goals and post-Ramadan reflections. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable. So I definitely recommend printing it out and using it as a starting guide for Ramadan as you work on adding your personal resolutions to the list.
4. Ramadan Buddy
Another fun part! Team up with your sister, brother, best friend, parent, or someone from your local mosque. Literally anyone. As long as they are willing to better themselves and help you do the same, then they qualify! Create a set of goals together and then help each other achieve them, and of course, this also means holding each other accountable. Maybe one of you reads Quran a little better, so set-up a consistent time where you can read together to improve each other’s reading/reciting. Or maybe use the buddy system to try and pray as many prayers as you can in the mosque together. Or attend (Jumu’ah) Friday prayer consistently. You get the point — be each other’s rock this month. Who knows, maybe this friend is who you’ll end up walking into paradise with, insh’Allah. And if you can’t find someone or you’re spending this Ramadan alone, then I’ll be your buddy! The best part is that they don’t need to live nearby for this to work. Thanks technology.
May this upcoming Ramadan be a month of blessings for you — filled with love, peace, prosperity and good company. May the spirit of Ramadan illuminate your days and bring you closer to your creator. May Allah make it easy on you all and accept your fasting and good deeds. Ramadan Kareem!
Do you have special Ramadan Resolutions for this year or tips for achieving them? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below or tweet them to us: @MissMuslimNYC.
*abayat: (plural for abaya) a caftan-like dress or loose-over garment worn by some women to cover everything except their face, hands and feet. No, they’re not mandatory, and no, we don’t only wear them during Ramadan.
*nafs: arabic word for “self” – mentioned in the Quran.
*tawbah: turning back to Allah (different than istighfar).
*barakah: God’s direct blessing. Read more about it here.
*istighfar: the act of seeking forgiveness from Allah.