In order to what, you ask?
In order to really change your life for the better and do good deeds.
Why not wait for Ramadan? Because we don’t know if we’ll get there. And we’ll also be wasting precious time by just waiting.
Too often, people say: “Insha-Allah, I’ll change in Ramadan or after Hajj.”
To these people, I ask the following questions:
1) If you really want to change, what is stopping you from doing so NOW?
2) What difference does it make whether it’s Ramadan or Safar? Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, not just the Lord of Ramadan or the Lord of Hajj.
3) Will you really be able to change in Ramadan or after Hajj? Chances are that you’ll delay it again. I’ve seen this happen to many people.
So, I advise myself and all of you: let’s do whatever good that we can do now, because we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow. We can plan all we want to for tomorrow but Allah is the Best of Planners.
As the saying goes: There’s no time like the present.
And indeed there isn’t. The past is a fading memory and the future might as well be a fog. The present though is right here with us now so let’s make use of it.
Yes, I know. Perhaps I actually managed to befuddle you with that title. [Then again, perhaps not.]
Okay, so what is the point of the Recover Ramadan project, you ask?
Well, it’s to remind us that we always need to be striving hard to try to please Allah. That’s what we do in Ramadan and that’s what we need to do outside of it.
Too often, we forget the purpose of the salah, charity, fasting, dua, obedience to parents, good character, marriage, etc.
Yes, they are all good deeds (with the proper intention) but why are we doing them again? Ultimately, any good deed should be done as a form of worship to Allah in order to achieve His Pleasure.
Now you might say: “But a person can get married just because he/she wants to, and a person might just be good to his parents because he loves them! What’s wrong with that?”
Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, that’s not al-ihsan. What’s al-ihsan? It’s worshipping Allah as though you see Him. That’s the highest level that a Muslim can reach.
So, a muhsin (one who attains al-ihsan) would intend to get married because it is pleasing to Allah and would strive to obey his parents (in matters that are not contrary to the shariah) because that is what Allah loves. See the difference? This person performs daily life activities as a way of worshipping Allah.
Why? Because he/she always remembers the purpose of doing those deeds.
So, be sure to never forget the purpose, because if we forget the purpose, we’ll lose our way.
PS. I hope the post itself didn’t befuddle any of you.
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I asked what all the first six steps had in common.
The answer? All of them are connected to a change in attitude.
See, this is the main problem: our attitude.
For example, many Muslims have this belief that following Islam properly will somehow hamper their life and stop them from “having fun.” They think of Islam as some sort of shackle.
Well, that’s wrong because this dunya (worldly life) is actually the shackle but most people fail to realise that.
So, such people need to start thinking of Islam as something that frees them rather than something that traps them. After this, they’ll stop regarding Islam as a burden and will enjoy practicing it.
So, we need to figure what issues we may have with our attitude with regards to pleasing Allah and then solve them, insha-Allah.
The next few parts will deal with more “attitude problems”, insha-Allah.
So far, we’ve had 6 steps, alhamdulillah.
A question for all of you:
What do all the previous steps have in common?
Once you understand this, then you’ll see why I started with them as opposed to starting with “Try to pray each prayer on time” or “Try to read a few ayaat of the Quran each day”.
PS. How’s the series so far? Any suggestions? Were you expecting something else?
PPS. My apologies for the length of the posts. I’ll try to make them shorter, insha-Allah, as promised.
Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 6: Realise that high levels of iman and knowledge are something achieved, not gifted
Many times, when I tell people about the great people I’ve seen (in terms of righteousness and Allah knows best as to their true state) and how they manage to adhere to the religion, the response is usual: “Oh, their iman (faith) is high.”
Or if I mention how some people are strong throughout their trials and that we should imitate them in this, I get: “Oh, one should have such a level of iman to withstand these trials.”
I know it might be a ridiculous thing to say but sometimes I feel that these people are blaming the good people for their higher level of iman!
The same thing happens if I mention some people who are very knowledgeable. The listeners tend to react as if these people were born with this knowledge and were lucky to be gifted it.
However, Allah says:
“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 78]
The above ayah (verse) shows that everyone starts with the same level of knowledge: zero.
Of course, nothing can compare to the reaction that I get when I mention the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). These were the ones who accompanied the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), who were praised by Allah and who were set as a standard for us. The response: “Oh, these were the Sahaabah.”
It’s almost as if people think that they were born that way (i.e. with all that righteousness)?!
Really? Was this high level of iman gifted to them or did they come from a completely un-Islamic background, learn about the religion of Allah, apply it and in doing so, achieve this high level?
Obviously, the answer is the latter. Nobody is born with knowledge and a high level of iman.
So, why am I telling you this? In order to remind ourselves that we shouldn’t use our ignorance or lack of iman as an excuse to explain away our weakness and our sins.
And we shouldn’t blame others who have knowledge and iman, because if they have both of these, it means that they achieved it and therefore they deserve it.
Rather, we should blame ourselves for not having spent our time achieving that amount of knowledge and doing the righteous deeds that lead to that high level of iman. In addition to this, we should make a firm commitment that we will take the necessary steps to gain knowledge and apply it in order to increase our level of iman, insha-Allah.
Want what, you ask? The pleasure of Allah, of course.
Do you want it?
Now, of course, you’ll nod your head and say “Well, obviously!”
Okay, let me phrase it in another way: Do you want the pleasure of Allah above everything else that you have in your life?
Let’s take a wild example. Suppose you were give two choices in life:
1) To be the best-looking, richest and most intelligent person on this planet who has everything one could possibly want in life but does not have the pleasure of Allah
2) To be the worst-looking, poorest and least intelligent person on this planet who has absolutely nothing one could want in life but has the pleasure of Allah
Now, you might think “Why can’t I have it all??”
Well yes, you could be the best-looking, richest and most intelligent person on this planet and have the pleasure of Allah. However, if you were given a choice between 1 or 2, which one would you choose?
Think about it carefully. See, it’s easy to avoid the question or say “Well, 2 obviously”, but what do you REALLY want?
Now, you might say “Cmon! I’ll never be given this choice so why bother to even waste time thinking about it?”
Well, you should bother because the answer will tell you a lot about yourself and who you really are. Ultimately, do you want worldly possessions or the hereafter?
Do you know why the Companions of the Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) were so successful? Because if given the above two choices, they would have chosen the second one without hesitation.
Proof? Read the Quran. Read the ahadeeth. Read the Seerah. Read their biographies. It’s all there.
So what do you want? This world or the next?
It’s amazing. The ones who truly want the hereafter also get this world but the ones who want this world do not get the hereafter.
“Glorious” past, you ask? What “glorious” past???
Allow me to explain.
I’ve met many sisters who tell me how they used to be more practicing in the past, and that depresses them.
Yes, it is quite depressing to remember the times when you were a much better Muslim and realise that it was in the past, not in the present.
And to some degree, all of us have been through this. We look back at those glorious times (which occur in Ramadan a lot of the time) and feel sad that we are not anything like we used to be.
Here’s where a change of perspective can work wonders. Rather than letting the past depress you, let it MOTIVATE you.
How? Well, tell me, who was that praying on time? Who was that who was spending so much time with the Quran? Who was that doing all those good deeds?
Past or present aside, that was YOU, not somebody else. Therefore, you know that you CAN do all these things, simply because you’ve already done it before.
So, if you can get to that level once, then don’t you think that getting there a second time will be easier, simply because you know for a surety that you can do it?
So, what do you do? Think about the time when your iman was at its highest level and resolve to get there again, insha-Allah.
After all, the second time is always easier (for most things anyway!).
[Side note: Would you mind filling out the poll on my tafsir blog? Jazakumullah kheira.]
Which boat, you ask?
– The Boat containing those who have trouble sustaining their Ramadan spirit.
– The Boat containing those whose iman goes up and down like a yo-yo.
– The Boat containing those who struggle daily to follow this great religion.
– The Boat containing those who have lots of problems.
You get my point.
I’ve noticed that many sisters* who’ve come to me with their problems seem to think that their problems are unique.
[*I keep mentioning sisters because I interact with sisters obviously, not with the brothers.]
And they’re quite surprised that I’m unsurprised at their problems (usually related to their iman). And I’m surprised that they’re surprised that I’m unsurprised at their problems.
Why? Because I’ve noticed that everyone has similar problems. I’ve yet to come across a completely unique issue.
And it struck me that this is Shaytan’s plan: divide and conquer. He makes a person feel as if he or she is the ONLY loser on this planet with this problem and shames him/her to a point where he/she:
– Feels ashamed to ask for help.
– Thinks that there is no solution.
– Feels that he/she is the biggest sinner in the world and nobody has done what he/she has done.
Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not asking you to feel happy that everyone has problems sustaining the Ramadan routine, for example. It doesn’t matter if everyone failed to sustain it. We’ll all still be questioned by Allah about why we could do these acts of worship in Ramadan and not outside of it.
What I AM trying to say is: you are not the only who has this problem. We are all in the same boat. And, insha-Allah, we’ll all work together to solve this problem.
[Sorry, this post was longer than the last one.]
[Okay, you voted. And apparently, most of you want short posts on a daily basis. Alright then.
Starting from tomorrow, insha-Allah, I’ll be posting twice a day: once for the Recover Ramadan posts and another for the regular posts. However, on some days, I’ll just have the Recover Ramadan posts. Hey, Tita Umm Muawiyah needs a break too.]
So, how do get back into the Ramadan Routine of Righteousness?
Step 1 was to realise that your iman was in shambles.
Step 2 is to realise that you can change.
Huh, you say?
Erm, yes. I’ve met many sisters who seem to doubt their ability to actually become righteous. And this of course is from Shaytaan (the devil) because he wants to defeat us before we even begin!
Reformation starts from the heart and then it affects the limbs. If the heart does not believe that it can be more obedient to Allah, then do you think the tongue and the limbs will behave in a righteous manner?
So, what do we do? First we accept that we need to change. Second, we need to accept that we can change, insha-Allah.
[Hope this was “short” enough for the daily Recover Ramadan posts. Or do you want them to be shorter?]