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Ramadan: A Means of Reflection

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

By Sumayyah Meehan

Freelance Writer

The blessed month of Ramadan is a time for intense worship, as Muslims around the world spend the month fasting during the day and worshipping late into the night.

However, Ramadan is also about spiritual renewal and intense introspection into the way the Muslim is living his or her life the rest of the year. Muslims can use the peace and serenity of Ramadan to reevaluate their lives, thus prioritizing the things that are most important to them.

We live in hard times. The global credit crunch has already placed a massive burden on the shoulders of many Muslim families and, with Islam consistently portrayed in the popular media in an unbecoming light, it is easy for Muslims to feel ostracized from the general community and disconnected from the Ummah (global Muslim community).

Assessing our place in society as a parent, worker, Imam, or student can help reveal things about ourselves that we never knew and help us to overcome all of the obstacles hindering us from achieving all that we want to achieve in this life and the next.

Or perhaps your place in your community is well carved out and you are suffering from a shortcoming regarding your worship. Regardless of the nature of the deficiency, this Ramadan offers a unique opportunity for change.

This year marks my 13th year as a Muslim. Comparing my very first Ramadan to the current one, more than a decade later, is like comparing apples to oranges. It was during my first Ramadan that I made the most mistakes.

I did not fully understand how to fast, or the meaning behind it. I did not even know how to pray properly. Fortunately, Allah (God) the Almighty made my path easier as I prayed for a beacon of hope to lighten the way. And although today I am a "seasoned" Muslim, I still struggle just like everyone else.

Ramadan has always been my saving grace, my yearly introspection into my life as a Muslim. For me, Ramadan is a time to reflect on my own life and the effect I have on the lives of others.

The month of Ramadan provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of your life during the past months leading up to the auspicious holiday. I consider Ramadan to be my annual "tune-up", sort of similar to the annual tune-up I get for my car. However, this tune-up is a full diagnostics of my heart and soul.

As Muslims, we strive to perfect our worship and live a life that is in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. It's not always easy, as sin is lurking behind every corner, and it is not uncommon to slip up from time to time. However, it is essential for all Muslims to not only recognize their mistakes, but to find solutions to learn from them.

Renew your sense of Islam and purpose this Ramadan in just a few short steps:

Recognition

We all have shortcomings, and like the shifting winds of a stormy day, they are usually based on several variables such as time, opportunity and place. For me personally, I have struggled this year with praying on time. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that the best Prayer is the one offered on time.

This year has proven difficult for me since my youngest daughter is more mobile (i.e. she learned to walk!). She is more active in the home and finding the calm I need to pray is often an exercise in futility. Hence, my worship has suffered.

Perhaps you are suffering from a different variable, such as falling into a vice, lacking in worship, or finding it hard to participate in your community. Recognizing your failings is the only way to invite change and renewal.

Assessment

Take advantage of this Ramadan by using the serenity of this month to hone in on your shortcomings so that you can focus on ways to turn them into triumphs. For me, I made a list of ways that I can make my daily Prayers a top priority. Keeping my youngest daughter busy while I pray was at the top of the list, followed by several ways that I can use to achieve the goal. I also included a fail-safe in case "all of the above" is not working.

List-making is an excellent way to make your shortcomings tangible, so that you can grab onto them and make a change. Putting a pen to paper means that not only do you acknowledge your weaknesses, but also that you are willing to rectify them. Be sure to include a thorough list of possible solutions.

For example, if you feel that you are isolated from the Muslim community and find it difficult making connections, your assessment list would include ways that you can be more extroverted. Perhaps you could recommit yourself to the mosque, or attend more lessons at the mosque, as two possible solutions.

Commitment to Action

Last but not least, once you have recognized your shortcomings and have developed a course of action to remedy them, you must commit to following your suggestions through. As for my own assessment list, I have followed them right down to the last letter and have already seen a marked improvement in my worship.

The main idea from my list was to keep my daughter safe and busy, so that I could attend to my worship without worry or interruption. I followed through by investing in a playpen and some soft toys so that she can keep herself busy. The moment I hear the Adhan (call to prayer), I put my daughter in her playpen, perform ablution, and pray on time.

Seize this Ramadan, and every one to come, to turn a negative aspect of your life into something positive. Through sincere reflection and commitment the door to change will swing wide open.

Sumayyah Meehanreverted to Islam almost 11 years ago. She is a Waynesburg College graduate with a BA in criminal justice. She is working on an Islamic children's book. She resides in Kuwait with her husband and three children.
 

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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