Saturday 2 May 2020

Ramadan Goals or Ramadan Relief

I came across the following post on a sisters WhatsApp group and then traced it back to the Muslim Parents in Training Facebook page. For someone like me who spends all day running from one thing to another, with barely any time to myself, this was a welcome and reassuring reminder – quality not quantity, conscientiousness not busyness.

I especially loved the following:
"Each year my targets for Ramadhan are three- get closer to the Qur’an, attain taqwa, get my sins forgiven".

Simple, reasonable and yet still something to strive towards without getting into the trap of trying to do as much as we can as quick as we can.

I hope you find the following useful and take some benefit from it as I have insh’Allah:

There was a time when I thought that planning out every minute of Ramadhan was a good way to get the most out of it.
I was wrong.
I discovered that the day soon became a tick box exercise to complete the scheduled tasks. A juz of Quran tilawah- tick. Taraweeh- tick. Sadaqa- tick. And so on. And if I fell behind and didn't achieve my goals, I was left feeling down hearted.
Despite a lot of activity, I felt at the end of Ramadhan remarkably unfulfilled. The change that I expected did not materialise. Something was missing.
Looking back, I realised that I was reflecting the same obsession with ‘production’ that we see everywhere in this society. I was mindlessly ‘mass-producing’ activity but not tailoring it to what I really needed. By turning Ramadhan into a race to get things done, I was losing sight of what I really needed.
So, I decided to take a different approach.
Seeking ihsan. Seeking excellence and perfection in the action. Quality over quantity. Why am I doing this action? What do I want to achieve from it? What do I need to do practically to achieve my goals? Am I achieving that goal?
Actions with such thinking lead to better overall results. It may even mean we take completely different actions which are better suited to achieve the outcome.
Each year my targets for Ramadhan are three- get closer to the Qur’an, attain taqwa, get my sins forgiven.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ
‘The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.’ (al Baqarah 185)

So, when I approach the Quran, I am not in a haste to finish today’s juz so I can tick that box. It is no longer about how far I have gone through the Qur’an. Rather, I am asking how far has the Qur’an gone through me? Is the Qur’anic message a guidance for me and for the people around me? If not, why not? And what can I do to make the Qur’anic change a reality.
Similarly, the approach to taraweeh changes. This year, for the first time ever, there will be no taraweeh in the masjid for many Muslims. But the question to ask is what am I truly seeking in the taraweeh? Closeness to the Quran? Closeness to Allah? For my sins to be forgiven?
If so, can I spend time carefully going through the suwar that I am going to recite so that when I stand in qiyam I savour those words more? Could I learn a few new ayat during the day to recite in my taraweeh (as I do not have the luxury of standing behind a hafidh in congregation)? Should I pray later in the last third of the night, alone only with Allah, to feel that intense closeness achieved through Qiyam ul Layl?
The Messenger    said: "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadhan) out of sincere iman and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (al Bukhari)
What does it mean to seek tawbah? Is it just to raise my hands and ask for forgiveness? Or is it to recognise shortcomings, accept them as sins, repent for them and then finds ways to make sure they are never done again? That is not easy. It needs genuine soul searching and an evaluation of some deeply held motivations, followed by sensible and realistic practical steps to start a journey towards change.
I am not saying that we should not have any plans for the month. We should have plans. But simple goals laid out into blocks of time. For instance, an hour after asr to reflect upon the Qur'an etc.
What does this have to do with parenting? Everything. When children are young, we do a lot of their thinking for them and concentrate on establishing good habits through repeated actions. But as they grow older, seeking ihsan and thought driven action becomes the aim.
All Praise to Allah that year on year the resources available for our children increases. There is plenty of material online. What we use and the styles we turn to should be determined by what we want to achieve.
For instance, I want both the children to get closer to Allah. My daughter has memorised the 99 names. So, what better way to draw closer to Allah than through understanding His names. I will be using books, online material, my own story telling, art etc. Also, to try some calligraphy to get some physical closeness to these names.
Likewise, there are a couple of traits I have noticed in them, and I will be focusing in on these through Qur’an and ahadith. On this point, we should not be afraid to ask our families about traits that they may have noticed in us that we can work on. This frankness on becoming a better person is a sign of sincerity to Allah.
Finally, all success lies with Allah  al-Wahhab, the Bestower of all good and blessings and al-Mujib, the Responder to our dua.

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