Let Ramadan serve as our launch pad as we aim to further purify ourselves.
For many Muslims, the days that led up to beginning of Ramadan were a seemingly magical time filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope as we ambitiously prepared for this sacred month.
Many of us compiled lists of personal goals that we would seek to accomplish prior to arrival of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.
Although we may have gotten off to a great start, during the course of the month many of us suddenly and without consciously deciding to do so, brushed aside some of these hopes while tending to work responsibilities, gatherings with family and friends, parenting, and the never-ending duties of day-to-day modern life.
Some observing Ramadan will even admit to caving to feelings of sluggishness and sleeping during much of the day or simply opting to waste precious hours staring at a television screen. Sadly, for many living in violent conflict zones around the globe, the daily struggle to survive often took precedence over any additional observances and commitments beyond what is obligatory.
For these reasons and many more, we find ourselves in the last moments of Ramadan with the disheartening realization that we may not have completed even half of what we had set out to accomplish.
This can feel overwhelming and cause feelings of anxiety, regret and even a sense of failure. To counter this negativity it is important that we let go of the short term goals that we had for Ramadan and bring our awareness and intentions to our long term goals for life.
Upon finishing Eid festivities we are left to contemplate, “What is next?”
Rest assured that there is absolutely no reason that the ushering in of Eid should weaken our desire or dedication to be more focused and connected to God as we strive toward higher levels of consciousness.
No matter what we didn’t accomplish, the best place from where to begin again is right from where we are right now. Without hesitation, we can start setting goals with the intention of staying committed and motivated throughout the next year until we are blessed with welcoming Ramadan.
First, it is essential that we let go of any feelings of failure or regret.
One way to do this is by honoring what we did do during Ramadan, no matter how small that accomplishment might seem. By making a list and writing down everything positive thing we did do during Ramadan—from completing extra prayers to helping neighbors and family—we can feel our perception begin to shift. Did we share our smiles—a form of charity—with those around us? Did we fast? Donate to those in need with our time, talent or treasure? Provide a meal for someone else? Did we pray for not only our friends, family and other Muslims, but also all of humanity?
Without doubt, we can find opportunities to transmute many negatives into positives.
Maybe we missed taraweeh at the mosque because we were still entertaining family late into the evening. Isn’t there value to family time, too? Sure there is! So write it down. I am certain that once we spend some time reflecting on the past month we will be able to recall how many beautiful deeds we accomplished.
Second, we can start a new list of goals that will take us all the way through to Ramadan of next year.
Everything need not be grandiose. We can include a variety of goals—beginning with those that will be easy to achieve and then adding those that will require more work and dedication. We can organize our lists by arranging short and long-term goals, or by whatever process works best for each person.
On our list we might include habits that we would like to purge from our lives such as gossiping, lying, swearing and hurting others. Additionally, note the habits that we aim to embrace such as respecting our parents, being kind, being dutiful and productive at our job and participating in charitable deeds. We can make the intention to honor others by committing to open discussion instead of escalating arguments when conflicts inevitably arise. Also, we can seek to forgive those who have hurt us, and ask for forgiveness from anyone we may have hurt intentionally or unintentionally.
Each day we can allow ourselves to read inspirational books, study the Quran and create sacred space for contemplation and meditation. We can rededicate our lives to walking a path of right thoughts, right words, right deeds and mindfulness of the oneness of all humanity.
We must always remind ourselves that Ramadan is not just about abstaining from food and water, but also a means of spiritual purification.
We can carry this concept of purification with us every day of the year. Through the love and compassion that reside within us we can bring brightness and light to any dark places, as we shine our light in this world.
As we go forth, we can feel confident that although another Ramadan has reached an end, a new chance to redirect our lives is waiting for us.
We can do this.
Author: Wendy Keslick
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Jai Kapoor/ Flickr & Courtesy of the author/ Photo credit: Ahmed Elzway