Are you reading this because you feel like everyone has been talking and planning and preparing for Ramadan and seem so enthusiastic about it while here you are, emotionally unmoved, and cannot care less, or even ‘not feel like’ doing anything as such?
Fret not, for you are not alone.
Life is about having these spiritual fluctuations of the heart; sometimes, nothing really helps, sometimes a lot helps. I have entered a couple of Ramadan’s with a heart so lost, that I simply could not relate to any of my really enthusiastic peers in their excitement for worship. I even tried I’tikaf by staying in the Masjid of my campus for the last ten days of those Ramadans, only physically, with my heart elsewhere. Nothing feels as terrible as this guilt of being so far from it while all of it is so close; not feeling like picking up the Qur’an while it is just there in the shelf beside you!
It’s alright to just go with the flow and make sure we are fasting at the least, and praying (which means we are doing the fardh basically) right? It doesn’t matter if we aren’t at par with those striving to fulfill their Ramadan goals, read their Dua lists etc etc. Yeah it’s fine.
Until you come across this:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم ascended the minbar and said: “Ameen, Ameen, Ameen.” It was said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, why did you do that?” He said, “Jibreel said to me, `May Allah rub his nose in the dust, that person who Ramadan comes and his sins are not forgiven,’ and I said, Ameen’. Then he said, `May Allah rub his nose in the dust, that person who lives to see his parents grow old, one or both of them, but he does not enter Paradise,’ and I said, `Ameen’. Then he said, `May Allah rub his nose in the dust, that person in whose presence you are mentioned and he does not send blessings upon you,’ and I said, `Ameen.'” [Tirmidhi and Ahmad]
This hadith made me shudder with all my bones shaken leaving me feeling remorseful till today when I think of those two Ramadans. What a powerful dua has been prayed upon against someone like me, by not only the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم himself but also Angel Jibrael عليه السلام! :'(
I know I haven’t recovered much since then, but Alhamdulillah what’s beautiful about feeling like your iman is low or your heart is dead, is simply the fact that you are still aware of the state of your heart (no matter how depressingly low) and that means there is that burning light inside you that’s ready to flare up InshaAllah. Hang in there!
It’s like sunlight on a cold winter day.
So what to do we do now that Ramadan is here?
1. Have the DESIRE to change
There is no way one can help us change the state of ourselves, unless we sincerely desire to change it ourselves.
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. [Surah Ar-Ra’d]
The good news is, we have already taken the first step by recognizing the illness within us. Even if you still don’t feel like it, but you sliiiightly feel guilty, then that is the first and foremost IMPORTANT step to desiring to change and believe it or not, you’ve accomplished it already Alhamdulillah.
Our next step is easier (Do it NOW before Shaytan intervenes!) – Close your eyes, and yearn with all your heart, to change this feeling, to want a better Ramadan, to not not feel like it anymore. Force yourself to want this and envision yourself feel that slight spark of burning faith inside light up a slightly bigger flame in your heart. And then even bigger. Until you are satisfied you want to change, you want to make the best of this Ramadan and come out of it blessed, not cursed. (Again, Do it NOW, this moment; before you read any further).
2. Start with Istighfar
It may be that just ONE sin of ours might prevent us from getting closer to Allah. Sincerely sit and make Istighfar for as long as you can with a conscious heart, filled with both love and fear of Him, with the longing to be close to Him, and to lose this emptiness of the heart. Ask Allah who is Al-Ghafoor, the One who forgives, taking His names, to forgive. And He will. Do this until you feel your burdens lightened. Envision yourself fueling the burning fire you had just lit within. Fueling it up, until its grown bigger and bigger. Until you feel your heart being washed with Istighfar, like a cloth being cleaned white and pure.
3. KNOW why you want this to change
Ramadan is a month far too precious to waste away due to low iman levels or people or situations that drain you down. Infact, Ramadan is here ESPECIALLY for souls like us, with hearts so lost.
No matter how you entered Ramadan today, imagine coming out of it, different. Envision yourself being forgiven for every sin, imagine having every dream fulfilled due to sincere duas, imagine the state of your heart and mind and life (if it’s something you are going thru that’s gotten you low) change for the better. Imagine destiny being changed with dua!
Realize the importance of this month and what you’ll miss out on if you leave it just like that.
Our dear Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan with faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Bukhari].
Ramadan is a month filled with Mercy and blessings. The reward for any good deed gets multiplied many times over. Imagine collecting a mountain of good deeds just by doing little?
4. Learn of the ease in our religion and fast with ‘love’
Allah didn’t order us to fast all day and night. He infact, ordered us to take the suhoor and Iftar. He has given us the night for resting. He hasn’t ordered married couples to stay away from each other for the entire month. He has infact allowed them to draw near after breaking their fasts. If one is ill, He has provided compensation in fasting! If one has eaten by mistake by fasting, look at the love of Allah in the Hadith that says ‘his fast isn’t invalid. It was indeed Allah who fed him. So to continue fasting’.
SubhanAllah! Such is the love of Allah even in His commandments to us. He grants us so much ease. When we think about it this way, our hearts brim with love for him. And fasting becomes a means of doing it for His sake. And that is the essence of fasting in Ramadan. Anyone can stay away from food or water, but when your heart is filled with love for your creator in worshipping Him, then that’s a different level of Ramadan InshaAllah!
5. ‘Little by little one travels far’
Often times, people are in a hurry to achieve too many things. In the race for everything, suddenly the momentum goes down leading to achieving nothing in the end. For some, it works, for some it doesn’t. Don’t focus on what others are achieving. Just focus on your growth and achievements. Take baby steps rather than not taking any steps at all! Start with 10 minutes of Quran and build it up from there. Allah loves those deeds, even if small, are consistent. So keep your intentions to grow closer to Him and InshaAllah it will make a huge difference.
Knowing the state of our heart and mind (not feeling like doing anything), focus on just ONE goal this Ramadan. Perhaps simply to remember Allah often. And that’s it. Try to apply this in whichever action you carry out throughout the day. For example, simply sitting with your parents with the intention of giving them company. Or helping your mom for Iftar with an intention to please Allah, forgiving someone who wronged you and didn’t apologize.
Basically doing little normal day to day tasks with consciousness in the heart thinking, ‘How shall I make this act beloved to Allah, will suffice to bring a huge change InshaAllah at the end of the month.
Isn’t that what Allah says Ramadan is about? Attaining Taqwa? And when we are focused on gaining His love in all of our deeds, aren’t we slowly building up our taqwa.
This will sometimes even push you to pick up the Qur’an in your free time. Because by nature, your heart will long for it. By fitrah, that is what your heart yearns for even if you don’t recognize it now. (Just Trust me on this and TRY)
6. Make lots of Dua
Dua- One of the biggest miracles Allah has granted us in our lives SubhanAllah. Dua fixes every single thing in our life. If you realize how your life depends on it, you will not survive without dua. Allah has asked us not to turn back the hands of someone who asks (beggar) empty handed in Surah Dhuha. Imagine then, If He has ordered us to do so, then what does it tell us of Him, the Most Honorable? He will never turn you back empty handed. ESPECIALLY because you are asking Him for His closeness to you!!! How can He deny that!
Even if you dont feel like it now, raise up your hands and make Dua THIS instant, for Allah to bless your Ramadan for you, and take your heart closer to Him. Do it now.
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [Surah Baqarah]
And remember, if the spark dies, the beg Allah for strength. Repent, cry from the depths of your heart to Allah asking Him to guide you through and grant you strength to make the best of the days.
I pray we all are blessed to approach Ramadan, and make the best of it in each of our own scenarios, and come out of it purified and successful in this life and the akhirah and that we are not from those the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and Angel Jibrael prayed against. Ameen.
Let’s do this!
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