>> Wednesday, August 18, 2010
You see, I have a little problem. With Ramadan here I feel the need to strive to increase my Imaan. But, even with all the good deeds I do I still feel that I'm coming up a bit...short. I do fast, pray (including Taraweeh and Inshallah Tahajjud), and read Quran...well some days but I do listen to some everyday, I make dhikr, and I try my best to please my Lord. And yet I continually feel that what I'm doing isn't good enough, and I know its not Shaytan putting thoughts in my head since he's gone for the month. So right now I'm wondering what could I do to get out of this little slump.
A Little Confused Girl
Wa’alykum as salam wa rahmat Allah wa barkatoo, Dearest A Little Confused Girl,
I know what you mean! This Ramadan has been going really extremely fast for me and I feel nowhere near the ‘level’ I wanted to ‘get’ at yet. But, I want to congratulate you! That you refuse to accept the level that you are now and that you want to make the best of Ramadan and that you went so far as to send in this question….I think inshaAllah you might just have your best Ramadan yet!
First though, a little explanation as to why you might be feeling this way…You know what I think it is? I think it’s because most of us count on Ramadan to get our yearly imaan boost. We think of Ramadan as our recharager that’s going to get us through the year….
But we really should see it in the opposite way. We should see ‘the rest of the year’ as our charger that will help us in Ramadan, when it’s time to unplug everything.
Why? Because our hearts are lot like our stomachs. They feed on whatever WE give them- whether it’s good for them or not.
Well, that many of us have been feeding them a lot of junk food throughout the year and very little ‘good stuff’. I’m not sure if it’s the case with you or not, but because many of us don’t give ourselves daily doses of Qur’an, dhikr, etc throughout the year, when Ramadan comes, our hearts are like- woaaaaah. They’re not ready for this sudden change/diet.
It’s like what this one da’ee (Mustafa Hosny) once said: “Our hearts don’t come with a khushoo switch on. We can’t be like –ok, now’s time for khushoo.” It unfortunately doesn’t really work that way .....even in Ramadan.
So is that all I have to say? We should have done this stuff during the year?
Nah, of course not!
There’s still a lot you can do and still a huge chance that this Ramadan will be the Ramadan to set you free from the Hellfire…because all you need is one of your tears to shed…one glance from Allah…one minute where your heart truly yearns to win His pleasure and be saved from His fire….
You’ve still got time, so let’s do this!
1. Talk to Allah!
Dua is so important! (You didn’t mention it in your list, so I’m not sure if you’ve been doing that or not. Remember, the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam called “Dua worship”.)
There are a lot of things you can make dua for- one thing you can do is ask Allah to forgive you for the sins you have committed. Seriously sit down for a little bit and think about all that you have done- not just this month/this year…I mean years back.
If you can’t remember your sins, reflect on this verse:
On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all and inform them of what they did. Allah had enumerated it, while they forgot it; and Allah is, over all things, Witness. (58:6)
Although this verse was revealed within the context of the disbeliever’s fate, it’s still a good idea to reflect on the fact that Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala was with you your whole life- and He knows everything you did and everything your heart ever ‘thought’ about!
Here are some other ideas, too.
• Ask Him to let you witness Laytul Qadr! Remember, it’s not promised to you! You don’t want to miss that night, so ask Him that you live to see that night and that you utilize it in the best way possible
• Be Honest with Him. Maybe you miss feeling close to Him or miss even ‘missing’ Him- tell Him that. Ask Him to bring you closer to Him.
• What if you were to die not a Muslim? You don’t want that, right? Whatever you don’t want, ask Allah to protect you from.
And when you come to ask for jannah, be sincere! I want you to visualize it. I mean really and truly- sit down and think about all the greatest things ever .What is it that you want? Do you want a castle? Is there any Companion that you want to meet? What about the Prophet’s Wives? What about sitting with the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam, himself?
Now, don’t just dream about it. Ask Allah for it!
The next thing you gotta do is--
2. Listen to Allah
You said that read the Qur’an some days and listen every day. Girlie, you got to read it every day [that you can]! Listening is great but when you listen, your mind can easily get distracted. When you’re reading, you might pay more attention (but this however, does depend on your personality)…
In either case, whether you choose to listen or read, I want you to approach the Qur’an not just as a ‘book’ to read, but as a timeless guide meant to help YOU personally in your life. One way to do this is to work with the A&A method…Its’ basically ASK& ANSWER.
What you do is *you guessed it*- ‘ask’ yourself questions:
General examples: What is this verse referring to? What is this story? How can I relate that to my daily life? What can I learn from this chapter? Do I have those characteristics? Wait, this verse says ‘Allah loves’- who are the ones that Allah loves? Let me do a search on that and list them…
- Who are the people of Al’Araf? Is it possible you’re heading in that direction?
- How come this verse tells the Believers to believe: O you who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray. (Surat Al Nisa: 136)
But we’re still not done, yet! The ASK and ANSWER method also implies that you take a look at the Qur’an as the book of answers. It’s got everything you need to know. So each verse you read could also be taken as an answer to something…..it’s your job to figure out what could this answer. You need to figure out the question!
Say, "Not equal are the evil and the good, although the abundance of evil might impress you." So fear Allah, O you of understanding, that you may be successful. (5:100)
How would this answer something in your personal life? Do you go to school? Is there a ‘cool group’? Are they doing bad things? Are you being impressed by things that don’t impress Allah? Is there a group of good girls that you really don’t talk to cause they’re like ‘boring/uncool’? What do you think this verse is answering you about that?
You see what I mean?
I know it can be hard in the beginning! That’s why I’m also going to list a few other things you should check out:
Videos by Nouman Khan:
Videos by Wisam Sharieff
Ramadan Tafsir Series
Taraweeh Truffles by Mohammed Al Shareef (oh and be sure to check out his Heartwheel Journal)
3. Some Pointers on Dhikr
When you are saying ‘IstagfirAllah” or asking Allah for His forgiveness, think about how Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala has made forgiveness so easy. Did you ever notice how in surat Al Baqarah, Prophet Moosa told his people that the way for them to do repentance was to actually kill themselves? Now, this was because they had seriously transgressed- worshipping a calf, after Allah had literally saved them and had given them soOoooOoooOoo many signs- but think about how all we have to do is ask Allah for His forgiveness.
Also, think about how Allah promised those who do istighfar, not only forgiveness, but things in this life that we all want:
He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers (11) And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers. (12) (Surat Al Nuh)
In fact, we should all say ‘alhamdillah’ that Allah has given us the option to do ‘istaghfar’.
What about when you are saying “La Ilaha Illah Allah”- think about how you really want that to be the very last thing you say in your life.
When you’re saying “SubhanAllah wa bihamdehee, SubhanAllah Adheem”, think about how you are actually saying something that Allah LOVES. You are trying to please Him with what He loves……what do you think He’s going to give you in return?!
The best thing I can tell you is to again, understand what the Imam is reciting. Be sure to have read the translation of the juza earlier (if you can/don’t speak Arabic that well).
For example, let’s say the Imam is reciting a Surah that deals with the story of Moosa alyhee as salam and Pharaoh. Well, unlike Pharaoh who refused to bow down, you’re going to bow down.
You’re going to put your head all the way on the ground- in complete submission to your Creator.
I also would highly recommend this short e-book which will completely transform the way you ‘approach’ prayer, insahAllah. It’s called: Taste It!
Another thing- you said ‘tahajud’ inshaAllah. Why wait until the last 10 days to do tahaujd? Who said you’re going to live that long, right? You know, I actually had a neighbor pass away on the stairs around the 3rd day of Ramadan. He literally died. Can you believe that? (He wasn’t Musilm, by the way), but that’s the thing. We expect that we’re going to live till the last 10 days…and it’s this ‘expectation’ that prevents us from fulfilling our potential. Decide to wake up tonight! It could be even only half an hour before suhoor time. It will be just you and Allah- a meeting unlike any other, inshaAllah. And this time, when you say “Allahu Akbar”, or God is Greater, you’re going to really mean it, inshaAllah. He’s greater than your sleep- greater than anything!
5. Go out and Do Something For Others
- Give charity and sadaqah
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or cook some meals yourself and pass them out! (Preferably to the homeless but if you don’t know where they are…)
- Clean up the masjid, yourself, so that when people come to pray taraweeh, it’s nice and clean. Maybe put some small water bottles there (cause if taraweeh is for a long time, people can get thirsty).
6. Listen to Islamic videos/lectures/etc.
These are supposed to be good
7. Avoid as much as possible any sins!
Well, sis, these are some small suggestions. I hope they help you a bit. I do want to clarify one tiny misconception, though which is that the small little devils are still here, even during Ramadan (I’m having a bad google day and can’t find the proof, but inshaAllah another sister will come along, hehe). But, you can do this! Allah subhanoo Wa Tala has given you this chance to earn jannah...
Hoping the rest of Ramadan is fantastic for you,
P.S. Don’t forget to make dua for the Ummah!