Ramadhan kareem to all of you who begin fasting today, Thursday, or Friday! (there are numerous start dates as per one’s particular school of thought and geographic location). I pray God will make it easy for you and will make this a time of spiritual purification and renewal.
In the spirit of Ramadhan, I’ve decided to list my goals that I’d like to work toward this month.
-Read the entire Quran this month
This seems to be a common practice among Muslims, and is aided by the fact that the Quran is divided up into 30 sections already (by the wisdom of God, subhanAllah). I decided I would put myself to the challenge and see if I could do it too. I’ve decided to use my lunch break to go down to the prayer room (yes, there actually IS one at my university, and it just so happens to be located in my very building, alhamdilulah!) and spend the hour reading Quran, reading some supplications, and then finishing it off with the afternoon prayer before heading back upstairs.
-Give action-based charity
Regretfully I’m completely broke and will be for the majority of the month, so my plans of giving charity have been completely ruined, but I have decided instead to give charity through my actions. I may not be able to give money, but I can give my time, abilities, and manpower. As such, I’ll try to help others whenever the opportunity crosses my path. And of course, I can always smile (as the Prophet (saws) said, “A smile is charity”)!
-Continue to work on having good akhlaq (manners) with everyone around me
Making continued effort to be kind and patient with those around me, be willing to help and go the extra mile even when the other person is not being considerate. I also want to exert extra effort to be very patient with my students in particular, as sometimes they do their best to push buttons and frustrate to no end!
-Challenge myself instead of trying to simply survive
I want to take the added strain of fasting and use it as a way to challenge myself. Having a busy schedule and pushing myself through a strenuous workout every day is nothing compared to what many of the early Muslims endured. Fatimah tu-Zahra (the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, saws), her husband Imam Ali and their children Hasan and Hussein (as) once went three days straight of not breaking their fast, as each night when they sat down to eat the meal, beggars came to the door to ask for food. Instead of turning them away, they gave them their food instead. And they lived in the hot desert with no AC – and then didn’t eat or drink for three full days! So certainly if they could do that, I can surely manage this. I don’t want to simply try to ‘get through’ the month by surviving the minimal requirements, but instead use it as a challenge to work harder and be actively engaged (as opposed to simply being reactive and passive).
-Focus on living more in the present and not solely in the future
The main rationale as to why I’ve begun the series on cultural concepts of time is because of something I’ve recently discovered about myself: that I am incredibly future-driven, to the extent that I fail to often even notice or enjoy the present. Typically, I’m not actively engaged or ‘present’ in the present time; I’m usually thinking about what I need to do next or making plans for what’s ahead, or tailoring my current activity to suit the future. Of course, doing all this is important for success in life, but I do it to the extent that I often completely neglect the present time and rarely feel content or satisfied as a result. SO – my goal is to really focus on the present moment and live each second to the fullest, and enjoy the blessings of what God has given me that surround me at any given moment. I need to really remind myself that I need to fully live what I’ve been given (the present), and not neglect it for the sake of the unknown, uncertain future, which I may never even see!
Well… I could think of more, and I may likely develop more as time goes on, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I think this is quite a lot to focus on as it is!