Ramadan is a training ground for life… A vehicle for transformation
With the advent of Ramadan, I’m reflecting on years past and how with each Ramadan, Alhamdulillah I have seen tangible growth and development in various areas of life.
In this article, I want to challenge you to look at the coming month as more than a “period” of time in which your life will slow down and you turn your focus to Ibaadah for a concentrated period. Think of it instead, as a training ground for the rest of the year.
Allah SubhanahuwaTa’ala explains clearly the purpose of fasting:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (those who have taqwa, the pious).
So, we see that the end goal of fasting is to BECOME something – to become pious.
And this requires WORK.
Any form of self-development requires that we assess our current situation, plan steps to get to the next level, and actually DO the work to get us there, bi’ithnillah. And Ramadan is the perfect training ground for this.
Our experiences in Ramadan should allow us to elevate ourselves – if only a little, each time the blessed month is over. Over years, maintaining this progress can truly have a profound impact on your life. Looking at it from this perspective, Ramadan is truly a training ground for life…a vehicle for transformation.
Using Ramadan as a Training Ground
So, let’s look at the “work” that we do in Ramadan…the areas in which we discipline ourselves; the impact of which will hopefully continue long after Ramadan.
In our quest to “…become Al-Muttaqun“, some of our areas of focus include:
–> Increased worship and focus on the Quran: It is easy to become distracted with the dunya, with people in our lives, with our daily responsibilities, or with our lofty goals. However, in Ramadan, we are reminded of what is TRULY important in life; as Allah Ta’ala says:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). (51:56)
Working to change our lives so that we truly live this purpose, increase in our glorifying of Allah and being grateful for His many blessings – this is the desired outcome of Ramadan; as Allah SubhanahuwaTa’ala says:
“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. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (2:185)
Also, in remembering and glorifying Allah, we should increase our attachment to His book, even if we struggle in reading it. In His mercy, Allah rewards us, no matter what level we are.
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibnMas’ood (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) said: “Whoever reads a letter of the Book of Allah will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a tenfold reward. I do not say that Alif-Laam-Meem is a letter, rather alif is a letter, laam is a letter and meem is a letter.”
–> Abstaining from food and drink, allows us to better appreciate the riqz that we enjoy all year, to feel empathy for the less fortunate, and also to learn to control our appetites, which can sometimes rule us in unhealthy ways. Maintaining moderation in eating after Ramadan can lead to the reversal of disease and to finally maintaining a healthy weight.
Many ailments (physical and emotional) stem from unhealthy food consumption, and Ramadan helps us to better condition ourselves to have moderation when eating; as we are guided in the below hadith:
Narrated by Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib, who said:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam)saying:
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”
– Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, IbnMajah
–> Fasting in Ramadan also conditions us to reign in our desires and lower our gaze, so as not to break our fasts by seeing that which is not permissible for us, or what will lead us to unlawful acts.
Also, outside of Ramadan, Muslims are commanded to guard their gaze and chastity – and if they fear crossing the bounds, to then fast as a deterrent. This is better, until Allah provides us with a halaal mate. Therefore, the discipline one gains in Ramadan can safeguard us from following our nafs into trouble the rest of the year as well.
Many people underestimate the great harm of looking at things that are impermissible or vile, and how it can slowly kill the heart. If we abstain from free mixing and explicit movies in Ramadan, and allow that to carry through the rest of the year, we will keep our gaze and heart pure for the sake of Allah – and our own soul.
Allah SubhanahuwaTa’ala says:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that is more purifying for them. Surely Allah is aware of what they do. (24:30)”
Narrated by Sahl bin Sad:
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) said, “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue); I guarantee him Paradise.”
– Sahih Al-Bukhari
–> Engaging in vain and idle speech is one of the easiest things to slip into –especially for women, but the consequences can be extremely detrimental. Time is wasted, rumors are spread, character is besmirched – all of which weighs heavy in the scale of bad deeds.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) said:
What mostly causes people to be sent to the Fire are the two openings: the mouth and the private parts.
-At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad
Abu Huraira also related that the Messenger of Allah (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam) said:
The servant speaks words, the consequences of which he does not realize, and for which he is sent down into the depths of the Fire further than the distance between the east and the west.
–> Increasing in good deeds and sadaqah are also foundational aspects of Ramadan, and acts which we should engage in year-round. We may sometimes feel as if we can’t afford to help others, because we ourselves are struggling – but know that there is always someone worse off than you, who is in need of assistance.
In addition, anything that we give for the sake of Allah will be returned manifold and is a means of cleansing our soul and wealth; as seen in the following ahadith.
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam), said: “Charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWassallam) said: “The best charity is that given in Ramadan.”
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam), said: “Allah The Almighty Says, ‘O son of Adam, spend and I will spend on you.”
And to underpin all of the above, we have the powerful admonition below. May Allah make us of those who seek to purify ourselves for His sake, in Ramadan – and for life, seeking Jannatul Firdows, ameen.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (SallallahuAlaihiWasallam)said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” –
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