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Leave the Bad Habits Behind This Ramadan

by in Lifestyle on 1st April, 2022

I remember the first Ramadan I experienced during the pandemic where people around me, including myself, felt disappointed for not being able to go to the mosque and not being able to get-together for iftar. I guess for many of us, not being able to engage in our regular Ramadan activities had added or exacerbated the sense of isolation that we were going through physically because of the restrictions.  

There was an interesting turn of events  for some though and their Ramadan experiences were different as a result of Pandemic lockdowns, with a few mothers mentioning how Ramadan was great for them. For them, it was a Ramadan that the whole family was present together at home as was the case for many other families. They made time to recite Qur’an during the day, had iftar together and prayed taraweeh together. A good number of these families did not pray together and certainly not taraweeh because the fathers tended to go to the masjid and the mothers stayed at home with the younger children. 

I give the above as an example of how our reality can be different to our expectations. That an expected loss could fruit an unexpected gain for us.

Doesn’t fasting involve a loss although temporarily? Fasting in Islam is the abstaining from eating, drinking and intimate relations from dawn (fajr) to sunset (maghrib). For what purpose? For the purpose of gaining Allah’s pleasure and attaining taqwa:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” (Qur’an 2:183)

Staying with the theme of “loss”, let’s turn our attention to having a transformational Ramadan and assessing what the road ahead looks like for us. Firstly, I think thinking about obstacles now and addressing them can really help so asking yourself: 

What are the small pebbles you can lose, get rid off, eliminate from your path? 

The to lose list

These could be a range of things so sit and make a list, it may be words, actions and ways of thinking that you find unhelpful, even acknowledging they exist is a step to change and improve. They could be things that you consider outright ‘bad’ like overeating, gossiping or negative self talk.The ‘to lose list’ could include things that are no longer serving you like being too accommodating or being too firm with those in your life. 

This way of thinking of goals to set is particularly handy if you have been feeling stuck and unable to move forward with your own vision in life. That your dreams have stayed dreams for so long and you seem to be hitting a brick wall in your attempts to transform them into realities. It is normal to experience moments and stages of struggle  we all do go through stages of difficulty . 

Setting achievable goals

Often goals especially for Ramadan can be so unachievable that we begin to feel disheartened in even achieving them. One of the processes of setting achievable and exciting plans in setting our goals is actually being able to see and feel those goals. Setting micro goals and easy goals also can help us in feeling like we are progressing and achieving. 

Journal your thoughts

Sometimes pre-Ramadan we have a lot of thoughts on what Ramadan can look like and to process some of these thoughts starting with a pen and paper can really help us look at the the brick wall and expectations. Perhaps explore your barriers and find out what they are. What are you ready to let go off and want to make this Ramadan an opportunity to do so?   

Do your best to phrase your goals in a ‘do’ format and not in ‘don’t’ format. Keep it simple and relevant. them 

Language matters

Phrasing of your goal: this is particularly important in goals that involve stopping doing something or not wanting to do something. If I say, ‘I don’t want to be late to salah’, my mind will form an image. An image of me rushing wudu and rushing through the prayer to make it just in time’. Personally speaking, that image fills me with guilt and shame. Subconsciously I won’t want to pursue a goal that makes me feel like that. However, if I say, ‘I communicate with my Rabb (Lord) as soon as He calls me for success’. This time, I see myself smiling, I feel a warm fuzzy feeling in my chest as I imagine hearing the mu’thin say “Hurry to success!”. That’s something I would want to work toward. So consider the language you use when constructing plans and goals.

Keep it simple

When it’s really simple, it is easier to accomplish and that builds confidence. We learn helpful practices and habits that will be valuable tools to tackle the more complex and involved goals. So in the example about praying on time, the simplest first step for me could be to set an audible reminder for the time: an alarm or athan app or clock. It could be putting perfume on my prayer dress so I have a positive association with prayer. It could be asking family or friends to help me with task A? It could be eliminating task C altogether? It could be to keep my phone on silent so I am efficient with using my time.  

Keep it relevant

Think about what is important to you  in your  current situation and what goals actually work for you as ultimately you know your situation and what you need this Ramadan- it also allows the goals to be sustainable and achievable. 

I began the steps of setting goals with the theme of giving up a bad habit  and am aware that this could be one of the most challenging themes. It takes self awareness and digging deeper to uncover the real reasons for not letting go of the unhelpful habit or way of thinking. But it’s worth it when you start pulling that wall apart and exploring it, piece by piece. Interestingly, some people realise that the wall was made of cardboard and walk right through it. Others found that while the wall was dizzyingly high it was also short and they walked around it.

Until next time… happy demolishing and May Allah grant us all a successful Ramadan that nourishes us and allows us to gain the pleasure of Allah. Ameen

Hanan Basher

Hanan Basher

Hanan Basher is an educator, coach, speaker and passionate community builder. You can find her on Instagram: @h4n4nb