The Islamic Garden
Questions and Answers –
What Is on Your Mind in Ramadan?
Questions and Answers – August 31, 2009
I’m fasting and everything is going ok but I do tend to worry that I will say or do something that will break my fast. I feel I don’t have real control over that. What should I do?
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for your sending in your question. Great news that you are fasting and managing to keep up with it. Don’t underestimate that as an achievement; fasting is not an easy thing to do. So, well done, and keep up the great effort.
There are some things in life we have absolutely no control over. We do not get to choose our family or the people who come into our lives. We also do not have control over the situations we face. However, we must realize that we do have control over our choices; how we treat people, what we allow ourselves to say and do, and how we react to situations, people and our feelings. If we had no control over such things the Day of Judgment would have no meaning.
If you realize that you do have control over what you say and do and how you react, this should make you feel stronger and more confident. All that is needed now, is that you commit yourself and make a promise to yourself and to Allah that you will do your best to make the right choices.
At the same time, it is very important that you realize that to err is human. Everyone makes mistakes and this is what makes human beings special – the fact that we do make mistakes but then gather our strength and inner resources and pick ourselves up and keep going, keep trying and never give up hope.
So don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just do your best and ask Allah to help and guide you, and at the same time, if you do make a mistake, ask Allah to forgive you; Allah loves to Forgive, so always seek His forgiveness with hope in His mercy.
I pray that you have a wonderful Ramadan. That you make all the time you have count. That you do something everyday to make yourself a happier, wiser, more pious person who loves and is loved.
Question: Ali N.– US
Ramadan is going fine with me. I’ll be traveling soon to visit friends in another country and we will finish Ramadan there and have eid together. I’m looking forward to that. The problem is that I am afraid to make new friends; especially when they live overseas. Because I know I will end up missing them. Am I wrong?
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for your sending in your question. The fact that you have the chance to travel and visit loved ones is a wonderful blessing. Many people throughout the world do not have this chance. You should be very grateful for this.
When we think about the blessings we receive on a daily basis, and especially in the month of Ramadan, we should respond by giving back to others. We should give back to others something of what we have received. One of the greatest blessings we can have is the ability to love and to be loved by others. So, if you find that people love you, then you really must return those feelings; friendship.
Just like anything else in life, love has its positive and negative aspects; however, I think you will agree that the positive aspects are greater. The negative aspects of love can be when our feelings are not returned, or, if we are unable to see our loved one as often as we would like. But, despite these negatives, there is no reason why we would ever want to give up on having this feeling altogether.
If we want to live a full and enriched life, we must learn how to manage our feelings, for, indeed, we can not control them and turn them on and off like a tap. To try to hide and ignore them would make us mentally or physically ill. So, it is important that we acknowledge our feelings and share them. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said (what means) that if we have feelings of love for someone we should express them.
The important thing is not to let your fear dominate and control you. In Islam, we know that with every difficulty there is ease and that the ease or comfort, is found in and around the difficulty. But, in order to find and recognize that blessing, we have to allow ourselves to experience and feel the difficulty; not ignore it.
So when you make new friends and grow to love them you will experience wonderful feelings of joy and harmony, but, at the same time, our feelings of love will also make us worry about them and miss them. Moreover, worrying about them and missing them will also motivate us to reach beyond ourselves and do many things for our loved ones to make them happy, safe, and fulfilled. Nothing in this life is completely negative and nothing is wasted if you react in the correct way.
I pray that you make lots of friends throughout your life and that you become a very giving person who finds happiness in raising others up and making life better.
Question: Jameela – Australia
Salam alikom, before I sometimes used to skip prayers, so in Ramadan I decided to make a new start and not skip anymore prayers. So far I’m doing well. How can I keep praying after Ramadan especially when I’m busy or feeling lazy?
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for your sending in your question. Congratulations on having the intention to fast the month of Ramadan, and even more, to have the intention to make yourself a better person! I pray you will succeed in every way.
Praying, fasting, paying Zakah and such things are like tools we have to help us develop ourselves and grow closer to Allah. There is a good reason behind everything that Allah asks us to do and He created all things with mercy. If you choose to look at prayer or fasting as simply a chore that has to be done, you will undoubtedly feel bored, and de-motivated. But it is so important to remember that Allah wants not only submission from us, but submission accompanied by love; that is true ibadah (worship).
So, if you take a moment to think deeply about your life and the events and people and so on that have shaped who you are, the experiences you have gone through that have affected how you think and feel, the blessings that surround you constantly, the resources you have at hand, the people who love you and so on, you will see how Allah is guiding and sustaining you. Not everything in our life is overtly positive but even when negative things happen, the affect can turn out positive. It is our awareness and consciousness of Allah and our intention to do good in the world that can turn negative situations and outcomes into something positive. Prayer, fasting and so on, is the starting point.
What happens when we pray? We make our intention to devote these few minutes to Allah and when we do that, we are automatically focusing on our own life; the significance and meaning of who we are. We get to see things more clearly and if we are sincere, we will enjoy a wonderful feeling of tranquility that serves to uplift the heart and show us the way in our life. The same applies to fasting and anything else we do to worship Allah.
So, if you want to continue establishing prayer after Ramadan, you have to learn to love Allah. You have to start to comprehend the blessings and bounties He pours upon you and your loved ones every single day. You have to realize that only He can help you when you have a problem and fix difficult situations for you; especially when you feel stuck and think there is no way out. Allah guides us and sustains us. He forgives and grants and your connection with Him, the most merciful, is through prayer and fasting and by generally learning to live your life in a way that you are aware of Him at all times. At that point your life will become like a living prayer and you will feel at peace. You will become wise and you will have a lot of compassion for all living things.
I pray that you learn to see pray and fasting as keys to your closeness to Allah; as means to success, peace and happiness. And that you always have the strength and commitment to make such things an integral part of your life.
Question: F M UAE
Salam alaokom, this is my first Ramadan and I am finding it quite difficult. There are still many more days to go and I am not sure I can finish. Can you plz advice me
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for sending in your question. First, I would like to congratulate you on your first Ramadan! I pray that things will get easier for you.
The first time we try to do anything in life, is difficult. You are living in the UAE so the weather is very hot and this can make fasting hard to cope with.
I think it will help though, if you go back and remember why you are doing this. The reason why we do anything in life should be because we want to draw closer to the Creator. Fasting is a great way to do this because as the feeling of weakness sets in (as the day goes on) we feel more vulnerable, more humble and (hopefully) more sensitive to others. Many people say that fasting makes their hearts softer and more compassionate. Others say that it breaks down the facades we often build up in front of ourselves, and they get to see themselves more clearly. These are all positive things.
In His wisdom, Allah asks us to fast for our own benefit. This benefit is physical, emotional and spiritual. However, if we do not have the intention to do this for the sake of drawing closer to Allah, we will only feel hunger and thirst.
So when the tiredness and weakness sets in and you feel like you want to give up, it is your firm resolve, your commitment and your strength of character that sees you through. That's another great thing about fasting; it shows us how strong we really are.
You said that you are finding it difficult to fast, but you are still fasting! You even sent in this question because you are looking for a way to continue and complete the month. That in itself shows resolve and commitment and determination.
I pray that you complete this month of fasting and then look back on this time and see it as a success. Keep in mind how good you will feel when the month is over and you succeeded. It is not such a long time. Just take it all one day at a time; one moment at a time. And remember, you are not alone, Allah is always near.
Question: Shahd, Egypt
Assalamu `alaikum sister Selma,
I have a problem with my time management in Ramadan. Please let me know how to manage this problem to make the most of Ramadan.
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for sending in your question.
It is very helpful to remember that Allah loves us to do things consistently; even if they are just small things. So, consistency is the key! Often we make huge plans and goals for Ramadan thinking we have to do a mountain of things to make it all worthwhile, but if we are not careful, we might lose the essence of it all.
If you find yourself getting overtired and unable to focus and concentrate, it means you are doing too much. We all have different abilities so it is important that we do not compare ourselves with what other people do.
I suggest that you make a simple schedule and work towards consistency and ease rather than doing a lot of things. For example, if you pray Taraweeh prayers, pray the minimum amount of rakahs, then go home and do something nice with your family. Be content to read the Quran once. Some people aim at finishing the Quran many times. But, the idea is to read with understanding. Make sure you get enough sleep and take a nap in the afternoon. Also, make sure you eat healthy food and keep away from too much oil and sugar etc.
The idea is to do what you are able to do and then it will not be difficult to keep up with your schedule. For example, when you get up for suhoor pray Tahajud (two rakats) then eat, then pray fajr prayer. After that read your juz of Quran then sleep. Later, you do any household chores or work you have to do, then it is time for iftar. Pray Taraweeh, then sleep. Keep things simple and remember your body has rights over you as do your family.
Most of all, remember that getting the most out of Ramadan means getting closer to Allah. So at the end of it all, you should feel calm, tranquil, merciful to others, and whatever you do should enable you to see Allah's blessings and guidance more and more.
May Allah accept our efforts and purify our hearts.
Question: Eman, UK
salaam, i dont know what to say, i hate myself and i curse myself everyday. since i came to this country( UK)my life has changed upside down, i know i have to greatful to Allah but i sometimes doubt weather He lovesme or no. since i was child i was religions,pray my salaah regularly and obey my mum and love my brothers and i never dated, sometimes i ask what wrong i did to be like this. i always do pray and ask Allah to help me but no responce. i knw Allah hears the dua but i feel like i dont deserve his help. sometimes my dua are answerd but it`s totaly different than i thught. but if i dont do dua i sometimes get what i want, wat`s wrong with me? i have no love for life, when i go to college and they ask me abt my date of birth i say inside may Allah curse this day, i kno this is test and it seems i`m failling, even sometimes i think of sucide but i kno it`s haram imay end up in hell forever which i`m scared of, but sometimes i say well u not the only one will enter hell there r many at same time i think of grave and it`s darkness and i stop thinking of sucide cos i`m too scared of grave. pls is this normal if not pls wat shall i do to remove this toughts from my mind and have a life. jzk
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for sending in your question.
I am so sorry that you are going through this. I pray that you will find peace.
Allah tells us that He is as we expect Him to be (Hadith). This is important to keep in mind. We must be positive and expect good from Allah, from life, and from ourselves.
It is our way of thinking that shapes and colors who and what we are. The first step to fixing our state is to change the way we think. We should never doubt that Allah is merciful and that He loves His creation. He promises to answer the duaa of anyone who turns to Him. This, however, may not be the way we imagined but if we turn sincerely to Allah, trusting in Him, a good way will open before us and if we are truly trusting in Him, we will feel peace no matter what happens.
Please! Never curse the day you were born! Indeed, that should be the highlight of your life. Whatever happened after that is shaping you and it is up to you whether or not you make your life work for you or whether you just give up. To make your life work for you, it means you commit yourself to learn from your life's experiences; that you be determined never to become bitter but channel everything through your prayer and spirituality and turn it into wisdom.
Ending your life is not an option! The answer to everything you are looking for may be just around the corner! It may all come together the following day… hang in there and be sure, that things are never as bad as they seem.
You mentioned that when you were young you prayed and did all your obligations and that, as a child, put you in a good pattern and helped you form good habits. Now, however, as an adult, you have to pray and fast and do all the other things because you are motivated by your love for Allah and your trust in Him. Love is the greatest motivated factor; much stronger and more lasting than fear. But it starts with you being determined to take a positive stance in your life. Tell yourself: things are not so great now but they will be better insha Allah. Ask Allah to lift your heart, guide you and help you find your way.
It is also very important, and something we often forget, to have hobbies and interests. Find something that you love to do. Learn a new skill. Meet new people and have an open heart to people.
I pray that you feel stronger, and more determined to be positive and trust in Allah.
This Ramadan I entered it with enthusiastic spirit and great hopes to change myself, but now that first ten days of Ramadan have gone, I feel that I did not well, and I’m really disappointed, can the remaining days offer me a chance to make up for what I lost in the past days.
Answer: Salam alaikum, thanks so much for sending in your question.
One sincere and true moment of Ramadan can contain enough Barakah to last the whole year! It is achieving that moment; that closeness to Allah; those feelings of compassion; that insight. Doing so does not necessarily depend on us 'doing' a lot of things. Some people think we have to do a lot of worship and read the Quran many times and so on, but we should do as much as we find comfortable and easy to do, remembering to keep our minds fresh and focused on remembering Allah and thinking about our life's purpose.
You mentioned that you want to change yourself, and we all want to do that! Don't make the mistake of trying to change everything about yourself. You could choose just one thing and work on that. It could be something like, not getting angry, staying calm when problems arise, being more generous, maintaining a positive outlook and so on. Choose one thing and if you succeed in changing that part of yourself, be sure that you will find a way to change other things. But it doesn't have to happen all at the same time.
Most of all, Ramadan is about drawing closer to Allah and when we do that, we develop more insight, more patience and more inner strength. It is these things that help us when Ramadan ends and life gets back to normal. So read the Quran and ponder on its meanings. Pray extra prayers and thank and praise and ask Allah when in sujood for all the things you need, knowing that He is merciful and always near. Give to others, even a warm smile, and be a positive influence on the people in your life. Don't underestimate the power of just one good deed.
All the best for Ramadan. Take it one day at a time and take extra vitamins!
- Selma’s Ramadan
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