□ Buy dress
□ Make salon appointment
□ Watch make-up videos
□ Map the route
We plan so much in advance when there’s an event marked on our calendar. One of those ‘cannot miss!’ events. We think ahead to all the scenarios possible, take all the possible precautions, make a list and check it twice – so that we’re ready. We’re ready for this big event that lasts a few hours and has little to no impact on our lives later on.
How much do we plan for Ramadan?
That’s a pretty big ‘cannot miss!’ too. In fact, we go through it whether we’ve planned it or not, that whole month of amazing sale time – where we get so much more value for our effort. (Did you know that people map their route when they go on a shopping spree? Organised shoppers anyway. The kind who wants to hit all the stores so that they don’t miss anything).
Maybe we’ve gotten so used to Ramadan every year that its importance has dwindled in our eyes. Maybe we’re so caught up in our normal lives that it’s become too difficult to put in extra effort to stay away from things, or to plan out a whole month without the usual things we do.
My mother used to have a ‘no TV’ rule when we were small. Actually it still exists. But when you’re small and this month means nothing to you except hunger, that’s not the most fun thing to add. Now that we understand and value Ramadan a bit more, it’s become more of a self-imposed rule rather than our mother’s. We used to do everything we knew we wouldn’t be able to do in Ramadan right up until the day before – movies, TV, hanging out. And then we would expect to have an amazing Ramadan because we had given up all our precious vices for those days. Of course that didn’t pan out. This is something I’ve learnt only a lot more recently: when your heart is into something and it’s all you’re used to, how can you expect to automatically love the complete opposite, just because you remove it from your life?
In that there is a great lesson to apply to ourselves and others:
We need to prepare for this month of mercy. Our heart needs to be filled with the love of Allah (swt), of the Qur’an, of our religion. Just giving up a TV show for a month does not mean that you’ll stop thinking about it. We find Ramadan so hard because it’s so out of our normal routine, and we think that being a Ramadan Muslim is enough, and the moment Eid comes, we’re back to square one. Rather, Ramadan should be our training for the rest of the year and the rest of the year should be our preparation for Ramadan. This is not to say that it is hypocritical to be doing extra good deeds in Ramadan that we don’t do every day – because this thought has crossed my mind. It’s just that we take more advantage of the month and try to rack up as many points as possible, the same way we buy SO many more things during a sale, or try to hit all those boosters in a game.
The same way our heart needs to be prepared to absorb this amazing month, so do others need it. It is not enough to enforce rules and expect them to go with it. Just because you understand the importance of it, does not mean that they will. Getting them to understand and do extra deeds from the heart will mean SO much more than them grumbling about a situation, even if it is very little compared to what you would have liked.
I say this from experience and a struggle I’m still going through, but it requires a LOT of patience. One thing I learnt was that I should have started earlier, given it more time and effort, and reminded myself constantly that it goes drop by drop. We are very hasty in wanting to see the outcome, but all Allah wants to see is progress, and if that’s happening in the heart – which is the best place to have any sort of progress! – we just need to trust that Allah sees our efforts and our reward is with Him. And remember:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
…Indeed, Allah is with the patient. (2:153)
So what is your Ramadan plan?