You CAN do it!!!
Proven Techniques for a Successful Positive Change this Ramadhaan
By The E Islam Team
The Noble Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has said,”Almighty Allah says, ‘I treat my servant according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart…. if he walks towards Me, I run unto him.” (Hadith-Qudsi)
Make this Ramadhaan the month of “Change”..Are You Ready for it???
“Change” is the vogue today. “Change” is being chanted by the Presidents to rally up public support; “Change” is being demanded by the masses suffering due to skyrocketing fuel and commodity prices; “Change”, a drastic one indeed, is what we are witnessing with awe in the global weather patterns.
For Muslims, Ramadhaan is the prime time for change. This month dramatically alters our routines and schedules. From tight sleep schedules, to hunger for extended hours, to reduction in consumption of junk foods, to a technology diet; to withdrawal from caffeine addiction, to lengthy standing in Taraweeh prayers at night, to extensive listening to the Quran. What a change indeed!
Beyond Routines and Rituals
The real change, however, Ramadhaan demands of us is the internal change – a change that positively transforms our lifestyle, character, attitudes, conversations, and habits. Allah has described this change in the month of Ramadhaan as follows: “O you who believe, fasting has been ordained on you as it was decreed upon those before you so that you may adopt Taqwa” (2:183 [Quran 2:183].
Slavery to Ramadhaan?
If our change is limited to outer physical practices only, we become slaves to Ramadhaan, instead of being servants to Ar-Rahman (Allah, the Merciful).
Prophet Muhammad has warned us about those who don’t fast from bad behaviour:
“Allah has no interest in any person’s abstention from eating and drinking, if that person does not give up lying and dishonest actions” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Every Ramadhaan we make resolutions and tell ourselves: “This Ramadhaan will be different. I’m going to change my ______ habit.” “I will give up ………”, “I will take my practice of Islam to the next level”. But how many of us are really able to follow through? Plenty of good intentions, many amazing wishes, but sadly enough, life goes on as usual the morning of Eid.
Ask yourself, how is my fasting benefitting my spiritual connection with Allah? How is my extensive worship in Ramadhaan helping me discipline my tongue (taste and speech), eyes, ears, and habits?
Are you ready to take that first step to transform your bad habits into good ones?
Ways to Kick Bad Habits
Few things are more demanding than eliminating bad habits, since they are part of our daily routines and personality. It takes days of patience and practice to break old habits.
However, the good news is, Ramadhaan offers a perfect and natural environment for moral training. Interestingly, researches from “positive psychology” (scientific study of successful people) have repeatedly shown it takes between 30 to 40 days to kick a bad habit and develop a new one.
In addition to the physical discipline during the month of Ramadhaan, the increased spiritual exercise and connection with Allah, can transform your habits for life.
Try these proven techniques for a successful positive change in your habits during Ramadhaan and beyond!
1. Acknowledge and Identify your bad habits: First step is to admit you need to change. If you are in a state of denial, you won’t recognize that you have a bad habit to change.
2. Pick a habit for this month: Prioritize your bad habits and focus on one for this month. If you are committed to changing at least one habit, you will see remarkable results, Allah-willing.
3. Realize that it’s in us to change: Don’t believe the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” You can break a bad habit if you really want to. No one else can change your habits, if you don’t want to.
4. Remember, Allah loves those who commit mistakes and repent: The Noble Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.” (Hadith -Sahih Muslim)
5. Intention & Plan to change: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A healthy process of change in character requires a gradual pace, which entails planning. Develop concrete milestones to measure your progress.
6. Replace a bad habit with a good one: Completely eliminating a habit is more challenging than replacing it with a more productive habit. Moreover, it’s crucial to replace the lost natural needs, such as the need to socialize and to be entertained with something healthy.
For instance, it’s easier to replace your addiction to TV with a physical workout or reading the Qur’aan or a good Islamic book etc. Interestingly, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the greatest ‘psychologist’ of humanity, illustrated this principle in these words:
“Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people.” (Hadith-At-Tirmidhi).
7. Change your Environment: Resist the negative peer pressure by finding a better company of friends. Collective action to change is very powerful. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained this peer pressure effect with the analogy:
“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Hadith-Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim)
8. Exercise: Spiritual exercise is important for lasting change. You may not realize that by exerting your yourself in spiritual exercises like the reading of Qur’an and Hadith, fasting, giving charity, Zikr(remembering Allah),Spending time in the Path of Allah etc helps in eliminating a number of bad habits. Through the spiritual light of doing noble deeds, evil ones will gradually be eradicated from your life. Allah says : “Indeed, Salah restrains from Shameful and unjust deeds” (Quran:29:45). A person complained to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about someone who read salaah and also committed theft .The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “His salaat will very soon wean him off that sin.’ This shows that the evil habits can be got rid of by adhering to good practises. The doing of good deeds such as remembering Allah cleanses the heart. A clean heart encourages a person to do good deeds and refrains one from evil habits!
Moreover, exercising your will power (struggle to fight temptations) for this month helps you kick all kinds of bad habits and form new good ones. Willpower is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the more you strengthen it.
9. Think of yourself as a changed, different, new person. This simple psychological shift in your thinking about your own image can do wonders. Tell yourself, “I can’t continue this ill-behaviour. I am better than that. I am stronger. I am wiser.”
10. Reward success: The most fundamental law in all of psychology is the “law of effect.” It simply states that actions followed by rewards are strengthened and likely to recur. Unfortunately, studies show that people rarely use this technique when trying to change personal habits.
Setting up formal or informal rewards for success greatly increases your chances of transforming bad habits into good ones, and is far more effective than punishing yourself for bad habits or setbacks. As Muslims we should also remember that the ultimate reward is Allah’s Pleasure and Paradise in the Hereafter.
11. Get help: Tell someone about your effort to change if it helps. He or she may keep you on track and may offer some good advice. Read books that will encourage you to do virtues actions. Join the various (amaal) programs in your local Musjid. Ladies should endeavour to join their local Taalimi Halqas. There are good and sincere people who are ready to assist. We are not an island- We are an Ummah!
12. Boost your spiritual immune system: By fasting,doing good actions,Itikaaf(seclusion), spending time in the Musjid with the pious friends of Allah or going in the Path of Allah will boost your Imaan which will provide you with internal strength to overcome temptations to reverting to old bad habits.
13. Remind yourself of Death and Hereafter often: “Remember often the terminator (or destroyer) of all the pleasures(i.e. death),” the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)once stated. (Hadith-At-Tirmidhi.)
14. Resolve to continue on and follow up: Giving up bad habits or learning good habits requires regular maintenance and determination. It is a long, ongoing process, also known as “Tazkiyyah” in Islamic terminology. It’s more difficult than the first few steps of change. (“How many times have I dieted, for example, only to gain the weight back?”). So ensure that you follow up. Link yourself to a good Allah-fearing Islamic Scholar, make a habit of spending time in the Path of Allah and constantly engage in noble and charitable work.
15. Develop a relapse strategy: How do you ensure not to return to your bad habit you are trying to change? Some people donate money to a good cause every time they return to sinning or a bad habit. This reminds them of the ‘cost’ of going back to old bad habits. Others try physically demanding acts to deter them from reverting to old ways. For example that if you do___ act than you will keep three fast or pay so much sadaqah(charity) etc
16. Ask Allah for Help (Dua): MOST IMPORTANT!-Make Asking for Allah’s Help an integral part of the overall change process. Ask for Allah’s Help before, during and after every attempt at kicking a bad habit. Do so sincerely, even begging and crying, like a child does when he or she really wants something. Allah is Ever-Willing to Help and to Respond to our needs, but it is us who must take the first step towards Him. Allah will NEVER disappoint us! Allah Ta’ala says “ Ask me, and I will answer your call…” (Quran 40:60)
“And whosoever is conscious of Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He (Allah) will make a way for him to get out (from) every (difficulty), and He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine.” (Quran 65:2-3)
So surely you Can do it!!!…Just Trust and Pray to Allah and make that great change this Ramadhaan!
Preparing For Ramadhaan-The ‘Month Of Mercy’
By Sister S Bemath
As the dawn of Ramadhaan approaches, offering us glimpse of its golden rays of purity, every Muslim around the world prepares to experience the warm ambience which only this month can bring. From Suhoor to Iftaar to Taraaweeh Salaah, Ramadhaan brings together brothers, sisters, parents and children. In order to derive the utmost benefit from the sacred month of Ramadhaan, it is crucial to recognize the spiritual significance and importance of this month. Fasting during this month should be only for ALLAH TA’ALA, and that HE will give the reward for it, for the reward of ALLAH, the Bountiful and Munificent, is greater and vaster than anyone could imagine, Subhaan-ALLAH!
A Hadith so beautifully encapsulates:”The reward for every good deed of Adam will be multiplied anywhere between ten and seven hundred times. ALLAH said: ‘Except for fasting, because it is for ME and I MYSELF will give recompense for it. He gives up his food and his passion for ME.’ For the one who fasts, there are two times of rejoicing, one when he breaks the fast, and one when he meets his Lord. Verily the smell that comes from the mouth of one who is fasting is more pleasing to ALLAH than the scent of musk.” (Hadith:Bukhari and Muslim)
Beloved Reader! This is a month which ALLAH TA’ALA has designated for the revitalization of the soul and one’s spiritual ascension after a year full of sin and spiritual retrogression. However, all this will only be possible if we value this precious month and prepare for it accordingly. It is reported that Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to commence His preparation two months prior to Ramadhaan by reciting the following supplication at the beginning of Rajab, “O ALLAH! bless us in Rajab and Sha’baan and make us reach Ramadhaan” .This shows the importance of conditioning oneself mentally and spiritually for the advent of this month. Ramadhaan is a long- awaited celestial guest; accordingly, we ought to prepare the grandest reception in appreciation for all of it’s beautiful blessings and barakah. It is only through such yearning and longing that the significance of Ramadhaan will develop in our hearts serving as a catalyst to increase our good deeds and to fulfil the objectives of Ramadhaan.
Therefore, we should strike a balance, during this all-too-short blessed month, between our domestic duties and the opportunity this month brings, to draw closer to ALLAH through worship and good deeds. Do not let our household chores and other work distract us from performing the obligatory Salaah at the appointed times or from reading the Qur’aan Kareemf or Nafl Salaah. Nor should we let traditional late-night family gatherings keep us from performing Qiyaam al-Layl and making Du’a. There are three main objectives to attain from this blessed month, namely absolution of one’s sins, attainment of piety and enhancing one’s communion with ALLAH TA’ALA. In regards to absolution of sin, Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) mentioned, “Whoever fasts and stands for worship in Ramadhaan out of faith and anticipation of reward, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Ibn Majah)
The main element mentioned in this Hadith is that our effort and striving in worship throughout the month should be with the zest of Imaan and zeal of reward. The recompense of this will be a thorough effacement of sins. The veil of inhibition that impedes a person from his or her Rabb will be removed and the doors to a life of spiritual bliss, ecstasy and harmony will be flung open. Subhaan-ALLAH!
ALLAH TA’ALA states,
“O you who believe, fasting has made compulsory upon you as it made compulsory upon those before you so that you may become ALLAH fearing.” (Quran:2:183)
Alhamdulillah! Fasting is one of the best spiritual exercises to establish piety, patience and a perpetual consciousness of ALLAH TA’ALA and the reward for true patience is Jannah. In this beautiful month four things you should continue to perform in great number, two of which shall be to please your Rabb, while the other two shall be those without which you cannot do. Those which shall be to please your Rabb, are that you should in great quantity bear witness that there is no diety to worship except ALLAH (i.e. recite the Kalimah Tayyibah Laa Ilaaha Illallaah) and make much Istighfaar (beg ALLAH’S forgiveness with Astaghfirullaah).” And as for those without which you cannot do, you should beg of ALLAH, entrance into Paradise and ask refuge in HIM from Jahannam(Hell).” Once a person feels the bliss of being completely pardoned and relieved from the burden of sins coupled with the feelings of ALLAH’S Omnipresence, he or she would have reached a very high pedestal of divine communion. This pedestal is what referred to as the stage of Ihsaan; where a person worships ALLAH as if he or she is seeing HIM or with the full conviction and cognizance that ALLAH is watching him or her.
Beloved Reader! The Mubarak month of Ramadhaan requires special preparation because it requires complete dedication on part of the Mu’min. Below are a few easy ways to Inshaa-ALLAH (ALLAH willing) help prepare our minds and hearts for this upcoming Month of Mercy.
1. INTENTION TO PREPARE:
One of the most essential elements of preparing for the arrival of Ramadhaan is to make the intention for preparation for verily “every action judged by it’s intention”(Hadith-Bukhari). The preparation begins the day you start practicing humility and patience and learn how to control your nafs (desires) and anger.
2. PERFORM REWARDING ACTIONS:
In the spirit of Ramadhaan, it is best to start preparing for the blessed month by performing actions that are rewarding and appreciated by our beautiful ALLAH. According to a Hadith, “If a person says, “SubhaanALLAH”(Glory be to ALLAH) 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away.”
3. INCREASE THE WORSHIP:
To start preparing for the blessed month of Ramadhaan, it is best if you start increasing your worship. This will allow you to adjust your routine for the arrival of Ramadhaan. Increase all forms of Ibadah(worship) such Fasting,recitation of Qur’an, Zikr, Sadaqah(Charity) , Nafl (voluntary) Salaah etc
4. DETERMINE SPECIFIC DAYS FOR FASTING:
To adjust your body to fasting, it is best that you start fasting beforehand. You should define specific days for fasting. For example, if you fast every Monday and Thursday, you will be more fully prepared for Ramadhaan making the adjustment much easier.
5. READ THE MUBARAK QUR’AAN REGULARLY:
For individuals who have not prepared for reading and reciting Qur’aan during Ramadhaan, Qur’aan Kareem recitation while fasting becomes difficult. It is best if you start reading the Mubarak Qur’aan after Fajr salaah on a daily basis just to prepare for the Ramadhaan spirit.
6. ADJUST SLEEPING HABITS:
Ramadhaan teaches us to adjust the way we lead our life. Therefore, before the arrival of Ramadhaan, it is ideal if you start adjusting your sleeping habits. You should start off by going to bed early and rising early. If you are used to this routine, you will not feel sleepy and tired when Ramadhaan arrives.
7. DEFINE OBJECTIVES:
Ramadhaan is the ideal month to embark on your journey to fresh objectives. If you are a smoker and want to quit this habit, you should start off with this month. If you want to be an early riser, still Ramadhaan is the perfect month for you.
In essence, Ramadhaan is the most blessed and rewarding month. Therefore, all Muslims should try their best prepare for this auspicious month of Ramadhaan. Regular recitation of Qur’aan, voluntary charity and recitation and offering prayers will help you prepare for the Ramadhaan spirit. Inshaa-ALLAH!
O Beloved Reader! Let us embellish our Akhlaaq(character) in this beautiful and blessed month with gifts presented by the Prophet of guidance (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Let us make this Ramadhaan a means of gaining nearness to Allah Ta’ala and preparing for the eternal journey that each and every one of us must traverse.
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