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Ramadan Challenge: The Dip!

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Contrary to popular belief this article is not about a new Ramadan chip-dip recipe. What I’m about to uncover is the basis of success for the entire Muslim Ummah!

Iman (faith) is not stagnant. Faith increases and decreases during certain times, conditions and as a result of certain actions. As Allah says in the Quran:

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely” (Surah Al-Anfaal 2)

This verse tells us that for a believer, his iman (faith) increases when Quran is recited to him. Although it’s very hard to judge the level of iman as a whole of the Muslim ummah but a good indicator is the number of Muslims showing up at taraweeh prayer. When Ramadan starts, you would see 5-7 rows filled in the Masjid and as soon as we cross the 5th of Ramadan, this number begins to dwindle to 2 or 3. This remains the case for most of Ramadan until we reach the 27th of Ramadan. The time when suddenly all these people start sprouting up from nowhere and you’re like: ‘Man! I never knew we had so many people in the neighbourhood!’ That is the night in which we reach 50 rows in the masjid for taraweeh prayer. As for the rest of the year, the masjid is only occupied for Jumu’ah (Friday prayer) and Eid. As a visual representation of this phenomenon check out the iman graph below:

graph 1

As an analogy, it’s like a marathon. There are many people at the beginning and end of it, but they are only the spectators. During the middle of the marathon, you see only a few people who are, in fact, the participants. Have we also become silent spectators and resigned ourselves to mediocrity rather than excellence in execution?

Allah says in the Quran: “and Allah loves those who do good with perfection.” (Surah Al-Maa’idah 93)

Just imagine! Allah loves those who do the most perfect and beautiful actions! We need to strive to bring actions to level of ihsaan (excellence) in our lives and not settle for less. We should bring forth actions of superior quality to Allah in both this life and the hereafter.

Ramadan is a boot camp for Muslims to prepare them for the challenges of the entire year. But when the boot camp fails to achieve the intended level of ihsaan then our entire year turns out to be bad. Therefore, we need to take a proactive approach to ensure that are faith is maintained throughout Ramadan so that we can survive the harsh winter that is to come. Ideally we should always have high iman throughout the year. Taking baby steps, we can aim for this milestone and then iterate to reach greater levels of iman in the Ummah.

graph 2

In this way you will have an overall high level of iman throughout Ramadan. Then through the year the iman will increase and will be further renewed in Ramadan once more.

So, this is all theory. What practical steps can we take to ensure to remove the Ramadan dip from our lives?

1. Iftaar Party Management

With the coming of Ramadan, there is a massive influx of Ramadan iftaar deals. Say no to all of them and safeguard your iman. ‘But what if I am invited by a friend to an iftaar party by a friend?’ Politely refuse and invite him/her to your place for Eid.

There is a catch though….How would you handle when your family invites you to an iftaar party? You could always politely refuse and they’ll sooner or later get to know that you don’t come. It would become your thing. Or you could play on the front foot and invite them to an iftaar at the masjid. This way no one can run away from Maghreb or taraweeh prayer.

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2. Portion Management

The worst thing that people do during iftaar is that they think they are a camel. A camel can store water in its body. So the person during iftaar fills himself with so much food and water that there isn’t even room left for him to breathe. Then what does such a person expect he will do after eating and drinking so much? Taraweeh prayer? More like bed, if not hospital! What do you think would happen to the Imam of the masjid if he ate so much during iftaar? He would literally throw up and die during taraweeh! So have small portions of food in a tea saucer. You can have more, but limit each helping that you take.

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3. Sleep Management

1/3rd of our entire life is spent sleeping! If we can manage this, indeed we can become successful individuals. As soon as you come back from taraweeh, go to sleep. Do not Facebook! Do not stay up late on your phone! Use the  time after Fajr for work and then once you come back from office or school/college/university, go to sleep for 1-2 hours so that you remain fresh for taraweeh!

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4. Soul Management

“Indeed, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace”. We may deprive our body of nourishment but we would truly die if we mal-nourish our souls by not even attempting to read or understand the speech of Allah, the Quran. This Ramadan is special because it is the month in which Quran was revealed. So the biggest association we should have with Ramadan is Quran rather than fasting and most definitely not feasting. This Ramadan make an active effort to renew your connection with the Quran by going through the tafseer (explanation) of the Quran and pondering over its meaning.

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5. Energy Management

Normally there is a great deal of effort placed on managing your time, but what good is time, when all the time you feel drained and exhausted? That’s where energy management comes to play. The higher the levels of stress, frustration and anger you feel will directly impact your energy levels leading to diminishing productivity. Therefore, whenever faced with a situation triggering your pressure points, always remain calm and say “Ana Saaim” (I am fasting). The dude might be shouting at your face but when you say this with a smile on your face, so what can he do possibly? Furthermore, when sad or stressed, remember the rewards that Allah has placed for the believers in Jannah and let a smile beautify your face. Choose to forgive and forget rather than fret.

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Have I missed out on anything? Make sure you comment and share any ideas that you might have on eliminating the “Ramadan Dip” from the lives of Muslims.

Ramadan Dip

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

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There was this guy in a wheel chair who wanted to make a statement that even people in wheel chairs are capable. So he decided to enter into a marathon. He noticed something very interesting about the race that he was running. He noticed that there were many people at the beginning of the race and many people at the end of the race but all throughout the middle he was by himself. The only people present in the middle of the race are the participants. It has been my personal observation that the same wheel chair marathon happens in Ramadan. As soon as the moon is sighted people get all excited about Ramadan and flock to the Masjid and at the end particularly the 27th people come flocking back to the Masjid but somewhere in the middle of Ramadan people drop off. The ratio that I have devised for this is 5:2:4 ratio. Meaning there will be 5 rows in the Masjid at the beginning of Ramadan, 2 in the middle and 4 at the end. This phenomenon is the Ramadan Dip.

Now Ramadan is a training camp in which people can boost their Imaan at record levels and survive the rest of the coming year. It is essential that we find a way to overcome this Ramadan dip.

On the night before Ramadan I went to get a haircut. As my hair was being trimmed I thought wait this is a Dawah opportunity. So I started a conversation:

“What’s your name bhai?”

“Afaaq”

“Afaaq?”

“Yes,  Afaaq.”

“Afaaq bhai.  So…..what do you plan to do for this Ramadan?”

In a totally casual manner he answered

“Well…..keep fasts, pray 5 time Salaat in the Masjid but I will miss the Taraweeh prayer because of the job but no biggie. That’s all”

SubhanaAllah. He has something planned but then again we should be doing all these even if it weren’t Ramadan. What about Quran? Any plans for Quran? No! What about feeding people or sitting for Aitekaaf? No.

You know when your exams are near, some students quit their time wasters like watching series, net surfing, etc and really open the books and study. Then when they are done with the exams  tranquility and sweetness descends upon them and they truly feel freedom from all the hard work .Then again they are some to whom it doesn’t matter exams or no exams they are going to do whatever they want and so they don’t truly feel the sweetness of being free after exams. Such is the case with Ramadan those who work hard and take maximum benefit from Ramadan will truly enjoy Eid while those who were sleeping in Ramdan they will be sleeping on Eid too.

Have big intentions. Make a connection with Quran, ponder over its meaning, and memorize some Surahs. Go and feed people. I don’t mean have Iftaar parties. I mean take some good food to the Masjid and hand it out to people. Remember Ramadan is a month of feeding not eating. Don’t be fooled by all what you see on billboards; FAST and FEAST (McDonald’s Ramadan theme).

The only purpose of fasting is that you may adopt Taqwah. “What is Taqwah?” you may ask. Well…..look at it this way. Imagine there is a mouse and it comes out of its hole but as soon as it hears something in the distance it immediately scurries back into its hole. Then once again it comes out looking for food and again it runs back into the hole on hearing the slightest sound.  See? The Mouse is afraid and very cautious. Similarly the word Taqwah comes from the root letters Waqiya which means to take a shield and so Taqwah means to protect yourself from the punishment of Allah by following His commands and refraining from all those actions that bring about his wrath and displeasure. Some people do a lot of good in Ramadan but they don’t stop doing evil. Wallaahi this is not Taqwah. Both, committing of good and restraining yourself from evil is Taqwah.

I remember my most memorable Ramadan was not the one in which I went to the finest dining places for Iftaar or slept throughout the day but rather the one in which I read the Quran everyday understood it and when the Imaam recited the Quran in Taraweeh prayer it felt as if the Ayaat of Allah were being revealed on my heart.

How are you going to make this Ramadan memorable? So that at the end when it’s Eid you are like

“LOOK AT ME NOW! I MADE IT! I HAVE TAQWAH! ALLAH HU AKBAR”

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Arabic Vocabulary used:

Imaan: Faith

Wallaahi: By Allah (I swear by God)

Eid: Muslim festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan

Iftaar: Breaking of fast (includes variety of traditional meals)

Taraweeh: Optional prayer that Muslims offer at night in congregation

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