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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.

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