Ramadan is almost here and preparations have begun in most Muslim households. Grocery store carts can be seen filled to the brim with dates, fruits, nuts and bottles of rooh afza – red sugar syrup with rose essence, usually mixed in with water or milk to make a refreshing drink – often an exclusively Ramadan-drink.
Now the hope is that along with all these preparations made for the physical aspects of Ramadan, Muslims are also making preparations for the spiritual aspects of this holy month. Because the truth of the matter is that if Ramadan was just about not eating during the day Muslims wouldn’t look forward to it the way they do every year. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s quite depressing when the holy month is over.
So what exactly is it about Ramadan that is missed? Well for one, this is usually the month when Muslims are the best “them” of the year. There is more effort in keeping up with prayers, reading Qur’an regularly, and keeping away from all that is questionable or even in the realm of temptation – like avoiding wasting time in front of the television. Basically, this is THE month for setting and achieving goals for Muslims. It is the month of improvement.
Everyone seems to talk about the same goals every year – the quintessential keep up with prayers, read Qur’an, and go to Taraweeh – as mentioned above. These are amazing goals, but also distinctly individual goals. No one needs advice on what these goals are or how to maintain them; these goals are achieved on a highly personal level. The goals we’re talking about are the ones that require actions in the public forum.
So here we are, with a list to jog the enthusiasm!
- Let’s try not to gain weight this year. Who doesn’t like to gorge themselves after a day of not eating? Especially this Ramadan with nearly 15 hours of fasting. But we can try to make better decisions come iftar time: maybe eat more of the fresh fruit and vegetable salads and less of the fried dishes. Take a walk after Maghrib to help with digestion. Tiny steps, but healthier steps to maintain a balance during these 30 days.
- Up the modesty. Skinny jeans and fitted t’s are the norm nowadays, but that doesn’t mean it has to apply to everyone. Jeans still come in non-skinny fashion, and fitted t’s could look great accessorized with a cardigan.
- Meet people. When was the last time anyone had a solid conversation with another human being without touching their phones? Take the time to visit family and friends, and have a conversation while maintaining eye contact.
- Sleep. This one is a toughy. After Taraweeh there’s maybe 4 hours of sleep before it’s time to get up for suhoor. Take naps in the day, and give yourself the time to rest. It’s not easy, but it’s important not to ignore the needs of our body.
- This one is the goal to make a goal – a goal for a change that you want to implement as a permanent habit or aspect in your life, and start practicing it during Ramadan. That could mean anything from wearing a hijab or growing a beard, to avoiding explicit music or making it a point to say Alhamdulillah every day. Start in Ramadan, continue for forever (which is applicable to the goals listed before this one as well).
Use these goals and/or form your own (and share them with us!) Ramadan is the month to do it all. And this is just day 1. How exciting!
The 30 Days of Ramadan series is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-TX Communications Intern. Enjoy more of her writing on her personal blog, Religion in the Melting Pot.