Start Training as a Ramadan Athlete: Ready. SET. Go NOW!

Bismillahir-rahman-nirahim

In the Name of Allah SWT-the Always All Merciful, the Especially Merciful

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

May Allah’s Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you all!

Whether on facebook or email, I’ve been swamped by Ramadan reminders and all the things I must be doing during Ramadan. Alhamdolilah for that because I remember probably 2-3 years ago, there wasn’t much awareness about how one should not over-eat etc. during Ramadan and so many issues which are minute yet integral to our spiritual energy during Ramadan. However, there isn’t much awareness on how one should prepare for Ramadan, long before Ramadan.

In my opinion, we should treat Ramadan like a marathon, and should therefore prepare for it day and night. This way we will not only be used to the extra amount of dedicated worship, we will also do it with Ihsan or excel at it. Now doesn’t that sound exciting? It’s not even far-fetched, we still have a lot of days to get back into action and stop burdening our soul with dunia’s frivolities. Start training as a Ramadan Athelete! How about we start now, shall we?

In a marathon, there will be a lot of people watching you in the beginning and also at the finishing line. In between the two points, you’re on your own…running through the pathways, making sure that you keep running without over-tiring yourself. That’s how Ramadan is like as well. In the beginning and in the last 10 nights, we all notice Masajid being packed with people, so much so that you feel as if you’re going to die of suffocation, that’s how crowded the Masajid are. But have you ever noticed what happens in the middle? Dip of Eeman, probably burn-out or maybe it’s the Iftaar parties that keep people away. I let you pick your excuse.

Several Ramadans have come and gone but not many of us realize that each Ramadan should have been a life-changing experience. It shouldn’t have been just a rise- in-Eeman season and then come post-Ramadan, resume to the dip-in-Eeman season. I’ve often heard many people say that if you lose a few pounds very quickly, you are more bound to gain it back again quickly. That’s the same thing with Eeman. You feel the Eeman rush due to the extra Mercy of Allah SWT during that month and as soon as Eid drops by, we bid goodbye to those lovely high-Eeman days.  The key thing during Ramadan prep is therefore, to keep a steady pace. In other words, maintain such a pace and increase it steadily so that one can remain patient with it and not burn out.

Getting Started

Training or any kind of goal setting begins with sincere strategic planning and lots of research. You can only plan when you know what you want and how you’re going to get the object of your want. Here’s a few basic questions you can ask yourself today:

  • What do I want out of this Ramadan? Why? (this is to check sincerity)
  • What is my current state(point A)? What do I want to ultimately achieve(point B)?
  • How will I get from point A to point B?
  • What are some of the potential barriers/challenges which may come during the journey?
  • How do I combat those challenges?

The reason for asking last two questions is that most likely, a great proportion of the Muslim Ummah sets very ambitious goals for Ramadan. Yet, only a small proportion gets to achieving them. Things which prevent most of us from achieving goals should be gotten rid of. For most of us its laziness. That’s the problem. How do we get to the solution? Maybe we over-eat, or don’t eat Suhoor at all, or probably sleep after Fajr and so on. Target your problem and nip off its roots.

Habit Reformation

Like the biggest problems in the world, bad habits just don’t evaporate overnight. If you’ve got a slippery mouth and inappropriate words slip out of your mouth, then an innocent Ramadan will not instill in you the good habit of staying away from it. You need to stop NOW. Train, NOW. Before the Ramadan!

  • To get rid of a habit, one must admit that it’s a bad habit in the first place. Some of the bad habits which plague the Ummah are: wasting time, laziness, lack of any relationship with the Quraan, TV, facebook, phone/chatting, wasting away of any blessing really: could be food, water or one’s health/youth/time, lying in jokes,lack of patience,using senses for haram(not lowering gaze, this goes both for men and WOMEN). There should be remorse associated with having that bad habit in the past, and one should begin with sincere repentance to Allah SWT with the strong resolve/intention of not returning back to the habit. Salatul Ta’ubah can be done and Nawafil can be offered. Charity can also be given. Also, do as many good deeds (such as improving your Ikhlaq with everyone) with the intention of pleasing Allah SWT only.
    • Now it’s time to set up a reward/punishment system. Identify what halal rewards you can give to yourself for keeping away from the bad habit. Research on ayahs that talk about the reward. Also, if you go back to the habit, don’t punish yourself by hurting yourself emotionally. Don’t worry, Shaytan is there to do that anyway. He’s going to make you despair and what not. Your job is to push yourself to more Ibadah. So, if you go back to your old habit, do Wudhu, offer 2 Nafl. Do Istighfar and restart. We often restart a computer when it has issues with it. What’s wrong with restarting our road to sincere Istighfaar? Afterall, Allah SWT has given you life, which means He has given you chance. Stop witholding the chances He gave to you in the first place. Check your sincerity.
  • To instill a good habit: associate an old habit with a new one. Yes, it’s that easy. I’m assuming that you pray five times a day and I’m sure you know at which time of the day you feel more energized. So if you want to instill the habit of reading Quraan everyday, pair it up with say Fajr prayer. Or pair it up with brushing your teeth, that soon after you’re done brushing, you’ll make Wudhu and read a portion of the Quraan. Say you want to be more patient from today onwards, now how about you research how you’re going to work on it. Use the Sunnah and use the different ways suggested by experts (with caution), know more about the male and female companions of the Prophet (SAW) and educate yourself how they dealt with such situations. Find your role models.Reward/punishment could work here as well.
  • Part of habit reformation is to keep motivated and after duaa’, the availability of good companions is very important. Seek good people. Use technology for your advantage-set up alarms to remind you to check your sincerity. I’m repeating myself intentionally about the sincerity part. Get it on the right track: align it with Allah SWT’s Pleasure.

When you sanitize your ‘Eeman vessel’ from all the problems which have been breeding onto it, now it’s time to pour down your precious goals into it.

Goal Setting : the S.M.A.R.T. Way

1. S’ stands for specific goals

List down how many pages of Quraan you want to get done everyday. Do you plan on doing I’tikaaf? What are your Qiyaam ul-layl goals? Is there a Mr. TV in house which needs to go on a vacation(permanently-haha)? Do your cellphones a favour and plan to switch them off during your special chunks of devoted Ibadaah!

2. ‘M’ stands for measurable because what gets measured, gets done!

Monitor yourself by using a check-list. Keep a diary/log book of your daily Ramadan goals. Get a friend/family member to hold  you accountable. Use sticky notes all over the place to give you the necessary admonition everyday.

3. ‘A’ stands for achievable goals

Make sure that whatever goals that you set for everyday for Ramadan, they are achievable because if they are not, you’ll get demotivated easily. Keep it nice and clean so that you enjoy every day of it.

4.’R’ stands for realistic goals

You know where you stand and you know you want to make whatever changes you make in your life-style–>long-lasting. Don’t overestimate yourself that you even lack the energy to do the Fardh Ibadah. Know your maxima and minima and also know that how quickly your minima takes over when things don’t go your way. Be practical. Those who haste, stumble fast!

5. ‘T’ stands for time specific goals

Now this can be done in a variety of ways. You could probably divide the Ramadan into 2-3 chunks and target say every 10 days on a specific thing, master it and move onto the next goal. Or you could set specific times during the day when you feel that you would most likely be energized to adhere to your goal. In short, make a schedule.

Application

Apply some of the goals now…YES! BEFORE Ramadan. Build a relationship with Quraan NOW! Work on your Khushoo’ today. Give up those habits NOW! Do Taubah NOW!

Getting Prepared for the Dips…

A Muslim is always prepared for a battle against one’s Nafs. Get yourself ready with motivational recitation videos/nasheeds/articles/duas/lectures so that when you don’t feel like doing the super Ibadah, at least you have a way to compensate for it.

Doing it the I-way

‘I’ refers to Ihsaan. Doing everything with excellence. Think of ways how you could beautify your Ibadaat and multiply it. Few suggestions: dhikr(subhanallahi wabihamdi, subhanallahil azeem), give charity whenever you achieve your goal, sajdah, say shahadah, include more people in it to increase hasanaat, teach others about Islam.

Always Remember

—Part of doing good deeds is to safeguard them. Obviously, we all know we should do all acts of worship for His Sake only. But even if we do that, it’s highly possible that our deeds are still in danger to be wasted away. How?

  • Avoid: doing acts of goodness for others’ sake (shirk), giving up good deeds for others(riyaa’), wanting to be heard that you did a certain good deed(sumaa’) and being content with what you do(‘ujb).
  • If you do someone a favour in Ramadan or any month for that matter, and you follow it up by reminders of that favour, hurtful behaviour and taking advantage of their weaker position, them please check your intention, such behaviour just shows that you didn’t do it for the sake of Allah SWT
  • HIDE your good deeds as much as you can. But if you have to encourage the people around you, you could use your examples. Something that I read on a website a few weeks ago (I apologize for lack of referencing):

You must exercise vigilance because your lowly self (Nafs al ammarah) will provoke you to make a verbal mention of your good deeds in front of your friends or acquaintances, or to express in the way of a subtle hint without directly mentioning it. For instance, if you are regularly observing night prayers, your lowly self may prompt you to pass a hint by speaking about the good/bad weather conditions at daybreak or about supplication, thus polluting your act of worship with Riyaa’. Try to resist such tendencies!

—Duaa’ is your weapon. Make dua that Allah SWT gives you the strength to reach Ramadan and use it as a means to get all your sins forgiven. Make a list of duaas right now, tie it each dua with His Names/Attributes and focus on asking Allah SWT everyday. Be consistent and don’t be hasty. Follow up duaas with Istighfaar.

Ramadan Resources

http://www.kalamullah.com/ramadan.html

http://www.halaltube.com/?s=ramadan

Inshaa’Allah that should keep all of us busy during Shabaan.

***

May Allah SWT reward us for our lofty intentions and make us fulfill them with Ihsaan. May He help us change into a true Mohsin who is branded for Jannatul Firdaus and Rafeeqal ‘Ala. May He SWT give us barakah in every blessing that we have been given and will be given and aid us through every problem, as stronger Muslims. May Allah SWT grant us the opportunity to maximize every Ramadan, forgive our major and minor sins, make us die as Shuhaada’,bless our parents/siblings/relatives/friends/rest of Ummah and give us generations which become the true flag-holders of Taqwa.Ameen.

***Remember death often. Be sure to take out of this dunia sufficient provision for the HereAfter. Nothing will go with you, except the time spent for His Sake, being Conscious of Him. The best provision for HereAfter is Taqwa. Adorn yourself with it now and take every blessing (time/health) seriously!***

And Allah SWT Knows Best.

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2 Responses to “Start Training as a Ramadan Athlete: Ready. SET. Go NOW!”

  1. Assalam o Alaikum wrwb!

    جزاک اللہ خیر
    for Such a nice eye-opening and heart tendering article.
    U really made me think about* Ramadan*,
    We do plan our vacations …Summer, or Winter activities ..
    But never Planned our Most Blessed Times /days
    Of Which Allah Subhaho Taalah Himself Promised
    us to Give Reward for ..

    Jazaki Allahu Khairan for Motivating me ..!

    Be Blessed Always ameen
    May Allah Accept your efforts in HIS path ameen !!
    Rabbana Taqabbal Minna Ameen !!

    • Walaykum asalam wrwb,

      Your comment is an honor to have. And I say this from the depth of my heart. BarakAllahu feeki.
      JazakAllahu khayran to YOU for your duas and for motivating me to reach such a level, of course all by the Will, Help and Might of Allah SWT.

      Ameen to your duas.
      May Allah SWT bless you with whatever your heart desires in this dunia and akhira.ameen.

      Love,
      -Umm Sulaim

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