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Ramadan Resolutions | Sunday Open Thread 8/22/2010

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Ramadan Resolutions which lead to Psychological Healing!

The buzz word every January is New Year’s Resolutions. People aspire to be thinner, happier, more organized and less cranky. Well, I think it’s about time to set Ramadan Resolutions. This is the month Muslims strive to improve and with so much innate gusto and energy we simply need to direct all our enthusiasm towards these resolutions which will lead to massive psychological healing and spiritual enlightenment.

Ramadan Resolution #1 : REPENT

Whenever we do anything wrong whether we transgress against someone, break a commitment with Allah or simply deprive ourselves of the spiritual nourishment we so desperately need, we start to get that uncomfortable feeling of guilt. Now guilt can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on where it leads you. If guilt leads you to taking action and setting things straight then it’s definitely a good thing, but if it gets you stuck in self-pity mode then it’s very destructive. The most effective way to combat the guilt which is felt from wronging others or yourself is to repent. Repenting not only clears your records and opens a new chapter in your life, it also transforms your bad deeds into good ones.

Except those who repent, have faith and do good deeds those Allah will change their sins for good deeds, Allah is most merciful (25:70).

How cool is that? You do wrong – you repent (sincere repentance) and your deeds transform. Such amazing Mercy, Subhan’Allah!

Be super careful about taking people’s rights, talking about them or hurting their feelings because a day will come when it’s payback time – not with dollars or dirhams but with your precious good deeds.

He who has a right of his brother on him, be it of nature of money or honor, let him compensate for it before he is made to compensate for it on a day when there will be no dinar nor dirham to deal with instead if he has a good deed in his account it will be given to the person he wronged and if he has no good deed then he will receive the bad deed of the person he wronged. (Bukhari)

Just imagine handing over your days of fasting, your qiyam, your umrah to the person you can’t stand… Ouch!

Ramadan Resolution #2 Forgive

Regardless of who has wronged you – forgive them for Allah’s sake. It’s not about that person and how horrible they are – it’s about you and your status with Allah. If you have been belittled, abused, cheated on or lied to, then you have two choices. You can choose to play the victim role and have a pity party your entire life feeling sorry for yourself or you can chose to move on. If you are wise and brave then you will chose to move on. In order to do that you need to forgive. What? Forgive that jerk who wronged me? Yes, not for his sake, but for Allah’s sake and for your own sake.

Let go of the past, throw out the emotional baggage that is weighing you down and finally attain peace. The grudge you are holding is eating away at you and you will not be able to have true faith until you forgive. Forgive those in your past and present then forgive yourself.

In order to accept your circumstances, you have to know that Allah is Al-Hakeem, the Most Wise, and that everything that has happened to you is the best for you. By complaining, we are questioning Allah’s Wisdom and implying that we know better than Him.

The reward of evil is evil, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah (42:40)

Be quick in forgiveness from your Lord and pardon all men – for Allah loves those who do good (3:133-134)

Once you forgive, the psychological healing will begin.

“Forgiveness is not the misguided act of condoning irresponsible, hurtful behavior. Nor is it a superficial turning of the other cheek that leaves us feeling victimized and martyred. Rather it is the finishing of old business that allows us to experience the present, free of contamination from the past.” (Dr. Joan Borysenkko, Fire of the Soul)

Ramadan Resolution #3 Stop Bad Habits

If you have a clean record, the last thing you want to do is to taint it with bad deeds. Each one of us has a vice or two or three or four… that really gets us in trouble. Some people are pathological liars, others can’t control themselves from sharing the latest gossip, and then there are those that don’t harm anyone but themselves by sitting around watching TV, surfing the net and wasting all their time. Look within and be honest with yourself. What bad habits do you have? Make a list of things you want to change and acknowledge every little step you make towards achieving your goals. Be patient with yourself and persevere.

Allah will not change the condition of the people until they change themselves (13:11)

So let’s start changing, people!!!

Ramadan Resolution #4 Start Good Habits

Embrace the month of Ramadan by doing a plethora of good deeds: feed the poor, visit the sick and give of your time. Altruistic acts are intrinsically rewarding and addictive. Once you experience the amazing feeling of giving, you will search high and low to get that euphoric feeling again. It’s all about gaining the most rewards in this blessed month. Each good deed will be like a huge eraser that wipes away the bad deeds.

Establish prayers at the two ends of the day and the early part of the night. Indeed, good deeds wipe out evil ones (11:114)

Ramadan Resolution #5 Improve your Character

Challenge yourself to make this Ramadan not just about abstaining from food and water, but from abstaining from all acts of indecencies. Make this Ramadan about improving your character. Commit to speaking the truth, controlling your anger, having more patience, and speaking only good about others. Feel empowered by controlling your behavior and not succumbing to your whims.

“Fasting is not [only] abstaining from eating and drinking, but abstaining from vain and obscene talk, so if someone insulted you or wronged you say: I am fasting.” (Al-Hakim)

‘‘Whosoever does not abandon false speech and the acting upon it, Allah is not in need of his food and drink.” (Bukhari)

If we are all meticulous in making the necessary changes in ourselves and overcoming our shortcomings, imagine the profound impact it will have on our ummah. Let’s make the commitment now and stick to it!

What resolutions have you made?

So there, you’ve just been through a list of resolutions for Ramadan. Of course, there might be so many more things to work on, specific ones, those that matter more to you. What are your aims this Ramadan? We’re already on the 12th fast, so this might be a good time to brush up on those resolutions and targets – and of course, sharing them here will double as a reminder to others as well! Share away! :)

Haleh Banani has a Master degree in Clinical Psychology with 20 years of experience working with couples and individuals. She was a featured expert on Al-Jazeera international, Huda TV, Islamic Open University, Mercy Mission and Bayinnah TV. Haleh is an instructor for Ilmflix and Qalam Institute. She is an international speaker and writer.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Rafa

    August 22, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    May Allah give strength and sabr to those suffering from the floods in Pakistan…Indeed, He tests those He loves most.
    Alhamdulillah, absolutely loved the Ramadan resolutions! Extremely helpful! May Allah give us all the strength to repent abundantly, forgive excessively, replace our bad habits with good ones and make ourselves better people. Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      August 23, 2010 at 2:47 PM

      I’m so glad you found the resolutions to be helpful. It’s amazing how by simply setting goals and making an effort we are able to achieve the loftiest aspirations.

  2. Avatar

    Slave of Allah

    August 22, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    Salam alaykum.

    There is one Ayah mentioned above that is commonly misunderstood or rather the explanation is mistranslated: Surah ar-Ra’d (13), Ayah 11.

    “… Allah will not change the condition of the people until they change themselves…” (13:11)

    Simply question: if people change themselves, what is left for Allah to change?

    That’s not what the Ayah means at all. People commonly quote this Ayah to say “oh you need to help yourself – you need to change yourself. You can’t just wait for Allah to do it.” And once you change yourselves, you need to do it yourself.

    Well, if you change yourselves what remains for Allah to change? Nothing. The Ayah is meaningless because that’s not the meaning of this Ayah.

    What the Ayah means: “Allah does not change the peace, the security and prosperity and the favors and blessings of Allah upon a people until they change their own state of obedience and disobedience.” That’s what it means.

    Quite simply, Allah showers His favors and blessings upon a people. Allah keeps it like that. When these people are ungrateful and they continue to disobey Allah and repel against Him and sin – they sins will result then in being deprived of continued blessings and favors of Allah, and Allah will inflict punishment upon them in the world as a result of their sins. That’s what it means.

    And a clear Ayah in the Qur’an, explanation of the meaning:

    “And Allah presents an example: a city [i.e. Makkah] which was safe and secure, its provision coming to it in abundance from every location, but it [its people] denied the favors of Allah [with ungratefulness]. So Allah made it taste the envelopment of hunger and fear for what they had been doing.” Surah an-Nahl (16), Ayah 112.

    And Allah knows best.

    (Transcription from a lecture by Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq)
    May Allah guide us.

    In the translation of the meanings of the Qur’an by Dr. al-Hilali and Dr. Muhsin, concerning Surah ar-Ra’d (13), Ayah 11 says:

    “… Verily! Allâh will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allâh)…”

    So let’s start changing in exchanging the sins to the acts of obedience.

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      August 22, 2010 at 11:23 AM

      JazaakAllah for pointing out the subtle difference… very true. :)

    • Avatar

      Friend

      August 22, 2010 at 12:20 PM

      That is not the only meaning of the verse.

      The verse also could mean that unless one takes the initiative to change, Allah will not assist them in that change.

      For example, one cant sit around wishing to become a better husband, but doesn’t take any steps towards that.

      The aya is also referring to the end of the goal of change. That is because not every effort of change is successful, rather only those who Allah have selected to make successful will be. And Allah here is saying that only those who take the initiative of change, will be assisted by Allah.

      Wa Allahu ‘Alam

  3. Avatar

    Son of Adam

    August 22, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Read Quran with understanding everyday.
    Sacrifice sleep, staying up after fajir.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      August 25, 2010 at 3:21 AM

      Those are great resolutions masha’Allah…something we all need to do :)

  4. Avatar

    Friend

    August 22, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Great post sister.

    I loooove your articles mashaAllah. I hope that they will be a mean for you to enter Jannah.. Ameen.

  5. Avatar

    Cub

    August 22, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Jazakallahu Khayr for sharing this! And the list sounds great, MashaAllah! InshaAllah may Allah make it easy for me to live out! :)

  6. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    August 22, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    asalamu alikum,

    MashaAllah, great reminder. Jazaki Allah khayr.

  7. Sarah

    Sarah

    August 22, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Excellent reminder masha’Allah! I’m going to share this with the girls at my halaqah this evening insha’Allah :).

  8. Avatar

    Sanaa

    August 23, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    Jazakhallah for explaining that ayah, I always thought as you said, that I need to change my action then Allah will change me, but I guess that never really made sense. Alhamdulillah I can read that ayah with new eyes now and implement inshAllah

  9. Avatar

    Haleh

    August 24, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    Thanks for reflecting on this very important iya.

    I have always understood it like this: Each one of us is a link in the Muslim chain which makes up the ummah. If we individually take responsibility to improve ourselves, make changes and give up our vice then Allah will change the condition of the ummah as a whole. This really emphasizes that Islam is about personal responsibility and accountability.

    In the wider sense, this is an iluustration of the Divine law of cause and effect which dominates the lives of both individuals and communities, and makes the rise and fall of civilizations dependent on people’s moral qualities and the changes in their inner selves.

    Jazakallah khair for the comments.

  10. Avatar

    Hassan

    August 24, 2010 at 11:38 AM

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