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Most people slack off all year religiously and wait for Ramadan to get a new boost of spiritual energy. These individuals are spiritually out of shape & religiously flabby- not praying any sunnah prayers, lacking khushu (sincerity), barely having time to read the Quran. They come into Ramadan completely depleted of iman, breathlessly crawling towards the month in order to resuscitate themselves before they spiritually die. It’s a vicious cycle that a lot of people experience, yet very few address.
What usually happens with these individuals who are so religiously out of shape? It takes them 2 weeks to get in the groove – the first week will be filled with headaches and grogginess until the new schedule falls into place, then when they finally get accustomed to the new program, Ramadan is over. The abundance of blessings are so overflowing during Ramadan that anyone who puts forth even the smallest amount of effort will reap the rewards. However; they are getting the bare minimum amount of blessings and missing out on an Extreme Spiritual Makeover!
What if we changed our perspective and started planning for Ramadan the way we would plan for a marathon? How different will our experience be if we were already prepared, sprinting into Ramadan with full iman gusto? The way we can do that is by training way in advance in order to build our spiritual stamina. Whether we are preparing for Ramadan or any other event in our life there are a series of steps we need to take in order to achieve our goals:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Larry Elder
1. Write down the goals, prioritize based on importance and make a plan.
Break down large goals into small, achievable goals. For instance, if one of our goals is to complete the Quran during Ramadan then make a plan to read for instance 4 pages after each prayer. This will make it easy to achieve. By starting ahead of time and taking small steps towards the goal, once Ramadan comes along we will be prepared & trained.
To start with the end in mind means to have a clear understanding of the destination. Stephen R. Covey
2. We need to focus on what we want to achieve and what kind of outcomes we want. Visualize achieving the goals. We need to see ourselves overcoming our temptations, reaching our goals and having success. See yourself achieving attainable goals for Ramadan.
What the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve! Napoleon Hill
3. Ask yourself good questions: The questions we ask or the questions we fail to ask shapes our destiny. The way we evaluate our life is by asking questions; therefore if we ask good questions then our mind can come up with good answers which will affect our interpretation of events. We need to ask what is good about this situation? What can I learn from this test? How can I bring out the best in this person? How can I make the most of Ramadan?
It’s not the events that shape our life that determine how we feel and act, but rather, it’s the way we interpret and evaluate our life. Anthony Robbins
4. Be optimistic: Having a nice, positive attitude makes all the difference in achieving any goals. When a person is hopeful, puts trust in Allah and makes the necessary effort, anything is possible.
Right now we need to start implementing the steps to achieving our Ramadan goals in order to get the maximum benefit:
1. Start fasting Mondays and Thursdays to prepare your body for Ramadan – this would be equivalent to 2 intensive work outs during a week to prepare for a marathon.
‘A’isha said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to take care to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” [at-Tirmidhi]
2. Increase your baseline in worship by simply increasing your worship, so if you currently only pray the obligatory prayers, start praying sunnah and also do the dhikr afterwards – this would be like increasing the amount of weight you are pumping in the gym.
3. Set goals for reading Quran daily– reading the Quran nourishes the soul the way healthy, nutritious food rejuvenates the body. So start feeding your soul!