How was your first week of Ramadan? Are you on track with your goals?
Do you have any goals?
Hopefully your goals this blessed month are spiritual and related to ibadah.
Some of you may be thinking that functioning while fasting during the long summer days should be a goal enough!
What’s the big deal about Ramadan?
As we mature in our worship and understanding of deen, Ramadan becomes less about managing hunger and more about understanding it for the actual gift that it is.
- Forgive all of your sins
Every year Allah The Most Merciful, The Most Loving, The Most Wise gives us the chance to have ALL(except major ) of our sins forgiven from the previous year!
Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Messenger said : “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]
- Intercede for you on the Day of Judgement.
On the Day of Judgement all of humanity from the beginning of time is gathered to receive the final verdict: who will suffer forever in Hell and who will bask forever in the luxuries of paradise. While our long list of deeds (we won’t remember most of them) are listed out- we will have intercessors!
`Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Ahmad]
- 720 hours of having your duas answered!
Ramadan is approximately 720 hours long- every moment is an opportunity for your duas to be answered! Do you even have 720 items on your dua list?
`Abdullah Ibn `Amr Ibn al-`Aas also reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “Indeed there is for the fasting person, when he breaks his fast, a supplication which is not rejected”. [Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and others; Sahih]
Jabir, radhiya Allahu `anhu relates that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said :” In every day and every night, during the month of Ramadan, there are people to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted”. [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad and Ibn Majah; Sahih]
So yeah..sign me up!
During these 30 days we are supposed to be the best we can be with hopes that some of the good actions we did become habits for the rest of the year.
Not only does Allah SWT lock up shaytaan to make it easier for us to do good deeds- He SWT rewards you with 70 times to hundreds of times- more for every good deed!
We are supposed to treat Ramadan as if it were our last Ramadan and our goal should be to be better every year Insha’Allah.
I started this post last week (Ramadan day 1)- but didn’t end up completing it until today (Ramadan day 11)
9 hours of this blessed month have already passed as I write this post.
How much ibadah have you done in these 9 hours besides waking up for suhoor; how have these past 9 hours been any different than any normal day?
What have I been up to in these 9 hours?
A.K.A wasting precious time. I can’t believe Ramadan is already here and I have yet to outline my goals! I have no idea what’s wrong with me.
My goals have been bouncing back and forth between two opposite theories on goal setting. I don’t know how to maximize my spiritual productivity during the most holiest of months. I’m toying with the idea of aiming high but risking failure and its accompanying guilt, or aiming low with hopes that it will motivate me to do even more. I haven’t been able to decide which one’s the best approach to goal setting.
For the purpose of this post I’m using the example of revising the Quran in Arabic several times as my goal. Though Ramadan and the Quran have a special relationship and we are encouraged to read Quran this month- your goals for maximizing good deeds can be anything else.
What is the best way to maximize productivity?
Theory One: Aim high
Should I aim really high? Will it propel me to quickly start reading Quran seeing how I have decided to revise it twice? But I’m afraid that I won’t be able to – (if you met my 1 ½ year old Curious George you would completely understand).
“When you aim for the heavens you may not reach it but you’ll at least land on the stars.”
Earnestly trying to read 3 Qurans will mean I would aim to finish one Quran every 10 days. Even if I didn’t finish the entire 3- I would have done at least 1 and a half.
That shameful feeling of regret and guilt. The process of introspection where you try to figure out why you just weren’t able to accomplish a goal in the most holy month, when shaytaan’s locked up and you know you should not have wasted any time. Usually very early on in the month I can tell whether or not I will accomplish my goals and then when a couple of days worth of reading Quran have piled up, the dreadful feeling of losing is too heavy for me to carry on- I usually become a petulant scowling child going though the many steps of grief: denial,anger,bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Theory 2: Success Breeds Success
I’m the type of person who loves to make lists and relishes in the joy of crossing item after item off of that list- I’m also guilty of writing items on the list that I’ve already accomplished just so that I can have the pleasure of crossing it off! That sense of accomplishment makes me so happy. It actually encourages me to do more. When things are going well in my life I don’t usually sit back and admire it- I jump to my feet and can’t wait to accomplish more- what will my next conquest be? The next item to be crossed off of my list? With this way of thinking in mind-it would make sense if I made easy to reach goals so that I will be motivated to move on to the next item. For Ramadan, realistically I can commit to reading 10 pages a day and know that if I wasn’t able to accomplish my goals for that day or few days I can easily catch up in one sitting Insha’Allah.
I will most likely accomplish that goal and be grinning from ear to ear on the day of Eid Insha’Allah. Through out Ramadan, my energy will be positive- I will be excited
I will be motivated to start right away because I’m not intimidated by the easily attainable goal.
“People do not fail in life because they aim too high and miss. They fail in life, because they aim too low and hit.” (Unknown)
From a Self Improvement perspective-I wouldn’t have accomplished much. I will finish just 1 Quran- no improvement from the year before. I might feel great for reaching my goal but feel guilty I didn’t maximize my ibadah.
Also life happens, schedules go off kilter and it’s possible I may not be able to accomplish even that goal.
Mother knows Best
Confused by all the information and circular thinking I decided to ask my mom. Masha’Allah , during the month of Ramadan, she’s one of the most spiritually productive people I know. ( May Allah SWT protect her and increase her productivity) She often completes the entire Quran 7 times. In our case, the apple fell very far from the tree- none of us siblings manage to worship even a fraction of what she does. I was hesitant to ask her advice because she is in an entirely different league and was afraid she would be heartbroken that ‘aiming high’ was reading two Qurans.
Her advice was : aim high and start now. Every little bit you’re doing is being rewarded 70 times- don’t waste time.
She admitted that when she aims to revise the Quran 9 times a month she sometimes reads only 7 and when she aims to read 5 times she has read as little as 4 times.
After consulting with my mom, several articles on goal setting from professional sites and over 5 Ted X talks, I found a solution. Allhumdullillah I learned that the ideal way to set and achieve life changing goals is a combination of the two theories- like a middle path (sound familiar?)!
The Middle Path
Essentially you should aim high and manage your emotions to motivate you.
The most important step in goal setting is to not focus on your goal- focus on your behaviour! Don’t waste time thinking about what you want or if what you want is worthy of wanting etc (like I have been doing)..just start!
I’ve always loved acronyms- I still remember some I made up back in university! They really help me organize and memorize information. So obviously I made one for reaching goals during Ramadan- Insha’Allah there will be many more Ramadan’s to use this for.
The Ultimate guide to Setting Ramadan Goals.
R– Realistic but high goals. If you typically read 1 Quran per Ramadan- aim for 2-3 not 10.
A– Associate with people who have similar goals or are where you want to be. Your friends and the people you choose to be around during Ramadan will have a huge impact on your goals. Some people may encourage you to attend the masjid or race you to finish reading the Quran. Others may update you on how to lose the maximum amount of weight this month. Be particular about your associates during this month.
M– Make yourself happy. Celebrate the little goals you accomplished or include some easy to attain goals that you can easily cross off. Associate positive emotions with accomplishing your goals. 70 times the reward for everything should be reason to celebrate! Studies show happiness increases productivity and makes you successful.
A– Allah’s help. Allah will help you. Remember that the point of Ramadan is to be like a spiritual boot camp to eventually improve your worship throughout the year. Obviously Allah will help you achieve your goals. The Creator of the universe already locked up shaytaan and is promising to multiply your rewards. That’s such a comforting thought!
D– Define your goals. Being ‘better than last year’ or ‘religious’ are not good goals. Your goals should be specific and quantifiable. Example: Read tahajjud 3 days a week. Read 5 pages of Quran every day.
A– Appreciate yourself! Studies show that people with a positive self-image are more likely to accomplish their goals. Your self-talk should be positive. Give yourself compliments and forgive yourself.You will accomplish your goals because you are determined, capable and you read this article !
N– Never give up! Especially during the month of Ramadan- believe in the impossible. As behind as you might be on your goals remember that you are alive today in this amazing month- it wasn’t a coincidence or random incident. Allah blessed you with the opportunity to seek His forgiveness and easily earn a multitude of good deeds- even just by uttering short adkhar.
In all honesty I spent too much time researching goal setting theories- I should have been reading Qu’ran instead.
The most important bit of advice I can give is JUST START!
Also, your goals should be YOURS. Don’t set a goal for yourself because you think you should or because everyone else is- Allah asks us to strive to be better than we are and to reach OUR personal potential.
Insha’Allah all my time spent will benefit you guys. Please make duah for me!
How do you set and meet goals during Ramadan?
What works for you?
Chai after Iftar,