Ramadan. The one month in the year that everyone waits for, prepares for, works for. Ramadan is the time of year when everyone tries to do their best. The rewards of this month are so great that absolutely everyone wants to take advantage of them – and why wouldn’t you? The increased rewards of this beautiful holy month are phenomenal. Everyone should be doing their best.
The atmosphere of Ramadan is something truly special. Seeing people commit themselves and speak about their goals for the month help to create feelings of excitement and eagerness within you as an observer and it’s understandable to want to jump in as well and make your own goals.
This wonderful atmosphere and spirit of togetherness combined with the anticipation that’s almost a tangible thing in the air during the start of Ramadan will help you to start off strong. You may find yourself shooting past your recitation goals for the day or week – instead of twenty pages of Quran a day, you’re reciting thirty or even forty.
You’re doing amazing and you feel filled with peace and satisfaction. Everything’s wonderful, the birds are singing and the sun’s shining.
But then there’s a day when you barely manage to open your Quran or a day when even praying taraweeh seems like an insurmountable challenge. What do you do on those days? Make yourself miserable by dwelling on the missed opportunities to earn thawaab and allow your mood and day to be ruined?
That will, of course, do you no good and may do you some harm. Senseless regret has no positives, all it does is inhibit you from being able to move forward and recover from the misstep or bad experience you’re constantly thinking back on. How do you stop this kind of thing in its tracks?
How do you ensure that your bad days in Ramadan don’t bring you to a screeching halt?
From my prior experience, bad days like this can be caused by two main factors – overwork and unrealistic expectations. Now, while expectations can be managed, overwork can be as a result of outside factors, whether they may be difficult deadlines, sick children, a demanding family… and the list goes on.
Many of us find ourselves overworked because we have too much on our plates and none of it can really be neglected; family and work commitments cannot be neglected and neither can self care unless you like playing with fire and counting on the chance that things will let up before you completely burn out.
But something has to give. Very often in Ramadan, we find ourselves pushing off our spiritual needs because they’re the only internal needs we have. There will be no immediate external consequences if we don’t open the Quran the way we wish we could, just internal ones. This is where senseless regret comes in.
Lying in bed at night we beat ourselves up because our bodies are exhausted and we just can’t manage to catch up on those fifty pages or stand up to pray those extra rakaats of salaah. We made commitments when preparing for Ramadan. We had goals in mind and we now have expectations of ourselves. Not meeting those expectations feels like the worst kind of failure. But it shouldn’t be.
Ramadan is one of the most special times of the year. It’s a time when we should be taking advantage of all the forgiveness and mercy that Allah (SWT) is raining down on us. The reward for every little act of worship we do is multiplied. Isn’t that amazing?
The quantity of our worship is less important than the quality of it. You may be pushing yourself to complete those twenty pages whilst in a daze where your recitation is barely reaching your heart. Is it not better then to not run yourself ragged and instead complete ten, five, even one page of the Quran instead and truly feel the full wonder of it?
Yes, you may have expected certain things from yourself this Ramadan. You may have wanted to start off with a bang and you may be caught up in the frantic need to pile on that seems to overwhelm us. It’s understandable.
But I would urge you to not get caught in the trap of overloading so much that you overwhelm yourself and burn out. It happens to many of us and it’s always much harder to recover from than the slight niggle of disappointment that may come when you’ve been moderate and would have perhaps liked to accomplish a bit more.
I know that Ramadan is seen as a time to push ourselves and to be the best that we can be. Do push yourself but remember where your limits are and remember that smaller, consistent acts of worship and charity are beloved by Allah (SWT) and they add up to far more in the long run than a single spurt of enthusiasm that fizzles out.