Life Interferes After Ramadan
It has been almost nine months since we last had Ramadan. It has been nine months since we all fasted; nine months since we were disciplined in our practise of Islam. Nine months since we were effortlessly waking up before dawn to eat and pray, effortlessly making home in time for the breaking of the fast with the family, effortlessly making our way to the mosque for nightly taraweeh prayers, effortlessly holding our tempers and having a positive mindset, effortlessly having faith that God will answer all of our prayers.
The purpose of today's article is to take stock of where we are today - nine months after our last Ramadan. Are we doing all of the above as effortlessly as we had during Ramadan? And if not, why is it we can make such sacrifices during Ramadan and not afterwards?
Conditioning and Habit Formation during Ramadan
We automatically gear ourselves for Ramadan by mentally preparing for it. We all know the importance importance of Ramadan, and so we make our sacrifices to reap in the benefits. We condition our minds to accept the
difficulties that come along with practising Ramadan the right way. It might be difficult initially, but our practices during Ramadan actually become easier as we progress into the month.
Sadly, some people can only see the deprivations - of sleep, of food, of recreational activities. Lucky are the ones who experience the simple bliss from the practice of Ramadan. These people are the ones who sometimes end their Ramadan with a certain sense of wistfulness. The positive habits formed during Ramadan - regularity in prayer, increased faithfulness, an awareness of the spiritual life - these are desired qualities for living the good Muslim life. And most Muslims want to hold on this.
Life Interferes After Ramadan
The problem is, life interferes. It begins innocently enough - after the month-long Ramadan, you tell yourself you did a good job. So you "deserve" some slack. Maybe you are watching tv when it is time for prayer - you tell yourself, you can do the prayer after the show. Maybe you are meeting your friends for dinner, and it is held during mahgrib, and again you tell yourself that, this is only a one-time thing, and you will get back to your schedule the next day. Then it creeps up on you - you start missing prayers, life gets hectic, you have a million and one things to do. You are stressed out by the many responsibilities on your shoulders. You flit in from one activity to the next. Then you get irritated by your Islamic responsibilities that you know you have been slacking off on. Then the guilt, then the avoidance, then the feeling that something is not quite working out right...
The Right Path
Of course, it is easier said than done - it is difficult to be continuously on the right path. God knows this. We get close to Him, then we drift away and feel disoriented, then we seek Him again. It's an unfortunate cycle. This is why we have Ramadan in the first place - to help bring us back to the right path. But it gets meaningless if we simply wait for Ramadan to re-orient ourselves on the right path, to only drift away afterwards.
What can we do?
If we desire to feel the way that we did during Ramadan, then in the least, we should try to retain the good habits that had been formed during Ramadan.
To do this, we need to actively seek out ways to remind ourselves to be mindful of our actions. We need to do this so as to counter our human nature to procrastinate or slacken off.
Let's start by taking stock of where we are today - do you like where you are today compared to where you were nine months ago? If you do not, then something went wrong between then and now. It is time for a fresh start. And let's not wait till Ramadan to get started.
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Labels: Ramadan Reflections