My Goals for Ramadan 2018
Ramadan begins Wednesday at sundown here in the US. For me, Ramadan always has a funny way of feeling very far away and then suddenly being upon me. For those who are unfamiliar with Ramadan, it is the biggest - and most important time in of the year for Muslims. During the 30 days of Ramadan Muslims fast during daylight hours, as well as read our holy book the Qur'an. We read a chapter or (Juz') a day until the end of the 30 days (there are 30 Juz' in the Qur'an). But what Ramadan is truly about is remembrance of Allah (which means God in Arabic) and doing away with bad or harmful habits that take you away from your remembrance of God. Fasting from not only food but harmful or malicious behaviors such as smoking, gossiping, swearing. There is a bit more to it and if you are interested in learning more I do highly suggest perhaps reaching out to a local Mosque or if you have a Muslim friend asking them about it (respectfully, of course).
Ramadan for me is a time of spiritual renewal. To reconnect myself not only with Allah, but with myself. We spend so much time dealing with the outside world: our jobs, people, etc. We are bombarded with negativity at every turn whether that be from the news, social media or even just negative people we encounter. It can be very easy to lose the thread of what's important and what makes you feel grounded. There are a few things I like to do to prepare for Ramadan and one of those is to sit down and think about what my goals are. There things I look forward to every year: like reading the Qur'an (which is something that always centers me and gives me peace), but also improving some of my own behaviors and thought patterns.
1. Use less social media
Social media is a part of my life as an online content creator, and therefore unavoidable. But how I choose to engage with it is up to me. Last Ramadan I took the entire month off of Facebook. Two things happened: One, I realized how much daily social media use was connected to my depression and negative thoughts. And two, that I actually didn't miss it all that much. I've taken sabbaticals from various social media sites on and off since then and it has always had a positive impact on my outlook.
2. Spend more time with family
I am blessed that I have such a close relationship with my immediate family. My mother is truly my best friend. Ramadan is always a bonding experience for us as a family and I want to make sure that we are taking time to connect with one another.
3. Focus more on positive thought patterns
Depression can lead you down many a dark road. One of those roads is negative thought patterns. It's something that I have really been paying more attention to. Break thought processes is tough but I have noticed that when I take the focus off of inconsequential things it is easier.
4. Give more
Charity (or zakat) is an integral part of life as a Muslim. Again and again the Qur'an reminds us of our responsibility to our fellow man. It states that how we will be questioned about how we helped those less fortunate than ourselves. Of the things I do in life that make me feel good the thing that makes me feel the best - the most connected not only to Allah- but to others - is when I am at my most giving. Whether that be monetarily or in spirit. I want to give more in Ramadan. Give more in kindness, in understanding, in empathy and in charity.
5. Stay on top of my prayers
This may sound silly but it's something I struggle with - and that I know many other Muslims struggle with. Like charity, prayer is an integral part of life as a Muslim. We pray five times a day. Or - at least we are supposed to. I admit that I am not always the best at this. I say morning prayer before work but the later prayers can sometime be neglected. We allow "life" to get in the way of our commitment to ourselves (which is really what prayer is if you think about it- we are only hurting ourselves when we miss or skip a prayer). Often when I am feeling out of sorts or anxious I remember that I haven't said prayer. It may sound silly to someone who is not religious or believes in a higher power, but prayer for me has always helped any anxiety issues I have and it helps me stay centered and less likely to feed negativity in my life. Ramadan is a month of concentrated spiritual thought. And that makes it a perfect time to get back on track with daily prayers.
If you observes the month of Ramadan, what are some of your goals? Let me know in the comments!