"R" is for Ramadan and resolution – I

"R" is for Ramadan and resolution – I
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It is customary among many peoples to set New Year resolutions. The majority of people lose their newfound resolve, however, within just a few months. This is mainly because few of us know how to set goals for our self-promises. Even less have an action plan to achieve them.

The best time to set resolutions or renew intentions for Muslims is not in Muharram or January, but Ramadan, for Ramadan is Divinely designed to be a month of personal and communal change. No surprise, then, that it is also the lunar period in which Allah Almighty changed the destiny of humankind by blessing them with His final and universal Divine Guidance.
In it, as a commemoration and a renewal, Allah re-instituted fasting among humanity and magnified all the other great acts of worship not specifically time-bound to another calendar date or season. His Heavenly purpose, therein, being precisely to purify us both physically and spiritually. These acts of worship, within a state of worship, within framework of worship— Sadaqah (charity), for instance, given when one is in a condition of self-imposed deprivation, within a divinely demarcated, obligatory sacred span—of and by their very nature facilitate—even mandate—change in our lives, at the very list by disrupting our daily routines. It is during this time of flux that our lives are most malleable to any attempts to improve them. Muslims must, therefore, set new resolutions and goals for and during this month.
But what kind of resolutions should we make? What type of goals should we seek to achieve?
Allah Almighty has clearly set out the main goal for the month of Ramadan by declaring what means: {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous} [Quran 2:183], that is to become ever God-fearing. But the acquisition of Taqwa itself contains a higher purpose: To prepare us for a much greater achievement in life— namely, to meet Allah. Allah States this throughout the Quran what means:
 ...} •        Then to your Lord is your return…} [Quran 6:164]
•        {…To Him is the destination.} [Quran 40:3]
•        {And that to your Lord is the finality.} [Quran 53:42]
It is for this reason that Allah States in another place in the Quran concerning Hajj (Pilgrimage) what means: {…And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding.} [Quran 2: 197] Hajj, in this life, symbolizes our inevitable meeting with Allah in the Hereafter while Ramadan represents the life of this world that we are living, which, again, is a preparation for that ultimate goal.
The practical reflection of our spiritual objectives
Given this understanding of the profound aspirations of the believer, the main focus for any Ramadan goal should entail the ultimate ambition of a favorable meeting with Allah.
One of the most common New Year resolutions is to lose weight. This, it seems, has also become a common objective for Muslims during Ramadan. Although keeping a healthy body is part of our responsibility as Muslims, if our focus is as solemn as meeting Allah in joy and happiness, then it becomes clear that our goals for Ramadan must be more comprehensive than losing weight.
Our lives are multidimensional: Financial, spiritual, intellectual, social, familial, personal, philanthropic, physical, etc. Consequently, the resolutions we set for Ramadan must reflect this multi-dimensionality. Some people expend all their energy in pursuing only their financial goals and pay no heed to other aspects of their life. Muslims should try to achieve and maintain the golden mean, as practiced by the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) in all aspects of his life.
A successful personal goal setting endeavor begins with a self-assessment. For Muslims, the central question in accounting for oneself is to ask sincerely: “Am I observing the golden mean in my life?” This will reveal where we focus most of our energy and resources in life.
For some of us, we may realize that we are spending the bulk of our time and energy at work, to the detrimental neglect of our family life. Others may come to realize that though their family, social, and intellectual life is satisfactory, the spiritual aspect is wanting. Still others may conclude that while they are financially fulfilled, they fall short in giving charity. This central question will help us identify areas and aspects in our lives that we need to work on in order to achieve and maintain that golden mean. Still, the question remains, How should we prioritize our goals?
Allah Almighty provides guidance in setting priorities in life through the example of His Friend, Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention. After delivering his wife Hajar and his son Ismaa‘eel, may Allah exalt his mention, to the precincts of the barren sacred valley of Makkah, Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, walks away from them, as directed by Allah Almighty. When he is out of their sight, he turns around facing the place of the Ka’bah and makes the following Du‘aa (supplication) for them: {Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.} [Quran 14:37]
Note that though Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, acknowledges in his supplication the scarcity of food and water faced by his family—an urgent matter of life and death—the first affair of significance that Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, places before Allah Almighty is the high purpose of his intent: To facilitate his family in the establishment of Salah (prayer). Only after first establishing their spiritual mission—and by extension his hope in Allah’s succor of their vital spiritual need—does Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, turn in his supplication toward their dire physical and social needs in his supplication. And even then, he connects the purpose of the fulfillment of their social and physical needs to their (ultimate) spiritual goal, namely, to thank Allah.
It is with this same spirit and understanding that we need to prioritize our goals for life in general, and more specifically for the month of Ramadan.
By Abdullah Khan

"R" is for Ramadan and resolution – II

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