You did it!
Seriously, you should pat yourself on the back. Those first few days of fasting in Ramadan couldn’t have been easy (especially if you haven’t been introduced to the ‘Letting Go’ technique and had to fast the ‘old-fashioned’ way, oh dear Lord, then pat yourself twice!).
Anyway, here we are closing in on the second third of the Holy month. It’s usually a bit of an awkward phase; where we’ve kind of gotten over the novelty of Ramadan and the rush that comes with its arrival, and we haven’t quite charged up again for the ultimate ‘Night Of Qadr’ treasure hunt. Now, we’re stuck in the middle, watching our ‘worship stamina’ drop like a zeroed-out bank account. A phase that is otherwise known as the ‘Mid Ramadan Slump’. See? It even has a name and all, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we know we’re not alone in this.
Now don’t feel so bad or throw in the towel yet, coz specialists have carefully diagnosed the problem and look, they’ve come up with amazing solutions!
The Slump Syndrome
Every year, many of us make a fist, squint our eyes and vow we’re going to kill it this Ramadan. Except the only thing that dies by day 10 is our own motivation to do better, right? In medical terms (I’m putting on my white coat as we speak) this slump is called a mid-Ramadan disorder, and here are the most observed symptoms:
- Old habits of binging on TV shows and social media creep back in
- We judge and beat ourselves up for not feeling the sanctity of Ramadan like we should.
- Taraweeh prayer lines at the mosque start shrinking.
- Skimping off on daily Qur’an reading becomes more prevalent.
- Sohoor and night-time outings make their debut
- A general lack of motivation clouds our living space as many of us turn into walking zombies staring at the clock.
- And finally, for some reason, almost all moms run out of recipes and menu ideas for Iftar by mid-month!
Causes of The ‘Slump’ Syndrome
I’m looking at the report now and the only cause I see so far is that we’re human! Our hearts are changeable and our minds are easily distracted. We can have all the best intentions, yet forget to stay consistent with the action. We get our ups and downs and then we plateau, and you know what, that’s okay! So without further ado, let’s discuss the surgical, oops I mean, action plan.
Treatment of the ‘Slump’ Syndrome
Have you ever encountered one of those people who think they’re totally invincible? They’d look like a total mess, with their noses dripping, eyes drooping and they’re literally sneezing all over the place, but would never admit they have the flu. They’d keep getting worse and worse, yet still yell out ‘I’m not sick!’. How can we ever fix what we refuse to own up to? How will we heal what we refuse to feel?
The first step to getting out of the slump is to accept you’re in one. Stop denying it or rationalizing it or blocking it out. You’re ‘slumping out’ and that’s okay, it happens. And now that you’ve acknowledged you’re human and therefore not ‘invincible’ or immune to spiritual tumbling, let’s see what we can do about it.
Since there are many different ways to get out of the slump, please give me a minute to shoo away all the conventional methods out of my mind before we proceed, coz seriously, we both wouldn’t be here if any of those methods had proven to be effective!
Okay good. Now let’s talk: ‘practical-realism’.
Can we fast, read Qur’an and pray every day for a whole month?
Can we do 30 consecutive good deeds from the heart?
Can we wake up for Fajr, and pray Isha in congregation all month?
Can we physically abstain from sins and curb our desires all Ramadan?
As a matter of fact, you’re created with the stamina to withstand all the above and more for way longer than a month. Your physical body can do it no problem. It’s your mind that needs convincing. We can if we tell ourselves we can. And we can’t if we tell ourselves we can’t.
And since this series is all about the ‘How To’s’, let me show you how, coz it’s really S.U.P.E.R!
That’s right. Surrender to and accept the humbling experience of the slump. Even the best, most self-disciplined people struggle with their ‘Nafs’ more often than they’d like to admit. No one has reached a ‘constant excellence’ level and no one will. That’s the whole point of the test. Be patient with yourself and remember you’re rewarded for both your wins and your struggles.
Be mindful of your status and simply upgrade it. For example, if you catch yourself wandering off into ‘un-spiritual and/or unproductive territory for too long, like say on YouTube, try browsing for an Islamic lecture by your favorite scholar instead. (Ahem Nouman Ali Khan!). Try substituting a video game for one of them Islamic trivia. Those are just random ideas though. You know your life better than I do, and you sure know what works best when it comes to your personal challenges.
3. Pace Yourself
You already feel down in a slump and one of the ways you bring yourself ‘down-er’ is to compare your pace to others: “I’m still on page 37 and ‘I don’t know who’ has already finished reading the whole Qur’an… twice!”.
This month is about YOU, not what society expects of you. It’s about your intentions and what you’re capable of doing. So pace yourself and don’t overload it with unrealistic expectations because the Prophet says:
“Do those deeds which you can do easily, as Allah will not get tired (of giving rewards) till you get bored and tired (of performing religious deeds)”
The most beloved prayer to the Prophet (PBUH) was the one that was done regularly (throughout the life) even if it were little. [Bukhari]
I hear you! The slump strikes on an important chord too; the guilt. It’s only one month out of the whole year, and we should be able to make the most of it. You’re right. So as a bonus move, whenever you can, let that inner coach do the famous empowering pep talk that makes you want to push through all your constraints. The one that reminds you how ‘every second counts’ and ‘it’ll all be worth it’ and how ‘for every minute you waste, someone else is working hard’. Because while it is about the pace, it’s also about the race like how Allah describes it:
“Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers…..” [Qur’an, Chapter 57, Verse 21]
Except it’s a unique type of race. A race with yourself to outrun who you were to reach the person you can be. And perhaps you being here, reading about how to overcome the slump is actually you getting your own personal head start to win the race. (It’s possible, right?)
You can pray and read Qur’an day and night, but if your heart is not in it, does it really count? (I don’t know, I’m actually asking)
Well maybe it does, but that’s not the essence of this month and certainly not the principle of our beautiful religion. It’s all in the heart… That’s what my mom always tells me. ‘Work on your heart and the rest will follow’.
Every time you feel you’re drifting far away from Allah , reconnect. Feel it in your heart and it will automatically reflect on everything else.
Reconnect with the Qur’an. Hold it like a cherished gift. A guide. A savior.
Reconnect with Allah every time your forehead touches the ground in Sujoud.
Reconnect your heart. And if you haven’t at all yet, then start today.
Start doing dhikr for even 10 minutes before you sleep.
Start adding sunnah or night prayers even if only two Raka’as.
Start reading Qur’an even if it’s only one page a day.
Start making dua’… even when you don’t know what to say…
Just reach out…..
To the One who says ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you’ [Qur’an, Chapter 40: Verse 60]
We ask You our Merciful Allah
Don’t let our minds be occupied with worrying about the unknown
Don’t let our hearts be attached to those who don’t care
Don’t let us spend our most precious time on what doesn’t serve us right
And don’t let our souls wander off from your path on such blessed days and sacred nights
Oh Allah be with us and make us stronger
This beautiful Holy month is your chance to reconnect. It’s your chance to quench your soul’s thirst and recharge for another busy year, in sha’Allah.
And even if you don’t feel it in your heart right away, be patient with yourself. It’s like medicine: you can’t expect it to work like magic. It takes time and consistency, and maybe that’s why many of us don’t feel or see the results until the last third of Ramadan.
Oh, there’s a huge secret you need to know about the last third….
What? No I can’t tell you now. There’s only space to say two more words: Stay Tuned.
Have you ever experienced a mid-Ramadan slump? What were your techniques to get out of this phase? Tell us in the comments.