You want to purchase a new computer game. You have been researching the product, discussing it with fellow gamer friends and checking various websites for the best value for your money. Until that awesome day arrives and It’s finally in your hands!
You anticipate the excitement of the game. You take time out from homework, sport, TV, friends and gadgets for long periods of time. You turn all of your attention towards conquering the levels and hidden stages of the game. As the game progresses, it becomes more intense but you acquire more skills that help you deal with the pressure: you can judge better when the enemy is advancing and you are quicker to hold your shield up. The enemy is strong but you are stronger and finally the screen lights up, “CONGRATULATIONS” you have won.
You are drained from focusing all your energy on defeating the bad guy, but you are elated to have achieved an impressive success.
My dear students, let’s now change the FOCUS. I propose a challenge to you this Ramadan. A 30-day challenge in which you will face enemies, stumble over booby traps, push yourself, find the bonus prizes and special powers, and your reward will be eternal.
Are you ready?
So here it goes….
The month of Ramadan is a testament to the human spirit, our relative weaknesses and our untapped potential. It is only when you acknowledge your task that you can begin to prepare for it. You have to evaluate what you are capable of, how much time and potential you waste, how strong you are emotionally, physically and mentally. Before you embark upon Ramadan, you must read, discuss and research this month.
1. Prepare yourself
- Begin the month with good intention and with an attitude geared towards positive thinking.
The Prophet Muhammed said:
“When the month of Ramadaan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Al – Bukhari].
- Detox your life of all your gadgets for this month. No video games, apps or gadgets allowed for the next 30 days. This challenge has only one participant: you, and only one enemy: your nafs.
- The hidden booby traps have already been laid down by shaytaan, even though he is not actively participating in this challenge. Booby traps will come in the forms of bad company, peer pressure, idle talk and procrastination. But Allah is with those who steadfastly persevere.
- When you feel as though you are faltering, keep in mind that Allah always wants what’s best for you.
Just as He promises in the Qur’an:
“Allah intends ease for you and does not intend for you hardship and (wants) for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 185]
2. Become Allah conscious
- Establish punctuality in salah. Salah keeps us aware of the Almighty constantly because the next salat is only hours away. It is a mechanism that will keep us aware of our actions.
- The taraweeh salah is a gift that is given this month. Obtain maximum spiritual benefit from being punctual for the salah.
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 153]
3. Develop a relationship with Allah and the Qur’an
This part of the challenge is where you develop special skills and abilities.
The Qur’an is the timeless speech of Allah . It is a study guide for life and death and what comes after. It provides us with lessons and precious stories so that we may better understand and relate.
Aim to memorise something of the Qur’an and to understand and reflect upon its meanings.
“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Qu’ran: Chapter 13, Verse 28].
Use the times spent commuting and during breaks at school to maximise your reward by making dhikr. Adopt your favourite dhikr for the month and push yourself to increase recitation everyday.
Remember, you are competing only with yourself. Ponder over 3 of Allah ‘s attributes each day. By the end of the 30 days you will have reflected upon the 99 names of Allah and how it is so apparent in our lives.
4. Get out of your comfort zone
Sahl Ibn Sa’d reported that the Prophet said, “The one who cares for an orphan and myself will be together in paradise like this”, and he held his two fingers to illustrate. [Al – Bukhari]
I challenge you to not just feed the poor, but to eat with the orphans as well. Choose a weekend to visit the local orphanage and spend your time in the path of Allah . It’s about eating together, not just feeding the other. It’s about empathy, not just sympathy. Try to make it a sharing of food that is inspired by fasting.
5. Follow the path proven to be successful
The Prophet Muhammad is the only hero worth imitating. Inculcate a sunnah into your life. Practise it until it becomes a part of your routine; a part of who you are.
“Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 31]
6. The last stretch
As you reach the last ten nights of Ramadan, you become physically weaker but spiritually stronger. Persevere because the best is yet to come. Your bonus lies in this challenge: Laylatul Qadr. Seek this night with eagerness and patience.
The Prophet said, “Whosoever performs Qiyam during Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), with Faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his former sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Your 30-day challenge has come to an end. Raise your hands in dua, convinced that Allah is pleased with you and will accept your ibadah. Take heed of the advice of the Prophet Muhammed ,
“The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state”. [Sahih Muslim].
Realise that in the fight between you and your nafs, you have won and it is this battle which will lead you to the highest statuses with The King of kings, Allah !
So, are you up for the challenge? Let us know your thoughts and plans in the comments section.