Ramadan Battle Plan: Balancing Worship and Social Obligations

There are many rules floating around on the information super highway about how to balance life duties. “The 80/20 rule” and “finding your Zen habits” and “making time for you” are common methods of achieving the oh-so-elusive “balanced” existence that everyone yearns for but never seems to grasp. As I sit here drinking my tea of desert flowers, guzzling water like a camel, and furiously typing I am starting to realize why my life is out of balance.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both), he relates that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) once held my shoulders and said:

“Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger.” And Abdullah ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both) used to say: “If you live till night, then do not wait for the next day (i.e. do not have hopes that you will live to the next day), and if you wake up in the morning do not have hope that you will live till the night. And take (advantage) from your health before your sickness and take advantage of your life before your death (i.e. do every possible obedience in your life before death comes to you for then no deeds can be performed.)”

[Bukhari and Tirmidhi]

If we view the world as a permanent place, our duties are never ending. The constant accumulation of material wealth, the never ending quest for that perfectly designed house, incredibly successful career, or all-encompassing relationship; our focus becomes rooted in place. Unfortunately, since this false sense of permanence can shift our priorities out of whack it is extremely important to periodically reflect and readjust.

Imagine if you are traveling to a country in a far-away land to which you know you will never return. How do you approach your trip? Do you waste it all day languishing in the hotel room and watching television from your home country? Well, some of you might. But that is another issue. The question is, why do we approach our vacations in the desperate and voracious manner; planning, researching, and rushing around to squeeze the most important and beneficial things, but we don’t approach Ramadan in the same way?

Ramadan comes once a year and an unknown and unguaranteed amount of times in a lifetime. We should plan for it as if we plan for a vacation. The balance of life is completely different on vacation, as it is in Ramadan. We dig a little deeper, stretch our boundaries and comfort zones, and resist sleep and time wasters as much as possible. Is it impressive or fulfilling to spend a month in Costa Rica on Facebook? Do we feel satisfied during a month long quest through Eastern Europe if even one town or village is missed? So then why do we feel comfortable with Ramadan passing us by with only a few goals or objectives reached? Where is the traveler urgency?

Although it is important for us to approach our entire lives as a fleeting journey, it is even more so to prioritize our life in a manner that reflects this sentiment during Ramadan.

Social obligations can inhibit one’s ability to worship whether or not it is Ramadan. However, many families view Ramadan as one month long party or excuse to gather. Although family is important; it should not get in the way of worship.

Imagine again if you are on vacation; do you accept every social invitation you come across? Do you meet random strangers for five hour lunches and miss seeing the monuments, museums, or natural wonders? Those amazing once in a lifetime things take precedence over all things social. Meeting people and spending time with them can be an important part of one’s life. However, one of the many lessons imparted by Ramadan is that of self-control. Spending time socializing is like anything else; once a certain amount is consumed it ceases to be beneficial. It is only by mastering self-control that true balance can be achieved.

As always, salaam wa alaikum

Ramadan Battle Plan: Maintaining Momentum

Wow. We are on Ramadan Day 16! In the blink of an eye half of this month is gone forever.

 I am writing to you after a long and difficult day; one of many in a long and difficult time for me and my family. This Ramadan has been challenging for many different reasons, all of them simultaneously grasping at my attention and shifting my focus away from the central theme of this blessed month. It is very fitting that my most difficult Ramadan to date is the one in which I am tasked with writing about maintaining momentum.

The Ramadan Battle Plan provided me with an organized and legitimate way to set goals and to visualize myself completing a Ramadan that was more beneficial than the previous. However, one thing was missing from this Ramadan Battle Plan, that I know realize is crucial to its implementation. Throughout my time as a Muslim, my eemaan has been cyclical; going up and down with various life experiences. One thing that I think would have been helpful to me is to realize that some of the goals I was setting are completely unrealistic and are only going to make me feel inadequate. Before Ramadan I was worried about cleaning the house, freezing meals, and writing dua3 lists. Unfortunately, I completely neglected my school work and ended up having to cram every assignment into the first week of Ramadan; which left my energy crippled and my spirit drained.

Fast forward to the second week of Ramadan, my husband’s grandmother fell ill and my enthusiastic agreement to maintain English lessons for my student during Ramadan was already rubbing me the wrong way.

Where had I gone wrong? Didn’t I plan everything out? Isn’t the Ramadan Battle Plan supposed to help me plan a fantastic, soul cleansing, Earth shaking, Ramadan, eemaan-a-than?

Well…yes and no. Although the Ramadan Battle Plan is an amazing organizational tool and fantastic reminder; it will not fix your desire to overachieve, your inability to say no, or your personal problems that crop up in the Month of Mercy. However, what it will do is make you realize on everything you could accomplish if you could fix those things yourself.

My inability to maintain spiritual momentum is not a problem reserved for just one month out of the year; I have it year-round. I am constantly getting geared up and excited, biting off more than I can chew, crashing in a wave of misery, and then taking two steps back from where I initially began. This needs to end.

How can I accomplish this with the Ramadan Battle Plan?

 Well…in order to get to my “ideal” Ramadan I listed in my Battle Plan, I need to be more vigilant during the year and set priorities.

I need to feed my soul.

 I need to take care of myself and my relationship with God, first.

I need to learn how to say no and not feel guilty about it.

If I want to maintain momentum during Ramadan, I need to begin moving now.

Does that mean checking every box on my list?

Does that mean feeling sick with worry that I won’t be able to “do it all”?

Does that mean I will completely forget myself, my limitations, and my situation in order to accomplish what I feel “I should do”?

No. I have to find joy in worship again. That is the reason I signed up for the Battle Plan in the first place. Ever since moving to Saudi Arabia my eemaan has dipped to a low level and has slowly risen, but not returned to a place of which I am proud.

Where is my joy?

In order to maintain momentum, I need to find the joy that makes it all worthwhile.

As always, salaam wa alaikum

Ramadan Battle Plan Days 5-8: A Reflection

 

download

I have been so swamped over the last few days. I don’t like to admit it but carrying three graduate classes at once due to a ridiculous semester overlap has left me worn out. These past few days I have completed my household duties with scorn and resentment; every morsel of food I cooked was “delaying me from my studies” and every piece of laundry I washed was also treated with a scoop of fresh contempt. Even the last two lessons I have had with my student, despite them being quite productive and lovely, have caused me a great deal of stress. The way I have treated my obligations over the last few days has not made me proud.

The glorious thing about fasting is it offers perspective. If one is not careful, the days can quickly pass by clogged by consumption and fruitlessness. When you take away consumption as an option, your bad habits and crutches become clear. These past few days have made me contemplate what time of Muslim and woman I want to be.

Do I want to be the type of person that resents her obligations, or one that performs them with a smile?

Do I want to find misery in the crowded days or do I want to find joy?

These questions, although rhetorical, have provided me with an undervalued conversation; one with myself.

Over the next month and beyond, I hope to rid myself of the toxic attitude that arises when I am feeling the pressure of responsibilities. Especially since I have tasked myself with the majority of my duties, I need to find a happy medium between hazardously ecstatic and unnecessarily morose. Here’s to the coming days 

As always, salaam wa alaikum

Ramadan Battle Plan: Day 4

Here I am presenting to you one of my works that was published in the July 2014 issue of SISTERS magazine. Since it has to do with a productive Ramadan, I have shared it with you. If you would like to visit SISTERS magazine, please visit their website.

My sisters,

I am writing to you not as a scholar or religious leader, but as a revert who has stood in your shoes, exactly where you are now. As Ramadhan approaches, the festivities can place focus on our relationships or lack of Muslim companionship or family. It is extremely difficult to start life anew, free of established social safety nets. For many of us, the desire to cling to our old lives and ways can be very powerful. For others, our old lives are too painful to face and distance is placed between our past and present. Either way, making the decision to accept Islam reorganizes our lives deeply, all the way through to its very foundation. It is unnatural not to lose some pieces along the way. This loss could manifest in a once bursting river of social activity that slows to a trickle. Friends could forget to return your last call. You may have even ended a marriage or severed a haram relationship. Families could rebel against the “new you”. Relationships that you have cultivated for years could evaporate into thin air. The specific damage inflicted by this choice of religion varies between individuals, but life does not march on untouched.

There will come a time when you feel the absence of those lost.

Fret not. This loneliness, which is now unpleasant and unfamiliar, will one day be a quiet memory. All of that vast emptiness was full of opportunity; I was simply unaware.

Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544: Narrated ‘A’isha t:
Allah’s Apostle r said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it was the prick he receives from a thorn”. (Bukhari)

The first time I felt the sting of loneliness was during that first Ramadhan. Since I was at university, I never broke my fast alone. However, waking up for suhoor unaccompanied flooded my mind with self-pity. Every morning, I would shuffle around in the dark and quiet, wholly alone; completely oblivious to the gift I had been given. Having always been surrounded by people, my immature mind confused solitude with emptiness. Establishing a Muslim family of my own was the beacon of light I gravitated towards. The impatience for my life to “move on” was unbearable. Due to my immaturity as a Muslim and person, I failed to find solace in the dark and silence at the expense of an important concept.

Does mankind think that they will be left to say, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? (Al-Ankabut:2)

You will reflect back on these seemingly difficult times and remember only the calm. This pause in your life is fleeting and the tranquility you once wished fervently away will be present only in your memories. Quite often our trials are wished away, right along with their inherent blessings. Only then is our problem replaced with one more difficult. The blessings found within these difficulties come from strengthening and developing one’s relationship with Allah I. Use this solitude to establish a strong relationship with your Creator. Take advantage of the unfilled hours and read Qur’an, supplicate and reflect on the journey ahead of you, before your life is cluttered with obligations, relationships and distractions. Begin your days as a Muslim by building your identity and fortifying your soul.

It is not to say that having a Muslim family, a group of friends or Muslim children are not blessings for which to be grateful. However, it is a farce to believe that happiness will come from these added responsibilities and relationships simply because they are “Muslim”. Every aspect of this world is a test, with difficulty that waxes and wanes, regardless of whether your “Muslim family” consists of one or one thousand.

“Bear with patience whatever befalls you….” (Luqman:17).

I promise you the loneliness is a catalyst designed to create a new you; one worthy of the honorable path you have chosen. Lean into these times. Savor them.

Be not sad, surely Allah is with us.” (At-Tawbah:40)

Love,
K.T. Lynn

Ramadan Battle Plan: Day 3…. a Marathon not a Sprint

10413378_551323951656350_8927699100879451424_n

I actually am going to rest today. I think I started out of the gate too fast in excitement and was trying to do too much!

I still have English lessons that I am giving and I still have the rest of my school work to finish, so I need to make sure I have enough energy for the rest of the month.

Make sure that your actions are sustainable and that they won’t wear you out for the rest of the month in Sha Allah :)

as always, salaam wa alaikum

Saudi Marriage Procedure Guidelines: Ministry Of Interior

YankeeDoodleSaudi:

This is interesting!

Originally posted on Future Husbands And Wives Of Saudis (FHWS):

1 July 2014 Update: The age requirement for Saudi men to apply for the marriage permission has been reduced from 35 years to 25 years except for marrying a Moroccan which was only decreased to 30 years of age. This alert of the new change was provided by FHWS reader, Julieta. I was not aware of it being announced by the Ministry of Interior through Saudi news agencies. Sometimes the only way we know that something has changed is to either go to the government website or inquire in person at either the Ministry of Interior or emarah. To verify details of the new procedures, you can go to the English page for Saudi Arabia – Ministry of Interior – Riyadh Principality.

19 June 2010 Update:Interior Ministry Launches Human Rights Website. Colonel Ibrahim Al-Men’ai, Supervisor of the Human Rights Department at the ministry, said the website will allow…

View original 1,906 more words

Ramadan Battle Plan: Day 2

Honestly, I am exhausted in day 2. I started thinking about how the quality of people has declined with the generations and how I am part of the bottom of the barrel. I get tired from simply fasting and things when I get to sit inside in air conditioning. Imagine the strength it must take to work outside all day and fast and then go home and pray taraweh!? Or play in the world cup while fasting? Or to fast while everyone is eating around you? Much love to everyone around the world who is fasting in more difficult conditions than I. You are an inspiration and make me ashamed to say that I am “working hard”.

Another observation: There is a reason heaven is under a mother’s feet. I am pretty sure that being a mother is the most thankless, difficult, humiliating, and tiring job on the face of this planet. Watching my mother in law work to feed everyone, imagining my friends watching their children and feeding them while they are fasting and never having a break; that is fasting! Hats off to the mommies out there! I feel like I can barely manage my life and Ramadan duties, let alone be the leader and caretaker of children. Masha’Allah tabarakAllah.

This Ramadan I urge you to take time to consider those who have a more difficult time than you. There are no excuses! Remember that for every act of worship you do there is someone who is doing it better with more difficulties! Every time I feel tired, I look to the old, the sick, the mothers with their children swarming and my back straightens. Thank God for everything.

As always, salaam wa alaikum.

Ramadan Battle Plan: Day 1

I think one of the most important achievements made by using this Ramadan Battle Plan has been the excited energy that I have this Ramadan that has surpassed the last two. I am so excited about Ramadan that I have self done henna on my hands and I can’t resist typing this.
For me I have been preparing and waiting for this month, so when it finally arrive I felt joy. Instead of dread, impatience, or apathy I am extremely happy that this blessed month is here and that I can reap the fruits of my preperation in Sha Allah.

Ramadan Kareem to all. May Allah accept your fasting and ibadah.
Ameen.

As always, salaam wa alaikum

15 Easy Good deeds to do throughout Ramadan!

YankeeDoodleSaudi:

Great reminders masha’Allah

Originally posted on ISLAM is the Best Religion on the Universe:

How to prepare in Ramadan

1. Sitting after Fajr remembering Allah until sunrise:

“Whoever prays fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays 2 rakats of salat has a complete reward of (Nafil) Hajj and Umrah. (The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) repeated the word ‘complete’ 3 times for emphasis) [Tirmidhi]

2. A house in Jannah for praying 12 Sunnah each day: 

“Allah will build house in Jannah for whoever is diligent in obsering 12 sunnah rakat (as follows) 4 rakat before and 2 after Dhur, 2 after the Maghrib, 2 after Ishaa, and 2 before Fajr.” [Tirmidhi]

3. Attending lectures in the Masjid. 

“Whoever goes to the mosque not desiring except to learn or teach what is good has the reward of a pilgrim who completed his Hajj”[Tabarani]

4. Visiting a sick Muslim.

“There is no Muslim who visits a sick muslim early in the morning but 70 thousand angles send blessings…

View original 1,177 more words

SISTERS Contributions

SISTERS Contributions

I contributed two pieces to the July 2014 issue of SISTERS magazine. “The End of the Honeymoon Phase” and “Dear Reverts”. You can pre-order this issue here. My pen name is K.T. Lynn  I received the PDF’s today; this was a great “5 year Muslim-versary” present! al hamdililah for everything.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 315 other followers

%d bloggers like this: