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Self Development

Breaking Those Addictions During Ramadan

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 July 2014 13:25

Happy New You
By Maria Zain
Freelance writer,UK
good-habits-bad-habits
Is it smoking and / or constant food bingeing? Well, fasting certainly stops one from doing both during the day.

Ramadan is always the month where people talk about making changes, engaging in good deeds and breaking bad habits, i.e., the non-beneficial deeds. But does it really work?

How does one really engage in breaking those bad habits? Though I am not professor in sociology, and am still self-studying such behavioral sciences, I do believe in the heartiest of hearts that bad habits can be broken.  And this is especially true during Ramadan.

It’s true that we reached the last third of Ramadan. However, it’s never too late; you can start today!

A bad habit is a string of bad deeds that have become repetitive or even addictive. They could be as simple as indulging in front of the television, over-eating, over-spending, back-biting, vain talk, instigating quarrels with others, not lowering one’s gaze, and generally engaging in activities that could bring us closer to zina (adultery). Whatever it is, Ramadan is probably the best time to make those changes.

More articles by Maria:

- The Qur’an and Little Hearts

- Learn to Speak the Language of Compassion

- Reflections on the Islamic Dress Code

- Raising Muslims Amidst Adversities

Cultivate a Deep Love for Allah and the Qur’an

The first step to break an addiction is to cultivate a deep love for Allah and the Qur’an. In fact, being very aware about the benefits of fasting alone rather than skimming the fast on the surface makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to breaking bad habits.

In the Qur’an it says:

"O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil." (Al Baqarah: 183).

Guarding one’s self against evil is one of the underlying notions of the fasting month, but this can only be achieved through fasting with sincerity and for the sake of Allah alone. Without that conscientious effort, fasting becomes difficult and full of resentment. But when fasting becomes an integral part of loving Allah, the entire Ramadan becomes light weight and a joy to please Allah and Allah alone. With this, the determination to worship transposes into determination to break bad habits for the sake of Allah.

If you are on a mend, keep steadfast to your beliefs; if you want to make a change, go ahead and push forward with all the might you have, if you have a bad habit you want to break, do it and don’t look back.

Find the Motivation to Break that Habit

While being familiar with the Qur’an and the hadith, Muslims who want to break their addictions should be able to pin point their bad habits and pay heed to the direction to actually change their ways.

So which habit do you really want to break?

Is it smoking and / or constant food bingeing? Well, fasting certainly stops one from doing both during the day. Make a resolution to not break the habit after night fall.

Remember that Allah says:

“Eat of the good things, which we have provided for you, (Al-Baqarah: 173).

In Surah Ar-Rahman, Allah talks about balance and nutrition for good health, so this is a good motivation to break the bad habit of smoking and food bingeing, when both habits bring more harm than good to one’s body. Accordingly, one of the two blessings humans are deluded by is good health. The measure of good health is only noticed when one falls ill – and both smoking and bingeing cause illnesses and downplay the importance of good health in every way.

Is wasting time becoming a bad habit and the feeling of unproductiveness becoming over-whelming? Then recall the important verse in the Qur’an, al-Asr, reminding us that time is limited and what we do with our time will be questioned on the Day of Judgment.

Is the habit of quarreling with others, something you want to break? Do you wish to have better control over your temper?

Allah has provided ways to conquer temper flares through performing ablution and others, such as curbing anger by sitting and then lying down. Saying the Istaghfar is a good way to keep Satan’s reckonings at bay. (This was reported in the 'Musnad' of Ahmad). Remember also that it is the whispers of Satan, though he is locked up, that causes us to argue with each other and break apart in disunity.

Is back-biting and vain talk a problem?

Surah Al-Humazah talks about both bad habits very sternly. And in a narration amongst Imam Nawawi’s Hadith compilation, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reminds to speak good otherwise remain silent.

Is “addiction” to the opposite gender – no matter in what form, leading to zina? There are various “levels” of zina (adultery), and each one is prohibited, lest our lower selves venture out into the more severe stages. Then a fruitful reminder would be in this verse: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest,” (An-Nur: 30-31).

In a hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported as having said: “And the eyes commit zina (adultery). Their zina is gazing.”

Whatever the habit is, whatever the addiction that is leading to laziness, ignorance and deviation from the Straight Path, it can be broken as long as we are reminded of the injunctions of the Qur’an and the corresponding hadith narrations. To read up and search for enlightenment is a blessing on its own, and searching would lead to understanding, and understanding will lead to practice insha Allah.

Engage in Good Deeds to Break Bad Habits

Engaging in good deeds will help break bad habits as they will bring us closer to Allah in full sincerity. What is more, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) narrated that good deeds wipe out sins, thus should be again a motivation in keeping with the best of intentions, behavior and actions.

Surah Hood revealed important advice from Allah: "And perform Salat (prayer), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory Daily prayers). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice)."

This verse was in response to an incident whereby a man unlawfully kissed a girl and went to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for help.

The Prophet announced that this verse was for all the believers, (Bukhari), thus for Muslims even today, quickly engage in good deeds to wipe out bad inklings or even intentions before they turn into actions. And if one falls into the trap of a bad habit again, quickly repent to Allah and ask for forgiveness with the intention to never go down that path again. Even half a date in charity will save one from Hell-fire (Bukhari). 

Ramadan is the month of Miracles and part of those miracles are making changes for the better. Remember Allah, and Allah will keep you in Mind. Ask and He will respond. And Allah never goes back on His Promises.

Keep Good Company

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace,” (Bukhari & Muslim).

Similarly, the Qur’an says: “And keep yourself patient by being with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever in neglect,” Kahf: 28).

In all cases, the camaraderie of good companionship resonates throughout Islamic history. It is so important to keep friends who strive to better themselves and the spillover effects of doing so will affect those around them. To break an addiction or bad habit, keep close to those who have similar goals and in turn, the togetherness will infuse collective Love for Allah and enhance the need to engage in good and shun evil.

Ramadan is the month of Miracles and part of those miracles are making changes for the better. Remember Allah, and Allah will keep you in Mind. Ask and He will respond. And Allah never goes back on His Promises.

If you are on a mend, keep steadfast to your beliefs; if you want to make a change, go ahead and push forward with all the might you have, if you have a bad habit you want to break, do it and don’t look back.  And always remember to ask from Allah through du’a and never give up on His Mercy. Allah provides miracles every day of the year, and it happens to those who love Him and whom He loves in return.

Maria Zain is a home-educating mother of 5 little children and a certified Childbirth Educator (AMANI Birth Institute), living in the UK. She often finds herself writing about natural birth and parenting, and has a passion for homeschooling and autonomous learning. She also creates earth and birth-inspired jewellery at Gardens of Adneen on Etsy. Besides her work for OnIslam, she has also been published in Saudi Life (KSA), DinarStandard (USA), SISTERS Magazine (UK), Discovery Magazine (UK), and several publications in her home-country, Malaysia.
 

Jeewan in Ramadan: The Journey Just Begins

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 July 2014 12:43

Happy New You
By Jeewan Chanicka
Writer- Canada
JeewaninRamadan-The-Journey-Just-Begins
"This Ramadan, make a portion of each day for yourself, your family and your community."- Jeewan Chanicka

It’s important that we do not reduce the value of Ramadan and make it become like other consumer-based holidays as it is not.

Ramadan is not a period of starving the physical needs in the day and indulging them at night. It is a time of balancing all elements of the self- the body, the spirit and heart.

Ramadan is about nourishing the body and soul with the light of sacrifice and patience. It is a time of giving without want of receipt. It is about finding the joy of submission and learning how to take this out of Ramadan into our daily lives.

  • The Holy Qur’an:
  • Check Out:

- Ramadan Reflections (On Facebook)

  • And Read Previous Ramadan Notes By Jeewan:

- An Agenda For Change

- Letters to the Self

- We Begin With Mercy

Ramadan is a month that gained its significance because of the revelation of the Qur’an. Find time to re-acquaint yourself with it.

Take it off the highest shelf and dust if off. Keep it on a lower shelf so you can reach it when you want. Set a goal for yourself. Read some verses each day AND reflecting on them.

While it is good to try and complete the reading of the Qur’an during the month, in many ways it will be more valuable to read and reflect on it.

How has the Qur’an taken root in our lives? or has it? What do we need to do? Let’s tranquility sooth our souls and take away the noises that we often surround ourselves with. 1) If you have guests over for Iftar, try to make sure that you allow sometime just before iftar for each of you to either collectively or individually read the Qur’an, then make dhikr and dua.

2) Try to prepare meals earlier in the day so that you are not losing the sweetest part of the day cooking. Let each member of the family make a commitment to assist in those day to day things so as to give each person in the family an equal amount of time to engage in various forms of worship.

  • Shopping:

 We often spend time making extravagant iftars/meals for breaking the fast. We spend hours eating and wasting much time at groceries and stores.

This Ramadan let us make a commitment to eat simply and enough.

Sadly, today there are many who also waste food in Ramadan. Instead of learning or reminding ourselves of the value of time, we lose it engaging in activities that simply satiate our physical selves and reduce our ability to connect with our higher selves.

1) Make a meal plan, keep them simple so that those who cook don’t have to spend their days in the kitchen and instead immerse themselves in other activities.

Each individual should realize that this Ramadan is an opportunity to improve their relationship with their Lord.

If you attend or plan iftars, please keep this in mind. Many people plan iftars and it becomes a social gathering filled with much idle talk and conversation.

The remembrance becomes lost in a rash of jokes and senseless conversations. If you plan the iftar, let your guest know ahead of time what you plan to do about Taraweeh and encourage them to pray with you.

Remember this month is to spend time connecting ourselves with our Creator. The best connections with people happen when we balance our connections between the social, the spiritual and the collective responsibilities.

2) Keep Iftar invitations simple. Consider making simple meals and not too many dishes. The goal of breaking fast together is to get the blessing of remembering Allah’s many blessings collectively.

3) Remember the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) guidance of filling one third of our stomach with food, another third with water and the other third air. Don’t overfill yourself or push guests to overfill themselves.

4) Buy your gifts now. Consider re-using bags and using recycled paper or newspaper to wrap it as we are caretakers of our earth as well.

5) Taraweeh prayer: Make a commitment to at least pray Taraweeh during Ramada; ideally at a mosque or musallah and if you are unable to, then try to do so at your own home with your family.

  • Family:

A time to reconnect; A time to get rid of the excuses of work and all the “stuff” that fills our lives. It is a time to reflect on how you can maintain some of the sweetness that you gain from reconnecting.

A time to think of converts who may not have the support system in place that some may have. It is a time to invite them, to ensure that we care for them and include them as a member of our families.

  • Friends:

 Rekindle to nectar of brotherhood and sisterhood. For too long we have allowed ourselves to become engulfed in insignificant stuff that fills our time.

Take the time to make a call, to meet, to pray for and to reconnect with the brothers and sisters who have made an impact in your life. Ramadan is a chance to say “Thank You”, as we cannot be grateful to Allah if we are not grateful to those who help us.

Do you have problems getting up for sahoor; arrange to get a friend to call you.

If you need help with this let me know insha Allah.

  • Effort and Sacrifice:

Ramadan is not a time to sleep the day away. It is meant to be a training ground. To stretch us, push us and help us to realize our truest inner potentials.

To reconnect us to the Divine and to help clarify our vision so our purpose becomes clear once more.

No more, “remembering the good days” but starting to understand how to re-prioritize our lives so that we begin to live meaningfully once again.

Find events, community needs, and gather your friends and family to help support.

Remember to give sadaqah (charity). Consider instead of preparing a lavish iftar, to keep it simple and make much more to give to a shelter.

Find a way to give back to your neighbors and community.

This was the spirit with which the prophet (peace be upon him) lived.

This Ramadan, make a portion of each day for yourself, your family and your community.

 

Related Links:
When is Your Ramadan?
How Do Muslims Welcome Ramadan?
Make This Ramadan Your Best Ramadan Ever
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan

Jeewan Chanicka is from Toronto, Canada, and has been involved in working with youth, education, and social services issues since 1993. He graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors in individualized studies at York University with a focus on conflict resolution and culturally appropriate forms of mediation and completed his Masters Degree in Education at York University.

 

Jeewan's focus has been working with at-risk youth both in and out of the school system. He has done much work with both youth and adults, especially around parenting, teenage and youth issues, and bridging the gap between generations.

 

Your Guide to Revival in Ramadan

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 June 2014 10:24

Happy New You
YourGuide-to-Revival-in-Ramadan
Ramadan is the golden opportunity for everyone as many have had their lives transformed in Ramadan.

The doors of heaven are open while the doors of hellfire are closed.  The devils are tied up while Allah increases your rewards in multiples for every good that you do.  It really is the most blessed time of the year: it is Ramadan.

In past years, Ramadan came, Ramadan left, and sometimes, not much may have changed.  Even if we thought we had a ‘good’ Ramadan, should we not continue to aim higher and approach this Ramadan with the intent to make it better than the last?

Ramadan is a time of revival for everyone – those who have been practicing for years, those who have just come to realize the beauty of feeling close to Allah and those who may have not fully realize that beauty yet. Ramadan is the golden opportunity for everyone as many have had their lives transformed in Ramadan.

Better yet, how would you like to come out of Ramadan this year feeling that it was the best Ramadan you have ever experienced? How would you like to excel this Ramadan and reach a level in jannah in sha Allah you never dreamed of before? This, more than ever, is the time to revive our souls for the year and revive the race to jannah as Allah states:

“And hasten to the forgiveness of your Lord and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the (Mutaqeen) God-fearing (3:133)”.

So how is it that we can reap the most out of this blessed month, and ensure that we come out of it, more righteous and pious than we entered it? Here are some tips:

1) Start making dua’a that Allah allows us to witness Ramadan this year and places barakah (blessings) in it.  The companions peace be upon them used to spend the six months preceding Ramadan, praying that Allah will allow them to witness Ramadan and the six months following it, praying that Allah accepted their deeds in it.

2) Start forming your good habits and increasing your good deeds from now.  It is reported that the Prophet peace be upon him used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban (which is the month we are currently in that precedes Ramadan) except the last few days and when asked why he did, he replied:

"That is the month people neglect. It comes between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are raised to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds be raised while I am fasting." [An-Nasaa'i]

3) Make a conscious decision to change in Ramadan.  Decide which habits you would like to drop and which you would like to adopt.  Be specific and realistic.  If there is one or a maximum of three habits that you would like to develop, which you think are most important, then focus your efforts on them.

Many experts have cited that it takes at least 21 days to break or form a new habit, so Ramadan can be the perfect opportunity to drop negative habits and develop positive ones.

4) Plan your Ramadan Resolutions before Ramadan so that once you enter, you are mentally and physically prepared to start making changes.

It is wise to decide on one big vision (Ex/ I want to love the Quran, I want to develop khujoo’ (humility) in my prayer, I want to make a big difference in the lives of those less fortunate) and then have sub goals under areas such as:

  • Prayer (including extra prayers, night prayer, taraweeh)
  • Charity (Does not just include money – can include dedicating time to social service and assistance)
  • Quran (Decide on how much you would like to read, memorize, review) 
  • Dawa (Help others around you feel the beauty of becoming closer to Allah)
  • Strengthening family ties (Make sure that before Ramadan starts, there are no hard feelings toward relatives, be the first to call and reconcile, or just call to say Ramadan mubarak)
  • Duaa (Allah loves insistence in duaa, so make a list of 5-6 most important duas to you and insist on them every time you make duaa)
  • Buddy System: Arrange with a friend or friends to keep each other in check during Ramadan
Start forming your good habits and increasing your good deeds from now

5) Be aware of distractions before or during Ramadan.  Turn off the TV and social media and prioritize your commitments.  Also, please remember that Ramadan is intended to be a month of fasting and prayers, as opposed to elaborate dinner parties/iftars.

There are many resources available online for sisters now about how to save time in the kitchen, take advantage of meal planning, and spend more time on worship.  Be sure to ask your family for help and remember the ultimate purpose of Ramadan is to achieve taqwa.

Also, try to finish any major house cleaning and Eid shopping before Ramadan so you are not wasting precious time, especially in the last 10 days of Ramadan, cleaning or shopping.

6) Manage your energy in Ramadan by organizing your sleep and being aware of your nutrition in order to avoid burn out. If possible, take a nap during the day in order to have energy for taraweeh at night.

If there is any way to adjust your work hours so that you can start later in the morning in order to catch up on sleep after fajr, this would be ideal.

For nutrition, make sure you drink 8 glasses of water between iftar and suhoor to stay hydrated and for suhoor and iftar, eat high energy, nutrition rich foods such as dates, honey, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges, spinach, almonds, salmon, eggs, and yogurt.

7) Be aware of engaging in any vain talk, gossip, or excessive arguing. The prophet peace be upon him said:

“Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1804).

Fill your time with the remembrance of Allah, reciting Quran, reading Islamic material.

8) Create a special Ramadan atmosphere, especially if you have children, by fostering family traditions like praying together, reading Quran together, volunteering together, and explaining the importance of Ramadan to your children.  There are many resources and activity books/ideas available online for children in Ramadan.

9) Don’t think that when Ramadan is over that you should give up the good habits you adopted and go back to your old ways.  Ramadan proves to you that you have the time and energy to do the good things you have been doing.  To ensure that Ramadan was accepted, you should be able to continue striving to attain taqwa (God consciousness) which is the purpose of Ramadan.

Imagine how much more we can gain from Ramadan if we look forward to it and prepare for it as we would for our own graduation, or wedding, or birth of a child.  Subhana’Allah, though those things bring us joy in this world, having a fruitful Ramadan where we are forgiven of our sins could be the reason for our joy for an eternity, Insha’Allah.

This is the time brothers and sisters to race for the forgiveness of Allah (SWT) and to resolve to make a new start that is filled with righteous actions for Allah .

So, let us make this new start in Shaaban, increase it in Ramadan and continue for the rest of the year Insha’Allah..  Let us not deprive ourselves of this profound opportunity to be amongst the inhabitants of a Paradise that spans the heavens and the earth, Insha’Allah.

 

References

 For more resources, including a Ramadan checklist, feel free to visithttp://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/2012/07/09/preparing-to-excel-in-ramadan/.

Related Links:
When is Your Ramadan?
How Do Muslims Welcome Ramadan?
Make This Ramadan Your Best Ramadan Ever
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan

Raghad Ebied has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Bachelor of Education and acquired certification in Leadership, Life Coaching, Adults Training, and Relationship Coaching.   She is currently completing her Masters in Educational Leadership and is the founder of www.MuslimWomenSuccessCoach.com offering online and LIVE courses and coaching to Muslim sisters around the world on marriage, personal development, and parenting, as well as www.DestinationExcellence.ca which offers speaking, training and coaching on soft skills and educational excellence to schools, government and community organizations. She is married and blessed with two children.

 

What About World Cup and Other Distractions?

Last Updated on Monday, 16 June 2014 09:26

Self Management: The Great Balancing Act
By Ameera Rahim
WhatAboutWorld-Cup-and-Other-Distractions
While there is much fun to enjoy, there's only 24 hours in a day…

With today's distractions: Facebook, football, hobbies, candy crush -- we have to find a balance through it all. The old saying goes "time flies when you're having fun."  But what no one is saying is that time flies when you're having fun and beneficial time spent is left behind in the midst of all that fun.

While it's okay to enjoy your time with fun activities, we can't let it consume all our days. We log online to check an email and our messages, then before we know it, hours have passed and you've become distracted by Facebook updates. Refreshing the page to see if anything changed from a minute ago. Hey, I know I'm not the only one!

Even in light of the World Cup, which has just started, there is always something that might distract us! Whether you're cheering for Brazil or Croatia we have to remember to find balance.  Hey, even the players in the World Cup have to make proper use of their time! Otherwise, they wouldn't be there in the first place, they are living their life and dreams to the fullest and we can do the same if we prepare today!

Here are four important steps to better time and self-management:

1- Set goals-- what do you need to accomplish today, this week, this month?  If that's too much, try baby steps, set daily goals, write your To do list and take time to accomplish it.

Parents can sit with their children and write down goals to accomplish, small term and long term goals. Having it written makes for a great reminder and it can aid in helping each other work towards those goals.  Goals can include study time, what next, and work to cover and how many hours needed to accomplish it.

2- Get to bed on time- early to bed, early to rise-- will help you manage your time! TV shows are a big distraction, keeping us up late, taking our time, and filling our head up with often times useless information.

One show turns into watching the first three seasons of x y z show on Netflix . Staying up late can hinder us from getting up early to get a head start on our day. Allah made the day for work and the night for rest. There's a reason why, getting optimum rest is good for the body. For us to prioritize and manage our selves better our body also has to be well rested and not tired and sluggish.

3- Start your day with fajr- from there map out your day. Don't let your time just slip away- plan it.  Even if you go back to sleep, allot a short time for that before you start your first activity.  Ideally it's better to not go back to sleep, but hey we can all relate! So After fajr , what's the second most important task to get done? And then the third task to accomplish? And so on... Fajr is a great start to map out your day.

This way, you would get all the important tasks accomplished and you will have the time to watch how your favorite team is doing in the World Cup!

4- Have all the tools readily available and prepared- in life there's tools to help one succeed. Choose your tools wisely! Because without them or choosing the wrong ones will lead to difficulty, if not failure.

Parents can provide these tools so their children can get used to having them and they will use them throughout their life and be a better-organized person. The tools to have are timers, clocks with alarms, organizers, note pads, calendars, pens/pencils, dry erase boards and so on to fit --what one needs to make best use of their time.

While there is much fun to enjoy, there's only 24 hours in a day…

1,440 minutes in a day…

86,440 seconds in a day…

How will you spend it?

Let's remember to get the maximum benefit!

So help us God.

 

References

 For more resources, including a Ramadan checklist, feel free to visithttp://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/2012/07/09/preparing-to-excel-in-ramadan/.

Related Links:
When is Your Ramadan?
How Do Muslims Welcome Ramadan?
Make This Ramadan Your Best Ramadan Ever
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan
   

Be Productive, Even with Summer Heat! (Folder)

Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2014 15:36

Tips for Muslim Youths
By Family Editorial Board
BeProductive-Even-in-Summer-Heat
We welcome our readers' input on this topic. You can post your feedback through the comment box below.
References

 For more resources, including a Ramadan checklist, feel free to visithttp://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/2012/07/09/preparing-to-excel-in-ramadan/.

Related Links:
When is Your Ramadan?
How Do Muslims Welcome Ramadan?
Make This Ramadan Your Best Ramadan Ever
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan
 

How to Prepare Your Body for Fasting?

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 June 2014 13:18

Ramadan Preparations
Tips for Muslim Youths
By Carissa D. Lamkahouan
Freelance Writer, USA
HowtoPrepare-Your-Body-for-Fasting
Of course, what you eat and what you start cutting back on now will make a difference in how easily you slip into fasting.

That anticipated cup of coffee following Fajr prayer. That juicy hamburger at lunch followed by that savory chocolate cake to top it off. Muslims will have to do without all of these things while fasting during the upcoming month of Ramadan.

However, if you properly prepare your body for what promises to be a long and sweltering month for Muslims worldwide, hunger pains will be the least of what you will be dealing with.

As Ramadan approaches, focusing on the spiritual blessings of this ninth month of the Islamic calendar should be the first priority for those observing the fast. By easing into the fast and making small changes now, you’ll increase your chances of avoiding otherwise inevitable symptoms that come with significantly decreasing food intake including headaches, migraines and stomach aches.

With those worries out of the way, reading Quran, praying Taraweeh, practicing good deeds and seeking Allah’s mercy and pleasure will become much easier and, as Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, will bring more rewards and forgiveness of sins.

Practical steps to take

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: Every deed of man will receive 10 to 700 times reward, except siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like).” (Muslim)

Abu Huraira also related that the Prophet (PBUH)said: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward with Allah will have his past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

With those hadiths in minds, ensuring your body is prepped for a successful fast is essential.

The first step is to practice going to sleep earlier at night. With Fajr beginning at 5 a.m. and earlier in many parts of the world, ensuring that you don’t sleep through your alarm will be better served by sleeping early the night before. Aim to pray Isha’a as soon as it is called and go to bed soon after that.

This way you’ll have time to wake before Fajr and have  something to eat before praying and returning to bed. A healthy and filling suhoor, particularly one that packs a hefty protein punch like eggs, will go a long way toward getting you through the long day comfortably. And of course don’t forget to drink an appropriate amount of water.

Staying hydrated is crucial to fasting in summer. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) himself stressed the importance of eating suhoor.

“Have suhoor, as indeed there is a blessing in it.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

He also said, “The difference between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is the (meal of) suhoor.” (Muslim)

Of course, what you eat and what you start cutting back on now will make a difference in how easily you slip into fasting. One of the biggest culprits for a difficult transition into fasting is waiting until the first day of Ramadan to cut out all caffeine. This practice is sure to lead to a pounding heading or even a migraine long before Maghrib time. And with so many Muslims regularly enjoying coffee and tea as part of their daily routines, scaling back now is prudent.

To do this, try cutting your morning cup of coffee in half, or if you enjoy two cups, make it only one. If you regularly take tea in the early afternoon or later in the day, decrease the amount by one cup. Put both of these changes into practice for at least a week then take it down even more until by the start of Ramadan you’re essentially caffeine-free during the daylight hours. Of course this same strategy also applies to sodas, which should be limited in general if consumed at all.

Reduce your food and stay fit!

Now let’s talk food. The same principal applies to food when it comes to cutting back slowly. Maybe eat one small bowl of cereal in the morning instead a larger portion, or simply leave second servings of dinner on the stove rather than piling them onto your plate. You’ll eat less and have leftovers for a quick lunch the next day.

Also, try to resist eating a large meal the night before Ramadan begins. Remember, you’re not only training your body to function comfortably on less food, you’re also signaling your mind and your appetite that the fast is approaching.

Paying attention to what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. Muslims should work to wean their bodies of heavy-and not to mention unhealthy-fried foods, meats, salt and sugar. All of these foods, particularly sugar and salt, trigger reactions in the body, which can make cravings even harder to fight.  Once you eat that first piece of cake or pop those first few potato chips in your mouth, you’ll find it much more difficult to stop than if you hadn’t eaten any in the first place.

Instead, think of reaching for more plant-based foods when planning meals and snacks. A wide variety of vegetables, fruits and nuts in addition to fish and whole-grain breads are good options that, while filling, still feel light in the stomach and assist the body in breaking the habit of needing heavier food to feel satisfied.

But preparing for Ramadan is not all about limiting certain foods and eating smaller meals, it’s also about modifying your exercise routine. It’s true that fasting slows the metabolism, making it harder to keep fit and burn calories at your usual level. To combat that, gentle exercise is recommended during Ramadan.

Great options include moderate walking shortly before breaking the fast, ensuring you won’t go too long without water. Swimming and Yoga are other good options. And of course stretching regularly, particularly in the morning, is important for keeping the body limber.

Finally, any light exercise you can accomplish while fasting will help keep your energy up when it’s likely lagging as the clock moves closer and closer to Maghrib.

 

References

 For more resources, including a Ramadan checklist, feel free to visithttp://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/2012/07/09/preparing-to-excel-in-ramadan/.

Related Links:
When is Your Ramadan?
How Do Muslims Welcome Ramadan?
Make This Ramadan Your Best Ramadan Ever
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan
 

Are You Positive or Negative Person?

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 21:43

Ramadan Preparations
Well-Being
By Saiyyidah Zaidi-Stone
Founder of Working Muslim- London
happy-sad-faces
With positivity we learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others, and become the best version of ourselves.
Feeling both positive and negative emotions at the same time creates an interesting dynamic for Muslims and gives us a lot to consider.

Professional and academic research looking at the relationship between positive and negative emotions shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads people to a tipping point beyond which they naturally become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine.

With positivity we learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others, and become the best version of ourselves.

We experience emotions constantly in our daily lives- related to people, experiences or events like Ramadan. It’s how we allow ourselves to be affected and consider these emotions that really matters.

The more you see how Allah has blessed you, you see His presence in your life, the more you will have a soothing heart.

Balanced Feelings

As Muslims we know that we should be moderate in all things, aiming to create a balance so that we are at peace with ourselves and with what Allah has given to us in our short time on earth.

We should avoid extremes in every thing; including emotions- any extreme can be destructive whether it is positive or negative.

Positive emotions are things like love, hope, enthusiasm, determination, gratefulness, optimism, elatedness, and confidence. Negative emotions are irritation, annoyance, embarrassment, sadness, fear, being unhappy, being afraid or overwhelmed.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, said an authentic hadith narrated by Bukhari”None of you will truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” So you have a positive attitude when you are experiencing good emotions, when you look at the life blessings you are receiving; by then remember that you have so much more than others. And I urge you to take a few moments and pray for your brothers and sisters all over the world who do not have what you have. Do this while you are in a positive state of mind.

Thanking someone is realizing and valuing what they have done for you. The more you thank someone the more you will see better things about yourself and about the others.

The more you see how Allah has blessed you, you see His presence in your life, the more you will have a soothing heart. “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” [Qur’an, 14:7].

We should avoid extremes in every thing; including emotions- any extreme can be destructive whether it is positive or negative.

Taking time out when you are busy to thank Allah may mean you are overwhelmed because you will never be able to thank Allah for everything He has given you…  but you will truly cherish Allah’s existence in your life.

Now, let’s briefly look at negative emotions we may feel – perhaps because we are disappointed with ourselves because we haven’t performed to the best of our ability, or because we are feeling anxiety or depression or envy. Only we know when we feel these emotions, but it’s how we deal with them that matters.

As Ramadan left us, I knew that we might feel guilty about not doing enough but don’t let that stop you from improving.  If you ever make a mistake, admit it right away- whether that is to Allah or to someone you have wronged.

Never be arrogant about it as arrogance was the reason for Shaytan's downfall.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Every action is based upon its intention"(Bukhari), and in another hadith, "The best actions are those which are small and consistent (Bukhari & Muslim).

Consider what consistent positive changes you have made that can become part of your life forever. This can help take any anxiety and negative thoughts and use it as a motivator to help positive change in your deeds and actions for this life and the next.

Lastly, don’t feel bad and never lose hope.  As you search for happiness remember that all of us are trying to achieve happiness in this dunya and we keep striving for it in so many ways- nice clothes, nice food, lovely house, great wife/husband, etc.

If a person is grateful to Allah they will achieve what they are striving for i.e. true happiness!

References

 For more resources, including a Ramadan checklist, feel free to visithttp://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/2012/07/09/preparing-to-excel-in-ramadan/.

Related Links:
Arab & Muslim Women: Like a Bee
Happily (N)Ever After
For Housewives: Balancing Those Finances
On Productive Muslims: Interview with a Doctor
   
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