Ramadan 2021 is almost here

Given today’s context, this Ramadan, like the previous one, will not be celebrated as usual, pre-COVID times. Families and friends will not be gathered around a table to break their fast, some of us might be confined alone, without the ability to pray night prayers (taraweeh) in a small group, and most of us may spend a significant amount of time reminiscing the good old days. However, today’s difficulties should not impact how Ramadan should be experienced and cherished.

I apologize for the grim start to this post but I couldn’t avoid the elephant in the room. I believe that one way to celebrate Ramadan is to remember its blessings and plan it in advance.

Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven. – Said by Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) as narrated by Abu Huraira, Sahih al-Bukhari

Evaluate your heart

Faith (Imaan) comes with its highs and lows; I always compare a person of faith (mu’min) to a surfer that is in constant search for the next wave. This analogy makes sense to me because I compare my faith to a tide. A tide can come in three forms: it can be high and rising with each successive wave pushing higher and higher; it can be high and falling with the energy in each wave subsequently decreasing; and finally, it can be low with each wave becoming less powerful and flatter.

Unfortunately, today my faith compares to a low tide that has reached a plateau; as much as this saddens me, it motivates me to attain a higher level. In order to feel closer to God, the first steps I took were:

  • Admitting the distance that I feel and finding ways to address it.
  • Paying attention to the content I was absorbing; I decided to switch out a Netflix series with a religious one.
  • Engaging in conversations about God and learning more about my religion. 
  • Staying consistent with my prayers. 
  • Realizing that in order to overcome the lows of faith; I needed to understand the essence of it. 

The essence of faith: Legal vs. Real

Faith can be grouped into two groups as explained by Nouman Ali Khan; the first group is “legal faith” while the second one is “real faith”. Real faith can then be sub-divided into two categories: spiritual and intellectual.

In layman’s terms, a person can obtain legal faith by affirming his/her faith by saying the Shahadah (first pillar of Islam). A muslim can not question another muslims’ legal faith. If a person is known to be muslim; then he or she should be treated and respected as one by other muslims regardless of his/her actions.

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Twenty nine years of age

Before getting into the heart of the subject, let me apologize for my unplanned break. My husband and I recently moved to a new city and only now can I confidently say that we have settled in and are comfortable in our new environment; so, I’m officially back! back to blogging every other Sunday.

BACK TO THE BLOG POST… IT IS MY BIRTH MONTH!
I am officially 29 and kinda emotional that my twenties are coming to an end. And with that being said, I thought it’s only fitting that I’d share some highlights (lessons learned) from my 20s.

Age without context is meaningless

My husband always tells me that age is just a number; that being young in spirit is enough; that every time we achieve a certain milestone, we are considered beginners in that particular stage, and therefore, still young. While his words were comforting to a certain extent; they weren’t enough, until he told me this: age without context is meaningless. As we age, we evolve, and achieve new milestones. Do I prefer my life in my early 20s to my life today? No, I love my actual context. Hence, I came to terms with my age and learned to be content with whatever God brings my way.

Paralyzing fear of starting

A new activity regardless of its complexity can be scary. It is like jumping into the unknown, splashing paint on a blank canvas while hoping for an abstract look. It is paralyzing but when properly thought out, not insurmountable. It is like what Franklin D. Roosevelt once said:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

From the moment we are born, the fear of falling is instilled within us. And as we grow older, the more fears we accumulate. Fear is a part of being human and learning how to control it is the only way to overcome it. I learned not to take fear as an enemy but rather as an emotion that is shamelessly a part of me.

Boxing in my fear in order to find the logic behind it is how I constantly overcome it.

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2021: the year of intention

“The power of intention is the power to manifest, to create, to live a life of unlimited abundance, and to attract into your life the right people at the right moments.” – Wayne Dyer

This is not your typical new year’s post filled with resolutions and checklists. Last year was a challenging year for most of us; but with challenges come opportunities and as a person, I feel like I’ve become more sympathetic, empathetic, and communitarian and less individualistic. The 2020 pandemic taught me the importance of being intentional in everything I do and aspire to do/be.

I touched on being intentional in an earlier post without really addressing the concept behind it. Intentional living in simple words means, living according to your values and beliefs; focusing on the “why” and challenging status quo when needed. I used to live on autopilot, going with the flow, doing what everybody else was doing, not really giving anything a second thought. Everything has changed however, once I identified with minimalism and decided to question my values.

Having core values is important because they become the center of all the decisions that you will make on a daily basis. For example, if self-care is important to you, then you will work-out regularly; if you care about the environment, then you will consume less and recycle more; etc.

Reflecting back

Before I changed my way of living, I went down memory lane to pinpoint critical moments; moments that shaped me and had an impact on me (both, positively and negatively). Once that was done, I focused on the why behind each moment and identified some important questions, such as:

  • What am I doing on a regular basis to make me happy?
  • What am I doing now to work on my current goal?
  • Is there room for improvement on subject XXX? If yes, how?
  • How to progress on goal XXX slowly but steadily?

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