Five Easy Habits to Pick up this Ramadan

July 11- 5 easy habits to pick up this ramadan

By Ruhaifa Samir

With Shaytan locked up for the month of Ramadan, we all find it easier to do good deeds compared to other months around the year. We all do extra Ibadah in the form of reciting the Quran, doing extra Nawafil, performing our prayers on time, etc.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, noticed that amputees took, on average, twenty-one days to adjust to the loss of a limb. From further research, he established that people take twenty-one days to adjust to major life changes and form habits. We engage ourselves in productive activities throughout Ramadan for thirty days, by the end of which we perform extra Ibadah almost habitually! So why not consciously continue them, so that these habits last us not only during Ramadan but for our whole lives?

Here are some easy habits that you can pick up this Ramadan:

Block a slot for the Quran every day

Choose a time during the day, when you find it easiest to sit and recite the Quran and ponder over its meaning. For some, it might be before Fajr and for others, after Maghrib. Choose a time that best fits your schedule and block it for the Quran for the rest of the year.

Plan life around your Salah, not the other way round

Allah (swt) has promised great rewards for those who perform their Salah in their earliest times. Most of us get into the habit of praying Salah on time during Ramadan (especially Fajr and Maghrib). Continue the trend. Set your biological clock to Salah time and plan all other things you need to do around it!

Choose three to five goals every month

A Muslim must constantly strive to better himself. Choose three to five goals to achieve this Ramadan and for every subsequent month afterwards, so that by the time Ramadan rolls around again, you are a stronger, better Muslim. Use these goals to get rid of some of your bad habits, such as procrastination, anger, gossiping, etc.

Use the time before and after Fajr

We all diligently wake up for Fajr during Ramadan; in fact, some of us wake up with enough time to perform Tahajjud as well. By the end of Ramadan, our bodies are wired to wake up early. Don’t let Shaytan dissuade you from continuing this once he is set free at the end of Ramadan. Remember, Allah (swt) waits for us to invoke Him for our needs before Fajr; He has put great blessings and mercy in the time after it. Make it a habit to use this time wisely after Ramadan as well.

Continue fasting after Ramadan
Our bodies get used to fasting during Ramadan, and it gets easier as the month progresses. Don’t let go of this habit. The Prophet (sa) used to fast every Monday and Thursday, and on the 13th, 14th and 15th of every Islamic month. Other special fasts include those of the six days in Shawwal, 9th and 10th of Muharram, and on Yaum-e-Arafa (the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah). Remember, the gate of Ar-Rayyan in Jannah is reserved for those who fast.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers – Part 8

July 11- 7 habits

The Personal Bank Account

You might be thinking that we are talking of your bank balance or your jewels in the locker. Actually, we are discussing something even more priceless and invaluable. We will be looking at some ways to build self-confidence and a strong character that will help you embrace the first three habits of highly effective teens, as suggested by Sean Covey.

Just as you can deposit and withdraw from your personal bank account (PBA), you can similarly do so with the stuff you think about, act upon or do to others – they, too, impact your PBA. For instance, when you honour a commitment or keep a promise, it becomes an instant deposit into your PBA. Why? Because it makes you feel good inside and happy outside. It boosts your self-esteem and you feel in control of your life. On the contrary, if you break a promise or stand someone up, it’s a withdrawal because you feel disappointed. Later, you try to defend your wrong behaviour through excuses and justifications that nag you from the inside and make you miserable on the outside.

So, are you ready to evaluate your PBA, just to check, if you are loaded or bankrupt? Following are some signs, according to Sean Covey, of both conditions (sounds like a disease). Take the evaluation:

Signs of a poor PBA

  • You cave in easily to peer pressure.
  • You wrestle with feelings of depression and inferiority.
  • You’re overly concerned about what others think of you.
  • You act arrogantly to hide your insecurities.
  • You self-destruct by getting heavily into drugs, pornography, vandalism, etc.
  • You get jealous easily, especially when someone close to you succeeds.

Signs of a healthy PBA

  • You stand up for yourself and resist peer pressure.
  • You’re not overly concerned about being popular.
  • You see life as a generally positive experience.
  • You trust yourself.
  • You are goal-driven.
  • You are happy for the successes of others.

If your current personal bank account is low, don’t worry about it. Just start making small deposits right away. This will eventually win back your confidence. Small deposits over a period of time will make you rich.

Following is a list of some initial yet meaningful deposits you can make to build your PBA. Similarly, an opposite action would end up in a withdrawal from your PBA:

PBA Deposits

  • Keep promises made to yourself
  • Initiate little acts of kindness for others
  • Handle yourself gently
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Renew yourself
  • Let your talents bloom

PBA Withdrawals

  • Break personal promises
  • Be a loner and keep to yourself
  • Beat yourself up
  • Be dishonest with yourself and others
  • Wear yourself out
  • Neglect your talents

Keep promises made to yourself

Have you been friends with people who say one thing and do just the opposite? They promise to pick you up for a party at such-and-such a time but never show up. How humiliating it is to deal with people who take their promises so lightly and habitually break them! You end up mistrusting them.

The same goes for commitments you make to yourself. I will finish my homework as soon as I get home. I will stick to my diet. And when you break a promise to yourself, you stop trusting yourself.

Start making small deposits into your PBA by keeping small promises to yourself, such as: I will eat healthy food for lunch; I will not answer my cell phone until I have offered my prayers, etc. You can make bigger deposits into your PBA once your self-trust is built and you feel more in control of your life. Then, ignoring a nagging brother or sister or sharing with them will be possible, too. These and similar bigger deposits will make you emotionally richer.

Initiate little acts of kindness for others

Psychiatrists state that if you ever feel depressed, try to do something for others. It will lift you up, maybe because you will focus outwards rather than inwards. When you serve someone else, it generates a natural feeling of goodness inside, as is the law of Allah (swt).

Sean Covey shares a personal example. Once, while travelling, he was upgraded to first class. He was very excited at the prospects of wide seats, edible food, courteous stewardesses, etc. Among the passengers, he noticed a lady travelling alone with a wailing baby. She was clearly in distress.

After battling inside his head for some time, Sean decided to swap his ticket with hers. She was quite surprised at his kind gesture and thanked him profusely. Throughout the flight, Sean kept on thinking how the baby and mother were doing. Unable to curb his curiosity, he went up to the first class just to check on them. The sight brought a smile to his face, and he immediately knew that he had made the right decision. The baby was warmly snuggled up to his mother, and they were both in peaceful slumber. Their peace meant a great deposit for Sean. Kindness always brings comfort that selfishness cannot.

Handle yourself gently

Rita Mae Brown once said: “One of the keys to happiness is having a bad memory.” Some of us are very self-critical. We expect perfection from ourselves; thus, when we make mistakes, we are least forgiving and most uptight.

Especially if we are late bloomers, we should not expect perfection the very next morning after making new attempts to improve. We should be patient with ourselves and give ourselves time to grow. We should also learn to laugh at our mistakes and not repeat them.

Sean Covey shares another example. A ship at sea for many years picks up thousands of barnacles that attach themselves to the bottom of the ship and eventually weigh it down, becoming a threat to its safety. Such a ship ultimately needs its barnacles removed, and the least expensive and easiest way is for the ship to harbour in a freshwater port, free of salt water. Soon the barnacles become loose and fall off. The ship is able to return to sea, free of its burden.

Are you carrying barnacles in the form of mistakes, regrets and pain from the past? Perhaps you need to let yourself soak around in fresh water to rid yourself of the barnacles, too. Letting go of your burden may just be the deposit you need.

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues we will discuss the remaining three ways to deposit into your emotional bank account and build self-esteem. Be on the lookout…

You will Reclaim Them!

July 11- You will reclaim them

We all realize that this world can be a better place, so we begin to fix what is wrong. Essentially, we start with others. Why do we do that? Why can’t we fix our own self first? It makes more sense to work within our ‘circle of influence’ rather than fret about our ‘circle of concern’.

Family life is no different. Something or the other constantly hinders it from attaining a beautiful ‘we culture’, where family members deeply, sincerely and genuinely enjoy being together and have a shared sense of beliefs and values.

Do you know how a Chinese bamboo tree grows? After you sow the seed of this tree, you see absolutely nothing for nearly four years, except a tiny shoot emerging from a bulb. But during those initial years, all the growth occurs underground. A massive and fibrous root structure spreads deep and wide in the earth. And take a guess at what happens during the fifth year? The Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet tall!

This is also how our family life works. We invest valuable time and tireless effort to nurture growth. But we don’t witness any results for weeks, months and sometimes even years. However, if we have patience, we will see phenomenal growth, change and results in the fifth year. The problem is that we don’t persevere long enough and abort our hopes long before our efforts can bear fruit.

Doesn’t the Holy Quran say that the road to Jannah is through Sabr and Salah? Then, how can we imagine achieving anything worthwhile in this world, without exhibiting patience? Especially as parents, doesn’t it mean to suffer inside, so that others can grow? It also facilitates the understanding of our inner weaknesses and true motives behind each action. Patience truly means faith in action and emotional diligence.

“Inside each of us is this deep longing for ‘home’, for the rich, satisfying relationships and interactions of quality family life. And we must never give up. No matter how far we feel we’ve gotten off track, we can always take steps to correct the course. I strongly encourage you: no matter how far away a son or daughter seems to be, hang in there. Never give up. Your children are bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, whether physically by birth or emotionally by the bonding of the family commitment you have made. Eventually, like the prodigal son, they will return. You will reclaim them.” (Stephen R. Covey)

Means to Reclaim Your Kin

Principle of self-improvement

Sometimes, as parents, you have had no role-models, or worse, bad memories of your own parents’ fights. In such situations, you are either clueless or repeat the same mistakes they made with you. It is highly recommended that whenever you get into a frustrating situation, pause. Examine your tendencies. Compare yourself with your vision. Avoid speaking impulsively. Retire frequently to the solitude of your inner self to recommit to winning your battles. This will keep your motives straight. It will also give you a clearer perspective and greater control of your own thoughts and behaviour.

Principle of honesty

When implementing change, involve your family and honestly admit the mistakes you have made in the past. This does not mean that you compromise on your values or principles to please them. If you slip into your previous nasty behaviour – apologize. Also, never lie. Their young minds evaluate you on these supposedly insignificant gestures which, in reality, have a long-range impact on your relationship with them.

Principle of respect

Just because you are in charge, you do not have the right to be disrespectful to your children, even when they are off-track. Remember: your children will internalize the very modes you use to resolve conflicts. If that includes name-calling, yelling, threatening, using physical abuse or foul language, it is a clear violation of the principle of respect, whether you are in public or private, regardless of your child’s age. The Prophet’s (sa) winning card was treating others (foes or friends) with courtesy, respect and honour, all the time.

Principle of trust

Do not label your child. If he has been labelled in the past, now is the time to unfreeze it. Your child draws his security from you as a parent, and if you don’t trust his inner strength and capability, he has nowhere to turn for support. Never break promises you make to him. It is one of the greatest withdrawals from any emotional bank account. Weigh your words very carefully. If you are unsure, do not commit.

Principle of empathy

Listen to your child attentively and sincerely, without interrupting, passing judgements and accusing with curt remarks. One of the deepest hungers of the human heart is to be heard and understood. Sometimes, all that your kids want is your time and understanding to de-stress themselves. Give it to them. Your schedule, house keeping, guests, in-laws, etc., should be secondary in priority when your child needs you emotionally. A successful way to do this is to keep a one-on-one meeting/outing/leisure time (of your kid’s choice) at least once a week, so you can find out what’s happening in his life. Please remember this is not sermon time! This is just to figure out where your child needs help. Otherwise, just chill and have fun with him.

Principle of love

Lastly and most significantly, the primary laws of love mean love in its purest form, which is unconditional. It means acceptance rather than rejection, understanding rather than judgement and participation rather than manipulation. This is any parent’s pro-active choice. It is very much within your circle of influence. It is not dependent on anyone else’s behaviour, social status, education, wealth, reputation, etc. When you live according to the primary laws of love, you encourage obedience to the primary laws of life, such as honesty, responsibility, integrity, service, etc.

Most of us wrongly live by the counterfeit laws of love, which is being conditional. We will love him only if he “behaves”. We cannot separate behaviour from the individual and, hence, do not believe in the unseen potential. Goethe said: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can or should be, and he will become as he can and should be.”

Your greatest joys and your deepest heartaches surround what is happening in your family life. As someone said: “No mother is happier than her most unhappy child.” When you sense a gap between your vision of a rich and joyful family life you want to have and the reality of your everyday family life, you feel disappointed. But do not despair. There is hope, tremendous hope, especially if you have faith in Allah (swt). Just keep working at it and do not give up. The Chinese bamboo tree will eventually grow!