My mother always taught me growing up, that Ramadan is the “heart” of our year. What we do during this month impacts how the rest of our year is going to go. So my family always tries to cut out as many distractions from the house during the month that we can. The desi dramas are not playing anymore. The radio and latest Bollywood hits are replaced with nasheeds and Quran. The Quran is being read aloud throughout the day by one or another. Going to the local mosques becomes a daily routine. All five prayers are being prayed on time, fajr is hardly missed, and maghrib of course is being counted down to second by second. This is the one time during the year where almost everyone in my family eats both breakfast (suhoor) and dinner (iftar) together on a daily basis. It really is a very beautiful time, there is this “spiritual high” in the air, and everyone is trying to make the most of this month.
But I feel that during this month, it is easy to get caught up in just doing as many acts of ibadaat and good deeds, be it trying to finish the Quran, or making it a goal to visit the sick and elderly in the community. One thing that I think we often forget to do during this month, is cleanse our hearts. To actually take a moment to sit down and look at ourselves really hard, and ask ourselves those hard questions. To set everything else going on around us aside and just sit with ourselves and our hidden demons. I personally feel, that we are blessed to have this special time of year each year, because it forces us to really evaluate ourselves and our relationship with Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala to ask ourselves, how heartfelt are our duas? Is our heart soft enough to shed tears during salah, or has it been rusted by our daily stresses and day to day obligations?
This is the time to detoxify our hearts and our lives from all of the unhealthy habits and attachments that we have developed during the year. To ask ourselves if we are suffering from ailments like jealousy, greed, arrogance, or ignorance. To really focus on what is coming in between ourselves and our relationship with Allah. To look at our flaws, to look at where we went wrong, and how we can improve. To soul search. To ask what our purpose is, and if we are fulfilling that purpose. Are we just trying to meet the benchmarks that we have set for ourselves, or are we actually trying to live with purpose and make a difference?
It is not just a month where we are trying to rack up the jannah points and get as many good deeds. Of course this is something that I struggle to balance myself. This Ramadan, one goal I had made in terms of racking up those good deeds, was to try and read the whole Quran during the month. Alhamdullilah, I have been trying to keep myself on track. But in order to not just be caught in the motions of things, I started to take more time after each salah and just sit there and reflect. Reflect about myself, and those around me, to focus on making strong du’a not just for myself but for others as well. To take notice of those that are suffering around me, and to be grateful for the type of tests Allah has given me instead. To ask myself where I need to improve, and what I want to change about myself for the upcoming year.
Don’t get me wrong, it is just as important to try and get as many good deeds as we can during the month. But we shouldn’t undermine this opportunity to cleanse our hearts and souls and prepare it for the upcoming year. Or else if we keep trying to beautify the surface of our lives, the many ailments and diseases that our hearts have been suffering from on the inside during the year will not be cured. If we don’t work on keeping our hearts intact, how are we going to keep the “heart” of our year intact?