Character. How would you define yours? Or better yet, how would others describe it? We all like to label ourselves as things, kind, patient, cheery perhaps. But is that just what we think we are, or are we actually projecting it too.
As the month of Ramadan is upon us, what better time to evaluate our characters. Fasting is not only about giving up our food and drink it’s also about giving up bad things, things that are bad for us and things that are bad for the people around us. For example, shouting and swearing, telling lies, talking about people behind their backs. Now, we’re only human and we are going to slip up every now and again but this month do your very best to bite your tongue when you get the urge to swear or tell your friend what that girl did at work yesterday. We don’t need to gossip to have a conversation, in fact if it is needed for a conversation, well, let’s just say you may want to rethink the company you keep. Remember that if they’re gossiping about someone to you, then they’ll probably gossip about you to someone else.
"Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad
words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink." [Bukhari]
If you’re fasting and your actions are vulgar and abusive then you should take a minute and think about why you’re fasting. We don’t fast just so we can give up our food and drink for a few hours in the day, we fast so we can cleanse our souls and we can rethink our priorities, for one month every year we get the chance to free ourselves of all the bad that is polluting our minds and hearts and instead fill it with everything good, prayer, family, kind words. The good food… well that’s just a bonus.
While we use Ramadan to rethink ourselves, don’t forget to think about all the millions of people around the world who would do anything to be in our places, who have far less than you and I may have. So give thanks for the small things in life, though we may not have that new phone or that new pair of shoes we wanted, be grateful there’s food on the table and a roof over your head. Because let’s face it. It could be a whole lot worse.
So start with the small things. Smile at a neighbour, a helping hand to a colleague, biting your tongue when you want to swear in a traffic jam. As small as they may seem, it all really counts. Make these small changes and you’ll see that slowly but surely your perspective will change!
Now we’ve got the small things out of the way let’s move on to something a little bit bigger.
During Ramadan a lot of us spend a lot more time at home or at the mosque, and it gives us the opportunity to be a part of our family and community again. So, it’s the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time or for perhaps neglecting those parts of our lives. There are some small efforts we can make that’ll help us strengthen ties that matter.
Help your parents, even its just taking over Iftar for the day or cleaning up afterwards and making you mum a cup of tea, spend time with your brothers and sisters, you can read with your siblings, tell stories to the young ones, we sometimes take the people that are closest to us for granted and think they’ll be there and anytime we want to spend a few minutes with them we can just go and knock on their door, but the fact of the matter is that they could be gone any second and there might not be anyone on the receiving end of that knock. It’s amazing how many new things you can find out about people you thought you knew inside out, just by spending a little time with them.
Don’t forget your friends and neighbours, have an Iftar gathering at your house. Reach out to those who you haven’t reached out to in a while, even a quick message will do the trick just to let them know that you've thought of them, who knows maybe an old friendship will come back to life.
Sometimes we’re so lost in our lives, in work, technology, in living out our ambitions that we forget about those closest to us. It’s good to work hard and follow your dreams, in fact it’s excellent to, but let’s try not to forget that there’s a whole world of relationships and people out there.
So while I realise that this post has been a little, you know, heavy I guess. But it’s just a little advice from a person who’s trying to take her own advice.
So till next time I hope you’ve had an excellent week and that you’ll make the upcoming week the best possible.