Making the Most out of Ramadan… and Our Lives
I attended a seminar a while back about how to make the most out of Ramadan and the leader of the seminar asked a very relevant question, he asked “If you have had a particularly excellent Ramadan, what was the thing or quality that made it the best?” At the time this was a zoom meeting during the pandemic, so everyone began furiously typing in the chat. I too contributed and was amazed at how so many people said the same thing. Comment after comment rolled in with the same or similar words, “CONNECTION”. That was it. Feeling a connection to Allah SWT. Mic drop. It makes sense, isn’t that why we do Ramadan and any form of spiritual practice? Ideally, this is why we live our entire lives. I am sure you have heard it before, and I will say it again “life is a journey from Allah to Allah”. So why is it that even though we fill our Ramadan with daily ibadah, we don’t feel connected? Sure we receive the reward but where is the sweet taste of the presence of your lord?
So how can we have a greater connection with Allah SWT, not just in Ramadan, but every day of the year? Here are my humble thoughts and suggestions on the matter based on various scholarly readings, lectures, and personal experiences.
Get to Know Allah
Allah let us know about Him by putting His 99 names in the Quran. These names are very indicative of who Allah is and how we should think of Him in all that we do. Reciting, learning His names, and then putting those names into practice by reflecting on them as we go about our daily lives is an effective way to feel more connected to Allah. For example, He is the One who is closest to you (Al-Qareeb). So ask Him to bring you closer to Him. Call on Him using the name Al-Wadud and ask Him to love you more and make you love Him more.
Be Present, Be Personal
Make space and make time for the True One. How are we going to foster a connection with Allah SWT if we don’t make time for Him? It would be like wanting to have a healthy relationship with a family member and then never making time for visits or making your visits very short and rushed. Of course, when it comes to Allah SWT, it is even more imperative that we make time for the one who created time. There are a few culprits for not feeling connected in salah or during your fasting day. Mindset is one of them. When going into any form of ibadah, give yourself some time to mentally prepare for it by taking a few deep breaths beforehand and clearing away the chatter in your mind. Focus on speaking to your lord. Then once you are ready don’t rush through the worship, sometimes this even happens by habit, so try to slow down the words, focus on what each one means and who you are saying them to. Finally, take a moment to make a personal dua, make it relevant to what is happening in your life. Don’t feel selfish or ashamed, Al Mujib (The Responsive) wants you to ask him. Making dua will, inshaAllah, make it relevant for you and deepen your connection as you are sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with your Most Beloved.
It’s the Little Things
Sometimes the most meaningful moments of connection are not in conventional worship but rather in the most beautiful unexpected places. A heartfelt talk with a friend, a walk-in nature, and most oddly but also profoundly when exercising can be great places of connection to your lord. Maybe it doesn’t have to do with the action so much as the reflection that occurs during it. For example, when you meet a friend maybe something about them reminds you of kindness and you reflect upon the gift that Allah has given to them and how you are now receiving it. Or when on a walk maybe you notice a stunning vibrant red cardinal and think Subhan Allah what a beauty Allah has bestowed upon my eyes. Or maybe when you exercise you feel the use of your body and you thank Allah for the ability to use your body in this way and the energy and time to do so. The point is constant remembrance. Sometimes it can feel insincere if you force it but be assured that the more you do it the more it happens naturally, and these endless waves of love, gratitude, and appreciation flow through the day.
the more we reach for Him the more He reaches for us. Worship starts in the heart, not in the hands. Charitable actions and acts of worship are nothing if the heart is not involved so focus on your heart and clearing your mind, making space for the True One in all that you do, and watch as your life fills with barakah and connection to Allah SWT.
May this Ramadan be blessed for you and your loved ones, wishing you light upon light.