Posted on Apr 24, 2020
They are known as the Days of Mercy - the first ten days of Ramadan – and a time to set our intentions for the next 30 (or so) days of fasting and recognize the mercy of Allah (S) in everything we do and make du'a for. With Ramadan now upon us, it is a wonderful time to set and check our intentions (if you haven’t already) for how we want to balance our time between family, work, worldly obligations and our elevated ibadah (worship) time, especially with our masajid closed and us navigating a Ramadan in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does it mean to set our intentions? How does it differ from setting Ramadan goals? Whereas goals are very useful for achieving a marked task – like reading the Quran in its entirety in Ramadan or perhaps memorizing a surah or figuring out how to pray tarawih at home (also spelled taraweeh), intentions are the why of what you want to do and who you want to be – why do you want to read the Quran daily? Why do you want to fast daily? Why do you want to spend some extra time (perhaps) on reading hadith or teaching your children the parts of prayer or whatever it is you want to do?
Checking and reflecting upon your intentions as we enter into the first ten days of mercy in Ramadan is a beautiful way to see where you want to change yourself, how you may want to connect more deeply with Allah (S) and how you can infuse positivity and faith into the daily grind of your life - whether it be your career, your work around your home, caring for your family or whatever it is.
Hosai Mojaddidi, who teaches classes at the Ta’leef Collective in California and helped found Mental Health 4 Muslims, wrote a beautiful status update before Ramadan began about why focusing on our intentions and cleansing ourselves as we enter into the fasting month is so important in helping facilitate our connection to Allah (S) and our ibadah of Him:
- Look deeply at all the sins you've committed this past year, big and small. Stop burying them because it makes you uncomfortable. Confront them so that discomfort propels you to God. Remember, He already knows them, He knew them before you even did them. He's just waiting for you to repent and turn to Him. Have you done so? Why or why not?
- Reflect on all the fights, misunderstandings, and moments of conflict that you either started or took part in. You don't think you have anger issues, do you? Think again. Do you blow up constantly? Or do you hold resentment in your heart but put on a fake smile? Do you want to be better? What's your plan?
- Reflect on all the terrible things you said or thought about another unsuspecting person. Do you think you're better than others? God is well aware of your arrogance, but are you? How can you overcome this problem?
- Reflect on all the times you betrayed your better self, when you chose to do or say the wrong thing, even though you knew better. Are you proud of yourself? How can you hold yourself more accountable in the moment?
- Reflect on the hearts you've broken with your insensitivity, carelessness, or cruelty. Does it make you feel good to know you brought people to tears? Was it your spouse, your child, your parent, your sibling, or your friend? Did they really deserve it, or were you being intentionally cruel? Remember, God knows everything. How will you face Him when they come to collect their rights from you? Have you made proper tawba now? Have you apologized and tried to redress your wrong?
- Reflect on all the vulgar and inappropriate images you saw, words that you spoke, or words that you heard. God blessed you with faculties to worship and praise Him not to take in filth and put filth back out into the world. Everything is recorded. Have you made sincere tawbah or do you continue to indulge your nafs [ego]? ...
- Reflect on every prayer you missed without valid excuse. God created you for nothing else but to worship Him. Do you really have something better to do than that? How are you going to commit to making prayer your top priority?
- Reflect on the distance you placed between yourself and God all year long by not reading His book, remembering Him in solitude, calling on Him in the middle of the night for your needs, etc. If you want your prayers answered, you can't ignore the One you're expecting a response from. How are you going to improve?
- Reflect on the distance you placed between yourself and the Beloved ﷺ all year long by not reflecting on his life, doing salawat, following his teachings, etc. He is our door to God, without Him there are no other entry points. How are you going to stay connected to him?
When we sit in our *SHAME* before God, which is a praiseworthy act, we do the prerequisite work necessary to properly rebuff and polish our tarnished spiritual hearts. We actually clean away the darkness and allow light to enter. This should be the ultimate goal every day, but especially throughout the beautiful month.
It is all too easy to get caught up in the physical tasks of fasting and worship – wake up for suhoor, get ready for the work day (even though many of us are working from home now), taking care of family or whatever daily responsibilities you have, pause to read the Quran, prepare iftar, manage home and other responsibilities, break fast, pray tarawih. Rinse and repeat.
If we can take time to reflect on our intentions and the various aspects of our lives, to surrender to what Allah (S) has made of our lives, we have a shot at nurturing more meaning into our acts of ibadah and our practice of fasting. We have a chance at sustaining these intentions throughout the month and beyond into the rest of our lives.
In my own family, one of the hardest things for us to do is to pause and be fully present and there for each other and for Allah (S). To put down our phones and electronic devices, to step away from school work, studying and WhatsApp conversations, the daily cooking of dinner and cleanup and mitigating of battles between the kids, the wrangling of my son’s autism challenges, and just be with each other and be with Allah (S).
If we can make time for our intentions, if we can make time to reflect upon our lives and our ibadah, Insha’Allah we’ll find a good rhythm to our first ten days into our second days and then the last ten days of Ramadan. From all of us here at Haute Hijab, Ramadan Mubarak to you and yours! May we all feel His Mercy in this blessed month.