I hope that everyone who is celebrating has had a wonderful first day of Ramadan. I hope that fasting went well for all that able to fast.
I've been trying to think of goals that I would like to achieve through this month of Ramadan. I have found that for myself, when I have something to work toward and to keep myself focused, it is far more enjoyable and fulfilling for me. Not to mention that I find that I do a better job of not getting tired or discouraged if things get difficult.
As we all know, this Ramadan is going to look and feel far different than quite possibly any other Ramadan that we will experience. For myself, I am really trying to take advantage of this and find ways to make it the most meaningful Ramadan that I will experience. And so to achieve that, I am working to set goals for myself.
One general goal for all Muslims in the month of Ramadan is to try and read the entire Quran cover to cover within the month. The month of Ramadan is celebrating the Quran being sent down from God to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. And so it is encouraged that we read as much of the Quran as we can.
For myself, this winds up feeling like a big race. I've tried before to read as much as I can and finish it and wind up retaining little to nothing of what I'm reading. I also wind up giving up really quickly because it's not the fulfilling experience I am hoping to get out of it.
As a result, one of my goals for the year is to switch things up a bit. Rather than try and read as much as I can within this month, I am instead aiming to sit down with the Quran and read and reflect and get as much out of it as I can. If I only read a couple of surahs but find myself deeply connected with what I've read, then I will have achieved my goal.
Just last night I started reading from the beginning. I kept a little notebook with me to make note of thoughts I had as I went on reading. I also had a stack of post-it notes to write my thoughts on and be able to mark those spots to refer back to later on.
A few of the thoughts I had while reading from the very beginning was that God is reminding us to be thankful for everything that we have. We are given so many blessings and especially during challenging times such as the pandemic we are experiencing right now, it is easy to forget all that we are blessed with. We are surrounded by so much fear, but we also have so much to be thankful for. For myself, I'm reminded that I am healthy and have made it to another Ramadan. I have a roof over my head and plenty of food to choose from to break my fast. I have a job and money to pay my bills. I could go on and on about the things that I am blessed with. But it's really easy to forget that all of these things are gifts and blessings when we grow accustomed to having them every day. So for me, that was a really important reminder to look around at everything that I have and remember to be thankful for it.
Another thing that is talked about early on in the Quran is how many times God forgave people and gave them another chance. In the time of Moses, there were the group of believers and followers of Moses. But when Moses went up to Mount Sinai, some of the followers took to worshiping a golden calf while Moses was away. Rather than giving up on them, they were forgiven and given another chance. The Quran continues with proving time and time again that we as humans are not perfect, but that God is forgiving and will continue to forgive us if we truly repent.
To me, this is another important reminder to not give up or get discouraged when I'm not doing as well as I would like to be because God hasn't given up on me. Like I said before, in past years I would get discouraged with reading Quran during Ramadan because I wasn't where I wanted to be by such and such a day. So I wound up giving up. And while that isn't doing something wrong necessarily, it is a reminder to me to not give up. It is a reminder that God is there encouraging me on when I may be struggling.
Another goal that I have for myself through this Ramadan is to continue with this blog. That may not seem that big or important, but for me, it is forcing me to reflect on what this month is meaning to me and what I am taking away from it. It is also something I look forward to being able to look back on. Whether I am in a low point and need to look back at a higher point or the reverse, I feel that this Ramadan will be incredibly meaningful to me in many ways and I want to share it with everyone that is reading as well as have it to look back on.
Finally, the last goal I have is to allow myself breaks here and there. That doesn't mean that I'm not going to fast when I should be or anything like that. What I mean by that is that I'm going to allow myself to take little mental breaks and do things like crochet or fold paper stars or do any of my other random little hobbies I have. For me, it's important that I allow myself these little breaks so I don't mentally exhaust myself. I could absolutely force myself to spend all of my free time with the Quran, but I know that I will burn myself out. More than that, I will burn myself out quickly.
Think about when you finally get to break your fast. You haven't had a bite of food or even a sip of water for hours and hours and finally you get to eat and drink as much as you would like. Have you ever eaten too fast and eaten too much and gave yourself a stomach ache? Full disclosure, I did that today. I ate way faster than I should have and ate way more than I should have all at once and had to take a long rest to settle my stomach. I'm still trying to settle my stomach.
It's the same thing for me with doing things like reading Quran. If I force myself too much too quickly, I will get overwhelmed and need to take a long break from it. But if I allow myself a little bit at a time, I will be able to continue on without getting burned out. Getting burned out is a mistake that I've made for myself in the past as well. I push myself too far too fast. So this year, I aim to take it in stride and focus more on what I am getting out of this experience rather than how much I can pack in all at once.
I would love to hear from others about some goals you may have. Maybe we will inspire one another with our goals and we can all grow together during this month.