A Long Overdue Shift
The blessed month has cast its shadows upon us, another opportunity to train and strengthen our imaan, to purify our souls, our hearts and our minds. Many of us will have welcomed this Ramadan heavy-hearted, empty-handed, and broken, in need of Allah’s generosity, His mercy and forgiveness.
Whilst this Ramadan may feel somewhat different for all of us across the world, as a result of the Coronavirus. The reality is, this year, Ramadan 2020 takes us back to its authentic spirit, to the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Salaf. It is narrated that the beloved Prophet (pbuh) would isolate himself for days in a cave at the top of the mountain of Hira to introspect, reflect, worship and connect with his Creator. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, He (pbuh) was known to practice i’tikaf, a period of spiritual seclusion from worldly activities and desires, seeking nearness to Allah the almighty, a time of nurturing the mind, body and soul.
At these times of physical distancing and whilst we find ourselves spending most of our time in isolation, we will have no escape, except for the escape to Him. A chance to reconnect with Allah (swt) and the Quran on a deeply intimate level. An opportunity to retreat and transform our current state of affairs to one of an enriched spiritual journey of seclusion for the sake of Allah. Using this time to spring back our imaan and better our inner qualities. For it is the inner work, that will allow us to become the best version of ourselves by spending more time reading the Quran, thinking and reflecting. Let us use these uninterrupted solitary moments to experience what it’s like to be of ‘those who are conscious of Allah in private’.
The Prophet (pbuh) said “those in seclusion have raced ahead”, they said “O messenger of Allah, who are those in seclusion?” The Prophet said “they are men and women who remember Allah often”, (Sahih Muslim). Al-Munawi explains this Hadith saying “those in seclusion are those who seek solitude and they withdraw from people to be alone and free to worship, as if one sets himself apart to be devoted to Allah”.
Seclusion for worship opens doors of opportunity to practice mindfulness and ‘muraqabah’, a state of vigilant self-awareness in one’s relationship with Allah in his heart, mind, and body. The basis of muraqabah is our knowledge that Allah (swt) is always watching us at all times and, as a consequence, we develop greater attention and care for our own actions, thoughts, feelings, and inner state of being. As Allah said, “Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:235). A Muslim in a state of muraqabah is in continuous full knowledge that Allah is aware of him or her, inwardly and outwardly. It is a complete state of self-awareness that enhances our regular worship and daily activities.
To put this insight into practice, we need to acknowledge the importance of enjoying the simplicity of being in a state of spiritual seclusion, in the presence of Allah (swt), without distraction or noise from the world, our own words, or our inner monologues.
When you are in isolation, remember Allah (swt) has sent the whole world away, so that it is only you and Him. When you are in isolation remember it’s time to reflect and achieve the greatest connection with Allah (swt). Whilst embarking upon this spiritual journey and state of reflection, it is important to set ourselves a practical action plan to rebuild this connection with Allah (swt), and what better way than to take this opportunity to ponder on the verses of the Quran to enrich our personal life and enlighten our hearts. For, the more one reflects on the Quran, the more their knowledge, foresight and practical application of Islam will increase. Allah (swt) refers to the Quran as “a book which we have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may remember.” (Sad 38:29).
Ramadan this year is a long overdue shift into a spiritual and reflective state. The focus of this blessed month will move away from prolonged hours of food preparation and eating at sunset, to self-improvement and self-discipline. A Ramadan wherein we can participate in the many online Islamic lectures and reminders, made available by various Islamic platforms, we must take this opportunity to make the most out of this Ramadan in isolation.
Plan, plan and plan your time this month wisely, for the more focused your approach is the more you will achieve during this month. Perhaps it is of assistance to select what you would like to do each day, set a timetable of online learning, and expand your knowledge of the Quran, the tafseer, the Sunnah and the hadiths of the Prophet pbuh.
Like the sun that sets, and the day that ends, so too will Ramadan come and go, leaving only its mark on our hearts. Ultimately, it is your choice to embrace this Ramadan with a focus on deep connection and reflection. Ramadan undoubtedly helps a serious believer remould, reshape and reform his physical and spiritual disposition and behaviour. Let us plan to spend this next month practicing self-compassion and self-mastery, a journey of holistic growth and connection.
Amina Al-Moghrabi is a lawyer by profession. She is passionate about community empowerment and can often be found volunteering within her local community