If a Muslim continues to display positive changes after Ramadan, this is not only a possible sign that the fasting has been accepted, but also a sign that a new habit has been formed.
During Ramadan, we are continuously doing our best to make positive changes. From the early hours of the morning as dawn breaks until the later hours of the evening, we carefully schedule when we will eat, pray and perform our tasks. We are more conscious of time and of our behavior; some people start to be efficient with time management and know the time of Maghrib down to the minute or second, even though they used to be heedless of that before Ramadan.
Despite the challenges to one’s mood when hungry or thirsty, we display a positive and modest demeanor as best as we can. If you continuously make positive choices during Ramadan and reinforce those positive behaviors until they become habits, this will help us actualize the purpose of Ramadan, which is to transform us as human beings and help us be the best version of ourselves. Ramadan is not just about those 30 days, it is about how those 30 days influence us the rest of the year, and throughout our life journey.
So, here are some ideas that you can try to tap into this Ramadan for lasting changes.
Many of us have Ramadan goals such as reading the Qur’an, performing more prayers in congregation or setting aside specific blocks of time for worship and studying our deen.
But alongside our spiritual goals, this is a time to also modify negative habits in our professional lives.
Start by picking an area of your work life that has room for improvement, and make a clear plan to work on it. For example, if you tend to be late for work, make it a goal this Ramadan to get rid of this habit; prepare your work clothes and workbag the night before- if this will help you be on time. Importantly, remember while reading the Qur’an that Allah says about successful believers:
“And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive” [Qur’an, Chapter 23, Verse 8]
Spirituality is not just about reading the Qur’an, it is about implementing the instructions in it that help us be successful people spiritually, physically and socially.
Working ethically and productively is a form of worship and gratitude to Allah . Even if your career or educational field is considered more secular, it can still be considered an act of worship if you display Islamic manners, have work ethics and outstanding behaviors- provided you remain mindful of Allah with every action.
Understanding the Formation of HabitsHabits are beneficial, it is our brain’s natural way of increasing efficiency. By turning daily actions and behaviors into habits on auto-pilot, we can perform with less thought and concentration, thus freeing up more of our focus for important tasks. Subhanallah, this is a wonderful way our brain operates to keep us at maximum efficiency.
Imagine if you had to ponder over every single action, we would be in a daze.
The first time you do something new, it requires more thought and focus. As you repeatedly perform that same action it seems to become easier and the brain power you are using to perform that task decreases.
So here is how to form new beneficial habits in Ramadan.
3 Steps to Help You Form a New Habit
The trigger that causes us to begin the action, the actual action and the result which either rewards or punishes us.
When this is repeated consistently, our brain can set it into an automated mode, and after time, that action becomes a habit.
This is why breaking bad habits can be so difficult; We train our mind to automatically expect a certain routine.
During Ramadan, we are continuously choosing positive actions and often on a schedule, thus reinforcing the behavior into a habit.
These 30 days of choosing positive habits, such as getting to work on time every day and following a schedule of daily goals, will strengthen the neural pathways associated with those behaviors.
A study on habits showed 43% of our actions are performed daily and usually in the same context, which makes the power of habit really important to our productivity and creativity.
Think about that for a moment, almost half of what you do every day is habitual. That means you have immense potential to alter negative habits into productive and beneficial ones this Ramadan. 30 days is enough time to solidify a new habit and keep it as Ramadan ends.
One simple change held onto consistently can have a large impact.
So, start thinking about the habits you need in your life that will really help you beyond Ramadan and contribute to your self-development, and then start consciously working on building those habits consistently. And remember,
“Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” [Sunan Ibn Majan]
Persistence, being steadfast and having patience are themes commonly seen in the Qur’an. Consistency throughout Ramadan is what will cause us long-term changes and improvements. It is not enough to go after a goal for two days; you must remain steadfast with your positive changes all throughout Ramadan as best you can for them to truly become habits and stay with you. So remember to be conscious and patient. As Allah says:
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 153]
Remind, Repeat, Reward
Remind. Choose a reminder that will go along with your goal, something that happens on a regular basis for you or a pre-planned alarm. Some examples of reminders would be a phone alarm that goes off midday, or you can teach yourself to associate new changes with already occurring behaviors.
If you want to use the miswak before fajr every day, then put it in the same area as you do wudu. When you see it while doing wudu, it will trigger you to remember this task.
If you want to send out a weekly wrap-up email to your coworkers or employees, set a phone alarm that goes off near the end of the day reminding you to write down something memorable for that workday.
Perhaps you want to read a book about your career field, put the book in the same location where you used to keep the TV remote. Seeing the book will act as a mental reminder.
Repeat. We are always motivated in the beginning when we make changes, but it is consistency over time that will help it become a habit. Don’t ignore the alarms and mental cues. Remain consistent and keep repeating the positive actions.
Remember, the more you repeat an action associated with the trigger, the more it becomes automated in your mind and will become a part of your improved routine. You have to keep repeating the same behavior while remaining patient. If you think about Qur’an memorization, it takes repetition in order for your brain to hold onto that information. Forming a habit requires that same repetition.
Reward. Take the time to feel grateful for the positive changes you are making and smile. Give yourself a pat on the back and if you want to celebrate, do it! Reflect on the blessings of making positive, productive changes during this beautiful month. For example, if you want some new equipment for your business, reward yourself by investing in some of it.
Ramadan gives us a beautiful opportunity to not only deepen our spiritual connection and seek forgiveness but to improve ourselves in all facets of our lives. 30 days of consistent positive changes will turn into more beneficial habits that increase our productivity long after Ramadan. If you are able to control your hunger and thirst, even during a hot summer month, you have the ability to become more disciplined with your work habits and increase your productivity.
Remember that almost half of our daily actions are habitual and we are the ones who created those habits; this shows us how much we can improve if we set our mind to it and remain steadfast. Building habits takes time and consistency, Ramadan is a perfect opportunity to make those positive changes we need in our lives.
Original article can be found on productivemuslim.com/lasting-changes-after-ramadan/
Does this scenario sound familiar? You are doing very well spiritually. You feel deeply connected with Allah , and then… you commit a sin! Once you do it, you feel like your entire life has collapsed. You start despising yourself, you think you are hypocritical, you think Allah will not accept you or take you seriously again.
It could be that you decided to quit a particular sin, and you actually refrained from it for a long period. You felt like you were really at the top of your game, but then you slipped… And once you did, you thought that everything has gone to waste, there is no more hope in you…
If this is what you’re thinking, then Please Stop This Line of Thinking NOW!
NEVER think that you are hopeless or that you’ve lost the battle. Never. So long as you’re breathing, you can completely change the situation, reclaim your life, control the sin and not allow it to control you.
Now, there are a few points to remember here:
1. One of the major obstacles to one’s spiritual productivity is falling into sin.
2. Yes, sins are ugly and they fill the heart, mind and soul with darkness, sadness and burden. As a matter of fact, we learn from the hadith that Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it increases until it covers his entire heart. And that is the ‘Ran’ which Allah mentioned: ‘Nay, but on their hearts is the Ran which they used to earn.’”[Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
3. We definitely need to strive against sin because it prevents us from actualizing our purpose in life, which is to seek Allah , learn about Him, commit to Him, love Him and get closer to Him. Sin is like a block that just prevents you from moving forward, and Allah wants you to move forward. That’s why He specifically and clearly told us in the Qur’an,
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’ ” [Qur’an: Chapter 39, Verse 53]
4. All human beings commit sins. We cannot be sinless, but we can definitely control being sinful by working on disciplining our nafs (lower self), purifying our thoughts and actions, doing good deeds, seeking righteous companions and repenting often. It was narrated from Anas that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
We do not have to indulge in sins and live in darkness. This is a major deprivation and injustice against one’s own self. One of Allah’s Names is An-Nur (The Light); how can we see The Light or appreciate The Light if we’re drowning in so much darkness…?
5. Yes, we sin, but sin is not our identity. Rather, struggling against sin could truly refine our character, faith, perseverance and commitment to Allah . That’s why it’s essential in this journey. If we haven’t experienced sin, how then will we know the value of the pure, righteous life prescribed to us through revelation and its impact on our heart, mind, soul and body? If we don’t have a choice to err, how then will we prove our love and commitment to Allah ? If we’re programmed to only love and obey Him, then there is no challenge. But it is in choosing Him over anything else in His creation and committing to His path against all struggles and temptations that we truly prove our faith and sincerity. And so, Allah wants us to come back to Him and never give up.
6. Allah says: “[…] Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 222].
He didn’t say “Allah accepts”, He said “Allah LOVES” those who are constantly repentant. Yes, He said “loves”. How beautiful and powerful is that? Tawbah essentially means insisting on coming back to Allah and Allah loves it when we insist on going back to Him. And He says:
“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. [At-Tirmidhi]
So, if you’re in a position of making tawbah, then you are in a position of receiving the love of Allah . Do you see why Shaitan wants you to feel hopeless and prevent you from seeking forgiveness and tawbah? Because his ultimate goal is to divert you from the path of Allah and tawbah not only puts you back on track, but it also earns you the love of Allah Almighty The Most Merciful, Most Loving, Most Affectionate . So, tawbah all the way!
These are the action points that you need to do immediately- IMMEDIATELY– if you’ve fallen into sin:
1. Regret the sin
The Prophet says: “Regret is repentance.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Regret is essential in showing sincerity. If you truly regret a wrongdoing, then you understand why Allah told us that it is harmful and that you desire to truly purify yourself from it and seek the halal and pure means that He prescribed instead.
2. Stop the sin
Stop immediately. Do not persist or insist on committing the sin or indulging in it further. Just stop. Make a conscious, serious decision and effort to stop and quit this wrongdoing right away.
3. Make a sincere intention to not go back to the sin
This is a heartfelt decision that you make to truly quit and not go back. Even if you’ve fallen into the same sin an hour later, so long as you were sincere in giving it up, then it is accepted. Every time you fall, keep making sincere intentions not to go back. Yes, Allah can and will accept your sincere repentance each and every single time you make it even if it be one zillion times. Just do it, and mean it and be sincere, strong and perseverant.
4. Seek forgiveness of Allah and repent
One way of doing that is following what our Messenger taught us. The Messenger of Allah says: “There is no one who commits a sin then purifies himself well (does wudoo’/ablution) and stands and prays two rak’ahs (two units of prayer), then asks Allah for forgiveness, but Allah will forgive him.” Then he recited this verse: ‘And those who, when they have committed Faahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; — and none can forgive sins but Allah — and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know’ (Qur’an 3:135).” [Sunan Abi Dawood]
5. Follow the sin or bad deed with good deeds
Allah says: “And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” [Qur’an: Chapter 11: Verse 114]
So, if you’ve committed a sin, then go make wudoo, pray two rak’aas, make istighfar, read your adhkar, read a few pages of the Qur’an, help your parents, call family members, relieve someone from their distress, give sadaqah, help someone in need, there are countless opportunities. So bring it!
Suffocate the sin with good deeds and do not let it suffocate you. Surround it from every direction with as many good deeds as you can. Just kill it! Again, you are in control, so control the sin and do not let it control you or define you or steal your life from you.
6. Do NOT delay tawbah. Do it immediately
One big mistake here is to think that you can delay repentance. The problem is, you never know when your last minute would be. You might delay, but never actually get the chance to do it. So you must do it as soon as possible. The Messenger of Allah says: “Allah accepts a slave’s repentance as long as the latter is not on his deathbed (that is, before the soul of the dying person reaches the throat)”. [At-Tirmidhi]
Now, one last point, if the sin involves transgressing against someone else, then you have to bring them their right back and/or seek their forgiveness. For example, stealing necessitates returning what you’ve stolen or the equivalent of it to its owners. If you’ve spoken badly/unjustly against someone, then rectify what you said and seek forgiveness. If someone else is involved, then we need to rectify matters with them. It doesn’t make sense to slander someone for example, and follow the steps above without actually fixing the damage you’ve caused to others. Allah forgives us, but what about the other people we’ve damaged? Allah is neither Unjust nor accepts injustice. It is healing and part of our spiritual journey and getting closer to Allah to also mend the injustice we cause others.
Islam essentially is about fixing yourself for your own inner peace, for Allah and for the people so that you neither harm nor reciprocate harm.
So, simply go and seek forgiveness if you’ve wronged anyone. And if Allah accepts our repentance, then who are we not to forgive others?
“And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an 24:22]
This is it. Now you have a fresh start, insha’Allah.
Quick disclaimer, this article is in no way, shape or form an invitation for us to commit sins. We should do our absolute best not to fall into sin. But if we did fall, then we should do our absolute best to come back up strong and reclaim our righteous path towards The Most Merciful, The Most Pure; Allah .
It doesn’t matter if you repeated this process incalculable number of times.
It doesn’t matter. Allah will accept. The doors are always open for you. So long as you’re still breathing, then keep repenting. Never let Shaitan use the sin to ruin your relationship with Allah or stand between you and Him. Allah named Himself that Oft-Forgiving, The Hider of Faults, The Acceptor of Repentance… for us!
Click here to download your Tawabah To-Do List, and keep it where you can always see and refer to it.
Click to read more: http://productivemuslim.com/tawbah-to-do-list/#ixzz4d7F1hbgX
Love is difficult to measure; it is dynamic, beautiful, dangerous, bittersweet, fluctuating, and abstract. It can lead you to the highest clouds of happiness, but it can also sink you through the depths of a dark abyss.
Throughout one's life, different forms of love are experienced at varying degrees, but one type of love that is a constant for the sincere believer is the love of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.
There are many reasons to love Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as will be elaborated on in an upcoming article, but before we dive into the signs of true love, let us be reminded of one of the most heart-moving narrations that would increase a believer's love, in which Aisha said:
“Once, when I saw the Prophet being cheerful, I said to him: 'O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah for me!'
He said, 'O Allah! Forgive 'Aisha her past and future sins, what she has concealed as well as what she has made apparent.'
So I began smiling, to the point that my head fell into the lap of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ out of joy. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: 'Does my du'a (supplication) make you happy?' I replied: 'And how can your du'a not make me happy?' He then said: 'By Allah, it is the supplication that I make for my Ummah in every prayer.' ” 
How can you not love the Prophet of Allah ﷺ when he supplicated for you in every prayer? The Prophet ﷺ cared more for us than we care for ourselves; he loved us more than we love ourselves. The proof of that is that he constantly prayed for his Ummah and struggled for 23 years in order to convey the message of Allah, and yet oftentimes we fall short with regards to our own spiritual well-being.
We may claim to love Prophet Muhammad, to ourselves and others, but let us examine some surefire signs that prove the authenticity of our love.
1. Imitating and emulating him
We frequently see society around us imitating sports players, movie stars, people of power, and other famous celebrities, out of love for their personalities, hairstyles, clothes, behavior, or speech.
Perhaps the greatest sign of your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is that your life is essentially a sequence of decisions that are guided by your desire to imitate Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As the famous saying goes, “Your actions are louder than your words.” If you claim to love the Prophet ﷺ, then imitating him is a sign that your claim is authentic. It can therefore be said that the more you sincerely and correctly imitate the Messenger of Allah, the more love you have for him.
Perhaps one of the greatest calamities is when, for example, a passionate believer goes through a sudden spiritual change, and he attempts to implement — and enforce — the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ in some areas, but he completely overlooks the manners of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ without realizing that sound character is a part of faith, and one of the greatest ways to follow the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Thus, if you wish to imitate and emulate the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, then exemplify his manners alongside the jurisprudential issues.
Ask yourself: Are my decisions reflective of a believer who imitates and emulates the Messenger of Allah? What do my manners reflect? How do I treat my parents, wife/husband, children, community members, my superiors and employees, Muslims and non-Muslims?
2. Studying his seerah
When you love someone, you'll find yourself learning more about that individual's actions, sayings, and history. Many of the companions used to teach their children about the life of the Prophet ﷺ at a young age, and before many other subjects.
Every Muslim that is able to should study the life of the Prophet ﷺ to some extent; his mercy, love, compassion, dedication, speech, exalted manners, his concern for the Ummah, and the hardships he endured in order to fulfill his role of conveying the message of the Creator to the creation. This may entail reading a summarized book of the seerah, such as “When the Moon Split”, or covering an advanced book or in-depth video series, but ultimately, everyone should try to cover the basics at least once.
How can you love someone so much but have no passion to learn more about him? It's a harsh question that many of us need to ask ourselves, and the reality is that the more love you have for the Prophet ﷺ, the more eager you'll find yourself in learning about him. An indisputable benefit is that studying the seerah will increase your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.
If you haven't yet, study the seerah on a basic level, alone or with family. If you have studied the basics, then move on to a more advanced and in-depth resource.
3. Studying what he conveyed
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent with the greatest and final gift to from the Creator to the creation: the Qur'an. Thus, one sign of love of the Messenger ﷺ is reciting, studying, understanding, implementing, and teaching what he conveyed. The Qur'an is a light for every darkness, a cure for every illness, a guidance for every misguidance, and it was delivered and conveyed by the Messenger that was sent to us for our own happiness and success, in both this life and the Hereafter.
Recite the Qur'an on a daily basis, even if in small quantities, and remember that consistency is key. Include with your recitation a basic study of understanding through authentic Tafseer (exegesis) so that your recitation brings about comprehension, concentration, and implementation.
4. Sending salutations upon him
Saying “Allahumma sallee 'ala Muhammad” in any of its appropriate variations is asking Allah to send peace and blessings and mercy upon the beloved Messenger, and every time you do it, Allah will send upon you 10 times the blessings and mercy in your life . Furthermore, every time you send salutations upon him, an angel appointed next to the Messenger ﷺ conveys your prayers to him. [ 3] Finally, the more you send prayers upon him, the closer you'll be to him on the Day of Resurrection and the more of his intercession you'll have on that significant day.
Try to begin the basic habit of sending 10 prayers upon him in the morning and 10 in the evening , and increase your habit from there throughout the day and night, especially when you remember him or when his name is mentioned.
5. Loving what/whom he loved
This includes acts of worship, such as fasting Mondays and Thursdays or praying at night, and countless sunnan, such as using the siwak or wearing white garments. This sign also includes the people he loved and those who loved him, such as Abu Bakr and Umar , and the Prophet's wife, Aisha , as well as his entire family and the companions in their entirety. This is a litmus test for many who claim to love the Messenger but believe in fabrications against his beloved and noble companions.
6. Remembering him and wishing to be with him
When you love someone, you find yourself thinking about them often. The more you love the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the more you'll refer back to his life and the more you'll pray that Allah grants you reunion with him in the Hereafter, in the highest levels of Paradise.
Action item: Include in your daily supplications a du'a for companionship with the Prophet ﷺ.
7. Encouraging others to learn about and emulate him
A sign of loving someone is that you want others to know about your beloved, especially when they delivered to you the only means of salvation and success. It's easy to encourage friends and family to partake in leisure, vacations, or other forms of entertainment; what we oftentimes forget when we're growing spiritually is to encourage others to grow with us. A believer who encourages others to study the life and teachings of the Prophet ﷺ has some apparent signs of loving the Prophet ﷺ himself.
Action item: Share this article with others to increase their love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and encourage others to study the seerah and Sunnah of the Prophet frequently.
O Allah! Send your peace and blessings upon your Messenger, his family, and those who follow him until the Day of Resurrection.
O Allah! Grant us true and complete love for your Messenger and his Sunnah and allow us to be upon his path until the day we return to You.
O Allah! Grant us companionship with your Messenger in the highest levels of Paradise!
2. Muslim – “Whoever sends blessings upon me, Allah will send blessings upon him tenfold.”
3. Nasa'i – “Allah has angels who go around on earth, conveying to me the salaam of my ummah.”
4. Based on the narration of at-Tabaraani, “Whoever sends salutations upon me ten times in the morning and ten times in the evening will be encompassed by my intercession on the Day of Resurrection.” The narration's authenticity is disputed by a few scholars of hadith, but it has a sound classification according to al-Haythami, as-Suyuti, al-Mundhiri, and others.
Article originally found on: http://muslimmatters.org/2015/09/21/7-signs-that-you-truly-love-the-messenger-of-Allah/
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