Dear brothers and sisters, to change and adapt is part of this life and it part of being human. Not only us, all of creation, from the stars that die out to the creatures on this earth, we are all subject to change over time.
When we look at ourselves as a people, we need to be mindful that if we are looking for a change in our status as a people, then the change must begin within ourselves. The change therefore that Allah SWT would bring upon us follows a change in our mindset and our attitudes first.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, if we are in a constant state of change, no matter how small or subtle, is this change towards Allah SWT or away from Him? A good indicator of this would be if we were to analyse who we were 5 years ago. What we were like in 2014 and could we say that we have improved within ourselves as Muslims or gone further astray?
There is wisdom in the hadith that the best deeds in the sight of Allah SWT are those which may be small but are consistent. If we ponder over this, we realise that it is the consistent good deeds that enable us to change in the positive way and towards Allah SWT.
As we are in the month of Ramadan, we are all engaged in extra acts of worship and extra good deeds. How many of us can say that the deeds we started in Ramadan last year were applied since and we still do them until today? This is a key sign of the trend we are on if the acts in this month, even a small percentage of them, are dropped as soon as the month is over.
The imam mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
Every person starts his day as a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or causing its ruin.
And as Allah SWT says in Sura Muddathir, ayat 37:
To whoever wills among you to proceed or stay behind
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves what is it that is causing our habits to stick and our good deeds in this month to be discarded on Eid.
The first step to resolving this issue is to begin with the correct intention – are we doing the acts in this month for the sake of Allah SWT? Do we feel pleasure from the acts that we are carrying out or is it the case that we are following the trend of others and simply going through the motions.
It is not fair to say that all acts of worship come straight from the heart. It is difficult to perform night prayers for example, the call of one’s bed for a lovely sleep is still heard even when one is trying their hardest to pray in the night.
However, if we begin the act of worship with the sincere intention of pleasing Allah SWT and no other reason such as meeting up with friends in the masjid, we stand the best chance to having that struggle become a lasting habit beyond the month of Ramadan.
Another way of looking at this first point is to say that the best habits also begin with the mindset of repentance or regret. Often in this month, when we are enveloped in the blessing that is the month of Ramadan, we take stock of the past year that we’ve lived. Sometimes we are full of regret for the sins that we have committed or the bad habits we have been involved in.
We are fortunate that we are of those that give these habits up for the month of Ramadan. Alongside that, we ought to latch on to the feeling of regret, remorse and sorrow that we feel for wronging ourselves with our behaviour or habits. Use that as a basis for establishing good deeds in this month that carry on beyond Ramadan.
Regret helps cause changes to the positive, as it leads to the softening of the heart, more focus, intention to do good as mentioned by Allah SWT in ayat 222 of Sura Baqarah which says:
Indeed Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.
Dear brothers and sisters we need to digest the sheer magnitude of the mercy that our Lord bestows upon us. Not only would we benefit from gaining the reward of good deeds but Allah SWT is merciful in that we can also eliminate our bad deeds.
This is illustrated in Sura Al-Furqan, ayat 70 which is translated to say:
Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
So we have the opportunity not only to gain this month in the good habits we begin, but we also have the opportunity to simultaneously erase the bad deeds of the past.
This leads onto the second point and that is the ability for us to perform critical analysis of ourselves. This is the month to do this brothers and sisters as we are more likely to be true to ourselves than any other time.
Use this month to find a time to reflect on the person you were last Ramadan and the person you are today. Use this month to see how you can continue to grow and to improve. Use this month to recognize traps that Shaitaan may have tempted you in.
And then use that as a catalyst to becoming a better Muslim and establishing better habits for the sake of Allah SWT.
Dear brothers and sisters, Ramadan has arrived, month of reflection and mercy, and the month of change. If you don’t change in Ramadan, then when will you change? When can you change?
All the conditions are immersed in this month for a positive change so make the most of this month and establish habits that will continue past the blessed month we are in.