Instagrams and Iftars

I've been patiently waiting for this year's Ramadan!!! With last year being such a flurry of activity - from moving into an apartment, settling into married life, working at an under-staffed summer camp, and trying to fit into my new role as a wife - I didn't really have time to focus solely on my inner-self. Which was in stark contrast to Ramadan 2011, where I did have time to focus on myself, my fasts, and an abundance of community activities that kept myself and my circle of friends quite busy.

Having just completed our first year of marriage, and being settled into where we are, I am craving a Ramadan like 2011 where I can focus on spiritual matters. With life being busy, since I'm continuing to work on the side and have more family demands than before, I realize that I need to set goals and priorities for Ramadan, so that I can come back to them as needed for reminders. Also, as the quote below reflects, I think that structure during Ramadan is important. While it's easy to sleep and be caught up in a flurry of meaningless Internet surfing, that's not really the point of Ramadan, and the hunger aspect is only one. I think we could all set aside some time to think about what we want out of this year's sacred month. 

“Your time should not be without any structure, such that you occupy yourself arbitrarily with whatever comes along. Rather, you must take account of yourself and order your worship during the day and the night, assigning to each period of time an activity that must not be neglected nor replaced by another activity. By this ordering of time, the blessing in time will show itself. A person who leaves himself without a plan as animals do, not knowing what he is to do at any given moment, will spend most of his time fruitlessly." - Quoted from Navaid Aziz's Facebook page.

So, in no particular, here are my goals for this year's Ramadan:

1. Worship on time and worship fully. Prayer is not an automated ritual so I hope to shake up my prayers by reciting various verses and learning new ones. My plan is to print out new verses to learn during prayers and hopefully have them memorized by the end of the month.

2. No unnecessary internet surfing, especially on social media! No Pinterest, Instagram and limited Facebook (I still haven't decided how often I'll be blogging!). And I won't be posting any Instagrams of Iftars!

3. Read the Quran as much as possible. I don't want to set a time limit/day because on days where I am struggling, I worry I'll just skim over it and consider it done. That's not the point for me. I want to read it to learn, not to solely read. And remembrance of Allah is ever so important outside of these 1:1 times with the Quran.

4. Delve deeper into Islam. I really enjoyed Tariq Ramadan's book "In the Footsteps of the Prophet". I may just read it again but with greater attention to remembering more details.

5. Give as much as possible. Not just the obligatory Zakat, but also with manners, time, and Iftar dinners. There are many who area less fortunate than us. We know we'll have dinner waiting for us at the end of each fast, and we choose to eat from an abundance of food. Many others are not so fortunate.

6. Check my intentions and purify. Do not meddle where I don't belong. Less sarcasm (!!) 

7. Be the best wife, sister, daughter, and friend possible...and also encourage my family to hold the same virtue.

8. Less time spent in the kitchen thanks to simplified Iftars and Suhoor meals. I believe in dates, water, fruit and ONE main meal for Iftars...I don't comprehend people who load up their tables with multiple food items! Women should not be spending the majority of their fasting days in the kitchen. The beauty of Ramadan is that women can spend LESS time worrying about their family's stomachs and can therefore focus on themselves.

9. Structure the days with balance in all areas. I want to wake up at the same time each morning and break my days into chunks of work/Islam/time with family/cooking/physical activity/rest. Structure really does help you ensure that you're not sleeping 22 hours a day!

10. Blog about topics that aren't being blogged about, even though others may disagree with me! I think that we all risk getting stuck into patterns of thinking that are mainstream, or we just go with the flow because it's too challenging to critically analyze and present opposing views. My goal is to push beyond what is on the surface of things and perhaps provide alternating views with the hopes of opening other people's eyes up too.

I think each person's Ramadan will look quite different, depending on their own situation. And year to year, Ramadan for each of us will also look different.  But given that it's the holiest month for Muslims, especially since the Quran was revealed during this time, I think we can all afford to give a few moments of thought on how to capitalize on our spirituality.

P.S. And yes, in my humble opinion, Instagram and Iftars do not mix!

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