Eren Cervantes-Altamirano focuses on four aspects of her life for this Ramadan.
The blessed month of Ramadan is always a challenging period for me. Living in a non-Muslim country, Ramadan is mainly experienced within small communities that are still expected to carry on with regular activities and interact with other, secular citizens. Although few of my Muslim friends have come up with ‘Ramadan schedules’ filled with fewer working hours and more religious and social activities, as a working student I always find myself juggling multiple activities and failing to completely devote myself to the Ramadan experience.
However, this year I decided that I wanted to spend my Ramadan differently. I started by asking myself: What do I want to get out of this year’s Ramadan?
The past few months have been full of changes for me. Following my graduation from university, I struggled to find a job. While I managed to get a good paid position, the job I am currently in does not fulfil my long-term goals. Thus, my answer to the above question was that I wanted to make my life more fulfilling.
Ramadan teaches us restraint and balance. It invites us to live fulfilling lives through simple means. So my purpose this year is to find ways in which I can maintain a strong connection with Allah (swt) while living a fulfilling life. Even though it may sound simple, finding the right balance is not easy. There is often so much going on that I lack the time to ask simple questions and to look for the answers. Many of us have lost the key to self-reflection and self-awareness.
Ramadan is an opportunity to find the means to fulfil our lives. It is not only about fasting and attending prayers, but instead it is about overall worship that includes our demeanour, actions, thoughts and commitment to Allah (swt).
To start off this year’s Ramadan on the right foot, I have made a personal pledge to focus on four aspects of my life: family, professional goals, worship and simplicity.
Family is important in Islam. Even when family dynamics can be complex and family configurations in today’s societies are diverse, I see in my family an opportunity for practising some of the basic precepts of Islam: sharing, giving, mercy, patience and love.
2. Professional goals
This Ramadan I want to find ways to engage in activities I love. Part of living a fulfilling life is engaging with things that make us happy and that enhance our personal connections with our communities.
Worship is commonly used to refer to prayers. However, in Islam worship entails a way of life. Worship refers to individual actions that help us get closer to Allah (swt). From the way we conduct ourselves with community members to the reasons why we do things, worship is how we show appreciation for the gift of life.
With new technological advancements being used in daily life, it is hard to imagine a simple way of living. Especially for us, the younger generation, we get sucked into materialistic trends. But this is not to say that we are not allowed to like or to own pretty things. Ramadan teaches us that restraint, self-control and awareness of the bigger picture are essential to finding balance and leading a fulfilling life.
I recognise that these principles cannot be exercised overnight. Yet, Ramadan is the perfect time to start new habits. By the end of the month I hope to feel more spiritually connected to Allah (swt), and I hope to be a better community and family member in my journey to live a fulfilling life.
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be guided” (Qur’an 2:186).