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Ramadan Reflection:(Part 7)-Positive Mental attitude


Written By: Ajmal-Masroor
21/07/2013 19:26
Religion & Culture

I know many of you are complaining about the heat, the extraordinary long hours of no food, no drink and the lack of sleep. Despite all the hardship you face, the paradox is that God says in the verse that describes fasting as an obligation that he wishes ease for you and not hardship: “…God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship…” (Quran 2:185) 

How is that possible? How could God wish ease through such an arduous rituals? You are thinking, I am not eating any food or drinking even of water for 18 hours a day, how could fasting be easy? I know these are some of the questions many of you struggling with. Here lies the enigma of God intention and we have to solve the mystery through reflection and supplication. 

Think fasting like a business. The first rule of success for any business is to have a positive outlook. The same applies to fasting; its benefit entirely depends on your mental attitude. Some people welcome Ramadan with excitement and joy and some dread its arrival. If you accept the mental defeat even before the starting of the fast, you surely will have a miserable Ramadan. However, if you welcome it as a spiritual challenge and an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God, to discover your inner being and reconnect with your fellow human beings, you will find fasting in this month supremely satisfying. 

Positive mental attitude includes a serious shift in the way you perceive fasting. Remember, God’s intention for prescribing fasting is to help you develop deeper and more profound positive mental attitude - a key component of Taqwa. Fasting is not a burden but a joy; only those who fast experience the pleasures of it. Fasting is not a test but an opportunity for self-development, only those who go through the experience delight in the outcome. Fasting is your special gift from God and only for God. 

God says in the Quran: 

“Do humans think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? 

We did test those before them, and God will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.”

The test is not set out for your failure. The test is such that anyone who has the right mental attitude and approach to faith and practice will be able to complete the fasting in the month of Ramadan. 

Yes it is hard but noting substantial is ever gained without pain and sacrifice. In a job when one really seeks promotion and higher salary, I know people would be prepared to put in crazy hours and invest all their energy. If this is done for material gain in this world, what price tag can you place on spiritual achievements? The contrast is incomparable and profound, the worldly gains will come to an end but the heavenly one will last forever. What are a few hours of hunger, thirst and lack of sleep in comparison to the wondrous never-ending reward that await the Godly people!

Here is a way to check if you have the right mindset, take a moment and test your mental attitude. How positive is your mental attitude? Here is a quick test that will tell you if you are a person with positive or negative mental attitude:

(Please get a piece of paper and write yes if it reflects your attitude or no if it does not for each of the statements)

1. When things go wrong I imagine the worse first
2. I do not like consulting my friends and families when I need advise 
3. I prefer to brush things under the carpet and hope the storm will pass 
4. I spend a lot of time mulling over small situations, analyzing over and over again 
5. I pray because I have to
6. I fast because I am afraid of the punishment 
7. I mainly see trouble ahead
8. I find it hard to complement others
9. I believe praising someone only increases his or her ego and makes him or her self-centered.
10. I mostly keep my thoughts and feelings to myself
11. I believe it is my duty to tell anyone who is wrong
12. I offer more criticism than praise
13. I believe the end of time is near and the human race will not survive into the twenty first century 
14. I can not tolerate people failing me
15. When a friend lets me down I get upset and depressed
16. I think we have not been created to be happy 
17. Happiness sucks – its too allusive and difficult to gain
18. I do not feel comfortable making myself the target of jokes?
19. I believe joking is not allowed in Islam
20. Positive thinking is just an advertising gimmick, hardly plays any role in my state of mind. 
21. It certainly does not impact on my physical health
22. When I think back over the past few months, I tend to remember my failure before successes. 
Note the outcome of this test is not conclusive but a small indication of your state of mind. It does not mean you cannot change your mental state.
If you have had:
1-5 “yes” you have nothing to worry about, you have positive mental attitude
6-10 “yes” you have mild level of negative mental attitude 
11-15 “yes” you have moderate level of negative mental attitude
15 plus you have high lever of negative mental attitude 
Develop positive mental attitude
What has the test revealed for you? You have a positive mental attitude. Do you feel happy that you have a positive mental attitude? You have a negative mental attitude. How do you feel knowing that you are not that positive in your mental attitude? 
It is easy to do a quick test and get ready-made results. In fact it is easy to influence the outcome of these tests. These tests are not conclusive and never intended to be. It is only an indicator and a point for further exploration.
I would like to propose five basic steps for developing a positive mental attitude:
1. Believe in yourself: 
I hear people say that the long hours of fasting scare them. They feel they cannot do it. They will starve, they would feel thirsty especially as it is the peak of summer and worse they will struggle with lack of sleep. If you think you can’t do it, it is very likely that you wont do it. If you think you can, it is likely that you would do everything within your capacity to keep the fast. 

The first step is to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in your strength, no one else will. Always remember, through fasting God does not want hardship on you, He wishes ease for you. The secret is to plan well and learn to manage your fast better.

In other words, eat healthy and nutritional food that has slow energy release properties instead of the deep fried, oily and spicy food. Eat food that give you strength and does not make you sluggish. Eat food that are light in your stomach and does not cause digestive discomfort.

Avoid food that will make you thirsty quickly or even cause dehydration. Overly salty food causes your body to crave for more liquid. Drink plenty of water during the night. Keep your body rehydrated. 

It is all about learning how to manage your diet and timetable better. Positive mental attitude will be further cultivated when you have taken steps to remove reasons that impair positivity and give rise to negativity. Ill health is one of the major reasons for many people to develop skepticism and negativity. 

2. No challenge is too much: 
Know that Allah does not place a burden on you more than you can bear. He has designed, fashioned and created you; surely He would not be suggesting a worship that would harm you. He would not place on you any more than you are capable of. 

Fasting has divinely intended consequence and who would know more about the benefits of it than the creator. Ultimately our maker is more aware of what we need for our physical, emotional and spiritual welfare. 

Having solid faith in Allah and knowing how to have absolute reliance on him will help you develop positive mental attitude. The ultimate truth is, you cannot operate outside the God given rules. 

You can face all the challenges in life, including the challenge of fasting long hours in the summers heat and overcome it or you can feel sorry for yourself. Fasting with resentment is a sign of negative mindset but fasting with solid resolve is the sign of a robust positive mental attitude. 

Knowing your limitation and yet not feeling limited by it is the most important signal that you have attained positive mental attitude. It is true that we are limited in our capacity, as humans but our desire to excel should make us determined and resolute. 

A person with positive mental attitude would fast without fear, embrace the long days happily and be resilient when tiredness and slumber strikes. A believer with a positive mental attitude would consider the challenge a test and would do everything to pass it with spectacular outcomes. 

3. Retain consistency in your life: Positive mental attitude comes from regular satisfactory burst of positive energy in small doses. Sudden surge in positive feelings always follow terrible dip. Recovering from each episode of these depressions becomes harder each time. It is like caffeine addiction – initially a small cup of coffee gives you a sudden rush of energy but as the caffeine wanes from your blood stream you feel more tired. To keep your energy level to this artificially stimulated level you need to drink more and more tea and coffee. By the time you go to sleep you are already on the verge of total meltdown. 

Connecting with God is the same. Spirituality cannot be a one-timer buzz. It cannot be rushed or artificially stimulated. Once the blessed Prophet was asked, what was the most loved action by Allah and he replied, “one that is done regularly even if it is in small amounts”. 

The idea that we must make ourselves extra pious for a short period of time through intensive rituals but revert back to zero level of spirituality after the month of fasting is not only illogical but also an indication of a ridiculous mindset. Such an attitude is more detrimental to us; our soul is adversely affected; our emotions are messed up and spiritual discontent inevitably follows. We should not play yow-yow with our soul. It requires spiritual stability and inner peace. 

God does not require any artificial devotion and in the case of fasting such devotion becomes only a waste. We should be spiritually smart and emotionally intelligent. 

4. Make a SMART plan: A plan one that you can follow; it has specific aims, you can measure your progress with, you can reach your goals, is realistic and timed. For example learn one verse of the Quran everyday, pray your daily prayers more diligently and on time, take a pledge to stop wasting your time or money in frivolous matters. Leave a legacy, chose a charity and donate to a worthwhile project. A SMART plan would look like this: 

S = Specific – I would like to memorise the text and understand the meaning of some verses from the Quran.
M = Measurable – One verse in Arabic and with its meaning is a clear measurable goal.
A = Achievable – One verse is achievable as it could simply mean you mark that verse on your phone, a piece of paper and rehearse it as often as you need until it has been engraved in your memory. 
R = Realistic – One verse is realistic for most people, whereas the entire Quran many not be. A realistic plan takes into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. 
T = Timed – One verse a day and within the month of Ramadan frames your goal within a limited timetable. It helps you to focus and measure at the end.

4. Know God does not look at our physical or material sacrifice but he looks at what is inside: We must devote our spiritual sacrifices to Him and for Him. Fasting is one such special metamorphosed physical and spiritual worship. Allah has promised extraordinary reward for fasting and he has taken it on himself to give it in person on the Day of Judgment. 

God does not wish difficulty for you but wishes ease should be born in our mind as the real spirit of fasting. Those who make fasting hard for themselves and demand that everyone else must pursue a hard spiritual diet are not only erroneous but also unfair. Fasting should be complying with the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. The idea that you can only attain spirituality by being hard on yourself is in totally false. 

Having positive mental attitude for the fast in the month of Ramadan is essential, without it, God’s pleasure would not be reached. A positive mental attitude in our prayer, in our fasting, in our charity and in our pilgrimage must all reflect the divine will. The true reliance and mutual love between God and us is only possible when we submit to God’s will willingly. Enjoy the fast and think about the calories your body is burning. 

The entire month of fasting detoxes and cleanses our physical and the spiritual body. It cleanses our tongue, eyes and hearing. It removes all the accumulated sinful debris. Ramadan is the time for personal and collective spirituality so please make the best of it! 


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About Ajmal-Masroor

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  • Name: Ajmal Masroor
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    Ajmal Masroor is an Author, Broadcaster, Relationship Counsellor , Politician and Imam based in London, UK. His facebook profile can be followed https://www.facebook.com/AjmalMasroor

    This Blog is made by his Fan and all writings are collected from his Facebook page which is Public.

     

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