Ramadan is all about cleansing our hearts, minds and bodies of negativity and influences that would pull us away from Allah. It is a time for spiritual growth and renewal, and an opportunity to gain control of our nafs (ego-self) through self-reflection, restraint and prayer. In order to make the most of this blessed month, and indulge in ibadah that changes us internally and externally, we need to make sure that our hearts are detoxified just as our bodies go through a physical detoxification.
By understanding our nafs and being mindful of its tendencies, we can use this holy month as an opportunity to cleanse it of its vices. Here are four powerful tips to clean your heart and have a Ramadan of your dreams inshaAllah!
The external enemy – Shaytan
All of us know that we need to be wary of Shaytan at all times, not just during Ramadan. Allah has made it easier to conquer this enemy during Ramadan by locking him up, however, if you still find yourself falling into bad habits, try this:
- Increase remembrance of Allah (dhikr) – Remembering Allah throughout your day is an effective defense against the whisperings of Shaytan. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively or becoming distracted, recite dhikr like ‘Subhanallah’, ‘Alhamdulillah’ or ‘La ilaha illallah’ to bring your focus back onto God-consciousness.
- Perform du’a throughout the day – Asking Allah for protection against Shaytan is itself a powerful form of protection; make sure to take frequent pauses in your day and ask sincerely for His protection against all sorts of harm including that which may come from Shaytan himself.
- Practice mindfulness – Pay attention to what thoughts you allow into your head and be mindful of how they make you feel; shaytan uses our own negative emotions as a way to slip in evil whispers and temptations, so identifying these feelings quickly can help you stop them in its tracks.
The Internal Enemy – Nafs
This one’s the hardest to tame. Controlling one’s nafs (inner self) during Ramadan is a difficult yet important task; the reward for achieving this goal is great, as it can lead to immense spiritual progress.
- Make du’a – Du’a is an important part of spiritual cleansing and a powerful tool to reduce any feelings of anxiety, doubt or negativity. Make sure to take time out each day in Ramadan to connect with Allah through du’a and make sincere requests for peace of mind as well as forgiveness.
- Perform voluntary acts of worship – Taking extra steps such as indulging in taraweeh prayers at night or intentionally reading more Quran can lift your spirit, clear your mind, and bring you closer to God in the process. These activities can also cultivate mindfulness that increases mental strength and helps combat negative thoughts before they manifest into destructive behaviors.
- Increase acts of worship – Worship is not only about praying, but it also has the power to purify our innermost thoughts and desires. Intensify your acts of worship beyond just prayer to include giving charity or volunteering your time; these activities will help distract from any negative or unwholesome thoughts that may come into our minds.
The environment around us
Where and how you spend you time has a direct impact on your spirituality, your productivity levels and overall mental well-being. This includes the time you spend on social media and what you browse throughout the day.
A 2018 British study tied social media use to decreased, disrupted, and delayed sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss, and poor academic performance. Social media use can affect users’ physical health even more directly. Researchers know the connection between the mind and the gut can turn anxiety and depression into nausea, headaches, muscle tension, and tremors.[https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health]
Social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also be an extremely distracting activity; during Ramadan especially, it is important to limit our social media usage in order to make the most of the month. Here are some tips for limiting social media use during Ramadan:
- Set limits – We can easily get sucked into spending too much time on apps like Instagram or Facebook; it’s important to plan ahead and set time limits for yourself for when you can check your feeds, such as only twice a day or once in the evening.
- Unsubscribe and mute – Unsubscribing from accounts that are too distracting and muting unwanted notifications or sources of information can help reduce unnecessary clutter so you can focus better on what matters most during Ramadan.
- Remove apps from home screen – Hiding apps away from your home screen so they’re not visible everytime you pick up your phone helps remove any temptation to mindlessly scroll through them during off-hours.
The time we spend
Disconnect from toxic influences – Negative conversations, constant criticism or excessive media consumption can be harmful for mental health, so try to limit your exposure these things during Ramadan if possible. Take some time out for yourself instead to focus on positive energy, gratitude and inner peace instead.
Get organized – Make sure all your necessary tasks are completed early in the day so you can dedicate time to self-care later; prioritize organizing your space according to your needs so you don’t have to spend unnecessary energy worrying about clutter or unnecessary distractions.
Focus on one thing at a time – Multitasking can often cause us to miss out on important details or be less effective overall, so practice minimizing distractions whenever possible and focus on completing one task before moving onto the next one.
Monitor your progress – Keeping track of how well you are doing with regards to executing your plan helps motivate and reinforces desired behavior, as well as helping identify room for improvement going forward; set up reminders or tracking systems if needed as they can be invaluable especially during this special season.
Connect with other likeminded believers – Spending time with believers that share similar goals or aspirations can help keep each other accountable and motivate us towards making better choices; it also helps ward off loneliness which can lead one down a dark path if let unchecked during this special month.