Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
During the month of Dhul Hijjah, I participated in Rabata’s Pilgrims @ Home Challenge, which was a wonderful avenue for rejuvenating my spirit post Ramadan. The ibadah activities outlined in the challenge encouraged me to keep up the practice throughout the year by being more intentional and strategic about going beyond the minimum requirement of the fard salah, even if that meant only adding one additional sunnah or nawafal prayer to my daily routine. This has been a beautiful goal, and I shared more about it in my post on “Becoming a Family of Prayer;” however, I would like to backtrack a bit for all of us in our thinking about this.
I set the intention of engaging in these additional salah, because my main goal was and is: to strengthen my personal relationships with Allah swt. The minimum requirement in achieving that goal is: to pray the five daily prayers. Yet, even within the fard, there is opportunity to be successful in attaining the goal by: improving my wudhu, praying at the earliest time, and increasing my focus in the salah. The next step in growing closer in our relationships with Allah is to go beyond the minimum, as outlined in the pillars, and adopt more sunnah practices. When we increase our ibadah through additional prayers, additional fasting, additional sadaqah, etc., we are working toward achieving that initial goal of strengthening our personal relationships with Allah swt.
Alhumdulilah, Allah swt has given us many means of attaining closeness to Him and different means appeal to and are easier for different people. For example: I know that, for myself, additional fasting beyond Ramadan is not my preferred act of worship; however, giving in additional charity/helping others is.
After having set this heavy goal for myself of maintaining all that I was attempting to do in terms of additional prayers outlined in the challenge, I noticed that I would feel really disappointed in myself if I didn’t meet my goals for the day. This became a bit dangerous in the sense that I was losing sight of the bigger picture, which is: connecting with Allah swt authentically, not checking off a list of actions completed. SImilarly, I was overlooking the fact that I had completed the fard to the best of my ability that day, even if I wasn’t able to add on the additional sunnah and nawafal prayers that I desired to engage in. So I had to take a step back and consider two points: 1) Did I do my very best today to please Allah swt? Did I approach what was required of me with sincerity and effort? and 2) What is a very small action that I can add to my fard and be consistent in (because we know that Allah swt appreciates consistency)?
The answer that I arrived at for myself is: at the very least, make dua. For me, this means all the time, not just after a prayer or at prescribed times, like entering and exit the restroom, but instead to constantly be in a place of talking to Allah swt, like an intimate friend. This may sound very simple and like a given, but I’m pointing it out here, because sometimes in the hussle and bussle of the day, I may complete my salah, but not stay in position for the adhkar and dua afterward. As a result, my time for really focusing and making dua ends up being at the end of the day. I want dua to be a more organic component to my day. In other words, I should be making small duas throughout the day, in any brief moment of silence that I encounter. I should always be in a state of remembering Allah swt and communicating with Him for all of my needs, my gratitude, and my awe of Him.
To me, this is one small action that I can commit to and feel that I am actively working toward my goal, because it is simple. It is okay to reevaluate what our spiritual goals are and revamp the plan in how to achieve them. It’s also okay to keep lofty goals, but to scale back and break them down into bite-sized pieces that can be added on to over time.
After reading this post, I encourage you to consider your own journey in building a stronger relationship with the Creator, and to think about one small change that you can make that could potentially lead to a big impact in your relationship with Allah swt. I mention focusing on something small, because we want to be consistent in it, and have to be realistic with ourselves about what is reasonably within our capacity to commit to in this season of our lives.
I’d love to hear from you about your journey in connecting with Allah swt personally and how you’ve achieved your goals through small, consistent efforts! You can email me or comment below =)