Hope: a four-letter powerful word that we take so lightly. Ramadan: a month in which we are meant to be hopeful and give hope. If this is the case, why has “Ramadan Muslim” become a label we give out with no regard to how wrong it is? This label is one that we use for those who change their wrongful habits in Ramadan, but who tend to slip back into their old ways after the blessed month. We tend to forget that we as Muslims, especially during Ramadan, are supposed to be encouraging the good, and we don’t realize the effect we have when we judge their reasons for changing.

Ramadan is such an important month in so many ways for us Muslims. Scientifically, many agree that breaking a bad habit and starting a new one is anywhere between 21-30 days. Considering that, and the fact that Allah SWT is the Most Merciful, focusing on our intentions, we have no way of knowing the end result of these “Ramadan Muslims.” None of us should want to be the reason someone strays away from the straight path. There is a very real possibility that someone has the intention of turning their lives around during Ramadan, but then our judgement discourages them. Ask yourself this: can you afford the possibility of standing in front of Allah SWT on the day of judgment having to explain what made you think you had the right to judge someone’s intentions to the point of being the reason they strayed from the straight path? None of us can afford that; the risks are too high, but we somehow keep taking the risk by labeling and judging others.

With that said, let us take this Ramadan as an opportunity to focus on self-reflection. We should not judge others, but we must reflect on our own wrongs and try to fix ourselves. Make Ramadan your own month of change. Ramadan is not only about hope and change for people who are completely off the path; we must have hope for ourselves. Self-reflection is so extremely important, but we often neglect it with our busy schedules. The first step to change is to know where you are in the wrong. Once you know, start the process of changing your habits. Open the Quran as much as possible; let Allah SWT talk to you and the words enter your heart. We often sin so much through the year that our hearts become immune to the beauty of the messages in the Quran. Ramadan softens the hearts of even the most strayed individuals, so do not let yourself be discouraged because of your past. Let this month teach you that you are stronger when it comes to self-control than you thought. If we can give up food and water, our most basic needs, for an entire day, then we obviously have enough self-control to make a permanent change within ourselves.

Let us go into this blessed month of Ramadan with hope for ourselves and others. May Allah SWT soften our hearts this Ramadan and allow us to come out of it as a better version of ourselves. Ameen!

By Aydah Nofal