We are now less than a week away from the start of Ramadan, and it is the second year in a row in which we will observe the month with little to any communal involvement. In these circumstances, it is all the more important for us to set individual goals to ensure spiritual growth since many of the avenues we would usually pursue are not available this month. In that respect, I would like to share with readers some of my own progress and how I plan to build upon it in Ramadan. In doing so, this will help renew my conviction to achieve these goals as well as encourage others to set and accomplish their own goals.
For me, the pandemic has been a mixed blessing. On one hand, I am going through the same restrictions and isolation that everyone else has. For example, I chose not to take a job last year because it to focus on my graduate studies and put myself in a position to have an even better professional opportunity because of it. To this end, I am happy to say that my progress has been excellent. I am within months of graduation and have had basically all As in my graduate coursework.
In fact, I have never had grades this good in my life and am in a good position to secure an excellent full-time opportunity for myself after graduation. With regards to my spiritual development, the pandemic allowed me to accelerate my memorization (hifz) of the Qur’an, and I am happy to say I finished last year.
In that respect, I am going to take this Ramadan as an opportunity to reinforce my achievement and build upon it. To that end I would like to list my two goals and explanations for them:
To complete the reading of the Qur’an in another qira’ah
Alhamdulillah, I have been able to read the Qur’an every year in Ramadan since I was 12. This month this will have an important function of helping me review my hifz. Furthermore, I will also be making the use of an edition of the Qur’an with all the variants listed in the footnotes to recite in another one of the established qira’at. In simple terms, these are the variants that can be traced back to the prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) through mass transmission.
Thankfully, I have completed four narrations of recitations thus far and with the help of Allah, I will do another this year. In doing so, I would help not only deepen my understanding of the word of Allah but also provide a reward for my mother and all those who facilitated my knowledge-seeking until now.
Abstain from all sinful activity
Even more importantly, I plan to repent and abstain from all sins as that is the whole purpose of fasting and worship in general. In fact, some of our scholars, especially from the Zahiri school, said it was a requirement for the fasting to be valid in the first place following Allah’s words that “Allah only accepts from the pious people (muttaqin)”, and a person who sins is not pious.
This is going to be a harder goal than the first but more important as the prophet explicitly told us regarding people who do not abandon false speech and action, Allah does not need them to abandon eating and drinking. I came close to attaining this last year but unfortunately failed after one of my rights was violated, and I transgressed the bounds by Allah in an attempt to redress the wrong. I apologized and made up the fast but still failed in my goal. Your goals do not have to be the same as mine, but hopefully, they inspire you to set and accomplish your own for your own spiritual development.