29: Only Today

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This Ramadan…

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This Ramadan… I will strive for consistency, even after the month is over.

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Ramadan is over, or nearly so. It leaves like a guest afraid to overstay its welcome. As we hold on to its last few moments, it’s important to remember that the journey isn’t over.

The effort we put in during the last month should carry on through the rest of the year. We might not be able to keep everything up, and probably not to the same extent… but the attachment to Allah’s Book, the increased worship and remembrance, the love of extra prayers at night… these things should not be forgotten.

But how do we keep it up? By taking it day by day. One day at a time.

You know how you sometimes tell yourself, “You know what? I’m busy today… let me do it tomorrow.” So you put it off for “tomorrow.” Then the next day comes, and you’re feeling lazy again, and you say, “Ahh… that’s ok, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Then a whole week passes, then a month, then maybe a whole year. Our whole life passes this way. You might make time for your goals here and there, but you’re not consistent. Or maybe you even forget you ever had any goals, and you don’t make any progress.

But there’s a different way of doing things.

In a very famous book, “Don’t Be Sad,” there’s a title of a chapter called “Yawmuka Yawmuk” – “Your Day is Your Day.” That’s it. Think of one day as your unit. Say, “I will only be a good Muslim today. I will only pray sunnah today. I will only be good to my parents today. Today only.”

When your alarm clock rings for Fajr, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button for the third time… tell yourself, “No. Today, I’ll pray Fajr on time. Only today.”

When you’re tempted to go to sleep at night without praying qiyam, tell yourself, “You know what? I can rest tomorrow if I want. I’ll only pray two rak’ahs. I’ll force myself to stand up even though I’m exhausted, only today.”

When you have some extra money to give, but a feeling of covetousness takes over you, say: “I’ll give anyway, just a few dollars, only today.”

When you’re too busy to put in time to study Islam, or read a good book, or listen to a beneficial lecture, tell yourself, “I’ll make twenty minutes for studying, that’s all. Only today.”

And then when tomorrow comes, say, “Only today.” And when the next day comes, say, “Only today.” Keep telling yourself, “Only today.”

Whatever your goals are, set them for the month. Give yourself something manageable, like donating a dollar each day, or reading two pages of Qur’an each day. And for each day during that month, tell yourself, “Any other day, I can take off if I want, but I’ll work towards my goal today. Only today.”

And what is life except a couple of days? Wallahi, they pass so quickly – we all know. And if you don’t feel it yourself, ask any elders around you, they can testify – life is just a couple of days, right? That’s it…

If you understand this, you understand a fundamental concept of consistency: it’s to break things down into small parts.

The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam taught us that the best of deeds to Allah are the consistent ones, even if they’re small. The consistent ones; even if they’re small.

It’s that act of “Keep on going.”

In a hadith of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam says, he says, “There will come a time of patience when the one who sticks closely to his religion will be like someone holding onto a burning coal.” [Sahih at-Tirmidhi]

It hurts.

And the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam says that “Jannah has been surrounded by hardships” [Muslim], by things that are hard.

Walking up for Fajr is hard. Going to the Masjid is hard. Respecting your parents sometimes is extremely hard – but you have to do it. That’s the way to jannah. That’s the character. That’s the consistency we need. And when you do it, it will hurt. And once it hurts, you know you’re on the right track.

And when you can keep pushing yourself, and telling yourself, “Only today” – the time for rest will come someday (your grave), but for today, you’ll keep working –  that’s consistency.

If there’s only one thing y0u learn from this month, let it be consistency. Learn to grind your teeth and keep moving forward, even when it hurts. Learn to tell yourself, “Ramadan is over, but the Lord of Ramadan is always near. And today, I’ll still keep up the good deeds… Only today.”

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The above article is a partial transcript, with some alterations and additions, from a talk by Br. Ahmed Sidky. The 12. min video clip on consistency (highly recommended) can be viewed here.

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