Ramadan can mean so much to so many people. A moment of peace, redemption, focus, the list goes on. It’s a chance to better yourself that you’ve never quite managed to grasp. But how do you maintain that oh so buttery goodness when Ramadan is over. When the shaytaan begins to whisper in your ear and all those temptations come creeping back. Well, how about we take a trip into the depths of my mindscape and see what we can find? A little disclaimer before I begin, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. Most, if not all, of what I have to say will seem like pretty basic ideas.

So, you want to maintain that Ramadan spirit? I believe the crux of it is one simple but cardinal idea: intention. Why was Ramadan so important to you? Why was it so important that you increased in worship? If you don’t have the right intention from the get-go, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you decided you’re going to purify yourself for Ramadan and then afterwards you can go back to your old self because it’s not a “religious month” then this blog piece might not mean anything to you. And that’s fine too, I’m not here to tell you how to act. But who knows, maybe something I say will change your perspective on matters. I am but a humble servant offering what little guidance I believe I can.

I want to ask you to clear your mind and focus on why you want to keep up what you built over Ramadan. You want to be a better person, a better Muslim, you want each one of your actions to please Allah. The very foundation of every single one of your choices should be to come at the situation with the mentality of ‘which choice will please Allah the most?’. Once you have this foundation, you can begin the process of self-improvement quite easily.

Intention is not the only important aspect, though. You need to take an active effort into learning about Islam. Not to use it against other people, saying “oh you’re a bad person, you’re doing this, this and this wrong” or “This sect is bad because they believe so and so”. Remember your initial intention: what will please Allah? Personally, I was put off Islam for the longest time because of the sanctimony of others and I know many people pushed so far that they left the religion, and that’s the last thing you would want. You need your own house in order before you try and change other people’s. To start, find a source of learning about Islam that you wholly trust, someone with impeccable character who will, in turn, improve yours. In my experience, it is much easier to better yourself in religion if you better yourself in character, first and foremost. When you take an interest in what Islam is about, you’ll discover the depths of this religion are endless. I used to believe you couldn’t be passionate about a religion, “That just makes you a fanatic; It’s just a bunch of rules you’re required to follow.”, but if you were to open up your mind to all that Islam can teach, you’ll find that learning about your religion can be extremely thought-provoking and fun and this will naturally make you more practicing.

You’ve spent a whole month improving yourself. What’s stopping you from carrying on now? You just need to maintain that mindset you’ve had throughout Ramadan. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be the most active pious person on the planet to be of the awliyah (friends) of Allah. Keep on top of the fard elements and do that little bit extra. Read a page or 2 of Qur’an a day, give charity, pray your sunnah. Or just smile more, that’s a form of charity AND it’s sunnah. The mere mundane acts of getting up in the morning, doing exercise, making breakfast can be a form of ibadah (worship) if you couple it with the right intention. I.e. to strengthen yourself for worship.

Maybe you slipped up during Ramadan and committed sins. That’s okay. All you can do is repent and make the sincere intention to stop it from happening again. Remember Allah’s mercy is immeasurable. You can’t comprehend his mercy. You cannot encompass all that Allah is, your dua would go on for eternity if you tried and you still wouldn’t be done. Imaan (faith) fluctuating is normal, you will have low points, at least keep up with the basics during those times and it will soon get better.

When you drop the ball, you can look at it as you being a failure or you can take the other perspective. Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. Yes, I know your name isn’t Bruce, but my point still stands. Take it as a learning experience and move on with your life. Focus on your end goal: being the best version of yourself and reaching Jannah because of it.

Another important aspect to remember; you are the average of those you surround yourself with. Find the right group of people with a similar mindset and they can help you with your goal. For me, I didn’t have this until I was found by the ISOC. Having this group of people is extremely important, more so than you can ever know. So, hold on to them and don’t let go. They will lift you spiritually, mentally, physically to greater heights. And don’t ever settle for less than this. Fun fact: everything I have and am saying in this blog are concepts I’ve learned from Islamic education events and people from the ISOC, which by and large are pretty basic ideas. You don’t need piles of books and years of study to be a good Muslim and keep your ibadah sustainable. The small, daily changes you make to build good habits and consciously keeping that consistency are what matter. I could go on and on and into depth about what this group of people have given me, but that’s my personal experience. You need to find your own with your group. Don’t limit what you can gain from something based on someone else’s experience.

Just some final points that came to mind. Don’t allow private discretions just because of how you are in public. Yeah, people think you’re a great person because you’re really nice and you do lots of charity work, but are you maintaining those acts of ibadah in your own home where they’re not on display for everyone to see? Your private acts of worship mean more than what you do in public because you aren’t open to scrutiny in your own home and you won’t be doing things just to keep up appearances. Always go back to the foundation, what is your intention? Check yourself every now and then, even the best of us must do so.

Don’t become complacent with where you are. You can always improve yourself. It’s like going to the gym, you don’t just stop because you’ve hit a point you like, you work on maintaining it and finding ways to improve it. Well, I wouldn’t actually know since I tend to get randomly inspired to go to the gym once every other month, but you get what I mean. Keep in mind, you don’t become a sheikh overnight, it’s all about progression (not to say that you have to become a sheikh). Take your time and improve yourself where you can. If you catch on to a fault you have, make the intention to fix it and then work on said fix.

Make dua that you will be kept on the right path and you will be of the people of Jannah.

May Allah accept all your good deeds this Ramadan and thereafter. May He make them weigh heavily on your scales on the day of judgement and allow you all to reach Jannah.

-Adil Mian

Well, what can I say? The biggest event in the ISOC’s history only just came and went the other day!

The Community Iftar, over 400 people joined together to break fast under the night sky. The feeling was one of unity and celebration. The unity of people from all walks of life and a celebration of community spirit.

The hanging lights gave it all an ambient feel, despite the sun setting and the night claiming the skies, there was an abundance of Noor, light, all around. From the hearts of the people to reflections off of the volunteers’ high vis, the place was alight like no other.

The sheer number of people was amazing to see! The connection of human spirit was something else. This Iftar embodied what Ramadan is.

The volunteers who arrived hours in advance of the event, to make sure everything was just right. Tarp was spread, tables were set, food and water delivered. Our members came out in large numbers: the student body working together to make this a success. Their diligence and their hard work made the event what it was. May Allah reward them for the sincerity of the work they did for the sake of others.

The joining of the Ummah was achieved. To be together and be peaceful together. The warm hearts of the people kept the atmosphere warmly glowing.

The number of people who had arrived was breath-taking. People from all over Birmingham, people from other cities, had come for this gathering. People from different backgrounds, different cultures, different faiths, all were welcome and all were present. It was a spectacle to see such diversity and inclusion in a single place.

Words of unity and peace were spoken. Messages of achievement and amazement were given. We showed the world what we are capable of, what greatness can be achieved when we all move with one aim, one purpose.

A few lines that will stick with me for a long while from UBISOC’s Head Sister, Maryam Mahboob, was this,

‘In Islam, it doesn’t matter who your neighbour is, Muslim or not, they deserve your courtesy. Adab is Islamic good manners, but it goes beyond this. It is what you gain from praying and fasting, as it facilitates an inward transformation of the soul, one that seeks to connect to others, for their sake and the sake of Allah.’

Such a powerful message, one that encourages us to always be good to those around us, no matter who they are. One that seeks to show that generosity has no threshold. That all are deserving of it, that by praying, fasting and breaking fast together, it allows you to understand what it truly means to foster and replenish a kind human soul.

A spectacular moment of the Community Iftar and honestly the most uplifting was Maghrib Salah.

Never did I think we would see the day where the Adhan would ring throughout all of campus, where the words of the Quran would be elevated to such a level that it could be heard all around you. The words seemed to echo throughout all of Birmingham in that moment. The call united us all, it was something unprecedented here at UoB.

We made history. All of us. The volunteers who worked tirelessly to serve everyone. Our Isoc who worked months in advance to ensure this event could go ahead. To all of you who came that night to be a part of it.

The food was as tasty as it was plentiful. Nigerian chicken, chicken curry, biriyani, falafels, jollof rice, food from many cuisines made it here and showcased how diversity and culture can be expressed within our faith.

It was the joining of all that made this possible. The goodwill of those who organised it and the good company of those who came to attend.

Jazakallah Khair to everyone who came, Ramadan Mubarak to everyone and I sincerely hope the days of Ramadan were everything you needed them to be!

-Rayhan Ahmed