Today is the 6th of Shawal and I wanted to do a personal review on how my Ramadan goals went. I had 2 goals: Read a book on prayer, and push my prayer to the level of ‘awe’.
In some sense I would say I was successful in fulfilling my goals. I did complete the book ‘101 Ways to Concentrate in Prayer’. I also prayed more often with consciousness of Allah swt and feelings of being in His presence. That being said, I also had some problems.
For my first goal, I technically didn’t finish the book until a couple days after Eid. Additionally, I read in spurts rather than consistently and taking notes. Alhamdulilah, I still benefited from the text, but it would have been more powerful to read a little at a time regularly and reflect, rather than large portions sporadically.
For my second goal, I had many more difficulties. When I set the goal, I knew I was overreaching. For one, I did not first establish the level of humiliation in prayer to progress to that of awe. Expecting myself to jump from little or no khushu to a prayer of complete awe of Allah was not realistic. Still, I wanted to challenge myself and I thought that if I aimed high and missed, I would still land higher than if I had aimed lower. I found this to be true. The prayers where I did feel more closeness to Allah had much more humiliation and quality than many other prayers I had prayed before. Additionally, the sweetness of that feeling was intense and comforting alhamduliLah. It pushed me to seek it more and apply myself more.
Unfortunately though, this was not consistent throughout the whole month. I hit the mid Ramadan slump with my prayers and didn’t give as much care and attention to fulfilling them with awe of Allah swt during those middle days. I found myself distracted, rushed, and repeating suwar as I often do outside of Ramadan. Taraweeh prayers that I was able to attend were much better, but that’s usually the case. So honestly, my success in reaching my goals is mixed.
Despite all that, I feel that I came out of Ramadan with some new techniques to use in my prayer. Some I learned from the book and I others I came up with or heard in lectures. The ones I practiced regularly, and found most effective, were: responding in duaa to the verses being recited in prayer and imagining myself standing in the court of Allah.
The first technique really gave my a sweetness in my taraweeh prayers. Whenever I would hear a verse I would try to think of what I could ask Allah for from it. If the verse was about hell fire, then I could ask for protection against it. If it was about guidance, I could pray for to be lead by Him; and so on. This helped me feel that my prayer was an active experience and conversation with Allah swt. Additionally, it helped me pay closer attention to what was being recited and reflect on its meanings. It’s a great technique and I hope to be consistent in using it here on out. The only issue I have with it is how to incorporate it into individual prayer (as opposed to group prayer). It’s a bit difficult to mentally juggle both reciting the verses and responding internally to their meaning. I do want to try though, so I will keep at it insha’Allah.
The second technique I used most was to consider myself ‘in the court of Allah’. I would try to imagine that I was being called to account on the Day of Judgement or that I was standing in front of the throne of of Allah. Sometimes I would try to imagine heaven or hell ahead of me. This really helped me feel more presence in my prayer and get closer to that feeling of humiliation and even awe of Allah. To imagine being before Him would make me feel embarrassed for wandering thoughts or feel reverence for His power. I was not always successful though, and didn’t always sustain it mentally. With more practice though, I hope to be able to make it a norm of my prayer.
Alhamdulilah that Allah granted me this Ramadan and helped me through it. I hope that He accepts any good of it and forgives my shortcomings in it. I pray and pray that I get more Ramadans to get closer to Him and improve my prayers even more. AlhamduliLah