MY SECOND ARTICLE FOR MUSLIM MAGAZINE
***THIS HAS NOT BEEN "OFFICIALLY" PUBLISHED YET, SO YOU'RE THE FIRST TO SEE THIS. I HOPE AND PRAY THAT THIS SNEAK PEAK WILL BENEFIT YOU DURING OUR BLESSED MONTH OF RAMADAN. PLEASE HIT REPLY AND LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR FIRST TEN DAYS ARE GOING, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.***
Greetings of Peace and Prosperity! My name is Bellamy and I am a personal wardrobe stylist and professional organizer. In our first issue, I asked the question, “Are We Missing the Full Benefit of Modesty?” I began to define the dictionary versions of modesty and then shared what
The Beloved Prophet (SAWS) said: “Every religion has a distinctive characteristic
and the characteristic of Islam is modesty.” (Ibn Majah)
After a few years of practicing Islam and reflecting on this statement again, I gained a new perspective and personal insight. I shared my new insight and experience on how modesty can be used as a method of making sustainable transitions in every aspect of our lives.
The Modesty Method | Simplicity + Moderation = Modesty
Our blessed month of Ramadan is fast approaching and preparation should be top of mind for us all. Words cannot express the pure excitement and wonderment that Ramadan brings to Muslims. For about 30 days, it is a time of tremendous fellowship as we gather with our families and communities in multiple acts of worship in hopes of earning Allah’s forgiveness and Allah’s rewards. Ramadan is indeed similar to main stream society’s New Year as we plan and reflect on our lives from one Ramadan to the next. However, nothing in this world truly compares to the gifts and virtues of Ramadan. The days of fasting are the longest during the summer, so it is imperative to begin creating your Ramadan strategy to maximize the benefits and rewards of this blessed month. There are so many parts to consider:
- Learning and following the rules of fasting
- Making extra prayers and doing extra charitable activities
- Waking up and choosing what to eat for suhoor (pre-dawn breakfast)
- Attending the iftars at the masjid and
- Maintaining your responsibilities for work and to your families
All of this can be a bit overwhelming. As human beings, we get excited by Allah’s generosity that we desire it ALL. We want ALL the blessings right now, as if we’re kids in a candy store. We can become so immersed in our desires that we forget our humanity and overextend our efforts way beyond our limits.
Even as I compose this article I am feeling overwhelmed but it is only temporary because I know the purpose of why I am writing is to share how to minimize this feeling with modesty. I know it may sound strange but when I become modest in my approach, I feel a healing and an ease. Using my modesty method helps me to re-focus on the essentials of any given situation. With experience, I have learned that when the essentials are covered, then everything else falls into place.
The first step of the Modesty Method is Simplicity. Every situation can be broken down to a few simple components if we take the moment to ask a few key questions.
1) What is the simplest way to handle or implement this?
2) How can this be broken down into moderate steps?
Let’s apply the first question to Ramadan. What is the simplest way to handle Ramadan? Well to answer this question, I am inclined to ask another question. What are the key components of Ramadan?
1) The Ramadan is the month the Quran was revealed.
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month…” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:185)
Indeed, the Quran, our holy book of guidance, is the ultimate gift of mercy to all of humanity. We are infinitely blessed to be of those whom Allah SWT has guided to this book and way of life (Islam). The reverence and relationship we develop with the Quran is imperative to our development and growth. Within the same ayah the order to fast is given as well.
2) He must observe Sawm (fasts) that month.
Fasting from food and drink from dawn to sunset is an oversimplified explanation. There are many more components in how to actually fast in a manner that will be acceptable to Allah SWT. However, understanding why we fast can lessen the anxiety of learning and practicing the rules of fasting.
"O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you can learn Taqwa" (Quran 2:183)
The opportunity to learn Taqwa, which is an Arabic word that loosely translates as G-d Consciousness, G-d Awareness, basically means to behave and worship with the awareness that you see Allah SWT or at a minimum that Allah SWT sees you at all times. Taqwa helps you to have fear, to have reverence and to have hope in drawing closer and becoming pleasing to your Lord.
Now that we have determined the essentials of Ramadan, let’s refer back to the first question of the Modesty Method, what is the simplest way to handle Ramadan? If we focus on the quality our fast and improving our relationship with the Quran, then Insha’Allah our Ramadan will be accepted by Allah SWT.
Please also keep in mind that we still have our regular obligatory worship to maintain in addition to these two essential components. So we must evaluate our current level and quality of worship prior to Ramadan, to determine how we will layer in the essentials of Ramadan. If our foundation is not sound, then we cannot grow holistically. So let’s review the five pillars of Islam and assess how you are implementing them in your life currently.
Let’s begin. Do you need to refresh your Shahadah? Have you paid the Zakat? Have you made Hajj? Are you making all 5 prayers on time every day?
Even in reviewing the 5 pillars, the simplicity and moderation of Islam is evident. Did you notice it? Let’s break it down. Only two pillars have to be fulfilled once in a lifetime, another two must be fulfilled once per year and only one pillar has to be fulfilled daily, masha’Allah. You can actually refresh your commitment and say the Shahadah in a matter of seconds. The Zakat can be calculated and paid in a matter of minutes, unless your finances are complicated, which at best would extend the time frame to a few hours to calculate and setting a date to pay it, Insha’Allah. If you have not made Hajj then you know you need to just make the intention and make dua about it often which takes only a matter of minutes as well. Making your daily 5 prayers at their appointed times takes on average 5 – 15 minutes per prayer, which roughly adds up to 1.5 hours or less of your day at a minimum should be dedicated to prayer. But ask yourself, does it?
Considering we just covered how to simply check off 3 of the 5 pillars and we’re actively working on the strategy of the 4th pillar, then it is highly likely that prayer is the pillar that has the most room for improvement in our foundation. After all it is the one pillar that we must fulfill daily.
Now that we have noted the areas of improvement, this leads into the second question of the Modesty Method, How can we break down Ramadan into moderate steps?
We’ve established the essentials of Ramadan as 1) fasting to develop taqwa, 2) cultivating our relationship with the Quran along with 3) prayer as our essential foundation pillar. Now that we have defined our 3 areas of focus, now it’s time to decide how to elevate each area with moderation.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "This is a month (Ramadan), the first part of which brings Allah's Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah's forgiveness, and the last part of which brings emancipation from the hellfire." (Bukhari)
Taking this cue from our beloved prophet (SAWS) we can simply assign an entire area of focus to each part of the month or choose 1 goal per area to work on the entire month. The choice is yours. I personally would mix it up a bit and do both options because there is overlap in the 3 areas of our focus. That’s what’s so amazing about this method. When we focus on the essentials, the domino effects are extremely beneficial. When you focus on adding more sunnahs (additional prayers) your prayer schedule, this will certainly increase your taqwa. When you focus on memorizing surahs (chapters from the Quran), this will certainly increase the quality of your prayers. When choose to eat healthier for suhoor (pre-dawn breakfast) and iftar (evening meal) while you fast this will certainly increase the quality of your ability to memorize surahs and increase your energy for praying sunnahs. Increasing your taqwa will certainly inspire you to do more charity, make more dua and serve your family and community with more patience. The key to this method being successful is moderation, which can be difficult to stick to when our desires are great but remember this….
“And those who disbelieve say: Why is not the Quran revealed to him all at once? Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages” Quran (Surah Al-Furqan Verse 32)
Allah’s Wisdom is infinite. Even the best of humanity (SAWS) was given the Quran in stages as an example of how to become successful in this life and the hereafter. Will we continue to forget or deny this favor from our Lord? I pray not, Insha’Allah. So I leave you with this…
Becoming modest with intention is like medicine. When you apply the modesty method in how you live your life it will spark a holistic healing for you. Focus on the essentials and implement them in moderate steps. These moderate steps will help you make sustainable changes for the long term, Insha’Allah.
I hope this helps you see the benefit of the modest approach to Ramadan. May all our intentions and efforts for elevating our Taqwa with our fast, upgrading our relationship with the Quran and improving our foundation of faith with increased prayers will sustain us all to the next Ramadan, ameen.
Until next time, Live Life Modest!
Bellamy is the founding personal wardrobe stylist and certified professional organizer for the lifestyle agency, iStyleModesty.com which specializes in showing busy moms and professional women how to: