Have you ever taken part in a challenge of self-building for a certain amount of time? These challenges, be it individual or social, need a few elements to keep you move on and get over them. Thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan seems like both an individual and a social challenge.
In this text, we would like to discover the ways that keep us motivated to finish our challenge of fasting in Ramadan. How can we complete this challenge and take the most benefits out of it?
The challenge is to perform fasting for thirty (sometimes 29) days in the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam is to avoid eating and drinking and many other worldly desires and sins from the morning prayer (Salat al-Fajr) time until the dawn prayer (Salat al-Maqrib). It is noteworthy that committing some acts will make fast invalid. 
The main goal of fasting like any other type of worship is to purify the soul and improve human beings spiritually: “Felicitous is he who purifies himself.” (87: 14)
But any type of worship, apart from its ultimate goal, has other benefits and some minor goals in training the human soul. For example, one of the small goals of praying the obligatory prayers (Salat) during the day and at night is to teach Muslims to adhere to certain principles. It is mentioned in the Quran that one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are “those who are humble in their prayers” (23:2) and “are watchful of their prayers” (23:9). These two verses, mentioned in the same Surah, show that one level of being a believer is to reach a feeling of utter humbleness in front of Allah. However, at the same time, being watchful on prayers and trying to perform them on time while observing all of its rulings is another aspect that will lead to higher spiritual levels. The same example applies to any other type of worship, especially fasting in Ramadan.
I have personally tried many different challenges for forty days; for example, forty days of waking up before dawn, forty days of avoiding fast foods, forty days of doing half an hour exercise per day, etc. I’ve been able to make some of those challenges a habit. However, in all those challenges, I needed something or someone to keep me motivated and guide me with the issues that I was facing throughout the challenge.
Regarding the challenge of fasting in Ramadan, I think it is essential to find some ways to help us enjoy fasting, instead of solely experiencing hunger and thirst.
Different things can keep us motivated to have better spiritual experiences of fasting in Ramadan. Having a different routine in the month of Ramadan, avoiding some entertainment and starting some new useful habits such as reading the supplications and contemplating on them, specifying a certain amount of time on reciting the Quran with translation and interpretation, performing the recommended prayers (Nawafil), trying to help others in any possible ways, and any other act of goodness that we can accomplish.
While we try to perform good deeds during fasting, reciting the Quran has a powerful influence on all our acts. Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran: “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible. He knows that some of you will be sick, while others will travel in the land seeking Allah’s bounty, and yet others will fight in the way of Allah. So recite as much of it as is feasible, and maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and lend Allah a good loan.” (73:20)
Allah (SWT) tells us to recite the Quran as much as we can. Then He mentions that He is aware of different conditions that people may have; some of them may be sick, some maybe traveling and working outside their houses to gain Allah’s provision, some may be fighting in the way of Allah. But then He mentions again that in whatever situation you are, do not forget to recite the Quran. It does not need to be a lot of recitation. Just recite as much as you can, and it will help you by both its miraculous and extraordinary achievements.
To provide a better definition of the above phrases, it can be said that the miraculous effects of the Quran are those effects that everyone can gain them by reciting it, even if they are not contemplating on its verses. However, exceptional achievements are for those who recite the Quran thoughtfully and intend to understand the words of Allah (SWT) as much as possible.
In sum, when you start the challenge of fasting in Ramadan and hope to gain the best results out of it, you need someone to motivate you, to be your mentor, and to elevate your knowledge and wisdom while you are going through the hard days of your challenge. The Quran could be that mentor who speaks to you the words of Allah (SWT), gives you hope, sympathizes with you in your hard moments, and guides you through the way to reach your ultimate goal. “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible.” (73: 20)
Being exposed to the ever-alluring representation of “A Perfect Body” in media through the picture of celebrities and actors, we inevitably grow more careful about our own body and try to compare ourselves with that unrealistic image that is made real for us. And the only remedy we find to get closer to that so-called norm is to change our appearances with the help of cosmetic surgeries.
Some people see a perfect correspondence between their physical features and inner confidence and instead of working on their inner abilities to elevate their character, try to make a better look. But there may be cases in which one is forced to undergo this kind of surgery out of necessity. What is Islam’s view about this matter on the whole? Are we allowed to have cosmetic surgeries or not? What are the conditions?
In what follows we will try to find the answers to these questions.
Beauty is a very relative concept and can at least be divided into two kinds: the beauty of the body vs. the beauty of the soul. In Islam, both of these aspects are given importance. However the latter is regarded as being superior to the former; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says in a narration that, “Allah does not look at your faces but your hearts and deeds” .
The beauty of your character and the purity of your soul which is born with you and then can be elevated by following Allah’s guidance is far more valuable than your beautiful body. What gets you closer to Allah is your pious deeds, since: “…Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you” (49:13).
Nevertheless, Islam is a religion that pays careful attention to the matter of personal hygiene and appearance. We have many narrations that emphasize this issue. For instance, Imam Sadeq (AS) always recommended his followers to “be neat and orderly, since Allah is beautiful and loves that which is beautifully provided that it is lawful (Halal)”.
As the best example of practicing Islamic teachings in its ideal form, prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) always appeared in his best shape both in society and at home and in this way showed Islam’s concern about the matter of appearance and outer beauty.
Having said all of the above, the idea of beautifying yourself through cosmetic surgery remains unresolved. According to most Islamic jurists, having this kind of operation is not forbidden (Haram) in itself, provided that it is done for medical treatment such as removing a burn mark or curing a deformed part of the body .
However, undergoing cosmetics surgery just for the sake of beauty and without any purpose of medical treatment is only allowed if it is done by a doctor of the same gender since it is not out of necessity. This is because in Islam patients can refer to a doctor of the opposite gender, only when no same-gender doctor is available, or his proficiency is lower than a doctor of the opposite gender. To have a better view of “Islamic Etiquette of Looking” as well as the matter of Mahrams, you can refer to the related articles.
It has been proved by many psychologists that having a better life, more often, is not related to your outward appearance; in other words, being beautiful does not necessarily make you happy. Instead, working on the inner beauty and elevating your soul leads you to a beautiful perception. However, this does not mean that Islam gives no importance to personal appearance and physical beauty. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always rejected the notion of abandoning worldly pleasures altogether in favor of a solitary and monastic lifestyle [i].
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “ There is no monasticism in Islam” .
- Mustadrak al Wassail, Vol 11, p. 264
- sul al Kafi , Vol 6 , p.442
- medical issue
- Na’aman Ibn Muhammad Tamimi Maqribi, Daaem Al-Islam, Egypt: Dar Almaaref ,Vol. 2, p.193
Each fruit of the tree you have planted will be appreciated by a reward from Allah.
Kanz al-Amaal, vol.12, p.341.
What is learned during youth, like an engraving on a stone, will never be forgotten.
Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 1, p. 222.
Heaven lies beneath the feet of mothers.
Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith no. 22691.
Respecting a Muslim elderly is like showing respect to Allah.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.165.
The elderly are the sources of mercy and divine blessing.
Nahj al-fasaha, p.222.
The most generous among you is the one who spreads what he has learned among people.
Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith no. 13825.
The faithful are tied in kindness and affection together like members of a body, one’s pain and hardship affect the others.
Bihar al-Anwar, vol.58, p.150
The one who gets married has completed half of his/her religion.
Kanz al-Amaal, hadith no.44403.
Indeed, I have been sent to revive the virtues and good morals.
Bihar al-Anwar, vol.16, p.286.
Playfulness during childhood will elevate one in wisdom in his/her adulthood.
Nahj al-Fasaha, p.564, Hadith no. 1940.
The kindest, most amiable, generous, patient, and just among you is the closest to me in manner.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.240-241.
Be childlike with children.
Man la Yahduruhu al-faqih, vol.3, p.483.
Love children and be kind to them and keep your promises to them since they only know you as their providers.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.6, p.49.
Allah’s love and praise be upon the one who helps his/her children by doing good to them, caring for, and educating them.
Mustadrak al-Wasaiil, vol.15, p.169.
There are five activities that I won’t leave off till I’m alive so that they would become part of my tradition. [One of them] is greeting children.
Makarem al-Akhlaq, vol.1, p.251.
Being like your father is one of the best blessings of Allah to you.
Bihar al-Anwar, vol.71, p.84.
The kind look of a child to his/her parents is as praying in Allah’s regard.
Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.46.
The best among you is the one who treats his family best, and I am better than all of you for my family.
Nahj-al fesaha, p.472, Hadith no. 1520.
Whenever Allah desires the best for a family, He raises their awareness about the religion. The younger ones respect the elders, they observe moderation in their expenses, and they would know about their faults to make them right.
Nahj-al Fasaha, p.181, Hadith no. 147
Whoever delights his/her parents, has delighted Allah and the one who displeases them has displeased Allah.
Ali ibn Abd-al-Malik al-Hindi, Kanz al-Ummal, vol.16, p.470.
Whomever I am his/her leader (Mawla), then Ali is his/her leader (Mawla).
Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol.4, p.370.
Women are held dearer in Allah’s regard than men, and Allah will highly reward any man who brings joy to his Mahram women.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.6, p.7.
Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) has ignited the hearts of believers with a pain that will never be subsided.
Jami al-Ahadith al-Shia, vol 12., p.556.
When Allah wants to pour His blessings upon you, He endows you with a Good Friend.
Nahj al-Fasaha, p.776.
When Allah chooses to favor someone, He makes him the source of satisfying other people's needs.
Fatima is of my flesh, who is the light of my eyes and the warmth of my heart.
al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Amali, p.486.
If a Muslim plants a tree or any plant and a human, bird, or any other animals use it, Allah counts it as an act of charity.”
Mustadrak al-Wasaiil, vol.13, p.460.
Lying would negatively influence your livelihood.
Nahj al-Fasaha, p.373, Hadith no. 1087.
On the Day of Judgment, those who were most honest in their words, steadfast in their promises and kindest in their manners, will be the closest ones to me.
Al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Al-Amali, p.229.
Praying has seventy parts, the most important and biggest of which is lawful (Halal) earning.
Mustadrak al-Wasaiil, vol.13, p.12.
The most praised deeds in Allah’s regard is performing prayers (Salat) on their due time.
Kanz al-Amal, vol. 7, Hadith 18897.
The most desired companion is like a perfumer; his/her perfume would reach you, even if he/she didn't give you anything.
Kanz al-Amal, vol.9, Hadith 24676.
Eating less results in a healthier body and a more tender heart while overeating makes one sick and hard-hearted.
Mizan al-Hikmah, Hadith 579.
The words of “I love you,” said by a man to his wife, will forever be engraved upon the woman’s heart.
Wassail al-Shia, vol. 14, p.10.
36. Causing Harm
Causing harm to yourself and others is forbidden in Islam.
Usul al-Kafi, vol.5, p.292.
There are two blessings to which no one gives thanks: security and health.
The most grateful person is the one who thanks people most.
Nahj al-Fasaha, Hadith no. 312.