The most difficult part of Ramadan is not fasting from food. That's actually the easy bit, anyone can do it.
The most difficult part is fasting from everything that displeases Allah. Fasting from everything that holds you back.
It's fasting from anger when an argument is easier than keeping quiet. It is fasting from backbiting, when picking apart someone is more 'fun' than leaving the conversation. It is fasting from mind numbing entertainment, when it's easier to plop down in front of the TV than doing something that nourishes the soul.
So every Ramadan I make some resolutions. Either to change a bad habit or start a good one. Sometimes I succeed, other times I dial miserably, and yet other times I am partially successful.
This time around I roped my husband into it and we decided to work on one major bad habit that we have been trying to get rid of-Talking about people. Specifically, discussing things they wouldn't like behind their back. Back biting. It's a grave sin in Islam, equated to eating the raw flesh of your brother. However, it's something most people, including me, don't take seriously enough.
Even if we personally want to improve, the world is designed in a way that makes discussing people rewarding. There's an entire entertainment industry built on speculating over the lives of celebrities. 'Are they dating?' 'Is superstar xyz cheating on his hot girlfriend with another hot girl?' It's endless and we read this mind numbing stuff day after day.
The news industry is no better, with screeching hosts that compete for screen space by cooking up stories and labeling innocent people guilty. The media is now the judge, jury, and executioner.
As a society we have become preoccupied with knowing details that we don't need to know. We are so engaged with discussing others lives that at moments we forget we have our own lives to live.
Coming back to my resolution. It's difficult. This habit is so ingrained that we do it without knowing. When we remember we call each other out. We repent. We repeat. We repent. It's a cycle. Hopefully there will be fewer repeats and more control on our tongues. I don't want to contribute to mindless conversations anymore.
The real challenge is disciplining the soul and learning to say NO to yourself. One day at a time.
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