Change Your Habits In Ramadan
Try These Proven Techniques For A Successful positive change in your habits during Ramadhaan and beyond!
1. Acknowledge and Identify your bad habits: The first step is to admit you need to change. If you are in a state of denial, you won’t recognize that you have a bad habit to change.
2. Pick a habit for this month: Prioritize your bad habits and focus on one for this month. If you are committed to changing at least one habit, you will see remarkable results, Allah-willing.
3. Realize that it’s in us to change: Don’t believe the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” You can break a bad habit if you really want to. No one else can change your habits if you don’t want to.
4. Remember, Allah loves those who commit mistakes and repent: The Noble Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.”
(Hadith -Sahih Muslim)
5. Intention & Plan to change: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A healthy process of change in character requires a gradual pace, which entails planning. Develop concrete milestones to measure your progress.
6. Replace a bad habit with a good one: Completely eliminating a habit is more challenging than replacing it with a more productive habit. Moreover, it’s crucial to replace the lost natural needs, such as the need to socialize and to be entertained with something healthy.
For instance, it’s easier to replace your addiction to TV with a physical workout or reading the Qur’an or a good Islamic book, etc. Interestingly, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the greatest ‘psychologist’ of humanity, illustrated this principle in these words:
“Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people.”
7. Change your Environment: Resist the negative peer pressure by finding a better company of friends. Collective action to change is very powerful. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained this peer pressure effect with the analogy:
“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.”
(Hadith-Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim)
8. Exercise: Spiritual exercise is important for lasting change. You may not realize that exerting yourself in spiritual exercises like reading the Qur’an and Hadith, fasting, giving charity, Zikr(remembering Allah), Spending time in the Path of Allah, etc helps in eliminating a number of bad habits. Through the spiritual light of doing noble deeds, evil ones will gradually be eradicated from your life. Allah says :
“Indeed, Salah restrains from Shameful and unjust deeds”
A person complained to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about someone who read salaah and also committed theft. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “His salaat will very soon wean him off that sin.’ This shows that evil habits can be gotten rid of by adhering to good practices. The doing of good deeds such as remembering Allah cleanses the heart. A clean heart encourages a person to do good deeds and refrains one from evil habits!
Moreover, exercising your willpower (struggle to fight temptations) for this month helps you kick all kinds of bad habits and form new good ones. Willpower is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the more you strengthen it.
9. Think of yourself as a changed, different, new person. This simple psychological shift in your thinking about your own image can do wonders. Tell yourself, “I can’t continue this ill behaviour. I am better than that. I am stronger. I am wiser.”
10. Reward success: The most fundamental law in all of psychology is the “law of effect.” It simply states that actions followed by rewards are strengthened and likely to recur. Unfortunately, studies show that people rarely use this technique when trying to change personal habits.
Setting up formal or informal rewards for success greatly increases your chances of transforming bad habits into good ones, and is far more effective than punishing yourself for bad habits or setbacks. As Muslims, we should also remember that the ultimate reward is Allah’s Pleasure and Paradise in the Hereafter.
11. Get help: Tell someone about your effort to change if it helps. He or she may keep you on track and may offer some good advice. Read books that will encourage you to do virtuous actions. Join the various (amaal) programs in your local Musjid. Ladies should endeavor to join their local Taalimi Halqas. There are good and sincere people who are ready to assist. We are not an island- We are an Ummah!
12. Boost your spiritual immune system: By fasting, doing good actions, Itikaaf(seclusion), spending time in the Musjid with the pious friends of Allah, or going on the Path of Allah will boost your Imaan which will provide you with internal strength to overcome temptations to reverting to old bad habits.
13. Remind yourself of Death and Hereafter often:
“Remember often the terminator (or destroyer) of all the pleasures(i.e. death),”
the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)once stated.
14. Resolve to continue on and follow up: Giving up bad habits or learning good habits requires regular maintenance and determination. It is a long, ongoing process, also known as “Tazkiyyah” in Islamic terminology. It’s more difficult than the first few steps of change. (“How many times have I dieted, for example, only to gain the weight back?”). So ensure that you follow up. Link yourself to a good Allah-fearing Islamic Scholar, make a habit of spending time in the Path of Allah, and constantly engage in noble and charitable work.
15. Develop a relapse strategy: How do you ensure not to return to the bad habit you are trying to change? Some people donate money to a good cause every time they return to sinning or a bad habit. This reminds them of the ‘cost’ of going back to old bad habits. Others try physically demanding acts to deter them from reverting to old ways. For example that if you do___ act then you will keep three fast or pay so much sadaqah(charity) etc
16. Ask Allah for Help (Dua): MOST IMPORTANT!-Make Asking for Allah’s Help an integral part of the overall change process. Ask for Allah’s Help before, during, and after every attempt at kicking a bad habit. Do so sincerely, even begging and crying, like a child does when he or she really wants something. Allah is Ever-Willing to Help and to Respond to our needs, but it is we who must take the first step toward Him. Allah will NEVER disappoint us! Allah Ta’ala says ” Ask me, and I will answer your call…”
“And whosoever is conscious of Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He (Allah) will make a way for him to get out (from) every (difficulty), and He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine.”
So surely you Can do it !!!… Just Trust and Pray to Allah and make that great change this Ramadhaan!
For Us Let This Month Of Ramadan Be A Period Of Peace,
Faith Safety And Total Submission To Thy Will;
Make Us Walk Apace Swiftly To That
Which Thou Likes And Approves.
Pour Out Many Blessings On Us This Month,
Make Available For Us its Generous Good And Assistance,
And Keep Us Safe From The Harm, Evil, Misfortune, And Mischief
That May Try To Trap Us This Month.