Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the third year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
Periods of reflection become integral to one's personal development. Without them, we wouldn't really grow as best as we could. Our lives would be mechanical and monotonous. We would do, but not know why we were doing or how deeper benefit could be attained from doing a little differently.
The month of Ramadan consists of 30 days of fasting. Each of those days serves uniquely as a potential source of benefit, and none should be undermined in its respective value.
Many of us treat our spiritual retreats as escapes from reality, rather than means of enhancing our understanding of it. Use each day as best as you can, but find moments within it to reflect on how the day in its entirety, both while the sun is up and down, is going.
"Reflection is the lamp of the heart. If it departs, the heart will have no light." ~ Imam Al-Haddad
In these first days it might take some time to get used to not eating or drinking for so many hours. If that is the case, utilize the nights when you return to your homes to simply spend some moments in reflecting on how the day went. By the end of this day, Muslims everywhere will have seen at least one day of Ramadan (some of us started Tuesday, some Wednesday) and whether we fasted that day or were unable to for some reason, Ramadan is still here, and the ability to understand how I am using it is front of me. I just have to be willing to seize it.
Ask yourself if the day that was just spent brought benefit to anyone, including yourself. If you were honest and trustworthy. If you kept every promise and honored all responsibility. If you smiled, were patient, and generous in every sense of the word. Try to see if you owe anyone an expression of gratitude or thanks, or if there is anyone that you potentially owe an apology. What ideas and thoughts preoccupied your mind for the most part? Even without consuming food or drink, how much time was spent in feeding your self versus feeding your soul or your heart? Is there real, substantive satisfaction present, or is short-lived complacency that is rendering no real contentment, just the facade of it?
"True richness is not having an abundance of things from the earth, but true richness is having a richness of the soul." ~ The Prophet Muhammad
The purpose of the reflection should be outlined from the onset. It should not be a process that is self-deprecating, but rather one that is empowering. I understand who I am now in hopes of moving towards everything that I can potentially be, not so that it leaves me motionless.
The key part then is to do something with the information you have attained from this reflection. Knowledge is beneficial only when acted upon. Take what you learn of yourself and the world around you from the day you just lived and feed it into how you will live the next day that you are blessed to have in front of you. Gradual growth is still growth and every opportunity to experience it should be taken advantage of.
Only 28 or 29 days left -- make each part of every one count.