Here’s part of a message that a good friend of mine sent me yesterday, “First few days post Eid… scary how easily things are at risk of reverting back to pre-Ramadan baseline!”
It is scary and the risk is real.
But you don’t have to suffer a post-Ramadan reversal...
You're a lot less likely to do so when you do things together with others.
After all, “Believing men and women are supporters of one another...” (9:71)
We are called to, “Cooperate in righteousness and God-consciousness…” (5:2)
And we know that all human beings are in loss, “Except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to truth and urge one another to steadfastness.” (103:3)
In principle, praying together is better than praying alone.
It develops stronger bonds between believers. It promotes individual and collective discipline. It reminds us that we are not alone in the journey to our Lord. We’re part of a team!
If and when you can go to the mosque, then go. If you’re not a regular, then plan for a minimum frequency, for one prayer a day perhaps or even just once a week. Stay connected!
If and when you can pray together with family members, then do so. It's easy for everyone to end up doing their own thing. But this is far from ideal.
If the opportunity to pray together with friends or colleagues arises, then be the one to make it happen. Don't just remain silent and wait until you get home.
It’s also helpful to share your prayer aspirations with close family members or friends.
Start by finding those who are at a similar, or perhaps slightly higher, stage in their practice. You can team up and aim for improvements whilst helping to motivate each other and hold each other accountable.
This will be especially useful for you if you’re someone who finds it challenging to offer the five obligatory prayers consistently but you really want to do so.
It'll also be useful if your aspiration is to be consistent in your extra prayers, such as night prayers (tahajjud).
You will most likely find it beneficial to pursue your goals alongside others whom you can trust and find relatable. All it takes is a little proactivity.
As the proverb goes: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
The same principle applies for our engagement with the Qur’an.
As a believing community, we desperately need a culture in which revelation is more naturally and frequently discussed and pondered over together.
To complement your individual learning, you should either join or create a group of family members or friends with whom you will meet regularly to engage with the Qur’an in a language which you all understand.
Here's a simple format to help you get going:
1. Pre-select one passage, or a small selection of related passages, for silent individual reading or for one person to read aloud for a few minutes at the start of the session.
2. Allow some time for individual reflection before someone goes first in sharing their thoughts: “What did I learn? What was interesting or thought-provoking? How might I apply this in my life?”
3. Give each person a chance to do the same, and then enter into a free-flowing discussion.
You will inspire each other, understand more about each other, perhaps challenge one another and learn together.
“But we might misinterpret the Qur'an!”...
Questions and confusions will arise. That’s good! It’s not something to be scared of; that’s how you learn. The key is not to come to conclusions too quickly. It’s okay to not know… at least now you know what you don’t know.
Ask God to guide you, conduct further research and pose questions to those you think might know the answers before your next session.
There are plenty of resources to help you. As a starting point, for a succinct guide to context and possible interpretations of various verses, I think The Study Quran is a great companion (link at the bottom of this email).
Explore the Qur'an like this with your parents, spouse, children or friends... and you'll notice the difference in your relationships, God willing.
If you've joined Club Revelation, you’re sorted 😉 If you haven’t, and you don't see yourself having an alternative solution, then you can join the waiting list for it here.
A critical quality for anyone who hopes to positively influence others consistently is humility. A big part of humility is acknowledging your own gaps, realising that there are others who have more experience, and wanting to listen and learn from them.
Whether you’re a parent hoping to lead by example for your children, or you’re starting a new project to help others, or you’re already an experienced leader, find and reach out to individuals and groups who’ve done it already or are doing it now. Observe, ask questions, be open-minded.
I regularly and proactively entered into helpful conversations and learning environments for myself during my time at National Zakat Foundation. I did this from the time that I was an utterly clueless beginner when it came to running a charity, to the time that I was a much more experienced operator.
Now that I find myself as a full-time educator, I can tell myself that I’ll figure everything out alone. Or I can reach out to people who can guide and support me to tackle the many new challenges that I face. I have been doing the latter, and it has been immensely helpful for me on my new journey so far.
A problem shared is a problem solved!
To find out more about The Study Quran or to get hold of a copy, click here.
Let me know how you found this edition of INsights by rating and/or commenting below:
To read previous editions of INsights, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing
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