Yesterday, I hit a new high with my ambition. Funny enough, it actually came after one of my lowest times in my pursuit of happiness and success in my life. What happened was that I got this jolt of inspiration and began to work harder to make my goals a reality, despite the fact that I’ve been fasting and have been extremely drained of energy on most days.

See, this Ramadan has been one that has perhaps been one of the toughest, yet most beneficial and fruitful Ramadan’s I’ve ever experienced. Coming into this holy month, I was determined to reach my goals and to see a change. I was tired of giving in to my weakness, using those weakness as excuses, and ultimately letting them take over my life. I wasn’t being my best for the last few years, and it was really difficult to keep myself moving because it felt as though I was my own worst enemy, despite often being surrounded by negativity or misunderstanding.

For those who may not know what Ramadan is all about, to put it simply, Ramadan is almost like an annual detox and growth period for Muslims around the world. During this month, Muslims refrain from food and drink of any kind from sunrise to sunset, they work on removing negative components of their lives, discipline their desires, increase their acts of worship, build their relationship with Allah (God), and work on bettering themselves and spiritually recharging to take on the year to come. Ramadan is one of the holy months in the Islamic Calendar, and often lasts for 30 days. (This is a basic description, so if you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below this article or to send me a message.)

This Ramadan, I’ve been trying to overcome an addiction I’ve struggled with for most of my life. It’s not an addiction like smoking or drinking, or anything like that, alhamdulillah, but it’s a major struggle I haven’t been able to overcome, and one that has negatively influenced a great deal of my life. I’ve begun to understand that all of us have our vices, our addictions, our obsessions, and those things can be bad for us if we fall too deep into them. For example, consider that even drinking too much water can lead to us hurting ourselves, even though water is a human necessity. I learned that everything comes with a need for balance, and a need for how to approach something wisely. To put that into context of the water example, technically, you could get water from drinking soda/pop, but that is far more harmful to your body than drinking pure water would be.

When it comes to overcoming addictions, I’ve been trying to remind myself that life is not about achieving perfection, but of continuously being in a state of progression. I’ve mentioned this in the past as well, but in a more religious context, where I said:

Islam isn't about being perfect

This has been a reminder that I’ve dedicated myself to trying to remember every single day, especially when I felt the inclination to give in to my struggles and weaknesses. This Ramadan so far has not resulted in my overcoming my addiction yet, but it has helped me in making leaps and bounds in making progress towards change. THAT is what I’ve been looking for. Not the expectation of achieving something, but instead to know that I am capable of overcoming it one day. What I’ve been struggling with is something that most people consider to be a normal part of life, but for me, it just has never sat well in my heart. I always felt like it wasn’t comfortable or normal for me, so I’ve always felt the need for change, but was just never able to move forward. I felt for many years that this was something I just needed to accept as being a part of myself I would never be able to let go of.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that just accepting it as my fate, in this case, was really my way of cushioning the fact that I was giving up. If anyone knows me, I can be a bit stubborn at times, especially when it comes to the idea of giving up on something. I rarely accept giving up, and so I knew that there was betterment out there for me. I knew it was possible for me to change. Perhaps it rang through my heart, without my knowing it, but looking back now, I realize that I always had this verse in my heart and mind:

“Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” – Quran (2:286)

A reminder like that really being instilled in me helped in letting me know that there is always hope towards change and betterment, no matter how difficult your situation may be. I also remembered, the verses from Surah At-Talaq, which reminded me of the importance of what I needed to build on in order to earn the Mercy and Help of Allah:

“That is instructed to whoever should believe in Allah and the Last day. And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out; And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” – Quran (65:2-3)

That last bit stood out to me, especially. The last sentence was the one that hit me hardest. The rest of the verses already made sense to me, but the last sentence made me realize that maybe, just maybe, I had to go through this struggle because it was what I needed. This addiction was something that kept me grounded from growing too quickly for my own good. Does that mean I’m not meant to grow and reach those goals? Not necessarily. Instead, it means that Allah has His own plans, and that includes both what happens for and to me, AND when those things happen.

Addiction is something I’ve learned may have its benefits. How many successful and influential people have you met or heard of who said that despite knowing what they needed to do, they weren’t able to do it until they hit rock bottom. Perhaps, that’s what addiction, along with other struggles like it, lead to. Perhaps, that is why these things exist. I’m not necessarily suggesting one indulges in any addiction or struggle, but instead, to take your time in working through things and growing at a pace that doesn’t hurt you. Know that you will go through withdrawal, but push through it. Work outside of your comfort zone, but don’t let it harm you. Remember these three components of progression through addictions:

  1. Have faith
  2. Practice patience
  3. Be relentless

This is your journey, and to stumble, to get stuck, and to feel lost at times, are all a part of being on a journey. It’s never all sunshine and lollipops. Embrace that truth in your heart and mind, and be kind to yourself. You will overcome, you will grow, and you will achieve greater levels of greatness with every day, God-willing. You can do this, I’m sure. How? For the reasons I mentioned above, and through the fact that I’VE been able to, and I’m certain you can too!