Ramadan last year was…different. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it. There was so much going on in my life, and it was all stuff that was overwhelming, stressful, and confusing. Looking back, it wasn’t a time of much clarity for me. I went through a dark time, and was quite unhappy, making it very difficult for me to focus on my faith. Through the help and support of friends, I was able to push myself towards moving forward from the things that ailed me, and found myself in a new place, where I recognized that I had the ability to achieve anything. It was as though life had thrown me to the wind, and instead of being blown away, I was left standing while the wind cleansed my life of the clutter and negativity. Alhamdulillah.

Throughout this last year, I have grown greatly, Alhamdulillah. I have been able to refine the things that I was always so passionate about, and through this process, I have found a new level of peace and clarity within my personal faith. I knew that there was a need for me to grow closer to God, and so I began working on my relationship with Him. It was difficult, and it made what would usually be considered easy and simple become overwhelmingly difficult.

Without going into details of my personal sins, I will share some of the points I grew to recognize as being the key aspects of what helped me find peace and happiness:

  • Be optimistic: It’s so easy to be pessimistic about things, and to expect the worst. It’s so easy to think that everything is just not going to work out, and expect people to always be out to get you, or to make it seem like there’s no point in trying harder to become better. What’s difficult is to be at peace with life, no matter what comes your way. That comes through being optimistic and recognizing that everything that happens in life is part of His Plan. Sure, it’s more difficult, but once you learn to trust Allah, this becomes the secret ingredient to happiness in life. I’ll be writing a separate article about this topic later this week, so be sure to stay tuned for that!
  • Seek progression, not perfection: Many of us get down on ourselves when we find that we’re struggling with living up to the expectations of trying to be perfect in what we do. Well, at least, that’s something I went through. Upon realizing that I shouldn’t worry about the results, and instead should just focus on trying to be the best I could be as possible, life became much more peaceful.
  • Understand that you’re human: We all make mistakes, and beating ourselves up about it won’t do us any good. Instead, recognize that you’re human and part of being human is going through ups and downs in almost every aspect of life. What matters is the next thing in this list…
  • Never give up: Life is a series of tests and struggles, in which we focus on trying to accomplish goals in order to survive and thrive. The problem with this can sometimes be that things don’t always go our way. When this happens, it’s of utmost importance that we refuse to give up and continuously strive towards accomplishing our goals. Roll with the punches, and make the most of what life brings your way, but be patient and relentless in making your dreams a reality.

This Ramadan, let’s take in all we can from the lessons we learned over the past year, set some new goals, and try to make some changes. As a method of following through with this initiative, I’m challenging all of you to do things this Ramadan that are your own personal ways of making a change, be it through praying more, reading Quran more often, going out and volunteering somewhere, helping someone, giving Da’wah, etc. During the month, take pictures, record videos, write blog posts, etc. and hashtag them with #nkmakeachange. Let’s inspire each other to build on helping people as much as we can, and share our experiences. Make the most of this Ramadan, insha Allah! I pray that Allah helps and guides all of us towards making positive changes during this month, and that He gives us the strength, discipline, passion, and commitment to carry on with our changes after Ramadan as well. Ameen!