Self-development is a process of improving one’s character and ability to attain success in life.
It is taking steps to make one a better person that helps to attain happiness in life. For a believer, self-development should be devoted to attaining success in this world and in the Hereafter by removing sins, thus shifting worries and fears, from his/her life and ensure happiness and peace.
Success in effective personal development depends on the successful purification and nurturing of one’s character and day to day behavior, which is defined in the Qura’n as Tazkiya. The high way to building and leading a happy and safe (i.e. successful) life is to follow the guidelines prescribed by Allah (SWT) in the Qura’an and following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as the living example of the Qura’n.
In Surah Fussilat Allah Almighty says again:
“Indeed, those who have said, "Our Lord is Allah” and then remained on a right course - the angels will descend upon them, [saying], "Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised. We [angels] were your allies in worldly life and [are so] in the Hereafter. And you will have therein whatever your souls desire, and you will have therein whatever you request [or wish]” (Qura’n 41:30-31)
Taqwa (God consciousness) is the virtue or quality that enables one to receive the benefit of guidance from the Qura’n on a path to attain success in life. Therefore, in order to obtain effective guidance from the Qura’n one must attain the quality of righteousness (i.e. God consciousness).
In the Qura’n Allah Almighty says:
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who are conscious of Allah” (Al-Qura’n 2:2)
He also says:
This [Qur'an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious who are conscious of Allah. (Al-Qura’n 3:138)
Ramadan is the month of Qura’n. In this month Allah Almighty has revealed the Qura’n for mankind with a complete guidance for self-development.
Allah Almighty says:
“The month of Ramadan, in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion for those who are righteous (conscious of Allah in their affairs)”. (Al-Qura’n 2:285)
Therefore, attaining the best qualification to benefit from the Qura’n is excellence in self-development in preparation to succeed. This raises the station of the one on this path to qualify as a true Muttaqi (Conscious of Allah).
It is a month of mindfulness, enjoining good, forbidding evil. It is a month of self-reflection, self-purification and self-discipline in order to remove sin and attain limitless rewards.
As Allah (SWT) says:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (Muttaqun).” Baqarah 183.
Despite these opportunities, fasting tests one’s ability to remain a self-improving, righteous servant. It requires great physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effort in order to make sure that one’s sins are forgiven, remain conscious of Allah and ultimately, earn His Pleasure and Jannah.
Ramadan is that perfect opportunity. It is our personal race to righteousness and success.
It is a month-long race towards forgiveness and Jannah by competing in doing good deeds and refraining from sins.
Allah Almighty says:
“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, And for a Garden whose width Is that (of the whole) Of the heavens And of the earth,” (Al Qura’n 3:133).
Keeping the above premises in mind, we need to develop a course of action for this month to fully benefit from Ramadan. This plan should include specific objectives and will require one to make a firm commitment to follow the plan.
Before drawing up the plan or as part of the planning process, spend some time on self-reflection and conduct a SWOT analysis. One needs to identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Then select a few aspects that needs to improve to be on the path of self-development. At least select one habit that will increase consciousness of Allah, personal growth, achieve excellence and spirituality beyond Ramadan. Work on improving that habit daily for each of the 30 (or 29) days of fasting.
Before sharing some practical Ramadan self-improvement ideas let us remind ourselves with the reminder of Almighty Allah.
“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness. He has succeeded who purifies it, And he has failed who instils it [with corruption].” (Shura Ash-shams: 7-10)
Allah's Messenger (SAW) said:
“The most perfect man in his faith, among the believers, is the one with the best behavior.” (Sunan Abu Dawood).
These are some ideas to support one’s personal race to success – in this world and beyond. There may be other ideas depending on one’s personal circumstances. Therefore, individuals should prepare a list of ideas and draw a plan for improvement as per his or her circumstances.
Finally, let us remember that Allah (SWT) only accepts and rewards deeds which are done sincerely for His sake. If done according to the way it is prescribed by Allah and shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him), it turns into a form of worship. We can turn our challenge into a fountain of worship that will nourish us with righteousness, affecting our thoughts, feelings and behaviour positively.
Let us have a strong will to prepare ourselves in this Ramadan to attain the best life in this world and Jannah in the Hereafter. Let us create a desire now to improve our habits and character up to a level that enables us to build a re-assured soul (nafsul mutmayinnah) in the eyes of Allah. Let us prepare for the reception from Allah Almighty in Jannah.
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