Ramadhan is a month of fasting, abstention, frugality and simplicity. This thirty-day long exercise teaches how to control our desires (Nafs), refine the ego and tame the beastly tendencies of anger and selfishness. If we can achieve these, we are winners, we will be content and masters of our ego. Some may think Ramadhan is about weakening us, yes in the sense of subduing animalistic tendencies it weakens them, but on the other hand, it strengthens our angelic qualities of patience, kindness, generosity, forgiveness and gratitude. As we approach the end of the month it’s time to assess what we have got. I experienced humility, contentment and spirituality. Has that dampened my ambitions to be successful in life? Let me clarify this claim.
Sulayman was a powerful king but also a spiritual leader, a Prophet of Allah. He had a large kingdom but wanted an even bigger one, he had great ambitions and God blessed him. Even the Queen of Sheba came to submit herself before him. Many devout and pious Muslims shy away from displaying strength or taking on a leadership role or becoming wealthy because they believe it will undermine their spirituality. However, this is where they may be confused, due to three common misconceptions that can keep them from having great ambitions:
- They confuse small thinking with spirituality. Some people say, ‘I serve God in my little way.’ Why don’t you start serving Him in a bigger way? Why not let Him use you more? Other people say, ‘Well, I’m just fine the way I am. That’s the way God made me.’ It’s wrong to blame God for your lack of growth because He has provided all the tools and ideas you need to grow. The bottom line is think big or you’ll get in God’s way! The question for you is what can you do in a big way to serve the Mighty Lord? You may already be doing a few small projects, think of how you could help the needy and the poor in a bigger way.
- They confuse fear with humility. We say, ‘Oh, I could never do that,’ and think we’re being humble. But that’s not humility. That’s fear; that’s lack of faith. A truly humble person would say, ‘With God’s help I can do it. With God’s blessings, I will do it. I may not be able to do it on my own, but with God’s help I can.’ That’s real humility. Humility is an accurate assessment of one’s potential. Your potential is massive, neuroscientists believe that the most intelligent people only use about 10% of their potential intelligence, 90% remains dormant. An average person might be using only 5%! So, you see Allah has blessed us with so much. The experience of Ramadhan should embolden us to go further.
- They confuse laziness with contentment. We quote Paul: ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances’ (Philippians 4:11). But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t set goals. He wasn’t saying, ‘I don’t have any ambitions or future.’ Just the opposite, in fact! He had great dreams for his newly adopted religion. Ramadhan will have opened many hidden vistas, stirred the imagination and encouraged ambitions. How to bring the material and spiritual together, after all, Islam forbids asceticism and abandoning the world. The prayer of the pious is “Our Lord, grant us in this world what is good and in the Hereafter what is good and protect us from the torment of the Fire.” If you don’t have a dream or a goal, ask God for one.