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IslamiCity > Articles > A Blessed Ramadhan Through the Generation - Part 1
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It is truly remarkable that guarding and protecting our relationships is more important in degree than prayer (salah), fasting (sawm) and charity (sadaqah) .We know just how important prayer, fasting, and charity are, and this hadeeth is not lessening their significance in any way, but rather pointing to how essential relationships are.

A Blessed Ramadhan Through the Generation - Part 1
8/19/2010 - Religious Family Education - Article Ref: AJ1008-4261
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By: Lesley Schaffer and Kamal Shaarawy
Al Jumuah* - 22-08

Guarding Our Relationship with the 'Self'

If we were to create an overall composite profile of couples who seek marital counseling, it would look like this:

  1. One or both spouses is resistant to learning new things, closed to new experiences, and static rather than dynamic in their daily manner of living.
  2. One or both is in denial about their issues, blaming others for their difficulties, and not very open to receiving feedback about their shortcomings; not completely honest with themselves about their issues or shortcomings.
  3. One or both have impulse control issues, compulsions, or addictions.
  4. One or both is disorganized with regard to time management, finances, household, etc.
  5. One or both have issues of anxiety, anger, or depression.
  6. One or both lack confidence or assertiveness in the relationship and resign themselves to an unfulfilled marriage and/or fife, or resort to passive-aggressive behavior.
  7. One or both is lazy, lacking motivation or inspiration, feeling like a victim of external circumstances, failing to make the marital relationship a priority.
  8. One or both are unhappy or even miserable with their marriage and their life in general.

We can avoid much of the above-described misery by working on ourselves and taking an inventory of self to see how we are doing with regard to each of the aspects listed below. A married couple can learn new skills such as empathic listening or conflict resolution. However, the two spouses each bring to the relationship their own personal strengths and weaknesses. If both are committed to self-transformation, working on their own issues, the relationship can strengthen and deepen each and every day. Each aspect of self listed below refers to the corresponding description above. In addition to each spouse's personal happiness and the success of the marital relationship, it is so important to work on the self because we are the primary models for our children of health or unhealthy relationship with regard to self.  

Each of the traits listed below is part of the human potential to attain to an integrated state of being whole and complete. Every individual has the challenge of harmonizing the various parts of his personhood-his thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, values, motives, and behaviors-into an uncompromised, congruent whole. We can look at the personhood as a system whose various parts are combined and organized, an arrangement of personality and character aspects and attributes that form a complex yet unitary whole. Each aspect listed below is an essential provision on the journey of self-transformation, the striving for excellence (ihsan) that Islam teaches us. Those who are interested in further in-depth discussion about each of the following aspects, can find a full article on each aspect at www.salaamhearts.com .

1. Openness to new experience and change

This indicates a person's desire and willingness to seek out new ideas, activities, and/or people. These individuals feel comfortable with change and do not adhere strictly to familiar routines and experiences unless these facilitate their health, happiness, and success. There are always new opportunities for change, whether in our external world of experience or in our internal world of thoughts, feelings, actions, and habits. Those who are comfortable with change have an open mindedness and inclination to personal growth and enrichment, exploration, and discovery. Those who are open to new experiences tend to be curious and creative-minded, and to enjoy variety. They understand that Islam is a self-tranformational religion and way of life.

2. Integrity

Integrity is essential to spiritual excellence. It is also at the core of a truly happy and fulfilling life. Cultivating integrity and honesty involves a gradual dropping away of all pre- tense and manipulation in one's interactions with others. Integrity as a manner of living that adheres to moral and ethical principles, results in a process of healing all that is fragmented, broken, or wounded within the soul.This manner of living also incorporates a dedication to facing one's shortcomings and honestly seeing the reality of one's everyday life and relationships.

To drop our egoistic pretenses and practice living each moment centered in, and coming from, the heart, is a life-long journey that promises the greatest happiness and fulfillment. It is the path we can take to reclaim our Jitrah, the primal, pristine human nature we were born with.

3. Self-discipline / Self-governance

Self-discipline is a capacity to behave in a way that serves our intentions and goals. It is necessary to cultivate self-discipline in order to achieve optimal health, happiness, and success. Lacking self-control leads to indulgence in impulsive or habitual behaviors and attitudes that disregard the principle of cause and effect. Realizing that an action has consequences and that we can make a choice at each and every moment of our daily lives, is the first step toward the desire to strive for self-governance. Self-governance, or the lack thereof, affects every aspect of our lives, including physical and mental health, relationships, particularly marriage and parent/child relationships, career, practice of Islam, school, and so on. Controlling impulses and whims is a profound ability that can be learned at any age, and can be strengthened anytime one makes an intention to further develop this capacity. Sabr (patience and perseverance) is at the core of self-discipline and self-governance.

4. Orderliness and Organization

Being orderly and organized with one's belongings, priorities, and habits of living is essential to feeling peaceful in daily life. Oftentimes, disorderliness is a reflection of a disorganized thinking style. It's been said that "Organized minds make successful people. "The truth is that feeling relaxed and comfortable, as well as accomplishing one's goals, is much more possible when one's interior (mind) .and exterior (environment) are neat and tidy. When your home, closets, office, or desk, for example, are messy and cluttered, it is very difficult to get things done in an efficient way. And enjoying the process is next to impossible. Being orderly and organized comes naturally to some people, but it is a skill that can be learned and the benefits are enormous, positively affecting every aspect of one's life.

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