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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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Opinion Summary: Agree:  Disagree:  Neutral:
By: Lesley Schaffer and Kamal Shaarawy
Al Jumuah* - 22-08

5. Coping skills

Calm, peace of mind, and sense of tranquility result from the ability to cope well so that anxiety, worry, and/or fear are minimized. People who enjoy this state of mind typically have made an intention to learn how to be calm and peaceful. They know the value of solitude and finding time to experience stillness and absence of the multitude of stimuli that can disturb our minds, bodies, and spirits - like cell phones, computers, and email. Finding a balance between the high-tech, busy world and the world of peace and quiet is a challenge worth taking on for anyone who strives for optimal health, happiness, and success.

Good coping skills allow an individual to also constructively deal with feelings of anger or frustration. Anger is a normal human emotion that is simply a response to hurt, frustration, or fear. How we "act out" our anger can be constructive or destructive to our physical and psychological health and to our relationships with others. Put simply, anger is a powerful force that can drive us to do good or to do bad. The problem does not he in anger per se, but in its unrestrained power that can, at times, overwhelm us and compromise our capacity to think clearly and make sound judgments. Frequent anger and "acting out" episodes are the result of poor coping skills. Developing good coping skills allows us to deal with the stressors of daily life. Examples of healthy coping techniques are putting trust in Allah, assessing any difficulty in a realistic way and putting it in a healthy perspective, focusing on the things one can be thankful for, regular physical exercise, relaxation techniques, and positive, affirming self-talk.

6. Assertiveness and Confidence

Assertiveness is the capacity and willingness to honestly express your views and opinions, your feelings and your needs. It is important to distinguish between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Aggression typically involves hostility and a sense of coercion. The tone and attitude of assertiveness convey a confidence in yourself and a willingness to be heard, to be considered, to be recognized. Being assertive means that you don't shy away from situations that are uncomfortable, and that you are able to navigate or even negotiate your way through to resolution and understanding. This skill is essential in the marriage relationship so that each spouse is able to express him or herself and articulate their needs.

7. Achievement Orientation and Goal-Setting

Setting goals and striving to achieve them is an aspect of daily living that provides motivation, an experience of life "as process," and the fulfillment one feels when a goal is achieved. The Qur'an says that " can have nothing but what he strives for" [53:39]. Goal-setting helps a person determine what is important to him or her, and what one's purpose is on a short-term and a long-term basis. The process of choosing, articulating, and following through on a plan of action toward a particular result brings about the rewards of accomplishment and also the increased self-confidence of knowing that one is moving forward, enriching the self, and aiming for excellence. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "Actions are but by intention, and every man shall have but that which he intended" (Bukhari and Muslim). 

8. Happiness 

Happiness has many facets such as joy, contentment, and optimism. The dictionary tells us that happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good. So to a large degree, happiness depends upon what one attaches value to. If a person takes pleasure in feeling relaxed, putting things in perspective so that one does not get thrown off by whatever befalls him or her, whether good or bad, easy or difficult; if a person finds countless things, however small, for which to be thankful; if a person pursues goals that bring fulfillment-then happiness becomes a practical matter of making these experiences an enjoyable habit of living.

Happiness is not a mood. It is more a spiritual approach to life. It is a mindset that facilitates, feeds, and enhances the feeling of positive and enjoyable well-being. True happiness does not come with what one has acquired-whether possessions, or prestige, or power. It comes with what one has actualized in the self or soul. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: "True richness is the richness of the soul" (Bukhari and Muslim). It comes with choosing the essential over the superficial. It comes from emptying the heart of all turmoil, the mind of all addictions, and the behavior of all need to dominate others or inclination to victimize. It has been said that happiness is "when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." Exploring one's self with regard to each of the above eight categories is a profound way to increase self-knowledge. Imam ibn Al-Qayyim said that whoever does not know himself does not know Allah. But, of course, this must be knowledge of the heart, not of the tongue. We are talking about knowledge which elevates and transforms the soul. Al-Hassan Al-Basri said: "There are two kinds of knowledge- knowledge of the tongue and knowledge of the heart, which is the beneficial knowledge. Knowledge of the heart raises people in rank. It is the inner knowledge which is absorbed by the heart and puts it right. Knowledge of the tongue is taken lightly by the people- neither those who possess it, nor anyone else, act upon it."

A story illustrates this. Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH /1111 C.E.) used to travel from village to village, his donkey loaded with the books he proudly collected, evidence of his vast knowledge-so he thought! One day robbers stole his donkey and all his books. He was grateful that they had spared his life, but he realized that when his books were gone, so was his so-called knowledge. He realized that he had never taken to heart the knowledge in the volumes of books he carried from village to village. He vowed from that moment forward that he would acquire only one book, and when he had mastered and put into practice the knowledge in that one book, only then would he acquire another.

We can do the same with each of the eight aspects listed above. We can work on improving ourselves with regard to being open to new experience and change (aspect #1), examining ourselves in this regard on a daily basis, reading and researching more about what it means to be committed to lifelong personal growth and transformation, and putting into practice whatever we learn and making sure it is knowledge of the heart, and then move on to the next aspect. This is a wonderful way to guard the relationship with one's self!

Continued on to Part 2 & Part 3


Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.

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