ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! It was all I always wanted years before I finally got the opportunity to escape my parents’ web. Home was “HELL” considering the fact that I never ceased to hear the much detested fact that my parents were equipping me for my future independence. I felt so confident that leaving home was my ticket to bliss. I was wrong. It turned out that the “ME” at home was not the real me. I became a stranger even to myself and I finally understood the saying “you are who you are when nobody is watching you”. So the question remained “What was it about me that changed?” It took time and effort for me to figure it out as well as set myself back on track.
Leaving your parents’ house and starting your own house is only an abstract piece of cake. Many believe that everything will be as perfect as the picture they had created initially in their minds. But just like me, they eventually find the nut a little hard to crack. As Muslimahs, we all know that the main thing we should focus on is ourselves, especially when we have such a golden opportunity as living our own lives in our own houses. It is not just an opportunity to discover who we really are but also a time to groom ourselves personally against future challenges and bring ourselves to being the best Muslimahs we can be. Here are three tips for making a few changes:
Make a thorough discovery of yourself
This may appear a little strange to you. You may begin to ask yourself what new thing is yet to be uncovered. I asked myself the same question some years back, only to discover shortly after that I had hidden tendencies yet to be discovered. But the big secret is that we all learn new things about ourselves every day. The change will definitely impact a lot of things about you, so what you need to focus on is, “In what areas have you noticed these slight changes?” You may begin to notice a few changes in your pattern of eating, your sleeping habit, your level of cleanliness and personal organisation as well as your spiritual exercises. How early do you wake up for Salat–ul–fajr? How often do you observe tahajjud and recite the Qur’an? How regular are your breakfasts as well as your lunch and dinner? Do you observe basic day to day etiquette, such as not allowing a non–mahram into your house in a state of seclusion? These are just some of the numerous areas you need to check. To make this easier, you may draw out a day to day activity chart that can last for a period of three weeks to monitor your level of discipline as well as the few things that may have changed about you. It is very normal for you to experience these changes as this is one thing freedom bears. When no one is there to check your level of discipline, you tend to relax partially or sometimes totally, depending on the circumstances.
Set yourself back on track
A few weeks after I set up my new house, I discovered a lot of new things about myself, the tendencies of which I never imagined having. I took so many things for granted and left so many things undone. I would wake up at odd times, stay up late to watch movies, postpone my salats, leave dishes in the kitchen unwashed for long periods of time and make too many errors in my day-to-day affairs. I was gradually becoming lazy and disorganised. The moment I realised this, I knew I had to adjust my pattern of living and so it began. It was hard at the beginning but the effort was worth it after all.
Setting yourself back on track should be a slow and steady process. You don’t need to rush things. Doing too many things at a time amounts to doing nothing at the end of the day, so you should only go one step at a time. The first thing you must do is to admit you are doing some things wrongly and you have to change. You may then highlight the major areas where the problems lie. By doing this, you have taken the first step.
Having made a list of your shortcomings, you must realise that you are alone in this and the only person to help you out is you. You must also bear in mind that all your effort is directed towards making yourself a better Muslimah for the sake of Allah. So, you may have to create an extra consciousness in yourself that Allah, who has the greatest authority over you, is watching you. This should get you going. When you want to stay up late to watch a movie, have it at the back of your mind that Allah sees all that you do, just like postponing your salats and allowing a non-mahram to visit you in your house. To make this more effective, you could make cardboard inscriptions of this and paste it in different corners of your house to remind you that Allah knows all that you do.
You may also employ the use of an activity chart to monitor your daily success. How early did you wake up for salat-ul-fajr? How early did you have your breakfast? Were you able to do all your chores? How punctual were you at work? Did you create time to recite the Qur’an? These are areas where the activity chart can work effectively.
It is important to know that the more you discover yourself, the better your ability to devise other methods of bringing yourself back on track. The main obstacle to achieving this is the whispering of Shaytan so do not forget to seek Allah’s refuge against the accursed one at every point of the struggle.
Don’t be static
The mere fact that you’re trying to be the “you” that you’ve always been should not make you insensitive to other interesting areas that you could explore. Try new methods of improving yourself. You may want to try a different cooking method for a better result or even rearrange the daily routine that has always been a part of you. Think of yourself in the nearest future. Where do you want to be in the next five years? How organised do you want your life to be? How do you want other people to see you? These are questions you should ask yourself. Answers to these questions will give you a direction as to what areas to explore and improve on. Ensure an average level of consistency as this struggle is no other person’s but yours alone and do not forget to seek Allah’s help at every point of it to make your affairs easy for you.
O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts, and from being over powered by men. (Bukhari)
Wardah Abbas is a graduate of law from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a passionate Muslimah and a budding writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite to change. You can read more of her writings on therosespen.wordpress.com.