Mindfulness and moderation are must-have practices for reformation in Ramadan. [Picture: Empower Counselling]
Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to implement mindfulness and moderation, says a psychologist. The ninth month of the Hijri calendar, when billions of Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is more than fasting from food and drink.
“Ramadan is a month of transformation,” says Seyed Jamaluddin Miri, director of International Students of Islamic Psychology (ISIP).
“It’s an opportunity for all Muslims to look both inward and outward when it comes to practices and to be mindful of our actions, not to take anything for granted.”
During Ramadan, he explains that Muslims will be wary of what they eat, drink, say and do. It is also about fostering a deeper connection with Allah by beginning to appreciate the smaller things.
“During the day, we cannot do certain things that we take for granted, like drinking and eating. That’s a possibility for us to actually understand that the things we take for granted should never be taken for granted because Allah (SWT) should never be taken for granted by us as flawed human beings.”
By being mindful of our actions, Miri suggests it is possible to break bad habits (or create new ones). Ramadan presents a perfect opportunity for this – research suggests habit formation and breaking takes between 18 to 254 days, but 30 days is widely considered to be enough time.
“Ramadan gives us the opportunity to differentiate between the [whispers] of shaytaan (satan) and the thoughts derived from our own constitution and then we can regulate them, we can diminish them, we can refine them,” he says.
SMread: Understanding Islamic psychology
At the same time, “the psychology of Ramadan is a balance”. Miri explains those living in industrialised nations are sick with habits of overconsumption. This has negative consequences.
“When you’re excessive in your food consumption, this thickens your physiological disposition and it creates a veil between your spiritual heart and Allah (SWT). Too much food also sets the passions of our soul so that they will be inclined to the lowest aspect of ourselves.”
Miri says overconsumption results in an unbridled tendency towards evil actions and negative behaviour in general. By observing mindfulness and moderation in Ramadan, it is possible to curb these inclinations and to ultimately get rid of them, albeit with determined effort.
Najma Khota and Seyed Jamaluddin Miri also discussed the origins of Islamic psychology and its relation to mainstream psychology. Watch the full discussion here.