Through My Lens: Observations from a Midwestern Muslimah
By Nadirah Angail
A.) Lose weight/Get healthier B.) Improve your financial situation C.) Find a mate/Get married
Without even knowing you, I can bet that you want to do one, or perhaps all, of these things. They seem to be the most popular goals people set around those magical times when inspiration is strong (Ramadan, New Years, birthdays, etc.). You dust off the workout gear, set a budget and balance the checkbook, and start attending events with your eyes peeled for that special someone. Youâ€™re determined to meet your goal. Well, for the first few weeks anyway. Then, once the newness wears off, the determination wanes, and a slow sense of apathy sets in, you find yourself in the same old rut that you were in to start with. The cycle continues. Goal unmet.
We all want things in our lives, but we donâ€™t always want them bad enough to actually go get them. We talk casually about how wonderful it would be to have this or that, but quickly write it off as a mere dream that only a lucky few are able to realize. Think of how many times youâ€™ve jokingly said â€œIâ€™d love to have/do ______,â€ treating it like some untouchable star at which you can only stare. Many of these dreams, though, are not untouchable at all, just hard to attain. But if we really wanted them– in the same way that we want peace, love and, life– we would chase them down and make them our own. It is this lack of true desire that keeps us in these unproductive cycles.
Goals are easy to set, easy to get excited about, and hard to achieve. While on our often short-lived journeys toward these goals, we seem to forget about the various Quranic verses about â€œpatient perseverance.â€ Weâ€™ve made a habit of recalling them only in the worst of times, when things are in a horrible state and we fear we can take no more. Surely, they provide help then, but theyâ€™re just as helpful with our everyday trials. It has been reported that Prophet Muhammad (s) said â€œVerily, Allah has prescribed excellence in all things,â€ (Muslim). Let us take this literally and realize that it truly does mean â€œall things,â€ all aspects of our lives. Rather than being frightened by the word â€œexcellence,â€ know that it means â€œtotal effort,â€ not â€œperfection.â€ So, donâ€™t be discouraged. There can be excellence even in your failure.
It takes seconds to set a goal, but making it happen takes time and serious thought. The key is follow through. Once the goal has been set, follow through with a reasonable plan to meet it. Introduce meaningful change into your life. Eliminate certain things, and reinforce others. Develop a holistic approach that allows you to incorporate your goals into everything you do, letting them merge with the other ideas and beliefs that define your life.
Too many times, we subconsciously convince ourselves that our goals are too great, our dreams too big. We say that weâ€™re striving towards them, when really we lack the confidence to even try that hard. That is why we give up so easily. That is why we rarely follow through. That is why we get stuck in stop-and-go cycles. We lose patience, we donâ€™t persevere and we put obstacles in our own way. There are many challenges we must face in life, but others we create for ourselves. By saying that we want to achieve a goal, and then living a lifestyle that opposes that achievement, weâ€™re sabotaging our success and funding our failure. Thatâ€™s no way to live. Stars arenâ€™t just for staring. Go get them.
Read more articles from Nadirah or buy her book On All the Things That Make Me Beautiful on her website, www.nadirahangail.com