For me, one of the great blessings of Ramadan is that the structured practices of the holy months resets and realigns discipline in our daily routine.
Last year, during the same time of Ramadan, I wrote on how the practices of Ramadhan served as accelerators in instilling good habits.
For example, the practice of sahur teaches us to utilize early rising times to maximize productivity. The time saved from this efficiency allowed more time to dedicate ourselves to spiritual well-being that manifests itself in the tarawih prayers.
It is amazing how a simple re-enforcement of meal times, seen in the sahur and iftar, suddenly frees our usually busy schedules for life’s most precious things – increased spiritual being, time spent with family, and more.
This year, let me extend this idea beyond the practices, into a macro-outlook of personal enhancement in Ramadan.
As Ramadan transcends beyond the abstention of food and drink, towards a complete cleansing of the soul, it allows us to reflect on ourselves as we break into the months ahead.
When this abstention extends to controlling our anger, speech, appetite, spending and senses, we are in better positions to take a step back and reflect on our qualities and characters. This is a true benefit for all – individuals, business entities, communities, or just students of life.
This translates into meaningful opportunities for self-improvement and personal development.
In this context, this meaningfulness derives from the very fact that true progress is a product of true reflection – yet true reflection is difficult to achieve when we merely react to immediate phenomenon.
It is meaningful, as the design of the fasting practice creates that time and space for us to take a bird’s eye view of our internal systems and characteristics, and make major shifts towards positive being.
The great thinkers of yesteryear are often romanticized through the depiction that their personal enlightenment was a result of a step back into solitude in order to review one’s past to reshape himself or herself towards personal progress. The story of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) interaction with the first Quranic verses is a classic example.
The key takeaway is that major change is a product of realignment of thought, culture and values. Perhaps, as a society, we can utilize the holy month to look at ourselves and look into what we value, and where our strengths, as well as weaknesses, lie entrenched within.
Undoubtedly, the last few years have seen the rise of the marketplace of ideas within the Malaysian society. It is clear that we all want progress, however the values we keep or discard in order to achieve such progress requires reflection.
This Ramadan, let us all take a step back with patience, open mindedness and a willingness to change. With this in mind, let’s all reflect on how, as a nation, we can achieve higher levels of success, and remain competitive in a world where values and virtue can easily be eroded due to the nature of competition.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.