Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate


One of the great blessings of the holy month of Ramaḍān is that it offers the possibility of overcoming patterns embedded in the BodyMindSoul. These patterns include seemingly innocuous habits, deep-seeded conditioning, and addictions. If approached consciously and skillfully, you can access your inner reset button. In a very real way, you can get a “do-over”—healing back to the moment just before the negative pattern rooted itself inside you. For this to happen, however, you have to confront the moment when you made a formative choice. You must recognize, acknowledge, and take responsibility for the stance you took and the choice you made. Then you must re-turn your heart and ask for Divine Assistance ﷻ in order to complete the healing-learning process. And Allāh ﷻ is Oft-Returning ﷻ, Most Merciful ﷻ to those who are sincere and contrite. As your heart is cleared and further opened, you are that much closer to the fiṭriyyah state of essential purity that you were born with.

Practically speaking, you are getting back into the driver’s seat of your life, no longer allowing your appetites or conditioning to drive your behaviors. Our appetites prey upon our longing to recreate the paradisal state that our pre-eternal souls once knew. However, our earthly appetites drive us toward the world and increase our dependence on it, fooling us into the illusion of finding security and contentment in this realm of constant flux. However, we have the possibility of re-orienting ourselves towards Allāh ﷻ, the True Source ﷻ, the Real ﷻ.

If breaking patterns was as easy as wanting to, there would be no such thing as an addiction. Nobody wants to be an addict. It’s a state that someone simply finds himself in when things have gone a bit too far. We all know too well how so many well-intentioned people can struggle for a lifetime, often hitting rock bottom several times over. As long as we depend solely on ourselves, we will never be free. Success requires certain key ingredients. As almost anyone who has  overcome an addiction will tell you, they could not have done it without a belief in a higher power [This tenet is the cornerstone of the well-established 12-Step programs], which necessarily manifests on a practical level as feeling the Presence and Support of Allāh ﷻ. We have no strength or power, except that it comes from Allāh ﷻ.

Those who reflect on the nature of the human condition discover that there is absolutely nothing that we seem to possess—intelligence, skill, strength, etc.—that can be absolutely attributed to ourselves. It is no accident that those who reflect are grateful, as they have realized that there is a Divine Source ﷻ behind every good that they experience. It is in this way that people of extraordinary intelligence and ability can be quite humble. Those who do not reflect, however, are invariably arrogant, believing themselves to be responsible for the good in their lives. They are set up to learn life’s lessons the hard way.

Here is a holistic strategy I recommend for resolving addictions. Make a clear and firm intention to be finally free from what grips you. Do not approach the substance / behavior in question for the entire length of Ramaḍān (and not only during the period of fasting). Be steadfast in your spiritual practice. Regularly reflect on the essential need(s) that the addictive substance / behavior is temporarily pacifying (and not ultimately satisfying). Finally, turn to Allāh ﷻ and beseech Him ﷻ with all humility and sincerity to free you and take you across the threshold, to make that which is harmful for you detestable to you, and to establish your dependence on Him ﷻ and make this sweet for you [Depending on the severity of your situation, you may need to do this daily, if not several times a day.].

Dear Lord ﷻ, we beseech You ﷻ in Your Own Words ﷻ that You ﷻ revealed to us (al-Fātiḥa):

‘Iyyāka na’budu wa ‘iyyāka nasta’īn — You ﷻ alone we worship, and You ﷻ alone we ask for help.

And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī