You snuck up on me very quickly; and left me all too soon. You came swiftly and filled my life with mercy and although I am grateful for the renewed spirit I found while visiting with you, the void you have left behind keeps me uneasy during the day and awake at night. Such a beautiful visitor you are. As a child and young adult I was always told that the sacred month of Ramadan is a guest and like all guests in Islam, brings blessings and mercy when we invite them in…but Ramadan, it’s a special guest, bringing even more divine mercies and helping us forge deeper connections if we allow it. It wasn’t until much later that I understood what all of that meant but once I did, and once I gave myself the opportunity to truly embrace that guest; it became one I started to long for. I am truly thankful for the group of friends I found on campus and in our local mosque who helped to give me a sense of belonging and helped me in navigating my own shaky spiritual waters as I found myself more and more spiritually connected to the most Merciful.
The 7-8 pounds I shed is great but have little to do with this feeling I feel for it resonates skin deep and goes way beyond the self-restraint of water and food during the day light hours. This was no weight loss journey, it was a spiritual one.
What did I learn this Ramadan?
- If you give your children religion, this world will come to them but if you give them this world and all it entails, religion can be lost. Ensuring that my children learn Quran is probably the best thing I have ever done and God willing, my younger children will follow in the same footsteps. As a mom of 4, I can honestly say that although this year has been my busiest, I have read more Quran during the month of Ramadan than I ever have and I attribute it to the fact that I read it daily with my older children. I’m not ashamed to say that they teach me new verses and rules of reading. All credit for that goes to their teacher, may God protect him.
- Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. Just as God forgives us every single day and showers his blessings upon us allowing us to renew our relations with him, we too can forgive and shower others with mercies and renew our relations with them, no matter how strained.
- Each of us have something to share– No matter how small, each and every one of us have something beautiful to share.
- Time is on our side. It’s easy for us to make the excuse of not having enough time but the truth is…we have all of the time needed if we made an ardent effort to prioritize.
- Do good, spread kindness, pray in the face of adversity. This past month brought with it social inequalities and atrocities that were poignant and hard to digest. It reduced me to tears to think of the society that my children will be raised in. It shattered my belief in the general kindness of humanity until that was renewed and refreshed only to be shattered again, in a vicious cycle of hate and intolerance… but I’ve learnt through prophetic example that we should all aspire to do good, beyond the fact that the world needs it, we need it. Perhaps those acts of kindness will catapult us into the heights of heaven.
A beautiful and astute example from the life of the Prophet in which he relates that a woman used to throw garbage upon him from her window on a regular basis and one day when the garbage didn’t fall, he went to see why and found her ill. Rather than use the opportunity to retaliate, he was compassionate for her and her circumstances, putting her in such awe that she actually became his follower.
Until we meet again oh Ramadan. I will long for the long nights of prayer and the early morning of suhoor (meal eaten prior to sunrise), the festive atmosphere in our home and community, the countdown to Eid, the Ramadan stories, the afternoon naps, the hunger games among non-Muslim friends and neighbors which gives us the opportunity to spread information about Ramadan and Islam, the general sense of peace and happiness, the contentment and peace of mind from simply holding the book of God in our hands and the beautiful words that satiate the hunger of our souls, the hands that find themselves constantly raised, the tears that flow easily and relentlessly as we beg forgiveness and seek guidance and express gratitude. Until we meet again oh Ramadan, I pray that each year you find me in a better place than I was the last time.