This time last year, my mom refused to appear with me publicly. She hated my hijab. She still says that, but now we go out together, and she knows well that I will never remove it. Last Ramadan I sublet a small room in New York that had a window but no air conditioning. It was in a shared flat that had a roach-infested kitchen. I was incredibly uncomfortable with the living arrangement, and lost a lot of water sweating due to the high temperatures in the city and in my room. I was also working full-time, teaching. By the end of the month I was completely exhausted. I had no other option, however, as my mom would not allow me to fast Ramadan at home.
All thanks and praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. Alhamdulillahil Rabil Aalamin. This year I enjoyed the most pleasant Ramadan of my life - the third time is a charm. I truly thank Allah for making it easier for me. My mom agreed to allow me to fast at home, and I was privileged to not have to work. I listened to the entire Quran and read the English translation, I watched encouraging and informative bits and pieces about Ramadan, and I began memorizing another Surah of Quran. I incorporated the duas from The Accepted Whispers into my daily worship. I prayed Taraweeh prayers every night, either at home or at the local mosque. I enjoyed meeting sisters from the local Muslim community, including other American converts to Islam. I fasted Ramadan with a much deeper understanding of what I was doing, what I should do, and why.
Reading through the Quran this month, I was especially struck by Allah's power as the sovereign Creator and Owner of everything that exists:
|Surah Al Hadid (The Iron) 57|
How beautiful is all that Allah has created; how plentiful are the signs of Allah's power and existence among creation! Truly creation is a sign to all of us from Allah.
I was also surprised this Ramadan to become more aware of my growing distaste for television and 'idle talk', in general. I noticed it repeatedly throughout the month - many pass time entertaining themselves with topics that consist of crude or shallow subject matter, that harms themselves and others more than it benefits. A mind that frequently remembers Allah considers every moment an opportunity to increase her knowledge about Islam, memorization of Quran, and to put forward actions that will benefit her in this life, or more importantly, in the next. In such scenarios I felt restless, at least internally, eager to use my limited time productively. How quickly time passes, and what a short life we have to seek and earn the best of the Hereafter.
Most of all, this Ramadan I was amazed by the grace of Allah, the mercy of Allah, the forgiveness of Allah. Throughout the month I encounter countless Ayat from the Quran and Hadith that convey the mercy and forgiveness that Allah offers us.
When I woke to my alarm before four every morning I remembered that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that "Allah sends His blessings and praise upon those who eat the meal before dawn (sahoor), and the angels also ask Allah to bless and forgive them." The many times when I was with folks who were not fasting, I took comfort in the reminder that "Verily, the angels send prayers upon the fasting person when others eat in his presence until they are finished.” In the last ten days we ask Allah for forgiveness:
I was not perfect this Ramadan. Did I give the month my best? Did I pray as much as I could? Did I force myself to stay awake and lose sleep often enough? I hope it was my best, but I could always do more. I lost my patience with my mom on occasion, which is the most shameful of all. I tried to increase charity and kindness, prayer and dua, remembrance of Allah and avoiding sin. But in retrospect, I am disappointed that I did not do more, and push myself harder. I am at the mercy of Allah, and truly begged for forgiveness this month.
I ask Allah to allow us all to live to see the next Ramadan Amin.