Ramadan and Me: My worries & hopes
A non-Muslim friend approached me recently to wish me an enjoyable weekend, before catching herself and saying “Oh, but you’ll be fasting this weekend. “ And in my heart, I was thinking “By Allah, as though there was no enjoyment in Ramadan”.
I approach this Ramadan, as I have every Ramadan prior, with a sense of anxious anticipation for the mercy of Allah, for the taste of ibadah. For every sujud and the beauty of the imam’s recitation in tarawih prayers.
My anticipation is mixed with a sense of dread, that my good works are invalid because they are deficient, my intentions impure, my sins too numerous to overcome. I say this even as I know that Allah is the Beneficent and The Merciful, and that Allah’s Mercy outweighs His Wrath.
I worry that my tongue is too accustomed to speaking of worldly things to properly praise my Lord.
I worry that my heart is too heavy with sin to live the sunnah of the Beloved.
I worry that I worship Allah out of custom, out of the sweetness of worship, rather than out of submission to my Lord who created me.
Ramadan Makes One Aware
I remember on another occasion with another non-Muslim friend, who asked whether fasting was difficult, and I answered that standing the hunger and thirst is easy (Alhamdulillah I haven’t had the opportunity to fast eighteen hour days). And I realised then how aware Ramadan makes you of your body, and your thoughts. You realize how little food and drink your body really needs to sustain itself, and how many horrible thoughts really run through your head.[pullquote_left]But I know Ramadan is the month of change. It is the month when Allah, through the angel Jibril, revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad ibn Abdullah transforming him from a trader to Rasulallah, peace and blessings be upon him, the Seal of the Prophets.[/pullquote_left]
It seems strange to me that there was a time when none of this mattered to me. When I fasted, it was not to become a person of taqwa, nor simply because it was commanded by Allah. But out of custom, because I had always done it, and people around me did so.
So I fasted, and the nafs of hunger and thirst went without food and drink, and the limbs and organs deprived themselves too. The limbs went hungry from the lack of solah, the tongue and the eyes were starving from being deprived of the vision and recitation of the Qur’an, and the ears were hungry for the sincere advice to correct myself, bringing myself closer to the will of Allah.
But Alhamdulillah I hope that I have changed since then, and insha-Allah I have managed to better my fasts and my other ibadah during Ramadan, and outside of this holy month as well, of course.
But my Islam is far from perfect, and this is something I cannot hide from people or from Allah.
I don’t read the Qur’an as much as I should, and my recitation is poor and my knowledge is little. I could stand to improve greatly in my ibadah, and my relationship with my wife, my family, my friends, and all the people around me, could definitely be closer to the sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Fasting of the Heart
And while too often I encounter Muslims who openly do not observe the fast, I have to fast from the feelings in my heart that these people are worse than I am, because I don’t know their status in the eyes of Allah, and the only advantage I have been given over them is that Allah has kept my sins and shortcomings hidden.
But I know Ramadan is the month of change. It is the month when Allah, through the angel Jibril, revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad ibn Abdullah transforming him from a trader to Rasulallah, peace and blessings be upon him, the Seal of the Prophets.
During Ramadans past, I first committed myself to making up the countless prayers lost to heedlessness, and to getting a better connection to the Qur’an, and insha-Allah every Ramadan to come will see me striving to improve myself.
I pray that the good habits I practice during this month I carry with me out of Ramadan, and I can bring me to the grave, and that my deeds are done with sincerity, and that Allah accepts them.
I also make du’a that my caffeine-deprivation induced headaches are easier to bear this year.
Ahmad Zhaki Abdullah
Ahmad Zhaki holds a degree in English Literature from the University of London. He is a full-time executive at a local research institute and a part-time writer.