I wrote these words last year upon the completion of Ramadan 2015.
It starts earlier every year- the Ramadan preparation frenzy: tips for productivity, lavish menu plans, fitness for the 30 blessed days etc. My Facebook feed was inundated. Having failed to fulfill my Ramadan goals over the past several years, I casually scrolled through them. Somewhere else sat a motivated, devoted slave of Allah that simultaneously soared in her spirituality, and attained her health and fitness goals. It was just not meant for me…
An annoyed voice nagged at my conscience, “At least start your recitation!” and slowly I picked up the Mushaf. All of a sudden it was Ramadan, like a hailstorm that falls without warning and I was literally swept off my feet. The Alhuda classes of the previous years, alhumdolillah, enabled me to understand what was being recited in Taraweeh and my soul gasped for air as I submerged in the words. There was no escape. The Quran accepted no excuses. My character and conduct stood in stark contrast to the exquisite beauty of Allah’s words, and I was humbled, embarrassed, and humiliated in my own eyes. Is there even a pint of piety left in my soul, I wondered? Is it not time to repent?
The ayaat were unrelenting. Whether it was the seasoned voice of the imam, the quivering voice of a young hafiz, or the sweet voice of a young hafizah, the words permeated every fiber of my being. Even in a 15 hour fast, however I could not find time to exercise, but the food did miraculously appear on the table. We still managed to somehow get on each others nerves. Tempers flared and hot angry tears soiled the the Ramadan spirit. I understood the nuances of sabr, I could glibly quote ahadith and ayaat about it, but when it came to being patient I was a complete failure! It became harder and harder to rise from the prostrations. I felt broken, defeated.
But in all matters there is the Mercy of Allah. I realized that it is imperative to despair of attaining honor in the eyes of others. Be very, very afraid if people find you charming and beautiful. It could be a trap. The addiction to their approval might steal all your sincerity. Ramadan is the month of the rehabilitation of the soul and one must journey through the Quran to be cured. Recite and reflect on the example of Ibraheem (as) and Ismail (as). Is your ego ready for the knife? Have you felt like Maryam (as),
“Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” (19:23)
Have you turned away from your homes and those that you love and said as the Messengers did, that O Allah I love you alone. Have you felt the clawing of the hooks on the Siraat tear through your flesh and choked on the thick putrid smoke rising from the pit of Hell? Has your soul quivered from fear of what your soul has sent forward of back biting and gossiping?
Just as the searing heat of the summer sun was a reminder of Hell, the coolness of the nights infused with the recitation of the Quran was a balm for the bereaved soul. In Qiyaam the darkness enveloped the worshipers. I experienced this surreal feeling of loneliness while standing in Jamah as if it was just me and my Rubb. The reality of the ayaat dawned on me,
“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” (50:16)
The rhythm of the suras picked up pace and our hearts raced in anticipation of nearing the completion of the Quran. It was truly an extraordinary experience. The recognition of Allah, that yearning for His company that had become crushed under a rubble of evil actions, injustice, indiscretions and pride was destroyed by the Quran. Nothing was left to my name. It was all from my Creator and to Him I belonged and to Him I would return. Crafted like Adam (as) from sticky, stinky clay, I emerge from Ramadan with the words of Allah having breathed into me a new spirit. I can clearly see that I am nothing but distasteful, contemptible dirt, and it is only Allah and His Kalaam that give me life.