In a corner of the States. Near a beautiful masjid, lives a woman who had a remarkable Ramadan experience. You might not think it was extraordinary in any way but it filled her heart to the brink, shook her soul to the core, and renewed her eman.
Ramadan had started the normal way. Shaytaan on his way out threw discord and disarray among the congregation, smiled and made his exit. The moon shone serenely somewhere in the depths of space, unaware of all those that argued over her. Voices that should have been raised in the remembrance of Allah to welcome the beloved and blessed guest of Ramadan, were instead raised in fury. Accusations and intrigue hung in the air like a putrid cloud. The joy, it seemed was sucked out of Ramadan, before it had even started. Or had it already started?
But Allah is infinitely Merciful even though we are unbelievably impatient and ungrateful. A few days pass and the recitation of the Quran soothes the souls. People begin to smile again and the first question no longer is, “When did you start the fast? Tuesday or Wednesday!” They sit and eat together. The children, blessedly unaware of the raucous, roll around on the masjid carpets and squeal with joy as their harried mothers try to silence them. The conversations were now amiable: Is the taraweeh too fast or too slow? Who touched the air conditioning? What did you have for iftar?
But our friend is still sad. She has burdened her soul with needless worries for eleven months and her thoughts flow in endless cycle of despair. Even as she presents a brave front to others and advises them about their problems, her weary nafs needs a true wake up call: “Wake up it is Ramadan. Recover your trust, and let go your grief and race to the blessings that are pouring forth before the Shayateen return. Learn to hope again.” She goes through the motions of cooking and cleaning, listening to tafseer and reciting Quran, but the despair clings to her and makes her numb and weary. A few days pass and then it happens…
She is putting the cart back after doing the grocery. The parking lot is not even crowded. Maybe her patterned jibab camouflaged her in the crowd or was it because she was lost in her own ungrateful thoughts: I am a failure. Even in Ramadan I am picking fights with people. What is the use of all this knowledge and ‘piety’ if I cannot even control my tongue. Why is life easier for everyone else? I wish I were… Her head hung low, fighting back the stinging tears, she turns and the screeching of brakes wakes her up from her reverie. The car has stopped with just a few inches to spare. At first, the driver stares at her in shock, then makes an impatient gesture and drives off. Slowly our friend makes her way back to the car. No longer trying to fight back the tears she lets them pour and drives back home. Almost mechanically she turns on the tafseer from where it had stopped. It is Sura Isra:
And man supplicates for evil as he supplicates for good, and man is ever hasty.
And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account [of time]. And everything We have set out in detail.
And [for] every person We have imposed his fate upon his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open.
( Sura Al-Isra 17: 11-12)
Subhanallah…the miracle of Allah’s Words, the magnificence of His Love. When the tears stop it seems as if the clouds have cleared and the storm has passed. The reality of life becomes apparent…just a few days to do good, some will be dark like the night, others will be bright like day…but eventually all will pass and the record will be opened.
The enormity of her moment of ingratitude dawns upon her. “What if I had died at that moment of kufr? How could I forget about all the women who have lost their fathers, and brothers and sons in wars around the world? What about those that are fasting while they fear for their lives? What right do I have to be ungrateful when Allah has blessed me in every way possible, alhumdolillah?Maryam had prayed that she was ‘forgotten’ but how great was her trail? We have just become accustomed to exaggerating our problems and wallowing in self-pity and turning a blind eye to all the favors of Allah that are pouring down upon us. Even in Ramadan. Astaghfirullah! Is my record of deeds full of whining? Are all the pages of my deeds smeared with complaints? How tenuous is hope and how we have allowed Shaytaan to get a hold on us that even in his absence our nafs continues to play the part. Ya Allah have mercy on me, indeed I have wronged my soul!”
That night was different. There was a spring in her step and the smile glowed from her face. After all it was Ramadan: the month of blessing and rahmah and hope. The moon even seemed to smile just for her. She thanked the friend who shared samosas with her, was grateful to the aunties that gave her their duas, and the little kid who hugged her because she gave her a band-aid. To be alive in Ramadan, with health and eman, among the believing slaves of Allah, to the sound of the soul searing recitation of His Words…what more could one ask for. Let her wake up call be yours as well. Do not squander the days and nights of this blessed months. Be wary of the traps that your own deluded soul sets up for you: making your negligible problems appear insurmountable and impossible. Hold on to sabr (patience), shukr (gratitude) and taqwa and make the forgiveness of Allah guaranteed upon yourself this Ramadan. And please remember her in your duas…