Eid Mubarak! Kul ‘am wa antum bi kheir.
The darkness of the night is broken by the dawn, Ramadan for me is that dawn. A new start. The year over we amass baggage. We are hurt or hurt others and ourselves whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. Experience situations that test us to our core, test our goodness, our faith and resolve. Ramadan is that time of the year for me to refocus and recharge, for me to learn and grow and most importantly improve my relationship with God. Ramadan has ended and Eid celebrations are nearing their end, so what have I made of it?
Well, I am a work in progress, nothing told me that more than this month and having both my parents independent of each other (my father visiting for Eid) “tell” me to grow up and find a job within a couple of hours of each other. I have a weakness for knowledge but lack the wisdom to act on it, letting it sit instead in stacks of notebooks. I worry about how much of what I have gained in knowledge this Ramadan I will actually implement this year. Whether I will be able to persevere in the face of the struggles around me and within me.
During the time of the Prophet (saw.) battles taking place in Ramadan were about the inner battle as much as the outer. Similarly, it is about the inner battle against our Nafs (Self) as much if not more so than the outer battle of just giving up food and drink. However, that does not mean that we neglect the outer battle.
As the Prophet (saw.) said:
A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…
This hadith can be understood to mean both spiritual and physical strength. Ramadan has also for many, quite rightly so I think, become a month of eating clean and increasing fitness, as the self is ruined by three things, too much eating, too much talking and too much sleeping and Ramadan destroys all three of those.
On spirituality, Shaykh Omar Suleiman in his Faith Revival series this Ramadan explained that faith are the 6 articles of faith and testifying with the tongue, conviction in the heart and actions with the limbs. A friend of mine who was going through some hardships and knew some of what I was going through, asked me once why some people who do not believe seem to do so well while people who do suffer so much. I wasn’t able to answer, not because I didn’t know that one had nothing to do with the other or as Sh. Suleiman said: “If this world meant as much as the wing of a mosquito to God He would not let a disbeliever have a sip of water from it.” I wasn’t able to answer, because I myself lacked the conviction to act on it.
Supplications (Dua’) aren’t necessarily there to change the reality around us, but to change the reality within us. Our baggage, our loss, our hurt, the difficulties we face are tests of our faith and resolve, are we going to let these crush us or are we going to cry out to God and persevere? Faith isn’t static, it ebbs and flows, we have days and nights where our connection with God is soo intense and days where we struggle to even just pray. The Prophet (saw.) warned us of waking up in the morning with faith and going to sleep losing it in the evening. The companions never felt themselves safe from falling into hypocrisy even though they were promised paradise because they understood their weaknesses as humans. Doubts are natural, but we always try to achieve faith with certainty and conviction.
As Ibn Masud (ra.) said:
Yaqeen (Certainty) is full Iman.
Which, as explained in the Faith revival series, is done amongst other things by fortifying yourself intellectually and spiritually. That is by learning as much as possible, thereby filling the cracks in understanding of the religion (and the world) and by growing spiritually through experiences so that we know that true fulfillment is felt through faith, that the strongest love is felt for those we love for the sake of Allah (swt.) for example.
The goal is to achieve certainty so that as Ali ra. said:
If I was to see heaven I would not want it as much as I would right now, and if I were to see the hellfire I would not want to stay out of it more than I would now.
Indeed a work in progress, this year I intend to work on as my University’s charter says “making knowledge work”, on my faith, on my diligence and work ethic and yes to those who know me in real life my availability too!
O Guardian of faith and its people, allow us to be bound to Islam until we meet you with it. O Allah we ask you for everlasting faith, true certainty and beneficial knowledge. Our Lord do not let our hearts slip after you have guided us and bestow on us from your Mercy.