Reflection from a beloved brother

During Ramadan, we invited folks to guest blog, but no one took us up on the offer! I lovingly encouraged my dear friend in London, Mr. U.R., to share a reflection. He lovingly agreed: )

Here it is:

Reflecting on the month that’s been and the months that are to come

What a month of Ramadan it has been! The long daylight hours, the superbly hot

weather, and having to go to work have all challenged me and pushed me out of my

comfort zone – just what this month is intended to do. However, I persevered thanks to

the strength given to me by Allah SWT, alhamduliLah. There is a line in the Qur’an that

Allah SWT only tests us to the means that we are capable of bearing. Mash’Allah, I’ve

proved to myself that under such intense pressure, I can push myself further.

During this month, I did feel like everyday was a routine – begin my fast, sleep for a few

hours (if my over-sized bladder allowed it), go to work, return from work and break

my fast, go to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers, return late at night (around 00.30),

stay up and read the Qur’an, eat and drink and keep the fast…and so on, for 30 days.

However, it was the last few nights of the month that I really began to appreciate what I

had achieved, really reflect on the journey that I had just experienced, and began to feel

sadness that I may not be able to experience Ramadan again. Insh’Allah I will. I pray that

I will. Why? I’ve listed the reasons below. But, I think the true essence of Islam shines

through the month of Ramadan than any other Islamic ritual. This is a month that we

strive to be better Muslims, to eat and drink better, to liaise and converse kindly with

one another, especially with those who we have a difficult challenging relationship,

we pray more and open the Qur’an to read and understand it, we share our food

and wealth with those who are more needy than us and we do it all with Allah SWT’s

support and guidance. AlhamduliLah.

 

For me there are three reasons I will miss Ramadan, and insh’Allah I will be around next

year, and healthy and able to experience this one more time.

1) To have the opportunity to re-engage with my faith and my Creator. How many

times have I selectively not responded to Allah SWT’s call to prayer, not opened the

Qur’an and recited the text and the list goes on. Ramadan provides me with the chance

to re-write my wrongs. I’m told that Allah SWT’s mercy is never ending. No matter

how many times I do wrong, I just need to call to my Lord and ask for His Mercy and I

truly believe I receive it. This makes me think that in a society we don’t erase or forget

someone’s shortfalls, do we? We never forget with some of us distancing ourselves

from those who fail to live up to their convictions. Yet, my Creator continues to erase

my wrongs and continues to shine His Glory in my life via family and friends, work and

income, health and so on. May Allah SWT grant me another Ramadan and to guide me

back to my faith. Ameen.

2) Additionally, this is the one of the year that I find myself belonging to the local

Muslim community. From sharing food at iftaari sessions to smiles and Salams, I really

feel like I belong. It is a shame all this caring and sharing behaviour ceases to exist postRamadan. So, during Ramadan I lap it up. I enjoy the smiles, the conversations, and the

congregational prayers. I went to the last Imaan iftaari event and was bowled over with

the love that was in the room, mashAllah. The love was so incredible I was still smiling

when I got up the next day. I pray that Allah SWT continues this communal energy and

to keep Ummah together. Ameen.

3) Finally, this time of year I pause to think what am I doing with my life to achieve

the afterlife? Why have I not been thankful? Why have I not performed my obligatory

duties? Why have I been rude to some people? Ramadan provides me with the chance

to reflect on my situation and it nourishes me and motivates me to be better. I pray

I continue to thrive towards Islam and pray that Allah SWT protects and guides me.

Ameen.

With this month drawing to a close, I want to wish you all a very Happy Eid, filled with

lots of laughter and love. Peace.

Ramadan Reflections 2013: The Night of Power

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BEHOLD, from on high have We bestowed this [divine writ] on Night of Destiny.

And what could make thee conceive what it is, that Night of Destiny?
The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months:
in hosts descend in it the angels, bearing divine inspiration by their Sustainer’s leave; from all [evil] that may happen
does it make secure, until the rise of
dawn.
(Sura Al-Qadr, Asad translation)

Greetings beloveds,

What a night it is! Some describe the Night of Power as equal to a thousand months of prayer–over 90 years worth of prayer. It offers absolution for all that has come before. Some folks celebrated the Night of Power on Saturday, some on Sunday. As each Ramadan has its own flavor so too each Night of Power with that. Where previous years have been marked by the invitation to exceed myself, to show up despite the whisper of fatigue that tells me to stay home, this year is different. I felt the tenderness of the heavens on Saturday night.
O Allah, help is to remember You in all things, to see guidance and clarity in you and through you alone! Amin.

Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 25/26): Striving and failing and striving

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Greetings beloveds,

May this find your hearts well and at peace, inshallah!
I just got home from Tarawih at a mosque I’ve been wanting to go to since last Ramadan. It was lovely. I heard and felt the love in the imam’s voice as he recited. This masjid is also the only one I’ve been to in Philly where women and men pray on the same floor, no partitions. It is also the most culturally diverse with black, brown and white families interacting comfortably.

These last 10 days of Ramadan are said to be the most spiritually potent of the month. Many people make itikaf (retreat in the mosque), if they are able. I haven’t made such retreat myself before but inshallah I will. My retreat is largely within the space of my being. I find I am more and more inclined to silence, to not wanting to talk about worldly matters that feel like distractions. It’s interesting to be in this place of inward retreat at this time this year because this Ramadan has me in a state of transition, one that requires decisions to be made, conversations to be had and traveling. Is it possible to be inwardly in retreat amidst this outward activity? I don’t know. It feels like quite a challenge. But there is the inherent slowness of Ramadan to lean on for support. I may have to speak more than I like but I can do so with a slowness and deliberateness that is rooted in having my hands in the world but my heart with the Friend. And with patience dear ones, with sabr. This Ramadan has me becoming better acquainted with my faults and striving to cover the faults of others. I’ve been reading a beautiful book called The Way of Sufi Chivalry. A good part of it is about generosity of spirit, part of which includes endeavoring to embody the divine attribute Ghafur–the coverer of faults. We benefit ceaselessly from Allah’s generosity in covering our faults. Interestingly, Ghafur is closely related to Gaffar–the All-Forgiving. I am striving to forgive myself my shortcomings as I strive to be and do better, to be pure of heart. I am striving to shift my negative judgements. The Way of Sufi Chivalry says “judge others as you wish to be judged.” Inshallah.
Striving requires sabr. Everyday I strive and everyday I fail somewhere along the line, but the test is to continuing to strive and to ask for guidance, mercy and forgiveness.
Ya Allah, increase me in my striving! Amin
Ya Allah, increase me in peace! Amin
Ya Allah, increase me in sincerity! Amin
Ya Allah, expand my heart within my breast! Amin.
Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah.
Astafirghallah, astafirghallah, astafirghallah.

That’s where I’m at today.
Inshallah I’ll be with my spiritual community for Laylat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Power) tomorrow. Many communities around the world are honoring it then. Inshallah may it truly elevate our hearts and increase us in our God-consciousness and awareness. May it make us more compassionate and kinder.

Ramadan Reflections 2013 (day 23/24): IOU take 2

Greetings beloveds,

A ragged night for me.
I’m borrowing Waz’s IOU. Allah is throwing me some curve balls, alhamdulillah! I say thank you, more please!

Today I had the pleasure of spending a good part of the day in the woods, in trees and near water. As I’ve gotten older, my longing to be close to nature has grown. Something about the way noise is transformed in the woods, about the calm of it, and for me, the tendency to quiet. I picked up a rock and a seed pod of some kind. It comforted me to have the stone in my pocket for the rest of the day.

Also, the first harvest from my first garden have turned red on the vine–tomatoes! How amazing to see food grow and eat for free: )

How is day 23/24 for you?

Ps. Please send Waz some healing energy!