By: Zahra Anjum
Once again I glance at the clock, only half an hour has passed since I last looked at it. Half an hour that seemed no less than a decade. The monotony is killing me. The grumbles coming from an empty stomach are now more audible than the slothful ticking of the clock. There is simply nothing to eat, nothing to do. You may be wondering what has gone wrong with me; the jovial leader of her gang who does not have the word boredom in her dictionary.
No, no…your thoughts are too farfetched. Today is the first day of Ramadan, and I am fasting on this hot, yes very HOT and lengthy day! Which means I’ve had had no food and water for the last couple of hours. The air condition is working, yes, but still, it is hot!
Why are you glaring at the television? Oh, yes that’s a great thriller movie I bought last week, but I’ve already watched it once since morning. There, I switched the set off. The sounds add vibrancy to this dull environment. I’m now trying to read my favorite novel series but then the stomach will not just let me do it! My sleep has gone far away, upset with me, and the brain is out of power to think of good ways to kill time. It hasn’t had the sugars to work.
Was that the tantalizing aroma of fried fish? This must mean that mom has started preparing for Iftar! I’ll go and check what we are going to have today.
The hallway window tells me the weather is actually quite good out there, and the heavenly smell of food is so much more exotic outside of my bedroom door. The kitchen is bustling with Ramadan life.
Ramadan may be a bit difficult but it has its own excitement too. I love the hustle and bustle of sehri and Aftaar. Don’t get me wrong. I do love Ramadan; it is just the length that is getting to me this time. So, there are pakoras frying in the wok, we’ve got vegetable rolls, fried fish and fruit salad. Yumm! Mum’s amazing when it comes to cooking.
Oh, there she has seen me now. I can sense the look of gratitude that she has on her face, on seeing me outside at last. “The smell is amazing mom!”
“Yes dear, I’ll really appreciate if you lay down the table.” I hear her tired voice.
“Do I have to? I’m just so tired mom, don’t you know I’m fasting! Can’t you ask Sarah to help you?” I reply with a scorn.
I know mum must be tired too, but I just detest this kind of boring work. Before she can look back I’ve sprinted out of the kitchen. I can now hear the Meuzzin calling for Asr prayers. Bad me! I even forgot to pray Dhuhr. I’m not a staunch worshipper, dear friend, but I do try in Ramadan.
Was that someone knocking on the main door? I bet its Aunty Rehana with her fresh home baked cookies and cakes. She distributes to everyone in the neighbourhood every Ramadan. Let me go and check.
“Assalam u Alaikum Khadija! It’s so good to see you”, exclaims an excited Mrs.Muneer, the wife of the local Imam, and without a pause she has wrapped me in a tight hug. It is not exactly a hug; it is she trying to hug me as I make an effort to back away.
Walaikum assalam’ I reply coolly.
“This is for you guys”, are her humble words as she hands me a little tray covered with an embroidered cloth.
“Thanks Aunty”, I say and hurriedly shut the door before she can begin a lecture. I just don’t know why I abhor that lady. She is sweet, it’s just her 24/7 religiousness that haunts me. I think I feel guilty now, for being so rude, and that is what I always am after behaving like this to her. Nonetheless, she just keeps being nice. Why does she have to be so nice?
‘Who was it Khadija?”
“It was Mrs.Muneer. I’ve placed the tray given by her on the dining table mum.”
I hope mum does not catch me lingering around here. Voila! Mrs. Muneer has brought scrumptious buttercream cupcakes! What’s this? Looks like some kind of flyer.
“In the dark pitfalls of the world no other assists so well, amidst the darkness of the grave none other will accompany, except for one – The Quran.
Let us befriend the Quran this Ramadan, before it’s too late”, announces this simple yet elegant handout.
“…My beloveds, when we enter into the world we’re woven in many relationships, we recognize them all and give them their due rights. However, our most important and often neglected relationship is with the one who created us, fashioned us and made us what we are. He is the only one who knows our secret fears, hopes and tears; He is the one who answers unvoiced prayers. He is nearer to me and you than anybody else, and is the only source of all goodness. When nobody can help, it is He who gets us out of trials…”
Am I not aware of that? It was only Him and Him who brought me back to life after the severe Dengue fever last June. Do I not know how He has assisted our small family after the demise of our father? It is true, we are nothing without Him, yet we take everything for granted. What fools we are!
“..A mother always does that which is in the best interest of her children, even if she deprives them of something for some time. Why do we not trust Allah and entrust our lives unto him, the Most Wise, the Most Knowledgeable? His love for us is unmatched; it is more than the love of seventy mothers combined…!”
Hmm…just like mum when she does not allow little Yunus to have chocolates when he is sick. I understand now why Allah forbids us from certain things. It does not benefit Him; it only brings good to us.
“..He is the Mighty King of these ginormous planets, these giant stars and this vast universe. All these are smaller to Him than the smallest ant. Nonetheless, when His slaves praise Him, He praises them; when they remember Him, He remembers them and is pleased with them. The lord of the worlds who is in need of no one, it is we who need him….”
O Allah! You are indeed great and I’ve never ever truly realized this before. I’ve never thought it like this!
“….My dear friends we did not enter this world by choice, and we will not leave by our choice. The whole universe, these microscopic amoebas, the viruses, the rats, the cats, the mountains and the grass were all made for me, and I – I was made for Him. Allah (swt) has explained to us the reason of our creation; yes life is not merely a game!
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.” (Surah Mulk 67: 2)
The weak, the strong, the tall, the short, the beggar, the king, the businessman, the garbage man are all just playing their parts on the stage. The prize of performance will not be handed over to those high in status; it’ll be given according to the act performed.
We are to love him, to obey him, to worship him, to run towards Him and keep away from what displeases him. This world is just an examination hall; everyone has a different question paper that needs to be solved. Quran and Sunnah are the guides; the curriculum…”
Does that mean I’ve been going on the wrong track all this time?! My answer sheet is nothing but naughty doodles. How unthankful of me! I don’t even know what the Quran and Sunnah teaches; how in the world can I follow them then? How will I face Allah?
“…My dear sisters, Allah is Ever Merciful. Even if the sins of a person are scraping the skies, He promises to forgive. All He wants is that we turn to Him in sincere repentance. If we take one step towards Him, He will take ten steps towards us. If we go walking towards Him, He’ll come running towards us. Despite He being the King of the Kings, The Majestic, The Mighty and The All Powerful!”
Why has everyone started chattering so loudly? Are they getting up to leave? Was it really me? So engrossed in the Dua that I did not realize it has finished. Please don’t tell me two whole hours passed by so quickly. I did not glance even once at the clock!
Alhumdulillah for this new found love! Indeed, His words are so enchanting; His speech has captivated my heart. I landed here by accident and at last encountered Him. Were it not for the power that went off I wouldn’t have been here anyway! For the first time in life I am thankful to the people who took our electricity away.
As a young girl, I always hated caterpillars and still don’t find them to be very attractive. How the caterpillar came in, you must be wondering. Have you ever seen or read about a cocoon? This journey with the Quran is transforming me inside out, like a cocoon; the plump and hungry, grumpy and ugly soul inside me is growing with the Quran, into a handsome butterfly. I was clinging to the lowly branches of this world and now I am discovering the beautiful wings to flutter and fly.
Every moment of Ramadan is passing by splendidly. Each chapter and verse of my Beloved’s book is opening me into a new world. Yes, they are puzzled, everyone, for I’m leaning about and trying to put in practice the real spirit of Ramadan. I know now, it is about gratitude and kindness, about charity and helpfulness, about Quran and the remembrance of Allah, about striving in His way and spreading His words far and wide.
Ramadan has changed me. It was in Ramadan that the mercy of Quran was sent down for the mankind, and it is in Ramadan that it is revealing its secrets upon me. Like many others I believe, I am turning from a Ramadan Muslim into a ‘Ramadan born Muslim’.
All praise is to Allah who gave us this month to return, to renew, to refresh and grow spiritually. I love you, dear Ramadan.
P.S: Why are you hesitant about knocking her door for the Quran? Please, please, please don’t be. Who knows one knock might knock Imaan into someone’s heart. I am one of them, and I am loving it!
P.S.S: I and Mrs. Muneer are pretty good friends now!
Kaab Ibn Ujrah (RA) relates that Rasulullah (peace be upon him) said Come near to the mimbar and we came near the mimbar. When He (peace be upon him) climbed the first step of the mimbar, He (peace be upon him) said “Aameen”, When He (peace be upon him) ascended the second step, He (peace be upon him) said “Aameen”, When He (peace be upon him) climbed the third step, He (peace be upon him) said “Aameen” When He (peace be upon him) came down, We said “O Rasool of Allah (peace be upon him), we have heard from you today something which we never heard before” He (peace be upon him) said When I climbed the first step, the angel Jibraeel (alaihi as-salam) appeared before me and said
“Destruction to him who found the blessed month of Ramdhan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness”
upon that I said ‘Aameen’. When I climbed the second step, he said,
“Destruction to him before whom thy name is taken and then he does not make Dua for Allah’s blessing on me (by saying, for example , Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam).”
I replied ‘Aameen’. When I climbed the third step, he said
“Destruction unto him in whose lifetime his parents or either one of them reaches old age, and (through failure to serve them) he is not allowed to enter Jannah”.
I said ‘Aameen’. (Hakim, Baihaqi)
© IIPH 2014