I love a good sale. When I had my second daughter I started what has become a close and personal relationship with online shopping. I was able to try things on in the privacy of my own home and when things didn’t work out I simply returned them. But most of all the deals were great. I reassured my husband on more than one occasion that I was saving money, not spending it.
But I’ve stopped online shopping now. I’ve given up online sales for an even better sale: Ramadan. Siraj Wahhaj once said in regards to blessings, that being a Muslim is like having a sale every day, and Ramadan is like getting everything for free! Yet some of us let this wonderful opportunity slip by.
In other areas of life, when we see something for free we may become suspicious. There must be something wrong with it or perhaps the person selling is overstating the value. In the back of our minds we may unknowingly believe that good quality should come at a steep price or else it’s ‘too good to be true’.
Case in point, a few years ago a famous violin player performed incognito at a train station in Washington D.C. He played 6 Bach pieces for 45 minutes on his violin which was said to be worth 3.5 million dollars. He was mostly ignored and certainly underappreciated; a far cry from his sold-out performance 2 days earlier. Of course a lot can be said about why this happened, but it begs the question, how to we define and measure value in our lives?
Ramadan is challenging but it’s a great teacher if you are willing to be a good student. By taking a deep look at our practices we can’t help but see what has been truly important to us during the year. Zone in on where you spent your time and you will find where your heart is.
There is a story of Muadh ibn Jabal, a beloved companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him, speaking on how he performed tahajjud prayer. He explained his practice and then said, “I expect to be rewarded for my sleep just as much as I expect to be rewarded for my tahajjud.” Expect? Just as much? This reinforces the point that if we live in a state of remembrance, no action goes unrewarded.
The prophets, companions and mothers of the believers continue to inspire us yet we may brush off the hope of being as good as them because we tell ourselves ‘I’m no Aisha’. But they too loved, lost, made mistakes, married, had kids – they were human. Extraordinary humans yes, but humans none-the-less and we do a great disservice to ourselves when we say we can’t be like them because they lived to show us that we can be great.
Ramadan gives us presence of heart, mind and body. We are all tired, thirsty and hungry but who will we be when this month ends? There is a quote by Mohammed Ali, “The man who sees the world at 50, the same way he did at 30, has wasted 20 years of his life.” Let’s not waste this wonderful opportunity. Let us be the Muslims that see the world differently at the end of these 30 days. Let’s have hope again and spread that hope to everyone around us.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a loving mother to two girls.