This Ramadan got off to a disappointing start for me. I felt like my iman (faith) was low, which is the last thing any of us want to feel during this precious month that only comes once a year. There were days when I had such low motivation that I felt it was an achievement for me to just do the bare minimum, like completing my fast and my fard (required) prayers.
What pushed me down even more was that I was comparing this Ramadan to previous ones, like the one where I was going through my spiritual awakening. Compared to that Ramadan, this one seemed like an utter failure on my part. Why was I able to stay up all night praying and reading Qur’an at that time, but this year I was hardly able to make it to taraweeh a couple of times? Why was I sobbing while making du’a during that Ramadan, yet this year my eyes are dry and my heart feels empty?
Is this it? Is this the beginning of my downhill journey, and a sign that I am now distanced from God? Could it lead to Allah rejecting me, or even be a sign that He has done so? Will I be from those who are at an ultimate loss—those who lived to see Ramadan but were not forgiven?
The last 10 days arrived. Where did the rest of the month go? What a waste… I remember thinking, these blessed last 10 nights will fly by too, and maybe my Ramadan really won’t be accepted if I’m not able to worship Allah as He deserves to be worshiped. After all, what excuse do I have? My schedule allows me to stay up at night and sleep in during the day. How can I, of all people, allow the last 10 nights of Ramadan to go by without spending them in prayer and recitation of Qur’an, and still expect my Ramadan to be accepted?
But then something clicked in me. I don’t know where it came from; maybe it was Allah showing me that it is never too late to seek nearness to Him. I realized that even if I feel like my iman is low, I should still do my best, as if I literally do not have a choice. Even if my heart is not in it, I will pray. Even if the words feel empty, I will read Qur’an. Even if I have to force myself to stay seated on the prayer mat, I will make du’a. And if the “connection” happens, it happens. But if I don’t feel it… Well, at least I won’t have regrets after Ramadan.
Maybe this month is not always going to go as planned. Maybe every one of us will not be on a spiritual high. It’s possible that some years will be better than others, and that’s okay, because iman wavers; it’s natural. Something I never really thought about before was that Allah (swt) Himself addresses those of us whose iman may need a little boost during Ramadan:“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” [Qur’an 2:186]
This ayah (verse) is sandwiched right in between two ayahs about Ramadan. It’s as if God is speaking to those of us who wonder whether He is listening, and is even directing us on how to get closer to Him (through obedience and faith). Because it seems like common sense, right, that Allah responds when we call on Him? We already know that much—that’s why we make du’a in the first place. But He spells it out clearly for us in this passage about Ramadan, so we have no doubts that He is there for us, even if we are having a tough time during this special month. Even if we are struggling to maintain our faith, He is there. He is waiting for us to turn to Him and call on Him.
If your Ramadan did not go as planned so far, or if you are having a tough month, know for sure that Allah (swt) sees you and is there for you. He is rewarding your smallest efforts, even if you don’t always “feel” it. If you repent to Him with sincerity, He will forgive you—no matter how huge and unforgivable you might feel your sins are. And if you call on Him, He will never turn away from you. Never.
“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah (swt) says: Whoever comes with a good deed will have the reward of ten like it and even more. Whoever comes with an evil deed will be recompensed for one evil deed like it or he will be forgiven. Whoever draws close to me by the length of a hand, I will draw close to him by the length of an arm. Whoever draws close to me the by length of an arm, I will draw close to him by the length of a fathom. Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him running. And whoever meets me with enough sins to fill the earth, not associating any partners with me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.” [Sahih Muslim]
May Allah (swt) accept our Ramadan and allow us to reach the next one, and may each one be better than the last. Ameen.
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