Ramadan So Far

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah

How is my  Ramadan going so far?  Am I spending my days in constant remembrance of Allah?  Am I devoting more time to study and acts of ‘ibaadah?  Am I feeling a huge spiritual uplift this time of year?  Well, for me it’s both simple and complicated.  I do remember Allah all during the day, but that is a really everyday thing for me.  I think it’s part of my anxiety / guilt complex, but I am always AWARE of being Muslim, always aware of my actions and how they are Islamic or unIslamic.  I’m always weighing what I do or say or even think.  Sometimes I envy people their ability to simply live in the moment without any concept of religion or duty or consequences, while I’m wracked with guilt because I happened to sing along to an old Stone Temple Pilots song I heard while changing stations on the radio.  So to say I’m remembering Allah more wouldn’t really be correct.  I am doing a bit more dhikr, saying subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, and Allahu akbar after some of my prayers and even using the tasbeeh beads to keep track of my istighfaar.  I usually don’t use the dhikr beads, preferring to use my fingers, but sometimes having something in my hands helps me focus more.  I only do it when I’m alone because I don’t want anyone to think I’m some holier-than-thou Muslimah mumbling with my beads 24/7.

Am I feeling more spiritual?  No, not really.  A lot of that is just because my nature is very grounded and logical.  I did not fall in love with Islam by listening to the Adhan while visiting an exotic Muslim land.  I do not weep when I pray.  I don’t feel transcendent in my prayers.  I fidget and get distracted and have to just about staple my feet to the musallah to stay where I am and get through four raka’ats.  I am a very practical Muslimah.  I believe one hundred percent in Islam.  I am convinced of the truth of tauheed and the importance of living according to the laws set down by Allah.  I struggle with the discipline of prayer but I believe in it absolutely.  I love reading books about Islam, books on hadith and tafsir and history and stories of the prophets, and am more comfortable with them than I am with listening to Qur’an.  I have a mental block against memorizing, not just Qur’an but Arabic vocabulary, and it frustrates me and makes me feel guilty – ah, there goes that guilt again! – that I memorize in such fits and starts.  I didn’t make any grand promise to myself to finish memorizing Juz ‘Amma.  I just said I’d try to work on surat ad-Duha.  I have gotten about halfway through and haven’t worked on it in several days.  I imagine I’ll get back to it and finish it someday soon, inshaAllah.  Or perhaps not, distracted by work and kids and house and exhaustion from getting up so early.  Only time will tell.

I’ve been Muslim almost 18 years now and I’m mostly comfortable with my approach to Islam.  I know there are more emotional types and more practical types.  There is room in Islam for the Abu Bakrs and the Uthmaans.  I do wish I was able to lose myself in my Islam more, that I could quiet the unease in me and just “be” in the moment when I am praying or reading or listening to Qur’an, but that is not my nature and I know that Allah knows what’s going on in my heart and my brain and that I am devoted to Islam unconditionally.  So even though I’m not a “good” Muslim, I know I’m a striving Muslim in my heart even when my actions are falling behind.  I don’t rest on my laurels thinking that I can just coast along and Allah will forgive my shortcomings, but now, after probably the first fifteen years of being Muslim, I no longer constantly mentally berate myself for when I do something wrong.

Tonight is the 25th night of Ramadan.  The kids are in bed, I actually prayed the ishaa’ on time, and I read up to and into the 26th Juz in English.  I found my dhikr beads and inshaAllah after I spend some time online I will make istighfar and recite some du’a that I read in Sahih al Bukhari.  I usually don’t put on Qur’an when I’m trying to sleep because I end up trying to listen and hear what is being said and then that keeps me awake, but I’ve had about four iced coffees so I think I’ll be up for a while.  I’ll check Facebook and say hello to some friends and comment on some status updates, and then I’ll try to find some nice websites to read or maybe work on that surah.  I ask Allah to forgive me and to support me and help me to be more productive in all areas of my life.  My mantra is one day at a time and so far it’s been working.  

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