This is Day 30 of Altmuslim’s #30Days30Writers series for Ramadan 2015.
By Naazish YarKhan
This has been one of my most fulfilling Ramadans. We’ve honored its many nuances together, as a family, and even as an extended family. But I’ve also flitted after distractions. Chances for ibadah (worship) that I let slip, unfulfilled promises to myself.
So here I find myself, on July 17th, finally celebrating Eid after a late last night hoping to snag still one more day of Ramadan, to potentially do just a little bit more. (We’re of the moon sighters, you see. So there was the possibility of a Saturday Eid for us.) No sooner did last night’s thought settle on my horizon, that another unfurled, a more disturbing thought: Is this what it will feel like on our deathbed? That we didn’t do enough? That we let distractions way lay us?
I turn the possibility around in my hand like a Rubik’s cube, dwell on the truth of it. Softly, the answer alights. It is true. This is very likely exactly how we will feel on our death beds. But I also hear another whisper: Ramadan is no End Game. Rather, it is a training ground, a catapult to stronger faith, a struggle that shapes how we live out the remainder of the year. Ramadan is the cocoon where struggle is necessary to strengthen our wings, so that we may eventually emerge as butterflies.
Like a spot of sunshine, the reassurance warms me. It reminds me of lessons I’ve gotten reacquainted with, in my cocoon, precisely so I may be transformed in the months ahead.
Ours is not a faith built on wishing and hoping. It is instead a faith of prayer and action. It places a premium on effort. When the pains of childbirth drove Mary (RA) to the trunk of a date palm, she cried out: ‘Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!‘. Allah responded saying:
Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you; And shake the trunk of the date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and be glad… (Quran, 19:22-26)
Even in labor, Mary (RA) had to shake the date tree for sustenance. They didn’t just fall to the ground at her feet. Allah surely could have made that happen had He chosen.
Hajira (RA), with the hot sun beating down her, her feet slipping into sand that may have been burning, too, had to run between Safa and Marwa to find water. Allah could have chosen for her to be left in an oasis where there was water.
When such exalted women had to strive for what they wanted, despite their pain, why would the rest of us be any different?
Ramadan, whether it’s fasting for 17 hour long days or showing up for Taraweeh when we rather go to sleep, prepares us well for the race ahead. Ours is obviously a religion that involves effort and action.
I had been struggling against a certain challenge, and even in Ramadan often failed, despite my best efforts and intentions. Watching Nouman Ali’s video titled “I’m Not Able to Recite the Quran”, left me in tears. It reminded me that “Allah does not value accomplishment, Allah values efforts.” All I had to do was keep trying.
The harder our struggles, the greater the reward. As Aisha (RA) narrated:
The Prophet said, “Such a person as recites the Quran and masters it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven). And such a person exerts himself to learn the Quran by heart, and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.” (Bukhari, Book 6, Volume 60: Hadith 459)
Allah judges us by our intentions and our efforts, and not our results. So those ambitious Ramadan plans to seek the pleasure of Allah? I was on the right track having that list. Whether I checked off every goal or not, I was earning His pleasure. That thought alone serves as impetus to be making a list for the next 11 months.
I’ve often requested the compilation of du’as below, to be read on behalf of my family, by those heading to Umrah or Hajj. Still, I neglect to ask Allah myself, outside of Ramadan. Making time to read the translation this Ramadan reminded me I absolutely need to, and can, make the time for du’a — the links that connect me to my Maker.When my servants ask you (O]Muhammed) about me, `Verily I am close, I listen to the prayer of every one who calls on Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me in order that they may be guided aright.” Surah Qaaf 50:16
We are no different than the monarch butterfly. Just as this tiny, delicate creature flexes its wings against the cocoon, to prepare for journeys such as its annual pilgrimage across North America, from Southern Canada to Mexico, so also us. Ramadan is our cocoon.
May our du’as, inshallah, be the wind beneath our wings. Ameen.
Ya Allah please be pleased with us. Make us those who’ve earned your love and forgiveness. Keep us away from all that harms us and earns your displeasure.
Make us consistent in our devotions and in our thanks to you.
Teach us to turn to you no matter how small the need and the deed.
Ya Allah bless us with good health, good business, strong imaan, courage to act on our imaan no matter the situation,
Grant us janat-ul-firdaus
Please protect us from the evil eye and gossiping tongues.
Teach us to be grateful, to forgive easily.
Give us health – mental, physical, emotional.
Let our last days be our best days.
Let us live and die as Muslims.
Give us children and grandchildren who are sadaaqa jariyah ( a continuing charity) for us.
Protect us against the challenges of the grave, the dajjal (anti-Christ), the sirat, the hell fire.
Please call us to visit Your house soon.
Please forgive all our sins and those of our parents and our forefathers.
Protect us from the whispers of Shaitan (Satan).
Protect us from Sin and temptation – from evils big and small.
Protect us from bad habits – big and small.
Ya Allah teach us to turn to you for every need, and ask your help with every decision.
Please let our children, grand-children and continuing lineage comprise good, practicing Muslims.
Keep us humble ya Allah. Protect us from the ways of Shaitan and those who’ve earned your anger.
Ya Allah, if we err, forgive us and do not challenge us with burdens for which we will have to be embarrassed in front of you.
Ya Allah, do not test us with burdens greater than we can bear and if we do have challenges in life, please give us the fortitude and the courage.
Forgive us Ya Allah, Forgive us Ya Allah. Forgive us Ya Allah. We are your sinful children and if you don’t forgive us we will be lost. Make us Worthy of your generosity, your blessings Ya Allah.
Remind us always that all our good fortune is but a test to see how we treated those who had less.
Make us generous, make us kind, make us honest. Make us those with whom you are pleased.
Ya Allah, let us not die owing even a penny in debt to anyone. Let us not live in debt or with interest.
Let us be good spouses, good children, good parents, good in-laws.
Teach us patience, help us grow in knowledge and let us live our faith in our actions, every single day. Ease our worries. Let us always remember that you alone can heal us and to turn to you for help.
Naazish YarKhan is a PR professional and writing coach. She works with students across the US. The author of “Even the Peacock Cries”, she has contributed to over 50 media outlets internationally including NPR, Huffington Post, and Chicago Tribune.Her clients include ICNA Relief USA, where she manages National and Midwest Communications. Stay in touch via Twitter, , LinkedIn and Facebook.