This is Day 16 of Altmuslim’s #30Days30Writers series for Ramadan 2015.
By Bint Khalid
Ramadan, the month that every Muslim awaits is more than half-way through. But for many around the world this month brings with it feelings of isolation and personal dissatisfaction, because unlike so many they are unable to fulfill their spiritual desire and duty to fast. Every year, like so many, I float in a spiritual abyss that bares an emptiness lingering within. For the past 13-years, I have not been able to fast due to severe ill health.
This month brings so much joy and excitement to so many. But for those who cannot fast, the reality can be far more frustrating and agonizing.
Through life we are shaped to focus on rewards we receive for sacrificing our personal desires as well as refraining from what is forbidden, and it is no different in Ramadan. But, what about those who cannot fast? Where will their reward come from? And are they not being rewarded in the same way because they cannot fast?
Each of these questions travelled aimlessly through my mind. Some years I found solace, and other times I secretly lived with this ache in my heart. But somewhere within the shadow of pain and emptiness there had always been a glimmer of hope. That hope was my faith in Allah swt and the belief that He is never unjust.
It is human nature to take circumstances, people and even our health for granted. We strive through life’s trials and tribulations in the way people expect us to — we cry when we are sad, and we rejoice when we are happy. But, between the sadness and happiness we should learn to grasp the opportunity for reflection and repentance. The Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
…When something pleasing happens to him, he is thankful, and it is good for him. When something harmful happens to him, he is patient, and it is good for him. — (Sahih al-Muslim)
This hadith emphasizes that no matter what obstacles our situation brings, there will be nothing less than reward for not only expressing gratitude through the good times but also being humble and patient through the hardship.Even when it is difficult to accept why certain circumstances have come forth, we must believe that the trials and afflictions of this world are His declaration of kindness towards us.
He is forgiving our sins, raising our ranks and bringing us closer to Him; our job is merely to accept what He has decreed with a positive heart and mind.
Striving to Do Our Best
In this blessed month we are given ample opportunities to multiply our good deeds and to draw closer to Allah (swt). However, the way in which we choose to worship depends entirely upon our personal circumstances and intentions.
For several years I’ve personally struggled not only with being unable to fast but other aspects of worship. My body may not feel the spiritual alleviation whilst going down in sujood (prostration), my eyes may not translate the words of the Qur’an effortlessly and my mind may become disorientated with long hours of zikr, but what will never alter is the devotion that unmistakably beats in my heart.
I truly empathize with the turmoil of those who, for whatever reason, cannot perform acts of worship in the manner prescribed or to the extent that they would like to. Still I believe whoever suffers on the righteous path will receive the same, if not more reward as those who are able to worship, entirely based on their intentions.As the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that deeds are a result only of the intentions we have and an individual is rewarded according to what he has intended to do.
“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Hence those who suffer from chronic illnesses, mental health problems, seen and unseen disabilities, difficult pregnancies, post pregnancy circumstances or who are unable to fast for whatever reason have every hope of gaining reward through their intentions whether they are physically or mentally able to achieve them or not. What truly matters is the heart behind the intention.
It is imperative that instead of dwelling on what we cannot do, we should focus on those acts of worship we are able to achieve without placing any pressure on ourselves to fit into what society sees as the “norm,” because we are all capable of creating our own norms that give us the strength we need to deal with our circumstances.
Drawing ourselves towards Allah (swt) is not an insurmountable task. We can achieve this closeness by reciting the Quran, doing as much ibadah(worship) as we are physically or mentally able to; we can perform acts of charity, help others through kind words and gestures, practice good manners and speech, be kind to our loved ones, be gentle towards the young and old and so much more.
Most importantly, we can take the time to reflect, repent and attempt to leave what Allah swt has prohibited and returning to what He has commanded so that we might pass through this life with ease. Ibadah (worship) of any kind is not meant to cause us anguish or make us feel ostracized from people around us. Instead it should give us the feeling of wanting to get closer to our creator the way we want to, and not the way others feel we should. Ultimately, Allah (swt) knows our efforts and intentions and reward is solely in his hands.
Rising Above the Limitations
Ramadan holds a poignant place in my heart. It not only serves as a time to reflect upon life and work towards making positive changes, but it is a time to be thankful for all I have regardless of the things that I have lost.
Living with an auto-neuro immune condition affects both my physical and neurological abilities, and it brings with it constant struggles. But, I believe such life-altering circumstances are intended merely to draw us closer towards Allah (swt). And, if this was meant to be my journey, then I accept it wholeheartedly – because a life without belief is like a life that we exist in but not live for.
My faithhas always given me the motivation to believe and accept that whatever I am going through is best for me. Even though this may sound painless, in reality there is a constant battle between what we want and what has been destined for us.
We ponder through life desperate for answers, but we forget that we truly find freedom from worries when we learn to depend on Allah (swt). Because as imperfect people we disappoint, but where there is perfection there is no disappointment. It all depends how we choose to see what is before us.
Bint Khalid is a Law graduate currently pursuing theoretical and practical qualifications as a Psychological Counselor/Psychotherapist, in the hope to develop awareness of mental health and disabilities in developing countries. Bint Khalid’s aspirations of becoming a writer began at a very young age, but became a reality as a consequence of being diagnosed with a long-term illness. She now strives to raise awareness and provide support to fellow sufferers of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and Fibromyalgia and their caretakers.