This is Day Seven of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series.
“That is Allah’s judgment; He judges between you, and Allah Knows, Wise.” [60:10]
Sometime ago a young man attended a Ramadan program, which was being hosted at a local mosque in Dearborn, Michigan — my hometown. The man had a reputation of being a frequent drinker. Regardless, the holy month of Ramadan started, and he took it upon himself to pray, fast and attend try to be more faithful. After attending for about a week he stopped showing up.
I ran into him at a local bakery for suhoor and asked why he no longer was attending the programs. He indicated that he did not feel welcomed and comfortable at the center. His response was upsetting and an indictment on the mindset of the attendees who forced him away. He went on to say tell me that some attendees explained to him that because he hasn’t been without alcohol for 40 days prior to Ramadan he was impure, thus unable to pray and fast.
This, of course, is not the case.
As the holy month of Ramadan continues, we must remember to not judge fellow Muslims and their intentions. This is especially important for those who organize programs/lectures during the month. We must be welcoming to all who walk through the doors in Ramadan and all year round. This holy month is an opportune time to develop the foundation in faith needed to carry you throughout the rest of the year. Use this month to connect with new people and strengthen your faith together.
This Ramadan let us keep in mind that as Muslims we have no idea who goes to heaven or hell or how God will judge anyone of us. We must always remember that each one of us has different life experiences, and we have no what whatsoever of knowing what another person is going through. Judgement is saved for Allah [swt] for that reason– He knows what we don’t know and sees what we don’t see.
While writing this piece I ran across a Facebook post from Sheikh Mohammed Aslam, who eloquently articulated the following:
When you see that girl with a messed-up reputation at uni [university] putting on the hijab and praying in Ramadan — that isn’t ‘trying to acting holy.’ That’s the essence of Iman. When you see the guy give up the club, put down the bottle, and replace listening to rap tunes with the Book of Allah in Ramadan — that isn’t fake. That’s the pinnacle of faith. When you see people taking the Quran off that dusty shelf and reciting it for the first time in the year — that isn’t being ‘typical.’ That’s true belief.
When you see a person sharing Islamic posts in the month despite their shortcomings — that’s not double standards. That’s a sign that a light exists in the heart. When you see that person without tajweed reciting without a beautiful voice — that’s not embarrassing. That’s a testification of the beauty that lives within in their souls. When you see mosques, which are empty all year round, fill up during the blessed month — that’s not hypocrisy. That’s a sign that truth still exists within the community …
We, as a community, will be collectively stronger if we all support and help each other out. What the young man in the opening went through was due to misinformation and uncalled-for judgment. The sad reality is many of our brothers and sisters experience the same treatment every day, all year round.
If you feel uncomfortable or that people are judging you, remember that we do not owe explanations of whatever acts of devotion we undertake to our community. If the environment you are around is toxic, do not let it deter you from practicing your faith. When we are called to our Lord, we will stand alone and face our Lord. Nobody will be along our side. Our personal actions in this life will be our only testimony, and Allah [swt] is All Knowing.
A short while after I had connected with the young man mentioned at the beginning of this piece and the misinformation was cleared up, and he felt comfortable returning to the center. It’s been years, and this young man is older now. He continues to be faithful to his religion and is an active member of the Michigan Muslim community.
Who knows what path his life would have taken had he stayed away from his faith due to the judgement of his fellow Muslims?