Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ramadan Reflection 2018.

(A little late in posting this, but better late than never!)

If I said that I had a productive Ramadan, I would be lying to myself. This year was a pure struggle. It was difficult, unproductive, and challenging. I went into this year thinking that I wanted to have a peaceful and serene Ramadan. It was peaceful in a sense that I tried to avoid people and the masjid and it was serene in the sense that I was alone for iftar and suhoor .

To be honest, I didn't have a productive Ramadan AT ALL. I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't able to do half of the things I did last year, not because I couldn't but because I just wasn't feeling it. I forced myself to do as much as I could, but this year, I had no drive. Some readers are probably judging me and thinking "she is so ungrateful", "she can do it so why shouldn't she..." etc.. and yes I agree with you! But there are a lot of things that I don't include in my posts. I don't share much about my private life and what goes on so that is why it is easy for many to judge me. Buttttttttt.... I honestly could care less, lol. Judge if you want, ultimately, I am the one living this reality and Allah knows all the highs and lows I struggle with on a daily basis. The one who judges hold no merit in our lives because have they been there for us? Have they been the one to call us to see how we are doing? Do they e-mail or send us a text to check up on us? Probably not remember sisters, people who judge you are just background noise and have inner conflicts with themselves that they refuse to pay attention to thus they look at others to make themselves feel better.

Call me taboo for expressing my honest feelings but I feel like everyone on social media takes it way too far with their Ramadan experience. Posting pics of iftar gatherings, posting videos/pics of themselves galavanting around the city after praying Taraweeh hashtagging #ramadanlatenights #suhoor/ on and so forth. I feel like Ramadan has become such a cultural and commercialized practice that if we dare have an unproductive Ramadan we are seen as a bad Muslim who is lazy and not a good believer.
Let's be honest with ourselves, though. We are only human beings and expecting to excel 24/7 365 days a year is absolutely impossible. Ramadan is no exception. We WILL have those Ramadans where we failed ourselves and where they just didn't affect us as much as it affected the next person beside us bawling their eyes out during Taraweeh. We WILL have those boring, lonely Eids that make us feel depressed and sad, we WILL have many moments of despair and low emaan during AND after Ramadan. This is normal. Yes, our community leaders always stress the importance of making the best of each Ramadan because we don't know if it will be our last. This holds a weighty truth but we also need to remember that we are not robots or machines. We can only try our best even if it means not being as successful as we were the year before. What matters the most, is that we tried our best. Allah is not an evil God nor is He out to get us or punish us (reminder to myself first and foremost). Allah just wants us to try our best and to give what we can; little or a lot.

The reason I decided to share my experience is that I know I am not the only one out there who didn't have a productive Ramadan. Those who are single and living with non-Muslim parents, those who have to work 8-hour shifts, single mothers who have to work and take care of children, and there are countless scenarios that I could go on and list, are some reasons that could hinder or affect our worship in the blessed month.

To be honest, this Ramadan made me reflect on my many flaws. I found myself getting extremely irritated (more than usual) with people and I just had a low tolerance for things I normally try to tolerate. The two months leading up to Ramadan were exhausting mentally and emotionally and it just followed me well into Ramadan. I was trying to take a breather yet I was also trying to keep the momentum up with the holy month. Alas, I was burned out by the middle of Ramadan and as I sit here waiting for my last iftar, I can't help but feel a sense of relief and a sense of disappointment.

I remind myself and all the readers that Ramadan should not be just a monthly emaan sprint. We should always remain consistent and balanced throughout the year. Even if it is reading one page of the Qur'an every day or watching one Islamic lecture per week, or even just saying a simple Salam to a sister and telling her a good word can be more beneficial than doing absolutely nothing all year and everything in one month. Consistency and intentions are key. I know how hard it is to keep up our daily routines all year round, especially if you do not have many Muslim family/friends around you to support you every single day. While it is a luxury to have this in our lives, in the end, we die alone and we will be in our grave alone, therefore, we need to depend on Allah and ourselves to get us through the good, the bad and the ugly times.

Ramadan is no different. It has become such a cultural practise to highlight Ramadan as being a time to have iftar/suhoor with family ...Eid parties with family...going to the masjid with family....etc... but in reality, family will leave us...and then what? Will our family be with us inside our grave and helping us during the day of Judgement? No.
We need to stop making Ramadan out to be some big fam jam and we need to detach ourselves from this idea. The reason a lot of us struggle during Ramadan, myself included, is that we think Ramadan is only meaningful if we have lots of iftar parties and taraweeh late nights at the masjid with family. I always feel sad whenever I see people posting or talking about Ramadan with their families and maybe that is one of the times I actually feel alone as a convert. I guess that is my own fault because I should not associate Ramadan = family gatherings and happy times to eat and get fat. Ramadan is a time for reflection alone with Allah. I should feel grateful that I have that moment and chance to be in touch with my creator while others are being in touch with their families and their stomachs. I should be thankful that Allah wants me to spend one on one time with Him instead of wasting my time talking about nonsense over food with family and not even having time to make duaa before maghrib because I'm too busy helping family cook in the kitchen. I need to remind myself that the whole purpose of Ramadan and after Ramadan is to gain independence from the creation and gain dependence on the Creator. Wow, it's so easy to say this but how difficult is it to actually understand and apply this?

Ramadan has left us, yet the struggles continue.....
Ah well, this is life.