October 28, 2005
Reflecting on Ramadan...the First Four Years
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu. This is Ramadan Number 4 for me. Number 1 was spent in Washington, D.C., bouncing back and forth between a grueling work schedule, The Islamic Center and Dar Al-Hijrah, meeting new and life-long friends and (heart) adopting a daughter (Hanane). Al-hamdulillah. Number 2 was spent in a variety of different activities, i.e., volunteering at a homeless shelter, attending an Iftar at the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., attending an interfaith iftar and getting to talk with people about Islam that wanted to understand what Ramadan was all about, attending a protest in front of the White House, following Imam Johari around through the park downtown passing out meals to the homeless...it was adventurous! Number 3 was spent in KSA where I got to experience Ramadan in a whole new way, surrounded by family and good food. I also got to make Umrah on the first day of Ramadan. Al-hamdulillah. Number 4...wow...who would have imagined I would be in Egypt? *shakes head* But here I am. Subhan'Allah. A lot of things have been different this year. One thing is that just before I left the states my daughter Hanane's husband, Mohammad, gave me a version of the Qur'an that I didn't have before. It is the English interpretation of The Noble Qur'an by Dar Al-Salaam Publications out of Riyadh. Masha'Allah, it is this Qur'an that I have found myself reading more out of than I have ever read of the Qur'an before. It is written in such a nice way that it compels me to pick it up, Al-hamdulillah. I have listened to the Qur'an on CD so much before because I do enjoy a good recitation, Subhan'Allah. But I can't read it in Arabic, and the other English versions that I had before just made me fall asleep after a few pages...astifergullah al-azeem! So this year, Al-hamdulillah, I have been reintroduced to the Qur'an. Al-hamdulillah. Another difference between the other years and this year that jumps out the most has been enjoying more of it with my husband. Al-hamdulillah. This year we are spending Ramadan with his 83-year old mother, and, whereas, in Ramadan Numbers 2 & 3 we spent the larger part of the month doing our own thing, this year we have actually done things together. It has been nice sitting for suhoor, and the three of us breaking our fasts together at iftar. It has made me happy to see my husband participate in Ramadan more this year vs. just sitting and waiting for it to pass by in order to get on with the *normalcy* of life's daily grind. Something I've observed about Ramadan for those experiencing it anew vs. those who have already lived through 40 or so Ramadan's is that, I think...well...that sometimes people lose the essence of what Ramadan is all about. It's sad. Sad like, one day when I went out of the apartment to pray Taraweeh, it wasn't without saying to my husband before I left (after he declined the invitation to join me), "You know...if you just sit here...what is the difference between Ramadan and any other day of the year?" It is with a heavy heart that I count down the days left of Ramadan knowing that my dh has not once set foot in the masjid for Taraweeh...may Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala be merciful with him and put it in his heart to go these next few days. Imagine...the reward for worship on the Night of Power it is greater than 1000 months!! More than 83 years! Isn't Ramadan about more than just having to wait a little longer between meals? We are in the last week of Ramadan; it is my dua that we will all reflect a little on what it is really all about... It is reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: "When the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable." (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad. This was also narrated by An-Nasaa’i.) It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that Allah’s Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Whoever stood in prayer on the night of Al-Qadr, in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven." (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim). Dare we think that we haven't sinned so much that we are not in need of the rewards and blessings of the night of Al-Qadr? May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala forgive us and guide us. Amin. See you at the masjid, insha'Allah. Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz. Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.