September 22, 2009
How the Grinch Stole Ramadan - the Rest of the Story...
By Aishah Schwartz
Sept. 21, 2009
In my days of reflection this Ramadan I experienced and felt many things, one of which, of course, was hunger! While feeling hungry may have caused some to think of, pray for, or extend a random act of charity for the hungry in this world, for me the awareness of hunger brought to mind something completely different altogether.
I paused to reflect on the countless other people in the world sitting very much alone, like me, taking every suhoor alone and breaking their fast alone…in fact, when I first came to Egypt, I met a woman who had done just that – for TWENTY YEARS after her husband died and her four children had all gone on with their own lives, raising their own families. They visited her, of course, but in those notable hours of Ramadan – she, like me, like so many others – was "home alone".
So, while many remembered the hungry in Ramadan; I remembered the lonely.
In remembering the lonely, I also paused to reflect on the state of the Muslim Ummah, asking myself again and again – how? Why? Can it truly be that we are so preoccupied with our own lives that we either cannot or refuse to see what is in front of our eyes?
One of the most talked about teachings of Islam is to be a good neighbor; something that, particularly in Ramadan, we should strive all the more to be.
However, as one day moved into the next throughout Ramadan – my neighbors and friends were all so preoccupied with their own lives that nary a one stepped up-to-the plate in inviting me for Iftar or to join them for taraweeh at the mosque. I even asked five different people (via sms) if anyone could let me know what time the Eid prayer would be - and you guessed it; no replies.
How could that be?!? One might ask.
Indeed, we should ask.
We should ask ourselves – are we truly good neighbors?
And closer to home – to all who are reading – do you know a new Muslim?
Many new Muslims come from backgrounds in Christianity, where, like myself, we spent our congregational time in warm, inviting environments, despite that fact that we ultimately felt that somehow there was something missing in our religious experiences; thus we came to Islam.
But after coming to Islam, the "trouble with new Muslims" – as I have so often heard – is that we take things quite literally; like the teaching to be a good neighbor; like the message of charity and of doing good deeds.
Now, I am not going to offer a listing here of those things that I did in Ramadan for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, but I am going to implore each and every one of you, for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala; take off the blinders – and reach out to your neighbor – reach out to a new Muslim; it's never too late – and the reward is oh, so great, insha'Allah.
How the Grinch Stole Ramadan (the poem)
Do YOU Know a New Muslim?