Reflections: A Quarantined Ramadan

Now that we are all well into self-isolation / quarantine / social distancing or whatever else you want to call this lifestyle, I’ve been trying to reflect on how this time is inevitably connected to our imaan and Islam as a whole. As this is the first time for us to experience a pandemic, it can almost seem like this is the first time something to this degree has ever happened in the history of the world. However, we know this isn’t true, unfortunately. Having more free & alone time has lead me to start thinking about how I should spend these days in the best way. It has also made me think: has anyone in Islamic history ever had to go through such a situation where they were completely alone/closed off to society and “regular” life for an extended period of time?

There are actually countless instances throughout the history of Islam that emphasize times of complete self-isolation & the virtues that can come from it. We learn numerous facts about our prophet Muhammad (SAW) & his life, it’s almost so obvious that it’s easy to forget that he was in self-isolation during such crucial points of Islamic history. The very first revelation of Qur’an that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) received was while he was in complete seclusion in the cave of Hira. It was in a time like this – so removed from society & the distraction of the worldly life, that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was able to not only begin his revolutionary journey as the Messenger of Allah (SWT), but also to reflect and find true reliance on Al Wahid & Al Ahad (the One & Only). It was only in pure solitude that he was able to find true peace in He who created certainty.

A story that many of us can connect with on some level is that of Maryam (AS). Allah (SWT) revealed her struggles in the Qur’an as she was ostracized by people & removed herself from society with prophet Isa (AS). She truly had no one to rely on or to speak to except for Allah (SWT). Although she had trust in Allah (SWT), we learn that even Maryam (AS) shares the same humanity as us. Even she had a moment of weakness in all of this despair and loneliness, so much so, that she had the thought of, “I wish I had died before this, and been a thing long forgotten,” [19:23]. However, in all of her despair & sadness she still remained with Allah (SWT) and eventually gave birth to prophet Isa (AS), who ended up not only being a great strength & relief for her, but for all of mankind to come.

These are only two (great) examples of how solitude reminds us to turn to Allah (SWT) and remember that He is in control of everything. These instances, as well as all of the chaos the world is going through right now, remind us that Allah (SWT) is indeed Al Awwal (The First) & Al Aakhir (The Last). It is inevitable for us to feel stuck or bored given the current circumstances and the fact that our lives have predominantly always revolved around “contributing to society” and being “productive” in the greater cause for the economy. However, we now really do not have a choice, but to place our energy and focus elsewhere (i.e. on Allah!).

What a unique time we have been blessed with this Ramadan. The physical portion, in every aspect whether it’s food or community, is truly taken away from us, and we are left to focus on nurturing our spirituality and mental wellness. Insha’Allah we all reap immense benefits from this month as well as beyond this time, and may we all re-connect with the Qur’an & Allah (SWT) in a beautiful way.

Ameen & Ramadan Mubarak!

Forgiveness: Liberation From The Past

I read this statement the other day and it truly resonated with me: “Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be any different.” It sounds kind of harsh and even negative, however I believe it could not be more true.

Often times when people we once loved become the very same ones that torture & break our souls, there’s a level of disbelief we inhibit. Disbelief in the fact that they were capable of hurting you to such an extent and maybe even disbelief in Allah (SWT) and how He could allow this to happen. Speaking only from personal experience, it’s extremely difficult to grapple with the fact that sometimes the plans we create and the people we hold near to us, are not in line with the path or qadr (decree/destiny) that Allah (SWT) has written for us — no matter how hard that is to believe.
When people hurt us & exit our lives, we can easily get into this never ending mindset of, “maybe if I had done xyz differently,” or “if I didn’t say that one thing, maybe…” or even “they might still be in my life if I hadn’t stood my ground or protected my values.” We start sinking deep into these unrealistic scenarios in our heads that we could have done or been something different and that person would not have betrayed us. We put blame on ourselves to rationalize someone’s betrayal against us. These questions inevitably trap us from moving on and living the life with recognition of the blessings we have been given.
I will be the very first to say that I have a difficult time fully forgiving those that have truly destroyed me in the past. However, I am learning that forgiving does not mean being open to letting people walk all over you again nor is it a sign of weakness. Being able to forgive is strengthening your own soul and life. Learning to forgive yourself and others allows you to be free again. Healing from heartbreak is a real process and the truth is, forgiveness does not just come overnight. Forgiveness is more for your own self more than for anyone else. Understand that everything was written by the greatest writers of them all — nothing is by chance or coincidence. Our circumstances of the past are not supposed to be different so we should really stop tiring ourselves out with the “what if’s” and impossible scenarios that only lead us towards sadness and attachment to a reality that has come and gone. Be thankful for the hardships that may have taught you in unseen ways. Be hopeful that whatever is to come is from Allah (SWT) only and that alone should ease our minds. He is with us through it all.

Are Muslims Islamophobic?

You know that saying, “If everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you jump off too?” Many times we hear this when we are caught imitating foolish acts of others. The question is rhetorical – we all know we would not physically jump off a cliff just because others are…or would we? Continue reading “Are Muslims Islamophobic?”

Reflections: The Meaning Behind Allahu Akbar

I remember being a little girl and watching my mother pray. Her dupatta (scarf) delicately wrapped around her head as she stood on my favorite blue janamaz (prayer rug). Continue reading “Reflections: The Meaning Behind Allahu Akbar”