My Ramadan

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Asalamalaikum,

There’s a trend – Muslim bloggers just vanish from the blogosphere when it’s Ramadan, we know why, Alhamdolillah! But we’re almost done; I’ll break the silence, and I don’t want the memories to fade away.

First thing first – this was the best Ramadan of my life, I mean it, seriously. I don’t want to fake up anything.. a weaker faith, the distortions of a messed up mindset, serious lack of guidance, and the hopelessness are a few things that kept me away from staying up in the nights of previous Ramadans.

I am sure that my conclusions won’t be novel enough, but still, I am literally fearing as the last few hours of Ramadan are passing by. I discovered that the actual marathon hasn’t started yet, and that it’ll only end by the start of next Ramadan.. some of us might not see it. The distractions would be numerous and the shayateen would be all out to corrupt our pure thoughts. I seek help from Allah SWT, I am begging for it, I cried for it.

Following few things, I believe, are essentially what I practiced frequently. I pray to Allah SWT to bless us all with the motivation and consciousness to continue the Ramadan lifestyles, Inshallah.

1- TAHAJJUD PRAYERS

Abu Hurairah reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’” [bukhari]

Take this Hadeeth in a literal sense! It’s not a fantasy and there’s nothing hypothetical about it. Alhamdolillah, can there be anything better than your ability to respond to Allah SWT’s above call by enlisting your halal desires?! And to add to it, think for a second – those who begin their days with such prayers, can there be any sort of satisfaction more worthy than the inner peace they get blessed with?! Subhanallah.

2- DESPAIR NOT THE MERCY

From Surah Al-Talaq (#65): “.. And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out [2] And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. [3]

Focus; just try to focus on the words of these verses for a moment. Our biggest misery strikes us, when we try to “imagine” the ideal solutions to our problems. But Allah SWT gives us a straight-forward answer – the best of solutions, often a times, are unimaginable. This must end the story for a true believer because there is no logic that could justify that feel of despair – it’s not our responsibility to specify the solutions to Allah SWT in our supplications, and I repeat – it’s not, not at all! But, what’s the pre-condition? Just one – Fear Allah!

3- ASK FOR NOTHING BUT PERFECTION

Scholars try to bring us back to the realization that we need to compromise by coming out of the fantasy where we seek only the ideals – be it a wife, a job, or just about anything else. To a certain extent, I disagree. Compromise and Idealism can go together – realistically, we might have to give up on certain features, but in our supplications, we must not! We must not ask for anything lesser than a perfect outcome!

So our wordings do matter – never settle for less, at least in your duas. Ask Allah SWT to bless you with the best of the bests as per His criteria, and not your own understanding. Finally, what follows is Allah SWT’s decree and that’s where your compromise might come into play.

4- IF YOU ARE LIVING ON A TIGHT BUDGET, GIVE OUT SADAQA!

From Surah Saba’ (#34): “Say: Verily my Lord enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to such of His servants as He pleases: and what you spend in charity He replaces it: for He is the Best of those who grant Sustenance”. Saba 34 : 39

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) related that Allah’s messenger ( PBUH ) said, “No money ever decreases because of charity; when a servant of Allah forgives, Allah increases him in dignity; and whenever a person humbles himself to Allah, Allah will elevate his status” [Bukhari & Muslim]

This one applies to poor freaks like me. If you are tight on budget to a point where you’ve to cut on your eating-out feasts, it’s about time to follow the strategy suggested above! Just give it a try, I am a living proof! Get rid of the taboo that Sadaqa isn’t for students!

5- BEG FOR FORGIVENESS

From Surah At-Tahrim (#66): “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills .. [8]”

Abu Bakr Al siddiq (May Allah be pleased with him), narrated: “I heard Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) saying: ‘There isn’t a man who, when he commits a sin, rises, makes ablution, and offers two rak’as of prayers, but Allah forgives his sins.

From Surah Az-Zumar (#39): “Tell them (oh Muhammad): ‘My (Allah’s) Servants who have committed excesses against themselves, do not be in despair in the mercy of Allah – surely, Allah forgives all sins. Verily Allah is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful [53]’”

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who turn (to Allah) in repentance.” [Mishkatul-Masabih, Vol. 3, p. 360]

For the sake of brevity, I wish to convey just one idea – You don’t have to commit a sin and you don’t really have to recall some old sins as a pre-condition to seek forgiveness! Shouldn’t we be seeking forgiveness for lack of our thankfulness for the blessings of Allah SWT? Just for a moment, think once – would you have been able to be like one the strong companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), if you were living back then? if not, then shouldn’t you be repenting out of fear that you wouldn’t be able to catch up with them on the day of judgment?

With this state of mind, you’ll always be forcing yourself to rise up from your sujoods – and in such a case, Allah SWT will take care of your worldly matters to start with! :->

6- INNER PEACE & A SATISFIED HEART

I don’t have guts to write about this – I am no’t capable enough. Perhaps, there isn’t anything more important than it. It’s not rare that we desire for something (thinking that it will result in ultimate happiness) and when we get it, we are exactly the same person with just one change – we pick a new goal while tricking ourselves to run after it for happiness. All our lives, in general, we run after things one by one, the trail never ends.. we take wrong turns.

To end it, I picked up few quotes from “Don’t be Sad” by Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni:

“It has been said that happiness is an art that needs to be learned. And if you learn it, you will be blessed in this life.. The opposite of being content is being shortsighted,.. Basic to the art of happiness is to bridle our thoughts and to restrain them, not allowing them to wander, stray, escape, or go wild. For if you were to leave your thoughts to wander as they wish, then they will run wild and control you. They’ll open the catalogue of your past woes.. If your thoughts are left to roam, then they will bring to you images of past difficulties and images of a future that is frightening. These thoughts will shake your very being and will cause your feelings to flare. Therefore bridle them, and restrain them by directing them to the concentrated application of the kind of serious thought that begets fruitful and beneficial work.”

Few related supplications:

“O Allah! It is Your mercy that I hope for so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshiped except You.”

“O Allah, I take refuge in you from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over-powered by men.”

Just got the news, it’s Eid tomorrow 🙂

May Allah SWT accept our fasts and duas at the commencement of this blessed month,  Assalaam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu!

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Cartoons..

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I am a big fan of a few older cartoon series. I don’t like newly made flashy, noisy and commercialized stories; but, I am an addict to what I used to see in my childhood perhaps from the early 90’s: Camp Candy, Pink Panther, Aladdin, Talespin, Duck Tales, Goofy Bear (a guess on the name), and the more recent ones like Samurai Jack, and Courage the Cowardly Dog etc.

I love my family. I live with the memories of the way all of us used to sit together discussing everything from the blessings of Allah SWT to the funny-school-stories of my younger siblings.

I have very clearer and focused goals in my life. And subhanAllah, in the longterm, none of those are conflicting with the teachings of Islam in anyway.

There are tradeoffs in all the matters of our lives. One has the ability to choose luxury, comfort and peace of mind over struggle, patience, and again struggle for Jannah. Again, there is a definite overlap in these two directions, but still it can be figured out about the lifestyle of a person to be biased to either of the two approaches to life.

Enough hints.. !! Here’s the story:

The other day, I was watching one of my cartoons at my workplace (not secretively, I can justify it :)). This series is from early 90’s and I used to see it in late 90’s. I am not good at memories, but this time (unfortunately), I was able to recall the setting in which I saw the same episode earlier with my sibs.. and that was it then. I was dumbstruck, I paused the thingy and I laid back on the chair. It sounds stupid but I missed for the first time in my life so severly the things I left behind, the things I considered worthless, the times when I gave preference to my goals over the pleasure of enjoying time with family and friends.

I tried to do something big when I was 12 and I left home passionately and childishly for an Army college. It turned out that I was the youngest fellow in the whole college and naturally, it took me 2.5 days to realize that a stupid kid needs a mom around all times. However, it took me another 363.5 days of fear, misery, and nostalgia to get rid of the place. The moment I landed back home, I committed (out of guilt for troubling my family) that I’ll not underestimate the good things I learned there: orderly living, and focused and struggle-oriented life. Although I started by the naive act of keeping my toothbrush in my cupboard but there are somethings I still follow.

Followed by this, to regain my parents’ confidence in my decision power and academic ability, I put in all efforts in my studies and got extremely good grades outclassing nearly all my friends. Then, joined the best college, and then the best school for Computer Science. Over these years, I kept myself extremely busy in my studies.

People goto tours and vacations in summers. In my four years of undergraduate education, I didn’t even once. Although I stayed at home, but for my work/ideas/plans and not for my family/friends. I always wanted to do something, something that might have contributed to my ambitious aims.. err.

By 18, I earned some serious money by doing a freelance project for someone. It took me 2 days to transform that bundle of cash into gifts for my family.

At 20, I started my own (again, very serious) business with a couple of friends. My father was having little troubles in his business, so I thought that I’ll be able to help him by contributing while studying at the same time. My other friends enjoyed things or just engaged themselves in normal stuff, and we used up the whole of this summer to inaugrate the place by August. The details are painstaking and worth a lot then a little mention of 2 lines. In short, since then, I haven’t been as much productive as I was in those months, because nothing at all demanded such efforts.

We failed miserably. I lost focus on my studies, and I could merely survive in the following 1.5 years by completing my studies and opting out of the business. In those 1.5 years, on almost every 2nd day I used to leave home in morning while coming back late night with a bunch of worries just to find everyone sleeping.

When I got rid of this, I realized that it was about time to leave for higher education. So I struggled again 🙂 I am calling this struggle because I had a low gpa, an aim for a good U.S. school, and no backup plans. In one year from then till the day I landed in USA, I sent literally 1000+ emails from convincing professors to resolving issues pertaining to missing GRE reports. Although I spent some quality time with my family in those days, but I was always troubled with this question of “What if I fail?”.. because when all my friends became independent by started earning, I was relying on my father to plan and pay off my expenses of higher education.

And then, I left. I came here. I came here and I became so busy that I couldn’t visit my family since then. Perhaps I ignored it and I am still.. I am not a non-social, non-loving, or any non-SomeGoodWord .. but still, I just couldn’t manage (Alhamdolillah for everyhing though).

I always mess up the conclusions and the same goes for this post. I can’t figure out a way to summarize what I experienced. For sure, it wasn’t a typical flashback. It was different, a rare experience, and perhaps the first time for me.. but Inshallah, I’ll see my people soon in a much happier environment stuffed up with the blessings of Allah SWT ~ameen.

Asalamalaikum.