After the month of Ramadan has come and gone in a fashion that seems faster than ever this year Muslims all over the world were having to observe the holy month whilst living with the constraints of a world wide lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. With all Mosques all over the world closed as with most other religious places of worship brothers and sisters world wide were forced to turn their houses into Masjids (Mosque) and as most of us appointed an Adhan (call for prayer) caller from within our household as well as a Iman (prayer leader) in order to lead the prayer, there is no doubt that this Ramadan is one that we will be talking about for many more years to come In’Sha’Allah (if Allah wills). However, will we be talking about it for the right reasons and have we actually utilised the blessings that came with this Ramadan to benefit ourselves not just in this world but in the here after? Personally I wanted to share a couple of things I learnt during this holy month and I hope this can be a guidance to everyone, In’Sha’Allah.
Counting our blessings
It’s very easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of this world, that’s the whole point of Dunya (this world), it’s meant to test us in every kind of way and things are not always rosy and wonderful in our lives. This lockdown has been hard for everyone with some people not able to see family members and loved ones and other people not able to leave their houses at all. We all know that this is a test from Allah (SWT) but in every test there are blessings that we need to make sure we are thankful of and this is very easy to forget sometimes especially when everywhere you turn is full of misery and hardship. One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with this Ramadan is how lucky I am and indeed how lucky most of us are in this country. Yes, we are in lockdown, nobody is denying that but Alhumdulillah (praise be to Allah) do we not have clean water when we turn on our taps? Do we not have food in our fridges and freezers? And even if we don’t the number of food banks that have opened up in this country to help the needy is a blessing in itself. We are very fortunate that we live in a developed country where there are aids for people that are struggling, whether that is the furlough scheme to help people who cannot go to work because of businesses that have had to close down because of lockdown, or the incredible amount of relief work that is going on in this country to make sure people have food in their houses. We should seriously count those blessings and thanking Allah (SWT) that he has enabled us to live in a society where people are able to get by. You just need to look at countries like Yemen, Palestine and Syria to see how immensely how fortunate we are and even though at times it doesn’t feel like it we still have to be grateful for what we have in our lives. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an in Surah (chapter) Ibrahim verse 33: “And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the bounty of Allah ye cannot reckon it.” Shaykh Abdullah Oduro, who appeared on Omar Suleiman‘s Qur’an 30 for 30 series, elaborates on this point further in episode 13 explaining that if you were to count the number of blessings there are in a single blessing you will not be able to do so. His beautiful reminder really got me thinking about my own life and how I need to be more grateful for what I have in my life. Then there is that famous verse in Surah Rahman that we all know and love. “Which, then of your Lord’s blessings will you both, mankind and jinn, deny?” My Aunty sent me a video towards the beginning of Ramadan of a brother beautifully reciting the opening verses of Surah Raman and to be quite honest the video made me cry, which is actually the sort of reaction we should be having when we listen to the verses of the Qur’an.
The verse in itself actually got me thinking how many blessings of Allah (SWT) do we actually take for granted without really realising. For me not being able to see a very dear friend of mine for seven weeks while this lockdown was in place has made me realise how much this person is a blessing from Allah (SWT) and sometimes I do take the help and advice they give me whenever I need it for granted. When I then referred that back to what Shaykh Abdullah was saying it helped me to understand that this person in themselves is a blessing from Allah (SWT) but the help and advice they give me are blessings within the original blessing. We all need to appreciate what we have more rather than pursuing what we don’t.
The value of family
During this lockdown and particularly in the month of Ramadan some of us were separated from our families whereby in a normal situation Ramadan would mean spending more time with the family. But for those of us are fortunate enough to live with our families we have to ask ourselves did we use this Ramadan in order to help us not only build a better connection with Allah (SWT) and his beloved Prophet but also with our own family’s? More and more people are constantly becoming indulged in working life and not dedicating enough time to our loved ones. This is becoming a real problem in society and whilst I accept that there are people who cannot help this some of us need to ask ourselves are we working too much and if so why? If it is to put food on the table and a roof over our heads then fair enough, but if we are working ridiculously hard I order to just save up to take your family on holiday every year or to buy them luxury items that are Dunya based then we need to stop and think are we neglecting our responsibilities towards our families in order to gain something that is not going to benefit us at all in the hereafter. Growing up as a child we only went on two family holidays in 16 years with my mum and dad, we didn’t always have the latest toys or gadgets but what we did have was two parents that were always there when me and my sister needed them. Nowadays we get so obsessed with having the “latest thing” that we often neglect the people closest to us in order to chase something that we cannot take across to the hereafter. At the end of the day when we are in our graves that means nothing. We need to wake up, and this is a reminder to myself first and foremost, we all have responsibilities towards the people that we love, whether that be a family member, a friend or in my case my carers, collectively we all need to make sure that we are treating the people around us the way they need to be treated and in doing so carrying out our responsibilities to our fellow brothers or sisters whether they be Muslim or not.
Worrying the world away
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about myself this Ramadan is how much I worry about things, it’s actually become a big problem for me and it’s a problem for many people across the world. I heard a Shaykh giving a lecture once about anxiety in Islam, I can’t remember his name so please forgive me but one of the things he said that always stuck with me is the most difficult pill for a Muslim to swallow is the decree of Allah (SWT), and if we are being honest with ourselves it’s true. We all say Allah (SWT) knows best and he is the greatest of planners, and I have no doubt that we all believe that, but how many of us actually put it into practice when the push comes to shove, because I know I don’t. We worry too much about things that might happen or things that may not even be likely to happen but we don’t put our trust in Allah (SWT) anywhere near the amount that we should. The Prophet and his companions all used to say “we belong to Allah and to Him is our return” whenever a calamity befell them, yet in our case, we go to pieces over the tiniest little worry instead of actually leaving it in the capable hands of Allah (SWT). Take my case for example, right now I am having three new members of staff starting work with me in the next month and this comes with all kinds of worry and anxiety, especially when the members of staff that they are replacing were really good with me and I’m almost not ready to let go of them if I’m being honest and again if I’m being honest this worry has kind of consumed the first part of my Ramadan. However Alhumdulillah, thanks to the grace of Allah (SWT), I have found three members of staff that I think will be really good working with me and whatever the future holds really I need to leave that with my Rabb (Lord) as he knows what’s best for me. This is just something I am having to come to terms with however there are many across the world who worry too much about things that we have no control of. I’m not saying don’t worry, this is a natural emotion that is built within us all, nor am I saying don’t ask for help from other people, what I am saying is we all need to try and stop letting that worry consume us by having a bit more faith in Allah (SWT’s) plan and I need to start with myself first and foremost.
Alhumdulillah, Ramadan has been good to me this year, I was able to sit Itikaf ( a religious recluse) in my house and really reflect on myself and Alhumdulillah I’ve come out with a clearer idea of where I want to go in my life, I hope everybody was as fortunate as I was. I’m not saying I’m a Shaykh or an Iman or some kind of scholar and I’m not trying to pretend I know everything about Islam because I don’t, I’m just a humble servant of Allah (SWT). However, these are just some thoughts that I had during the holy month I just wanted to write them down in the hope it might inspire other people In’sha’Allah. I ask if I have offended anyone with what I have written that they please forgive me and I ask Allah (SWT) to guide us all in our endeavours as we come out of this lockdown.