To the limbs that are busy,
As you pick up your Qur’an in order to begin reciting, you are bombarded with a barrage of WhatsApp messages. Your job needs urgent work done now; your babysitter cancelled, meaning you cannot attend taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) at the mosque tonight; your mom needs help with making iftar (the meal of breaking fast).
You put your Qur’an down. There is always something keeping you away.
Ramadan might be the month of the Qur’an, but to you, it is a month like any other – with the added abstention from food and drink. It might be that you have to take care of your family, and so have no time to do those things that make Ramadan so special to other people. It could be that you have work, and so cannot focus on connecting to His book. Or it could just be that your mind is distracted because of your studies and essays, and so even when you do manage to pray the night prayers, you are thinking about the paper that you have to submit.
It is frustrating. And this makes us want to give up on Ramadan altogether – barely any taraweeh, Qur’an or any of those things that make Ramadan so special. Could you be the person described in the hadith (tradition) of the Prophet ﷺ:
“Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness” (Darimi).
If we think that our Ramadan does not matter because we cannot do all that we hoped for, or all that other people are doing, we have misunderstood God Himself. That hadith refers to people who do not even attempt to rectify their bad actions or do extra good.
God is so Generous that He rewards you for your intention. If you had big hopes in Ramadan but things got in the way, you are still rewarded for your sincere intentions. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that:
“Whosoever intended to perform a good deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and did perform it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds up to seven hundred fold, up to many times multiplied. ” (Bukhari)
This hadith applies outside of Ramadan, and we know everything is magnified in Ramadan, so imagine the appreciation and reward by God for your sincere intention.
Moreover, those few deeds that you do matter. The fact that you made the effort to read Qur’an for ten minutes before you were called to do something else is great in the Eyes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). We are told in countless sayings of the Prophet ﷺ that a person might give something little and be rewarded more than a person who gave a lot, simply because of the effort put in and the intention. God cares about the quality of your deed, not simply the quantity.
Also remember that tending to your responsibilities can be regarded as worship when your intention is in the right place. If you cannot change your actions, then change your intention. If you have work deadlines that prevent you from praying the night prayers, then make your intention the fulfillment of your responsibilities and of practicing ihsan (excellence), which we are commanded to do. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, Allah loves that when anyone of you does a job he should perfect it” (Bayhaqi). So when you work hard at your job trying to excel for the sake of God, that is something that Allah (swt) loves. If your children keep you away from reciting Qur’an, then intend that you are raising your children for Him, like the mother of Mary `alayhaa as-salaam (peace be upon her) when she said: “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Qur’an, 3:35) What was God’s response to her when she gave birth to Mary (as)?
“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner…” (Qur’an, 3:37)
And Mary (as) went on to be an example for all those believe (Qur’an, 66:11-12).
So your intention can magnify all of your deeds. It matters to Allah (swt).
Remember to make Ramadan beneficial for you. It could be that you listen to a tafseer (explanation of Qur’an) podcast on your way to work, or read the Qur’an with translation when your kids are having a nap, or even steal some moments to make a sincere du`a’ (supplication) when you have a five minute break from your studies. Make this your Ramadan of charity, if you are able, and give more because you are busy. Use the time to work on your character. And be concerned about the quality of your deeds, not the quantity.
The best thing that you can do is talk to Allah (swt). Tell Him all of your intentions and how you were not able to fulfill them. Talk to God about your hopes and fears. Remember that He hears every word, even when it remains un-uttered in your heart.
All of that will be counted for you. And even if Ramadan is not all you hoped it would be, God the Generous will bless you more than you could have hoped, inshaAllah (God willing).
Limbs that are busy
(and still trying)