By Aisha Shahnaz
It is drizzling outside and the raindrops gently fall against my window. Though it is raining, the sunlight has remained undiminished during the downpour, leaving an ethereal landscape that is caught temporarily between sunlight and rain. God’s mercy pours down upon us this Ramadan, this month caught somewhere between who we were before it came, and who we will be after it leaves, this month, fostering contemplation and compassion, while quenching thirsty hearts across the globe. How blessed we are to have been granted this opportunity once again, to be in the midst of such a long awaited and beloved realm of worship, reflection, and renewal.
This Ramadan, many of us have been fervently shaken by the plights of our sisters and brothers, in humanity and in Islam, who are facing severe and unexplainable oppression, discrimination, poverty, famine, and injustice. A picture of a beautiful toddler fills my computer screen and my heart overflows with a sense of helplessness. I cannot help but cry. ‘Darling baby brother, why wasn’t I able to save you? Why wasn’t I there to wrap my arms around you and shield you from harm? I reel inside from the pain of having lost your precious smile, and the smiles of so many pure souls.’ I search for something to quell the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy—something to rein in the turmoil—and then I remember three words we hear with every call to prayer, three words we say every time we pray, three words that every atom of the universe testifies to, three words spoken so eloquently by our Imam at a janazah (funeral prayer) in our community some years ago. Three words that bring stillness to our souls and cause our anguish to transform with renewed purpose. Three words: Allah is Greater.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) is Most Great, and acknowledging this, means recognizing that He is truly Greater than everything. He is Greater than our anguish. He is Greater than our fears. He is Greater than our sense of helplessness. He is Greater than our inadequate attempts to make sense of the world. His plan is Greater. His knowledge is Greater. His promise is Greater.
Let us use this last Ramadan day to do whatever is in our capacity. Let us pray, make du`a’ (supplication) with sincerity, reflect upon the Qur’an and its relevance, and donate our time, money, and effort to make serious changes for a more just and peaceful world. Let us excavate pathways to the hearts we own, and glean treasures of love and renewal along the way. Let us shed the bitterness and cynicism we have held onto for so long, and realize there are so many more important things to attend to. Most of all though, let us acknowledge with the very depths of our beings that indeed: Allah is Greater. Only then can we truly clear away the clutter that has filled our lives until this Ramadan, and return with humility to the One who is Most Great, and Greater than everything.
May Allah (swt) help all those who are suffering and oppressed, and alleviate their burden. May Allah (swt) help all those who holding onto their last threads of hope, and enable us to assist them to the best of our abilities. May Allah (swt) bless the aunty who shares her prayer rug, the uncle who passes out plates for iftaar (breakfast), the children who fall asleep on the masjid carpet, the donators and the volunteers, the hufaaz (people who memorized the Qur’an) and imams, with their recitations and supplications swirling up towards the masaajid (mosques) ceilings, the believers who entreat and shed tears of gratitude in solitude, and the rows of worshippers standing shoulder to shoulder in congregation, with the moonlight spilling through the window, late into the night.
The rain has diminished outside and the water droplets left on my window from the brief shower sparkle in the sunlight, like believers that glow with renewed purpose after being showered by Allah’s mercy in Ramadan. How blessed to have this beloved month. How blessed to be a part of this amazing, indescribable ummah (community). How blessed to know: Allah is Greater.