By Fatoma Rad
Another Ramadan has come and gone. I have always tried to make each Ramadan better than the one before, but this is the year that Ramadan came and made a lasting impression on me. You see, these two years have been filled with some trying times for me. Before this year, I could not recall the last time I looked forward to a Ramadan, or the last time I felt a change during a Ramadan. This year, I started to prepare myself before the month even started, I started being brutally honest with myself and sought help from all those around me.
As weird as it may sound, asking for help of any sort from someone is something really hard and new to me. It was around the second week of Ramadan I noticed the change in myself. I have been raised to put others before myself, and this a quality I am glad that I have and something that I hope to continue to have. It is easy to put a smile on my face and tell everyone I am okay no matter what I am going through. But the problem came when I did not know how to properly help myself. I noticed that my own soul was malnourished.
When I Felt That Allah No Longer Cared About Me
From the way people treated me, from the way people spoke down to me, and the way I let people make me feel, and most importantly, the way I spoke to myself, I felt completely empty inside. I was at a new level of low where I not only felt alone, but the hardest part was that I felt that Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), had left me and that Allah no longer cared about me. This is a feeling I pray that no one ever experiences. I spent so many nights and mornings in a daze trying to figure out how this happened to me. But one thing that I forgot is that this did not simply happen overnight.
Something that I wish was encouraged more while growing up is that Islam is a social religion. Humans are not supposed to be left by themselves, or to have to deal with everything on their own. This is something that took me a long time to learn and to accept—how to accept help, and let others in. I still have not fully come to terms with this, I am almost always on guard, and it takes a lot for me to let someone in. I will go out of my way to help others, let others know that I love and care for them, but letting others help me, take care of me —these are feelings that are still new to me. And it was when I finally took the steps to start asking for help, reaching out and opening up to those closest to me that I finally started to realize that I am actually not hopeless.
My Road to Healing
Before Ramadan began, I started opening up a lot to one of my closest friends—may Allah (swt) preserve our friendship and preserve the other in our lives to always help each other out, and may He grant her the best in this world and in the next, ameen (amen). We were talking about Ramadan approaching, and I was telling her how I really want this Ramadan to be different. It took a lot to have those conversations, and in a way, we were both hurting and helping each other by talking about our feelings. This allowed me to confront other people and open up and seek help through others as well.
I have been hurt by many people in this world, whether it was verbally, emotionally or even physically; but none of it measured up to the pain I felt when I thought Allah (swt) was no longer with me. This caused an actual physical pain in my heart that cannot be described. The pain was sharp, constant, and draining, and in the months before Ramadan, those closest to me noticed it and expressed their concerns. I began praying for this pain to go away, and somehow in the second week of Ramadan, for the first time in a long time, my heart was at peace. I was telling my friend how for the first time in a long time, I felt happy, and it was not a temporary happy feeling, it was a feeling of contentment. I felt content with everything and felt a sense of optimism that everything will be okay. All of the problems and fears that I had, and still have, somehow do not feel as scary. It was at this moment that I felt healed, as if the month of Ramadan healed all the heartache, took away all my worries, and put my anxiety to rest. But it was the words of my friend that brought tears to my eyes when she said:
“It makes you realize that all of our du`a’ (supplications) are actually answered.”
Subhan’Allah (Glory to God). I stopped and just sat at my desk at work and let it sink in. I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it on my wall by my desk. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be unto him) said:
“‘Any Muslim who supplicates to Allah in a du`a’ which contains no sin breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his du`a’ will be immediately answered, or it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)’ The Companions said, ‘So we will ask for more.’ He replied, ‘Allah is more [generous].’” (at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad)
I have known of this hadith (narration of the Prophet) my whole life. I have told this hadith to others. But it was at this moment that my friend pointed out to me how my du`a’ came true that this realization came at me full force, making me realize how I was so blinded by all the wrong in my life, that I failed to realize that Allah (swt) was surrounding me with blessings at all times.
Taking a Step Back and Understanding
My favorite ayah (verse) is:
“Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5)
Sometimes we have to take a step back to realize, that the tough moments in our lives, the bad moments in our lives, also have some good in them. Throughout these years, I noticed that when I felt alone, there would be strangers talking to me; randomly giving me words of encouragement, making me feel loved and sometimes these strangers would even hug me or give me a pat on the back. These tough moments, forced me to learn more about myself, to face the things that I have been running away from.
But it was something else that I learned from Ramadan, something that I should have tried harder to remember: The importance of community. Imam Khalid Latif once said, “The Companions were strong not because they were perfect but because when they fell they knew how to lift each other up.”
Who do you turn to when you can’t get up? Who are the people that help you up when you feel like you can no longer move? What do you do when you see someone hurting? Not physically hurt, but I mean when you see that pain and sorrow in their eyes, what do you do? Subhan’Allah, I have been blessed with strangers who have helped me up, sometimes physically helped me up, and it is their faces that have helped me through my darkest times. It is the individuals throughout that month who offered a hand, who sat next to me and made du`a’ with me, who patted me on the back and put an arm around me when they saw I needed to be physically held. This is the beauty of the deen (religion) that we need to see more of. This is the companionship and mercy that we need to keep with us not just in Ramadan, but throughout the year.
Ramadan this year healed me, from the moments I was able to talk and reflect with friends, community members and strangers, to the nights I felt my heart at ease and was able to talk to Allah (swt) as if He was right there in front of me. But I would like to ask you all, to keep the mercy, the love, the healing power of being a fellow brother/sister all year long. As someone who has benefitted so much from others, I would like to ask you all to please always be there for one another, and if you see someone who needs help, or just a smile, be there for them. Ibn Al-Qayyim radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) said:
“Perhaps you might be asleep while the doors of Heaven are knocking with tens of supplications for you, by a poor person you aided or a sad person you cheered up or a distressed person you brought relief to. Therefore, do not underestimate doing good at all.”
Let us all try to be the one who is the reason that someone else is smiling, the reason someone else has hope, the reason someone feels loved. I want to let you know that your kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. It is that kindness that has made a difference in my life and I pray I can learn to pass that hope, love and compassion on to someone else.
“O Allah, I seek refuge with You from anxiety and sorrow, and weakness and laziness, and miserliness and cowardice, and the burden of debts and the oppression by men.” (Bukhari)