Alhamdulillah, we just completed Ramadan and I pray that Allah accepts from us all and allows us to have the blessing of another Ramadan. One of the signs of an accepted Ramadan is that we change for the better, even if that change is seemingly small, any change is a sign that we have used this month to become closer to Allah. It’s so important to take some time after Ramadan to reflect on yourself and this tremendous month we have experienced, to understand it for more than just leaving food for the day but to truly analyze the person we were when we started and finished the month, and what we will take with us from it. This month has passed as quickly as it began, but that doesn’t mean the change in our hearts has to. It’s beautiful how everyone experiences this month differently. Here are some meaningful moments and reflections this Ramadan from Rutgers’ MSA members.
“This Ramadan was genuinely one of the most difficult ones because it tested me on so many different levels. I remember clearly, on the first night of the last ten nights, I was debating if I should stay home or go to taraweeh because I had to get up early for work the next day with a long commute. Frankly, this has been my biggest dilemma all of Ramadan but I felt a lot more pressure in the last ten days to make better decisions. Anyway, I decided to go and rationalized it in my head by convincing myself I could sleep as much as I wanted when I came back. Honestly, I even ruled Tahajjud prayer out as a possibility because I didn’t think I was capable of functioning on three or four hours of sleep. But SubhanAllah, God has other plans for you that are much bigger than the ones you have for yourself. As I was standing in Taraweeh prayer that night, the Qari recited verse 9 of Surat al Munafiqun: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ ﴿٩ “O ye who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children distract you from remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers.” When I heard these ayah’s being recited so beautifully as a plead to the Muslim ummah, I felt like a fool for thinking I needed sleep more than I needed to take advantage of this holy month. I felt like God was telling me to not let the demands of this world take me away from His remembrance. It’s as if He was speaking directly to ME, for the sake of solving MY dilemma. That moment truly shook me. It was enough for me to attend both Taraweeh and Tahajjud prayer without worrying about my sleep. And trust me, those four hours of sleep I got felt the same as the eight hours of sleep I normally get because they were blessed. More importantly, I realized that I was capable of so much more than I imagined but that regardless of my strength, I always need to be in remembrance of God.”
“Allah says in Surah Al-Hujurat, “Oh mankind, we have created into male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another”. It’s one thing to hear this verse and it’s another to actually get to see it and experience it. Alhamdulillah, this Ramadan I had the privilege to visit about 30 different communities and through that, this verse truly came to life. Every community is different and unique in its own way, but sometimes we only focus on the negative differences between one another and I did that too. When I went to some communities, my mind only pointed out the negatives. I saw everything that was wrong and I failed to find the good in that community. Looking back at it now, for every negative there was at least 10 positives to each place. Each community had something unique to it and something that overtook all the negatives it had. Whether it was the hospitality, generosity, kindness, spirituality, etc. So, if we truly change the way we observe the people around us, it will not only change our interactions with them, but our own character as well. And Allah ends that ayah by saying, “Truly, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah are those who are most righteous. Indeed, Allah is all-knowing and acquainted.” So, wouldn’t we become the most righteous by finding the good in each person we meet and including that quality in our character?”
“Ramadan begins as the most exciting time of the year for spiritual renewal. Similar to a New Year’s Resolution, everyone comes with their list of 10 things they want to fix in themselves. We hold on to these goals and give ourselves 29 to 30 days to form new habits and break old ones. But even with all the barakah (blessings) and khair (goodness) flowing through the veins of Ramadan, in order to achieve these goals I realized intentions are not enough. Wanting to read more Quran everyday, listen to more lectures, spend more time in the masjid, pray more and be more involved in the community have always been goals of mine but they have been vacant, devoid of the action needed to make these acts an integral part of my daily life. But this is what Ramadan is for, for taking those goals and putting them into action, realizing the past year has been good alhamdulilah but that I am the only person on this world who can make my new year great. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.'” (Sahih Bukhari) Allah (SWT) is there for those who call on Him and this Ramadan I hope to have created a path for myself to fall further into this deen and to turn my words into actions to turn my Islam into my lifestyle .”
“After the sun sets and the thirst is quenched, time passes and people start walking through the masjid doors, taking off their shoes and sitting down preparing for the last prayer of the day, sitting in clusters catching up with one another or by themselves doing dhikr and remembering their Lord. And when the imam whispers through the mic, “estawo” (line up) and everyone gets up standing foot to foot and shoulder to shoulder as if they have been trained repeatedly; waiting for him to utter Allahu Akber “God is Great”. For me, these moments of community in Ramadan highlights the goals I have for our Ummah. Packed mosques, leading youth, spaces for Muslim women, endless charity, children making memories in the houses of Allah, constant reminder of Allah, ongoing classes and the list goes on. Nothing warms my heart more than the congregation saying Ameen after the imam recites surah Al fatihah asking the Lord to guide us to the straight path and hearing children with high pitched yelling the word out of excitement with innocence beaming through. As much as it can be bothersome when a three years old girl hides between the abayas of women focused in prayer, she is standing with laughter and happiness on her face as the Quran is recited – this is a positive memory engraved in her mind about the masjid. Once upon a time I was one of them and I remember being yelled at few time for being loud but Ramadan was still the highlight of my year. For me, Ramadan was staying up late with friends in the masjid and playing without our parents’ supervision because they were busy with prayer. And year after year, I started joining my mom in prayer. Sometimes, I’d pray ‘isha and other times, I’d pray two rakats of taraweeh before heading back to continue what I’ve initially come for.”
“I always ponder upon a talk I listened to by Yasmin Mogahed, where she discusses the way we should be in this life. She says we should be in this life like a traveler. When we travel there is often many adjustments we have to make, like sharing a hotel room or not having all the amenities and comfort you may have at your home. But we know that our trip will only last a few more days, and so we are completely able to tolerate any discomfort we feel. In that nature, she explains that we should live like a traveler, tolerating our discomfort in life because we know that we are only travelers in the dunya, and that our comfort will be in the akhirah. This Ramadan was very difficult in terms of fasting, with the long days and heat, and dealing with personal problems. However, I was able to fast and handle the discomfort because I knew that Ramadan would be over soon, and I did not want to miss out. This reminded me of her talk, because it truly made me feel that the way I am in Ramadan should actually be the way I am in my life, no matter what the month. I felt like Ramadan was a way of Allah giving us a glimpse in to our strength, patience and the way we should take on the world, knowing that it’s going to one day end. In my perspective, a month is so much shorter than my lifespan, however in reality, life is not as long as we feel it is and we never even know when out last day on Earth is. We are able to handle Ramadan because we know that we can go back to our normal routines once the month is over, so we fast the day and we stay away from sins we would normally engage in and we stand the night in prayer, and before we know it, Ramadan has ended and we feel at ease because we can eat again. But maybe the determination, the effort, the intention and the mindset we have in Ramadan, should last us our whole life. This Ramadan, I was able to give up listening to music and replaced it with Quran. Whatever the opinion on music may be, I know for me it is something that takes me away from the Quran and interrupts my prayers while also influencing my actions. I didn’t mind ever listening to music, but I told myself I wouldn’t while I was fasting. I started off telling myself that it’s okay because after Ramadan I could listen again. Throughout Ramadan, I found that leaving music wasn’t as difficult as I thought and now I hope to continue this habit throughout my life and I tell myself it’s okay, because in Jannah iA I can listen again. If I can handle the discomfort of Ramadan and leaving my food and drink, I realized I can truly handle times of hardship because I am only a traveler in this world”