Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I have been through Ramadan while pregnant, throwing up, and struggling with thoughts about killing myself.
I have been through Ramadan breastfeeding, sleep-deprived, and utterly isolated from family and friends.
I have been through Ramadan in a uniquely poly situation, wondering how it was that I managed to survive not just the hunger and thirst, but the emotional roller coaster that felt more exhausting than the five kids, late hours, and the scramble to complete my khatmah on time.
Each year, I nursed different wounds, sought healing for old scars, and found solace in solitude in the middle of the night.
Each year, I thought that my circumstances were too much, too difficult, that I wouldn't be able to get through the month without utter failure.
Each year, my Lord blessed me with a heart that was just slightly softer, a mind just slightly wiser, and a soul just slightly more conscious of Him.
This year, I am more privileged than ever - the kids are no longer homeschooled, I have immediate family nearby, I have work hours that accommodate my schedule, and there are over 18 hours of daylight in which to accomplish all that I had set as my Ramadan goals.
And yet... and yet, halfway through Ramadan, I have already failed, and there is no one and nothing to blame except myself. In a month of self-accountability, I have held myself to shamefully low standards and made excuses for my poor commitment.
My personal faults have become painfully clearer, my weaknesses more obvious, my struggles more embarrassingly simplistic and yet feel emotionally insurmountable.
The inspirational quotes and posts are all over Muslim social media, and they are indeed excellent reminders. They are encouragement to those of us lagging behind, a gentle push to remember that the month isn't over yet, that we still have time to change, to get better, to earn the Pleasure of the Most Merciful.
Nonetheless, it is difficult... as it should be. Ramadan strips us of our pretenses and shows us who we really are, in times of difficulty, in times of ease, in times of mediocrity.
The test lies not in hunger or thirst or desire, but in discovering who we are each year. We who may have emerged strong in times of crisis may find ourselves slipping in times of leisure. It is not enough for us to rest on the laurels of past trials, to depend on mere belief as the means of passing the litmus test of true faith and character.
The test is renewed each year to match who *we* are each year. We believe, but we must also show the depth of how our belief translates to action, to character, and ultimately, to who we will choose to be... for the rest of Ramadan and after.
{Alif, Laam, Meem.
Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried?
But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.} (Quran 29:2)

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