Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Not every day or night of Ramadan is one of spiritual uplifting and glowing soulfulness. Sometimes we will be overcome by anger, frustration, resentfulness, despair; sometimes there will be good reason for it, sometimes they're more than the situation deserves, but either way, we will feel them. It's not all from Shaytan, necessarily - these are simply human emotions and realities that we are guaranteed to go through and be tested with.

It's easy to feel like we're 'failing' Ramadan because of it. It's easy to feel as though the day of fasting was wasted, that the night of prayer in the masjid was pointless, because our minds are still roiling and our hearts is still feeling heavy and it feels like our souls are pretty much doomed because, well, we suck.
I'm not going to give some warm fuzzy platitudes about how to feel warm and fuzzy. (I'm not particularly good at that kind of thing anyway.)

I'll be blunt: Ramadan is *meant* to be this way. It's not a month where we magically turn into angelic creatures; nor will all our bad habits (physical or mental) disappear; nor will our lives suddenly become easy.

To the contrary, everything becomes exponentially harder.
There's the obvious fact that we are trying to fast from ill speech and ill deeds in addition to physical needs, but there is also the fact that everything in our daily lives becomes suddenly highlighted and almost exaggerated - average things like food and drink are deeply appreciated, small annoyances become spectacularly aggravating... and our sorrows are felt more deeply, our character failings become more obvious, and our daily struggles become infinitely more difficult.

Many of us are praying Taraweeh in these blessed nights seeking reward from Allah, and a precious sense of peace and tranquility. But that sakeenah is not always - and not necessarily - the true goal of our worship.

Often, we don't realize that it is bringing ourselves to Allah with our negative emotions that is the real litmus test. He already knows us better than we know ourselves, but the challenge is in *us* trusting in Him - instead of turning to other human beings to vent our frustrations. So many times, our first instinct is to tell our best friends, or our parents, or our spouses (or Facebook) how upset we are, yet we forget that the only being capable of doing anything about it is the One in control of Divine Decree.

Whatever is happening in our lives, whatever we are feeling, it is because He has decreed it to occur - perhaps as a test, perhaps as a punishment, perhaps as something that will result in benefit for us in the future, perhaps as something that we don't realize is actually preventing us from a greater harm... and perhaps as a means of us growing closer to Him.

While we should certainly try to seek patience and contentment (and of course that ever-elusive yet ever-desired inner peace), we must remember that the Prophets, the Messengers, and the pious had their fair share of feeling restless and troubled. Their tests didn't disappear because of their prayer, yet they consistently turned to Allah with their distress.

As Ya'qub ('alayhissalaam) said:
{...I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah...} (Qur'an 12:86)
And what better time to complain to Allah than now?

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