Ramadan Log Day 29: Year One

We did it.

I did it.

We did it.

The weight of the sigh I let out today when I realized that we’re done was…heavy. This Ramadan was difficult. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. It was my first time fasting while working a full time job. First time going through this special month while living away from my family and community. Not the first time but one of the few times where I struggled to really feel connected to the blessings and spirituality of the month. And I think it was really the combination of those first two changes that led to the third. Spending so much of my day isolated in an demanding environment with no other Muslims took a lot of the excitement and passion out of me.

With that being said, I realize how unbelievably grateful I am to have grown up in such a spiritually enriching environment. I grew up in such a vibrant community with plenty of Muslim role models and friends who shared in all of the experiences with me. I grew up in a time and place where I was able to love Ramadan and feel changed and empowered each year. Ramadan has always been a spiritual refresher, and I am so grateful to have had the experiences in my childhood to make Ramadan that impactful for me. This year in this new place with only one other support figure (who’s GREAT by the way, don’t get me wrong) really challenged me to find all of that excitement and motivation solely within our little apartment. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been if I didn’t have that solid foundation to allow to me to get what I did out of this month.

Speaking of that one other support figure, we did it! We made it through our first Ramadan together! InshaAllah this is only the first of a lifetime to build traditions around this month, and I am really happy with what we were able to create this year. We started watching the Omar series, which reinvigorated both of our interest in Islamic history. My husband and I actually spent multiple car rides discussing Islamic history like we would discuss the plot of any other TV show, which is amazing considering I have never been a lover or even friendly acquaintance of history.

We also started a tradition that has been invaluable for me this month: going to Taraweeh. This should be no surprise to you all considering how much I’ve talked about it this month. Last night as the imam closed out Surat An-Naas, I was brought close to tears. Over these past 29 days, I listened to almost the entire Qur’an while standing in prayer alongside my brothers and sisters. During the dua following, I felt that familiar feeling of my heart being in prayer – for the first time this month. I am so grateful to have been able to leave Ramadan with that experience.

Ramadan aside, I also made it through the month of May. The month in which we had a huge project due at work unexpectedly dropped on us at the beginning of the month. And the month standing in between me and my fun-filled summer. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be visiting home for the first time in 6 months, engaging in a youth program I’ve been working on all year, watching one of my best friends get married, and celebrating all of the transitions happening in my family as we kids turn into little adults.

So that’s it. And I mean it, that’s it for Ramadan blogging for me for now. I’m getting to that point in my life where blogging is actually taking away from spending time living my life. There were times this month where I sat to write a post when I really should have been sleeping, praying, or reading Qur’an. And now my life is no longer just my own. I share it with another person. I’m not sitting in my room alone reflecting on every minute of my day anymore. I have someone living that life with me and reflecting with me. So I just don’t have the time or necessity to blog about that anymore.

This blog isn’t by any means done for good. Just the daily posts. 🙂 I’ll still have the occasional reflections and thoughts of being an “American Muslim” that are bound to come out of me.

Eid Mubarak everyone. We made it. Alhamdulillah.


*inshaAllah = “GOD-WILLING,” USUALLY SAID WHEN ONE IS REFERRING TO SOMETHING ONE INTENDS FOR THE FUTURE
*Taraweeh = SPECIFIC PRAYERS PRAYED AT NIGHT DURING RAMADAN
*Surat An-Naas = The last chapter of the Qur’an
*Imam = PERSON WHO LEADS THE PRAYER
*Qur’an = Islam’s holy book
*Dua = A verbal prayer to God
*Eid Mubarak = “Happy Eid”
*Alhamdulillah = “ALL PRAISE IS DUE TO GOD,” TYPICALLY SAID WHEN ONE IS THANKFUL
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Ramadan Log Day 27: It’s the Little Things

Okay, I cannot let this month go by without giving my masjid a proper shout out. They have just impressed over and over again this month with how thoughtful they are.

A lot of Muslims were on edge at the beginning of the month with the New Zealand massacre happening so soon before, and our masjid made it clear that safety was their priority. We’ve had police on site every night, and the president of our masjid has given multiple reminders regarding keeping things safe and taking suspicious activity seriously.

Parking is always a nightmare at the masjid, especially during a highly populated prayer, right? Not here. Sure, it was chaotic and ridiculous the ways people would double and illegally park their cars. After multiple reminders before the prayer for us to park in designated spots only, one night as we drove in there was a volunteer handing each car a sheet with the guidelines for parking and a number to call when your illegally parked car gets towed. I love that they take this seriously, and parking as been a breeze since then.

Then there is the issue with kids shouting and playing during the prayer. Our masjid has two different areas behind closed doors specifically for kids, with activities and space for them to run around so as not to disturb those praying. Instead of making a general announcement the first night, every single night that there is noise, they encourage parents (mothers and fathers!) to bring their kids to the babysitting areas.

All of these things are ways in which our masjid staff has made the prayer area a peaceful, tranquil space for Taraweeh. They even dim the lights during the prayer, which I never considered how much I would appreciate until this month. It’s great, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a masjid really take things like parking and security and noise seriously and make it known to the rest of the community that these things are taken seriously. It truly makes a difference in my sense of feeling safe, supported, and comfortable in my prayer space.

Things are not perfect, of course. There are still those kids who are loud enough to distract me but not loud enough for an announcement to be made. Or the people who check their phones on full brightness next to those who are trying to focus on their prayer. Or the bathrooms. *shudder* Why is keeping a masjid bathroom clean an issue at every single masjid I visit?

Anyway, this is where my patience is tested. Our masjid is great, and I am still always reminded of keeping my irritability and judgment in check. It’s been a daily struggle this month, but that’s what Ramadan is about, right? Discipline and self-control. And gratitude.


*Masjid = mosque
*Taraweeh = specific prayers prayed at night during Ramadan

Ramadan Log Day 25: The Emotional Experience

We only have five days left! It’s hard to believe that in less than a week is Eid. Less than a week until it won’t be Ramadan anymore. This month has been really long for me, but it also feels like the end is coming so soon!

I have two reflections from the past couple of days.

The first is how much I have grown to appreciate food and eating. It’s kind of obvious, with what we’re doing during Ramadan, but it really is true. I miss food. I miss coffee. I miss being able to have a snack at work or a hot drink to warm me up when my office feels too cold.

If I learned anything this month, it’s that I have no excuses when it comes to showing up and being present after Ramadan. My energy and attention span has been shot all month. I feel like when I have food in me, I’ll be able to do anything. I’ll have no excuses to zone out at work or procrastinate on my paperwork. I already feel motivated to be super productive once Ramadan is over, and also preemptively angry at my future self for wasting time and forgetting how blessed she is to have a full stomach.

Second reflection: Surat Al-Rahman. I finally got to this Surah on my Qur’an CD in the car and the Imam was also reciting it during Taraweeh tonight. It’s one of my favorite surahs to read, both in English and Arabic. I remember when I was going through the English Qur’an a few years ago I really loved the meaning of the surah. It’s also just fun to read because of the one ayah that repeats.

Today, I witnessed the beauty of listening to it. It really is powerful. I’m not fluent in Arabic, but I do know some words here and there from Arabic classes I’ve taken. From a poetry perspective, it’s powerful to have the one phrase “So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”  repeated over and over in between verses of all of Allah’s signs of power and miracle. And the imam tonight recited it so beautifully, mashaAllah. The way he recited it really felt like a story. There was a moment of climax, followed by the soft verses he recited before going into ruku. The pause in between Qur’an and the “Allahu Akbar” to signal the next step of the prayer was chilling. For the first time probably ever, I felt emotional simply from hearing how he recited the verses and thinking about what they meant.

I’m so grateful for this. Taraweeh has been the time where I felt the most spiritual all Ramadan. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve really been struggling this month, but Taraweeh has been that consistent place where I can feel connected to the spirit of the month.


*Surah = “chapter” of the Qur’an
*Qur’an = Islam’s holy book
*Taraweeh = specific prayers prayed at night during Ramadan
*Imam = person who leads the prayer
*mashaAllah = “God has willed,” typically said when one is expressing admiration of someone
*Ruku = the step of Islamic prayer right after the Qur’an recitation

 

Ramadan Log Day 23: Zzzzzz…

I don’t have a long post for you all today, because right now I just need to sleep.

Being a caring person doing service work can get exhausting. Compassion fatigue is such a real thing and I’m having a moment of it today. I also did not get enough sleep last night. I ate some yogurt that was probably expired and was kept up by my stomach 😦 You live and you learn.

Be kind to each other. Make sincere prayer. Trust in God.

Ramadan Log Day 21: Recharging

A three-day weekend is just what I needed to really get into the Ramadan spirit. Yesterday and today were great, alhamdulillah. Productive and energizing.

Yesterday was errand day, and we actually didn’t have that many groceries to get. Cooking in advance has really paid off; if I choose, I don’t have to cook at all this week for dinner because of all of the food I froze from my cooking earlier this month and the food sent by my mother-in-law. I still had that feeling of wanting some kind of change to the routine, so my husband and I went thrift-store shopping.

Thrift store shopping is amazing. We got a set of plates, a belt, a pair of shoes, a DVD of one of my favorite movies, and FOUR clothing items, all for about $40. Amazing.

We then went out to eat for iftar and dinner, for the first time this month actually. Afterwards, since it was the first odd night of the month, we stayed in for Taraweeh and did some Qur’an reading until bed. I ended up reading only 4 or 6 pages until I started dozing off, but at least it was something. Tomorrow I’ll start earlier on the ibadah, inshaAllah.

Then today we went to a zoo! For some reason, the child gene in me that has utter fascination with the zoo has lingered into my twenties, because I still love going to the zoo. When I get a chance to take a really good look at an animal, whether it’s in a documentary, a zoo, or a wildlife preserve, I realize how truly beautiful every single one is. It was our first time going to a zoo in this new state and also our first time going to a zoo together. It was a lot of fun.

Since that was a ton of walking on what has been the hottest day of the season so far, I pretty much parked myself in bed once we got home. Called a couple of family members, then called it a day.

The “mentorship opportunity” that I mentioned last time was postponed until next weekend, so I’ll have to update you all on that then.

So thus far, a great weekend. And it still continues tomorrow, which is such a great feeling. I really needed this. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day off of work and I think the fasting combined with the constant work has really been tiring me out mentally over the past couple of weeks. InshaAllah, I have hopes that this week will be better now that I have a chance to recharge.


*Alhamdulillah = “ALL PRAISE IS DUE TO GOD,” TYPICALLY SAID WHEN ONE IS THANKFUL
*Iftar = MEAL EATEN AFTER SUNSET
*Taraweeh = SPECIFIC PRAYERS PRAYED AT NIGHT DURING RAMADAN
*Qur’an = ISLAM’S HOLY BOOK
*Ibadah = ACT OF WORSHIP
*inshaAllah = “GOD-WILLING,” USUALLY SAID WHEN ONE IS REFERRING TO SOMETHING ONE INTENDS FOR THE FUTURE

 

Ramadan Log Day 19: More of the Same

It’s been a pretty peaceful past couple of days. I’ve just been chill, not letting anything get me too stressed out. We missed suhoor again today (big surprise), and my reactions to this just keep getting smaller and smaller. This stinks, we’ll try again tomorrow, moving on.

I think I’ve just gotten to the point of accepting that Ramadan is going to be difficult. I know, that’s supposed to be a given, but I don’t think I really internalized this until I had that meltdown a few days ago. This is why I had the reaction of an injustice done to me with each setback this month. I went into it trying everything I could to make it “not difficult,” when part of the nature of Ramadan is the struggle.

So these past couple of days, I’ve just been going with whatever comes to me. I even had what would normally be a pretty stressful thing happen at work today, but my level-headedness that I’ve been trying to embody for Ramadan actually helped me maintain professionalism in the face of this stressor.

I also was informed today that I’ll be able to take Eid off! So inshaAllah, we’ll be spending Eid with the in-laws. My husband and I have yet to spend an Eid with my family, but inshaAllah the time will come. Eid al-Adha looks like it may be on a weekend so that could be a possibility. We also just booked our plane tickets for our next trip back home, which makes me really happy. Like I said before, planning for the future really helps me get through the difficult moments in the present.

Another theme that’s been on my mind recently is mentorship. I’ve been having all of this inspiration of things I could do with the kids in my community to promote Islam to them. I will be participating in a youth program soon after Ramadan, and I’ve just been bombarded with all of these ideas of activities and topics for halaqas that I can have with the kids. I also unexpectedly encountered a mentorship opportunity here in my new masjid that will be taking place this weekend which I’m excited for. 

….

…Wow, I’m having complete writer’s block right now. Even after switching to every other day, my days feel monotonous. That’s really it. I’m still listening to Qur’an in the car. Qur’an at work has been slow, but that’s because half of the time I’m too tired to read and I just take a quick 15 minute nap instead. And then I’ve just been working, coming home, eating, taraweeh-ing, and sleeping.

Maybe next week I’ll start reading the Hadith book again. That habit completely fell off after the first week of Ramadan. That’ll give me something to write about, inshaAllah.


*Suhoor = MEAL EATEN BEFORE SUNRISE
*Eid = Islamic holiday
*inshaAllah = “GOD-WILLING,” USUALLY SAID WHEN ONE IS REFERRING TO SOMETHING ONE INTENDS FOR THE FUTURE.
*Eid Al-Adha = Islamic holiday, specifically in the 12th month in the Islamic calendar
*Halaqa = GATHERING OF MUSLIMS FOR A SPIRITUAL DISCUSSION
*Masjid = mosque
*Qur’an = ISLAM’S HOLY BOOK
*Taraweeh = SPECIFIC PRAYERS PRAYED AT NIGHT DURING RAMADAN
*Hadith = SAYINGS OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S)

Ramadan Log Day 17: Driving with the Windows Down

I am so allergic to the outside. I can’t count how many times I’ve sneezed over the past three days.

It’s definitely seasonal allergies because it is an almost instant reaction when I roll down the windows while I drive. I have never had allergies this bad before, and I’m realizing that it’s probably due to living in a new environment. Even though the climate is similar, the plant life may be different here, and this is my first Spring on the East Coast.

So, my summary of the past two days. I honestly don’t really remember what work was like yesterday. I had a particularly long day, and so I was really drained by the time I got home. We ended up doing Taraweeh by ourselves at home because we were both just so tired. Iftar was really good though. Mother-in-law sent us home with a bunch of food when we left their house on Sunday (thank you!) and last night we had some curry that she made. So. So. Good.

Then this morning happened. We missed suhoor. Again. For the third time this month. It was so frustrating too because we woke up just minutes after Fajr had started.

Surprisingly, the day wasn’t bad at all. I think part of it was my attitude, realizing that it just is what it is, and the other part was having had two days of fasting without suhoor under my belt and knowing that it is possible and I won’t die of hunger. I had a relatively busy day, which made the time go by faster.

I haven’t talked a whole lot about how my commutes have been this month. I have about a 40 minute commute to work, and I usually spend that time jamming to music or listening to some podcast. This month, I decided to forgo the entertainment and spend the time either in silence or listening to Qur’an. Midway through the month, I made the amendment that if I felt myself starting to get sleepy and threaten to fall asleep, I would put on one of my podcasts. I have one that involves themes of mental health, so I consider it “educational.”

Since the weather is getting warmer, I have been wanting to drive with the windows rolled down more often. I used to do that on my commutes home a couple of years ago during Ramadan, and I found it to be so peaceful. Today, I found myself interestingly reluctant to do so, and it was because I was listening to Qur’an. I was worried about how other people I drove past would react if they heard Arabic coming from my car.

I didn’t want to drive with my windows rolled down while listening to Qur’an because I didn’t want anyone around me to hear it and get scared. I’m not sure if I should feel sad, guilty, or angry about that.

So, in general things are looking up. I’m finally feeling comfortable with my routine. I’ve got enough food in my fridge and freezer to pretty much last us until the end of Ramadan. I’m hoping to be able to wake up for suhoor every night this month but if I don’t I know that I’ll be okay. And I’m starting to get inspired to start planning the upcoming events for after Ramadan. Alhamdulillah.


*Taraweeh = specific prayers prayed at night during Ramadan
*Iftar = meal eaten after sunset
*Suhoor = meal eaten before sunrise
*Fajr = the sunrise prayer
*Qur’an = Islam’s holy book
*Alhamdulillah = “All praise is due to God,” typically said when one is thankful