What started out as a very lazy day ended up being one of my most productive evenings so far this Ramadan! I went to an interfaith iftar at my mosque and had a surprisingly great experience. My relationship with my mosque has been a dynamic one (There are a lot of ups and downs), but alhamdulillah over the past ten years, the love has outweighed the dislike. 🙂
My grandma always asks me to attend these things with her and help her set up before and clean up after the events, and I only actually agree to help her maybe 1 in every 4 times she asks (which I’m realizing now is pretty terrible of me). I’m learning this Ramadan that being out of the house actually makes the fasts easier, and it’s Ramadan so helping her out would mean so much more, so I decided to help her. Since it was an interfaith event, I brought one of my non-Muslim friends with me.
I am so glad I brought this friend with me. Out of all my non-Muslim friends, she probably knows the most about Islam because we talk about it a lot, so it was really special to be able to show her my mosque. Like I said, I have had so many emotional ups and downs with this mosque, but as I was showing her around and reliving all of my childhood experiences for her, I realized that even though it can be dirty and smelly and the people don’t always speak the best English and women issues don’t always seem to be given equal importance to that of the men, I grew up in that mosque and I honestly consider it part of my home. My grandparents worked at the Da’wah center next door so I’ve been around there a lot. We go there every Eid, every summer for summer camps, for weddings and funerals, and for volunteering. As I was giving my friend an informal tour, I flashed back to running around the mosque with my cousins, sneaking into rooms and spaces we knew we shouldn’t be in, eating countless iftars with members of our community, praying all sorts of prayers while having all sorts of emotions, all in that same mosque. Looking back, I have really good memories of that place and I’m glad I got to share such an important part of my life with one of my closest friends.
I love doing these special things for iftar, but I will admit that it does get difficult to keep up with the Qur’an reading when I have somewhere to go in the evening. I had to very strategically time when I was going to pray each prayer so that I would have enough time to pray and read my pages of Qur’an afterwards as well as find time for the English reading in the few hours between when I woke up (which was really late. I went to sleep last night AFTER Suhoor 😦 ) and when I left for the mosque. Today I got to Surah 44 (Ad-Dukhan, or “The Smoke”) in the English Qur’an and I found a portion that I could directly relate to. Ayahs 38-39 say “And We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all between them, just as (an idle) play. We did not create them except for true (and noble) ends.”
I have never had a problem with the idea of predestination and free-will coexisting, because in my mind it makes perfect sense that we act in our own free will but God knows exactly what that will will be and that he allows it to happen, but the one question in my mind has always been why? Why would God create this world that he controls and where already knows the outcome of everything before it even happens? When I get questions like this in my mind, I always think “Allahu ‘Alam (God knows best). He knows everything and has a reason for everything. This is something that I don’t have to understand.” These ayahs I read today express that same sentiment. It’s not just a game. There is a real reason for everything, for our creation, and for the way things are. We just don’t understand. We didn’t create this world, so we don’t have to understand everything about it, and that’s okay.
*IFTAR PICTURE OF THE DAY*
Biryani, Vegetable Salan, and Pita Bread provided by the mosque. (I came too late to get any of my beloved samosas 😦 )