Ramadan Log DAY 12: We All Have Those Moments

I knew one of these days was coming.

For whatever reason, maybe because I didn’t have enough water this morning, I was in a bad mood all day. Nothing particularly bad happened. I was just in one of those states where I was suddenly realizing all of the things I could be doing better, all of the things I still had to do that I didn’t want to do, and all of the shortcomings I had recently. As a result, I didn’t want to interact with anyone at all.

One of those days where literally everything annoys you. The sound my door makes when it opens and closes. That’s how bad it was.

It took so much self-control not to snap at every person who talked to me.

In an effort not to continue the several rants I went on today, both in my head and with my family members, I will keep this post short.

When it gets to this point where it doesn’t look like things are going to get better, I come to a realization: Today is over. I am done. I completed a chunk of my to-do list. I broke my fast. I prayed my prayers. I’m not exactly looking forward to all of the things I have to do tomorrow, but I’m done worrying about it today. Time to go to sleep and let this feeling naturally simmer away.

We all have those days. Sometimes we feel inspired and motivated and whole, and other times we just want to shut ourselves in our rooms and not talk to anyone. It happens. Life moves on.

*Quote of the Day*

I read of the conversion of Sa’id ibn ‘Amir today. After the Muslim victory at the Battle of Badr, the Quraysh executed Khubayb ibn ‘Adi, a Muslim, in revenge for their defeat. Sa’id, not yet a Muslim, witnessed this, and what he saw affected him for the rest of his life and ultimately led him to becoming a Muslim. Before being killed, Khubayb asked that the Quraysh allow him to pray a final prayer. After doing so, he insisted that his death would be worth keeping the Messenger (S) safe from the harm of the Quraysh.

“Khubayb, by his death, had taught Sa’id what he did not realize before – that real life was faith and conviction and struggle in the path of faith, even until death. He taught him also that faith which is deeply ingrained in a person works wonders and performs miracles. He taught him something else too – that the man who is loved by his companions with such love as Khubayb’s could only be a prophet with Divine support” (Hamid 97).

I love stories like these, when the Quraysh, in their elaborate demonstrations to try to steer people away from Islam, actually prove to their witnesses that Muhammad (S) really was right.

Ramadan Log DAY 11: The Suhoor Routine

I realized this morning that I almost never talk about suhoor, the pre-sunrise meal, on this blog. I guess by the time I sit down to write my daily reflections, all the way after dinner, I completely forget about my half-asleep experiences of the mornings. Nonetheless, suhoor is a pretty important part of Ramadan, considering fasting days are the only time anyone would ever wake up right before sunrise to eat.

The routine is always the same: around 40 minutes before sunrise, my dad goes around to all of our rooms waking us up. We groggily brush our teeth and make our way downstairs to eat a meal no one is awake enough to even be hungry for, especially considering we only finished dinner 5-6 hours before. We eat, have those frantic moments when time is almost up to chug our water, and then pray Fajr together and go back to sleep.

For years, pretty much since I started preparing food for myself, I have never had a solid suhoor plan. Every year I eat something different, and I just can’t seem to find that one go-to snack. When we were little my mom would make us French Toast, then we switched to macaroni and different pastas. We even tried the three dates and a glass of water one year, but I got so sick of dates by the end of the month that I just couldn’t do that again. Now that it’s up to me to feed myself, I get lost every year. I remember last year in particular, every single morning I would come into the kitchen completely at a loss of what I should eat.

It is such a struggle, because you want to eat something that will keep you satiated for the longest amount of time, but that isn’t so heavy that you go back to sleep with a bloated stomach. In recent years, even though we are fasting all day, I still try to stay as healthy as possible with my suhoors.

Alhamdulillah though, I think I finally found what I was looking for. For the majority of the month so far, I was having two scrambled eggs and a full water bottle as my suhoor, and in terms of keeping my hunger and thirst at bay, it worked pretty well. However, I have a pretty small stomach. Two eggs and that much water was a lot to ingest in just a half hour.

I was then reminded of the Prophetic saying of filling one-third of your stomach with food, one-third with water, and leaving one-third empty. We are taught not to overeat, so why do we push ourselves to make our stomachs as full as possible during Ramadan mornings?

My new routine, and I’ve only been doing this for the past couple of days so it’s too soon to tell if this will stick, is to have some kind of meat (this morning it was kheema πŸ™‚ ) with a little bit of bread and a bottle of water. Rather than try to eat until I am full, I’m going to try the eating only until you’re satisfied trick. I feel better when I go back to sleep, and since it’s a Prophetic practice, I have faith that God will see my efforts to imitate the Messenger (S) and make the fast bearable.

Being so tired that you feel sick, and trying to eat on top of that…sometimes, I think suhoor is the hardest part of fasting. You wouldn’t expect it, but it’s often true for me. However, every year I have to remind myself not to take suhoor for granted. It is truly a blessing that God allowed us a meal ahead of the fasting, and I need to always be thankful of that.

This post was about suhoor, but my picture above is actually from iftar today. If you were with me during last year’s Ramadan Log, you may have remembered me talking about my Sunday iftars with my Qur’an class. We have since taken a break from the weekly classes, but today we had a reunion iftar and it was probably one of the best iftars of the month for me. I love being with this group and I missed them all so much. It was so nice to finally be back together for a reminiscent iftar.

*Quote of the Day*

Today’s quote again is not from my Companions book. I am making good progress with the book, but some of the chapters are so short that I just can’t find any one thing summed up in a nice quote to share with you all. Instead, I have a message that I found on Facebook recently by Shaykh Omar Suleiman.

“It may be bad to ONLY come to the Masjid in β€ͺβ€ŽRamadan‬, but it’s worse to run someone away from a Masjid EVEN in Ramadan. Don’t be a hindrance to someone else trying to come close to Allah.”

Like I said yesterday, I have my issues with my local mosques. It is just too rare that mosques feel welcoming to younger people, and a lot of times women in particular. It is something that we as a community really need to work on. No matter who it is, unless they could be a harm to the people inside, we shouldn’t make people feel ostracized in a house of God. Prayer is an internal thing, and we shouldn’t be stopping people from trying to strengthen that connection or judging them for what they look like when they do it.

Ramadan Log DAY 10: An Introvert’s Joy

A third of our month is over and alhamdulillah I am ending today with nothing but smiles on my face. I had a long morning, full of errands and driving, but an exciting and productive evening.

In the evening and into the night, I volunteered at an Interfaith Iftar at my mosque, helping them set up, distribute dinner, and then clean up afterwards.

I was happy at finally being able to spend an iftar in my own mosque. As I have said in the past, I have a love-hate relationship with my mosque, as I’m sure many young adults do, but in the end my mosque is my mosque. Whatever issues I have with how it is run is at times forgotten when I enter the prayer area and am reminded of the countless prayers and janazas and weddings that were observed on that carpet. Nostalgia always gets to me.

After setting up the event room, I spent a good hour sitting in the prayer area and reading my Qur’an. Interestingly, my attention has much more endurance when reading Qur’an in the masjid versus my room where I am surrounded by distractions.

Being able to help as well as spend time in the masjid was nice, but what really made this such a positive experience were the people I met and the interactions I had. I am an introvert; always have been, probably always will be. I am very talkative with people I am comfortable with, but once I am in an unfamiliar situation, I close up, and the thought of any kind of new social interaction really intimidates me. Because of this, I struggle with making new friends, and even more with keeping them.

So, the reason for my happiness is none other than friendly interaction. I was surprised to be reunited with a couple of old friends as well as a group of kids whom I hold very close to my heart tonight. That alone made my night, but what put a perfect cherry on top was at the end of the night.

By a miracle of God, lo and behold, one of the people at this event worked at one of the places I have been considering for my internship. When I first heard about this place from a family member, I was hesitant about applying. However, the woman today described what they do at this place, and it subhanAllah fit almost exactly what I had been looking for as a location to begin this journey to a career. The moment the program was over, I all but ran up to her and introduced myself. Now I have an email address to contact and hopefully a good impression made. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Praise the Lord.

“Networking” has become one of those buzzwords that literally makes me cringe, so thank God that this opportunity presented itself.

Additionally, there were quite a few people at this event who I have seen around the community, but never formally met. In some miraculous spurt of bravery and friendliness, I approached these people and greeted them, in some cases even making a bit of conversation.

I realize this might not seem that impressive to others. So I talked to a few people, so what? However I just can’t help but feel so happy that I was able to do this. It isn’t so much that I am proud of myself or feel accomplished; I am just relieved and thankful that these opportunities arose and I was finally able to take advantage of them instead of watch yet another opportunity go by. Maybe I’m finally growing up.

*Quote of the Day*

Today I read about Abu Hurayrah. His name I have heard countless times before, because he is one of the most well-known transmitters of Hadith (sayings of Muhammad (S)). An interesting tidbit of knowledge: One of the reasons why he had so much to report about the Messenger (S) was because he had a brilliant memory, which he specifically prayed for once when in the company of the Messenger (S).

My book describes one of the practices of Abu Hurayrah, which I think is really beautiful:

Qiyam Ul-Layl – staying up for the night in prayer and devotion – was a regular practice of his family…He would stay up for a third of the night, his wife for another third and his daughter for a third. In this way, in the house of Abu Hurayrah no hour of the night would pass without ibadah, dhikr, and Salat” (Hamid 84).

Ramadan Log DAY 9: HIS Words

I made it to the masjid today πŸ™‚ I actually was not planning to go to the masjid at all today, but I was spending time at my aunt’s house and she wanted to take me. Alhamdulillah, thanks to her I was able to make a Jummah prayer during Ramadan!

The picture above is just part of the mess it was getting out of the parking lot. Every little space you can imagine in this parking lot was filled with a car. It was literally an obstacle course trying to leave.

After my aunt’s, my sister and I went to a sisters youth iftar. I was again looking forward to breaking my fast with my friends, as well as the lecture that was to take place right before iftar. The lecture was great. The speaker talked about how in all of life’s craziness and unexpectedness, the one thing that will always remain constant is God. No matter what happens, our Creator is the only being and concept that will always be.

This reminded me of an activity we did in one of my classes last semester involving certainty of the future. We were asked to imagine ourselves 10 minutes from that moment in class. I was able to do that pretty easily. We were then asked to imagine ourselves in 5 years, and then in 10 years. 5 years was near impossible for me, and 10 was a little bit easier, but still incredibly difficult. However, there was one aspect of my future self that I was able to picture with quite a bit of certainty. Who knows where my education, career, and family life will take me in the next 5 to 10 years, but the one thing I am near certain will be a part of me if God allows me to live that long is that I will still be Muslim and I will still pray to God, inshaAllah. He will always be my constant, and in facing impending graduation and the beginning of real adulthood, that thought is extremely comforting.

She also mentioned the importance of the Qur’an in Ramadan, which is also called the “Month of the Qur’an.” She put the life of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (S) into a whole new perspective for me today. When Prophet Muhammad (S) received revelation, his companions were so incredibly eager to hear each new piece of knowledge. When the Messenger (S) passed away, she mentioned one Sahaba who was crying in grief, not just for losing the beloved Messenger (S), but because the period of receiving words from God was over.

Just imagine it. In a world where existential crises are on everyone’s mind, where the big question in life is “Why are we here?” Here was a man who was literally talking to the Creator of the entire universe and receiving messages from him. The Creator. The companions would ask Muhammad (S) questions about life, and on certain occasions, God Himself would answer those questions through the Messenger (S). Imagine living with that around you. Imagine how amazing and life-changing that would be if it happened today.

When looking at the Qur’an from that perspective, I feel like people, myself most definitely included, take what the Qur’an is for granted. We always raise our hands to the sky asking “Why? What’s the point?! What am I supposed to do?” when God’s own answer is literally in the palm of our hand in the form of a book. As Muslims, we believe that the Qur’an is the literal word of God, conveyed to us through Muhammad ibn Abdallah (S). I think that is really profound.

*Quote of the Day*

My quote for today comes not from my Companions book. I had such a long day, so I didn’t have time to read my chapter. Instead I want to share something interesting, and chillingly true, that the speaker said today. In a discussion about not shying away from the concept of death:

“When we think about death, we feel alive, but when we forget death, we becomes lifeless.”

Ramadan Log DAY 8: The Coffee Family

I feel like all I did was read today. Read Qur’an, read my Companions book, read a book from the library that’s been collecting dust on my desk, read other random stories online. It was nice, but I spent basically my whole day in bed.

On the plus side, I did manage to fit some adult work in there! Resume is officially updated. πŸ™‚ This Ramadan is going to be my internal spiritual journey as well as my journey to an internship, inshaAllah.

I’ve noticed something funny about my family this Ramadan: we are totally a coffee family. We each have our own different hot drinks that we love, but in the end, we all like our coffee. Every night, after iftar and dinner, we each have been making our own special coffee drinks. I swear, my whole family is living off of decaf coffee this month.

I have to say though, I have really been missing my Starbucks. I hate saying out loud that I’m a Starbucks girl, but I guess I just have to face the truth. I was craving that Green Tea Latte like no other today.

So, books and coffee. Not much else to report. Today was pretty much a chill at home day. We could all use those every so often, especially during Ramadan.

*Quote of the Day*

Today’s quote actually goes along pretty well with yesterday’s. Today’s Sahaba and yesterday’s were both known for similar reasons. Today I read about Salim Mawla Abi Hudhayfah. Like Ubayy from yesterday, he was also among the people from whom the Messenger (S) encouraged the Muslims to learn Qur’an. He also was a man who held truth above all else. His description builds off of yesterday’s philosophy about keeping it real with your authority figures. The quote is taken from an occasion when Salim, who was formerly a slave, witnessed one of the Muslims, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, kill another Muslim.

“Salim did not look upon Khalid as an abject slave would look upon a powerful Makkan nobleman. Not at all. Islam had placed them on equal footing. It was justice and truth that had to be defended. He did not look upon him as a leader whose mistakes were to be covered up or justified but rather as an equal partner in carrying out a responsibility and obligation. Neither did he come out in opposition to Khalid out of prejudice or passion, but out of sincere advice and mutual self-criticism which Islam has hallowed” (Hamid 74).

This is how things should be done. When advice and constructive criticism is needed, give it and be prepared to receive it.

Ramadan Log DAY 7: Back in the Kitchen

I was in the kitchen again today! I’ve missed Ramadan iftar cooking. Interestingly, where others find it difficult to cook while fasting, I love it. Cooking good food just makes iftar that much more exciting. I make things that I like during Ramadan of course, but I also really like being able to provide iftar for others. Feeding a fasting person gives me a lot of internal happiness along with the spiritual reward.

Today’s recipe was brand new for me, and alhamdulillah it was pretty easy to make and turned out great! It is PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps. It’s basically ground chicken and onion in a lettuce wrap, and it tastes just like Chinese friend rice, but without the rice. πŸ˜› I am definitely going to me making this one again, inshaAllah. (Plus, it’s pretty healthy – and I think gluten-free? Just chicken and veggies.)

And the sisterly bond just keeps on growing. For the first time ever – or at least the first time in recent memory – my sister actually helped me make cook. We really worked on this one together. Now I am usually the control-freak type to prefer working on a dish by myself, but it was actually kind of nice working with her. I’m telling you, this is a Ramadan miracle from God that we have been getting along so well this month. Alhamdulillah.

Now that I am reminded of my Ramadan cooking adventures from previous years, I have a sudden urge to bust out some samosas tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

Today was not all happy cooking fun time though. I was having some major music withdrawals. My current favorite singer released his first ever single as a soloist yesterday and I am trying really hard not to listen to it and get sucked back in. I cheated a little bit with my YouTube ban and watched a short clip of a new episode of one of my shows. I’m trying. I’m trying.

*Quote of the Day*

Today’s Sahaba is Ubayy ibn K’ab. This is my first introduction to him, and so far I like him. During the Messenger’s (S) time and under the first few Khalifahs (the leaders after the death of Muhammad), he served as an adviser of sorts to the Muslims and the Muslim leaders. He was one of the few people who had the entire Qur’an memorized following the death of the Messenger (S). Despite this, he didn’t hold any high government positions in the Muslim State. There is a paragraph that describes how he dealt with political figures that I really want to share:

He was known to be especially critical of the excessively polite and sycophantic attitude of many Muslims to their governors which he felt brought ruin both to the governors and those under them. Ubayy for his part was always honest and frank in his dealings with persons in authority and feared no one but God. He acted as a sort of conscience to the Muslims” (Hamid 70).

I like this philosophy a lot. Advisers to people in government positions should not be yes-men. They should be honest, and actual resources instead of simple supporters. I am a big believer in respect, especially to elders and people in authority, but I also believe in holding truth and justice in higher importance. Good leaders need people to challenge them, to make them better leaders, and there needs to be people around to keep the leader in check.

I didn’t expect to get political, but those are just my two cents.

Ramadan Log DAY 6: Good Food, Better People

Ah, this is what I needed.

For some reason, this year hasn’t felt quite as much like Ramadan as previous years. I have definitely changed my behavior, but that feeling isn’t as strong as it usually is. I think a huge part is that it has been almost a week, and we only really had one family iftar. For the past two years, I have spent the first days fasting with my extended family. Two years ago my cousins were visiting from out of town. Last year we all broke our first fast together at our weekly Sunday Qur’an class. This year, every day except one has been just me, my sister, and my parents.

Of course I value spending a meal with my nuclear family very much, because I know several people who aren’t able to, but for me, part of Ramadan, and really every holiday and special time of year, is spending time with my extended family. My dad’s siblings. My mom’s cousins. Breaking fast surrounded by loved ones is something I cherish so much, and I have really missed that in this first week.

But alhamdulillah today I got it. The local da’wah center started a weekly Tuesday Iftar Series for the month of Ramadan, and today was the first session. I was able to have iftar with so many people I love. My aunts, my uncles, our family friends, and just other really good people from our community. I have always felt so out of place being one of the few kids at these events, but now I’m finally getting old enough where I can talk to all of these people as peers. And they are all such good people. There isn’t any other way to describe them. I reconnected with old loved ones, but also met several new people whom I can’t wait to see again next week, inshaAllah.

All communities have their issues and their moments, but here and there you find little pockets of beauty, and this group is one of them.

So… I don’t have a quote for you today, but I do have something else. In the spirit of talking about good people and kindness to those in need that I touched on a couple of days ago, I want to share a video I stumbled upon recently. Definitely one of those restoring faith in humanity videos. In what was supposed to be a staged social experiment video, this guy came across a man who exhibits the kindness and selflessness that I wish I had in myself and that our community of humanity could definitely use more of.