Ramadan Log Day 27: So Much Love

I don’t know if it’s the Ramadan-community spirit, but lately I have been finding myself surrounded by so many people for whom I have grown such a strong affection. Tonight was the last Tuesday iftar of the month. I remember the first week of Ramadan meeting so many of these people for the first time. I went there on somewhat unfamiliar grounds, gravitating towards the people who I knew from before. With each week, I put myself out there more and more, engaged with newer people and relied less on the comfort of the old. Now, alhamdulillah, today I found that I was able to bounce between different groups of people, socializing with people who I didn’t have a real relationship with just a month ago.

Through all of these iftars and events, I realized just how many amazing, beautiful, and friendly people I have in my life. Just before Ramadan I was having one of those moments where I get all distressed thinking I have no friends. I had been out of school for a while, and I’m not that great with keeping in touch with my school friends, so most of my social interaction had been just with family. However this month, I have made so many new connections, but also reconnected with a bunch of people who I did have all along but never realized were there.

I’m telling you, Ramadan is such a special time. It is such a special month for Muslims. You can see some random Hijabi on the street but feel an instant connection towards her because you know that you’re both in celebration. It’s really beautiful.

I come today again with a video instead of a quote. The highlight of my day yesterday was the Mecca snapstory on snapchat. For those of you who don’t have snapchat, it was basically a compilation of pictures and 10-second videos of different people on Umrah – and it was live. Throughout the day I was able to see images of people standing right in front of the Ka’bah, viewing it overhead from the different buildings, and seeing people praying and breaking fast all around the mosque in Mecca.

I have never been to Mecca, and I was just blown away by the videos I saw. I never realized how huge the Ka’bah is! Seeing people in lines praying all around it was so incredible. We all face the Ka’bah when we pray, but for me that’s just in a generic direction facing whatever wall is in front of me. It was so cool seeing people all facing the actual structure that we stand towards, surrounding it from all sides. I pray that inshaAllah God allows me to make a trip there one day.

If you didn’t get to see the video, thankfully people have uploaded it onto YouTube. Take a look. It’s pretty cool:


Ramadan Log Day 25: Qiyam Buddies

Here we go. Last five days. Final stretch.

You know Ramadan is almost over when it’s time to get Eid gifts together. Every year I get more and more excited to give gifts to my little cousins. Observing the chaos of wrapping paper, exclamations of excitement, and wonder in a child’s eye is always a joy every Eid. I can’t wait for this one.

So…I said I would be posting every other night, but for the past few nights, I have really been trying to dedicate my nights solely to worship and self-reflection. Blogging honestly just wasn’t on my mind.

It has been a really good past few days, alhamdulillah. My very best friend moved here from out of state, and through different iftars and events, I’ve been reconnecting with so many other old friends. I didn’t realize until this week that I have so many people who I only see during Ramadan. Last night, I went to my youth group’s annual Qiyam-ul-Layl, a night in which we spent entirely in worship and prayer, and was reunited with all of my Qiyam buddies. We have been doing these Qiyams for so many years now; even though we don’t see each other any other time of year, when we get together for these annual nights, it’s like nothing changed since we last saw each other.

I was just blown away at how many beautiful and genuine young women I am privileged to know. Last night, in our night of personal growth, I found so many sisters whom I can lean on for physical, emotional, and spiritual support. I was lamenting to one of my friends how I probably won’t be able to finish the entire Qur’an in the next five days, seeing as I have nearly a third still to go, however without any hesitation, she goes “It’s not that bad. You can do it!” It was just a few simple words, but it was enough to keep me from completely losing hope. And even if I don’t finish the whole Qur’an, that doesn’t mean I have to stop reading it once Ramadan is over.

I recommend everyone to try doing a Qiyam-ul-Layl at least once during Ramadan. It doesn’t even have to be a formal event. Get a couple of friends over, prepare snacks and plenty of water, plan out which prayers you will do throughout the night and what other forms of ibadah you want to cover, create a schedule, and go for it. This all can be done individually, but I personally find it much easier to push myself throughout the night when surrounded by others also pursuing their own personal goals. As I am learning with my Qur’an goal, it just takes a schedule, with the occasional push from a sister, to reach that Ramadan accomplishment.

*Quote of the Day*

In addition to praying and reading Qur’an, a large portion of last night was dedicated to listening to various female Muslim speakers, engaging us in discussion of how we can gain a closer relationship with God. One of the speakers, in talking about du’a, mentioned the story of Prophet Ibrahim and Hajar, his wife. When he was ordered by God to leave Hajar and their infant son alone in the desert, Hajar only needed to look at her husband’s expression to realize that he was acting on God’s orders. Seeing this, she said, as the speaker quoted, “He is not going to waste us,” referring to God. She had so much faith in God that the moment she realized her situation was due to God’s will, she knew that He was going to take care of them.

The point of the story, in relation to our discussion last night, was that when we make du’a and ask God for things, we should never doubt that he is going to hear and answer our prayers. Those are words I really needed to hear last night. In this stage of life where everything about my future seems uncertain, I needed that reminder. This quote first of all gave me much more of an appreciation of Hajar than I ever had before, and also helped ease my anxious heart. God always listens, and it is an insult to Him to think that He isn’t going to take care of us.

Ramadan Log DAY 21: Coping without Comfort Food

So…not gonna lie. I had a pretty crummy day.

Remember what I said a few days ago about not liking when my plans get messed up? Well, that was happening big time today. The internship search isn’t going in the direction that I want and deadlines are coming up that are making me very nervous. I am also trying to get a group of friends to go to an iftar event with me, but the coordination is complicated. There is a concert that I have been really wanting to go to, but (a) no one will go with me, and (b) tickets are crazy expensive, and I keep needing to convince myself that a concert is not where I should be spending that money.

I should be proud that I applied to three different positions today, but the responses I have gotten have either been nonexistent or unsatisfactory. And that is really weighing me down. I guess in the back of my mind I expected this all to go much more smoothly than is realistically possible.

In the midst of all of this mental turmoil, this thought, which I don’t know if I ever had before, came into my head: I just wish I wasn’t fasting. This would be so much easier if I wasn’t fasting. I would have a clear head. I wouldn’t be distracted by my grumbling tummy or dry lips or dehydrated headache. I wouldn’t feel weak all over. I would be filled. I would have strength. I could go make myself something warm to drink to make me feel better.

I already learned last year then I have less control over my emotions when I’m hungry. I feel more vulnerable. Once I get in that mode of self-victimization, it is so hard to get out when all the while I can feel how empty my stomach is.

Now today is over, and like I said before, tomorrow is a new day. But then I remember that it’s another day of fasting, another day of internship-searching, another day that has gone by that I haven’t completed everything on my to-do list.

Maybe I’m just fatigued. I couldn’t sleep last night, so it could be the tiredness that is making me stuck in this tunnel-vision.

*Quote of the Day*

This is one positive that I am very happy about: I found a great quote. It isn’t from Companions; instead, I am quoting the one book that never fails to give me the perfect quotes: The Qur’an. You know, the first year I started blogging about Ramadan, I was reading through the English Qur’an and it took barely any effort to find a perfect quote each day. Last year and this year, I have moved on to history books, but nothing really beats the beauty of the Qur’an. My quote today, that my mom actually shared with me last night, is probably one of my favorite quotes ever.

Verily, it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find tranquility.” (Surah 13, ayah 28)

I think is my new motto in life.

Ramadan Log DAY 20: The Most Important Days

Okay. This is either a test or a gift. Or both.

My favorite favorite favorite music group just released the teasers for their next music video and album. The gift: It is being released on Eid. Literally, the day after Ramadan ends, when I stop my music fast.

The test: Despite this news, I need to stay focused. There are only ten precious days left of Ramadan, the most precious days of the month, and I can’t waste them by watching teasers and obsessing online about this. I can’t let it distract me.

This is where the music fast really matters. I am so happy that I won’t be missing the release. Now that I know it is being released after Ramadan, I don’t really have to worry about it. Arguably, it should be easier for me to forget about K-pop and music because I know that inshaAllah I’ll have something that I’ve been anticipating all year waiting for me at the end of the month. But for that to truly be a gift, I need to soak up as many blessings and opportunities of worship as I can in this last week.

Because of this, I also have made the decision to only post on this blog every other night. We as Muslims believe one of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan is the night of Laylat-ul Qadr. It is believed this night is “better than a thousand months,” meaning that any good deeds and acts of ibadah done on this night are multiplied as if they had been repeated for over a thousand months. Worship is highly emphasized during these nights. Tonight is the night of the 21st, so this would actually be one of those nights. Since posting on this blog does actually take time away that I could use in worship, I’ve decided to blog only on the even nights, so that I can really make the most of these final nights.

While this blog really helps me stay motivated and means a lot to me, if I really want to keep my intentions with everything pure, I wouldn’t sacrifice time to pray by blogging about how important prayer is.

So, I will still have a post up tomorrow night, but after that I will only post every other night. I pray that you all also find opportunities to make the most of these final blessed days of Ramadan, inshaAllah.

Ramadan Log DAY 19: Forgetting to Cherish It

Graduating is such an odd thing. So far, I have had three graduations in my life: elementary school, middle school, and high school. Graduation for most people is a time of excitement and celebration, however for me it has always been more bittersweet and sad than happy. While others find excitement in anticipating new experiences in the next stages of their lives, I find comfort in familiarity. I remember being so sad during my final week of high school, to the point where I was almost in tears, at the thought of leaving my friends and the halls of my school that were filled with so many memories. I was afraid of college back then, and high school was all I knew.

Now I am getting close to my college graduation, and I’m not quite sure what I feel. I hadn’t really thought about it at all until today, when I finally stepped back on my university campus for the first time in months. Walking around campus and realizing that in less than a year, those buildings won’t be my school anymore, was surreal.

We were having somewhat of a reunion iftar with a bunch of the other Muslim girls from my university, and as I was talking to them, I realized that in less than a year, I won’t be seeing them around anymore either. Quite a few of them I actually met for the first time today, and now it’s like I already have my foot out the door getting ready to say goodbye.

But I don’t feel that sadness that I felt when graduating high school. I’m sure it will come, but at the moment everything is just passing over me. I think the reason is that with college graduation, we are all so busy with testing and applying for post-graduate programs and looking for jobs that there isn’t any time to get sentimental. We are all so stressed out that we don’t have any more room to get emotionally sad.

I remember how excited all of the seniors last year were about graduating, but it still hasn’t hit me yet that I will be one of them very shortly.

Yeah, it’s not Ramadan-related at all, but that’s just what I was thinking about today. Everyone I know is growing up so fast and our lives are changing so much. Sometimes I worry that I am going to be so caught up in everyone else’s changes that I will forget to keep up with my own life.

So…no quote today. My Companions chapter was really short and to be quite honest I was too tired to try to figure out how to talk about it in an inspiring way. Instead, I come today with a video. It’s short, only a little over 3 minutes, but it serves as a reminder of how important it is for families to pray together during Ramadan. Ramadan is the only month throughout the year that my family prays Fajr and Maghrib together in congregation every single day. I remember on the first day of Ramadan, I knew it was Ramadan when I heard my dad reciting Qur’an as he led my family in Maghrib prayer.

This year, for the first time ever, we have started praying Taraweeh prayers together every night. I am so happy that we are doing this. As my sister and I have gotten older and we are all separating to do our own things, praying in Ramadan is one of the only things that we all consistently do together as a family. Standing in prayer behind my dad is one of those Ramadan memories that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life, inshaAllah.

“The family that prays together stays together and the family that fasts together lasts together.” 🙂

Ramadan Log DAY 18: Let It Be

Don’t let it get to me. Don’t let it get to me. Don’t let it get to me.

I found out today that multiple plans of mine are not working out the way I had expected, and I am trying really hard not to let it get to me. Usually I am a pretty easygoing person. When I am in the thick of things and something unexpected happens, I can adapt to the situation and work it out. However when it is in the planning stages of whatever I am doing and it looks like things will not work out the way I had been expecting, I get really stressed out. It’s the anticipation. I need to mentally prepare myself for things, and when that mental preparation gets interrupted, the disruption weighs me down.

But I have to keep reminding myself that God has a plan. He always has a plan and he will never put me through anything I can’t handle. So much of this life is just faith. Faith and trust in God. Thus far this hasn’t led me into trouble, so I have no reason to doubt Him. In these situations, I just take a deep breath and let God do his work.

Aside from that, I had a really nice day with some of my favorite people. In the afternoon we went to a food-packing event where we put lunch and gift bags together for the less fortunate, then we ended the day with a family iftar with my cousins. Pretty much an ideal Ramadan day, alhamdulillah. I can’t believe we’re getting close to the final ten days. If feels like Ramadan just started last week.

*Quote of the Day*

Today I was able to match a name with a story! Many of us are familiar with the Qur’anic verse: “He frowned and turned away when the blind man approached him,” taken from Surah 80, in reference to a time when Prophet Muhammad (S) frowned at a blind man who was asking him about Islam. (For those who aren’t familiar with the story, after this incident, verses were revealed in the Qur’an rebuking the Messenger (S) for his actions.) The man’s name was ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum.

My quote for today showcases one of the things I love about Islam. With all of the rules and requirements, there is nearly always an alternative way of fulfilling God’s command for people in different living situations. Abdullah was blind, thus couldn’t lead as active of a life as the other Muslims. When the verses emphasizing the reward of Jihad were revealed, he prayed for God to reveal instructions for how the disabled can also receive reward. In response to this prayer, the following verse was revealed:

Not equal are those who remain inactive among the believers, except those who possess disabilities, and those who strive and fight in the way of God with their wealth and their persons…” (Hamid 145, quoting 4:95 of the Qur’an).

He really is a God for all people of all times 🙂 Sometimes, knowing that there is a being out there watching each and every one of us, taking care of us, and acting above human greed and selfishness can be the most comforting thought in the world.

Ramadan Log DAY 17: In Celebration

As I listen to my neighbors light firework after firework, I have to remind myself that this is a holiday. Yes, they have been lighting fireworks and firecrackers seemingly since Fajr this morning right outside my window, but every time I feel that wave of irritation at the disruptive noise, I have to stop and remember how indescribably fun that was way back when.

In an interview for a project of one of my friends last semester, she asked me what comes to mind when I think of my American identity. My first thought was the Fourth of July. The smell of barbeques emanating from every other house. Red, white, and blue everywhere. Watching the colorful explosions in the sky with my family. Going out for ice cream afterwards. I love these federal holidays because they are the one time that everyone is celebrating. We all may have differences that divide us from all factors in life, but the one thing I have in common with every one of my neighbors in all directions is that today we are all in celebration of America’s declaration as an independent state today. Regardless of your political views or what kind of humanitarian crises are going on in our country, today is the day that commemorates the events that led to our being able to call this land the United States and call ourselves American and for that to mean something.

I have so many fond memories of going to see the fireworks, from being a little kid running around with my sister to being an older kid showing my younger cousins the thrill of the show in the sky. Last year we made last-minute plans to go with my mom and her cousin, but before that, the last time I had gone to watch the fireworks was four years ago. We went with my grandma, who passed away only five months later, which makes that memory extra special to me.

All this talk of fireworks, and I didn’t even go this year. None of my cousins live close enough anymore for us to go together, and I’m not sure why I didn’t push my friends more into going with me. Maybe we’re getting too old? Although I would argue that you’re never too old to feel the wonder of fireworks.

In all honesty, I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about fireworks today. So far this month, today was my hardest fasting day. It got to a point where my hands were shaking and I was just getting antsy waiting to eat. I knew it would happen too. This morning at suhoor I just wasn’t feeling it and ate only one piece of chicken and some water. I knew I would regret it, but at the time I was too tired to care.

For some reason, when it gets to that point where the hunger just gets to me, I find that the only thing that makes me feel better and takes my mind off the hunger is cooking. Ironic, I know, but it works. The moment I started cooking dinner, I felt better. It’s almost as if I am giving my mind the illusion that food is coming, so the hunger doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

*Quote of the Day*

Today’s Sahaba is Abu Dharr al-Ghifari. Fun fact: He was the first person with which the Messenger (S) exchanged salaam, the Islamic greeting. It was actually Abu Dharr who initiated it.

The quote I chose to share shows just how much people like Abu Dharr had their eyes not on this life, but in the Hereafter:

Once a man visited him and began looking at the contents of his house but found it quite bare. He asked Abu Dharr:

‘Where are your possessions?’

‘We have a house yonder (meaning the Hereafter),’ said Abu Dharr, ‘to which we send the best of our possessions'” (Hamid 131).

I like this. It’s not “We are focusing on the Hereafter;” it’s “We have a house in the Hereafter.” This isn’t the life we should be investing in. It’s the afterlife. In heaven, inshaAllah.

Before I end, I have to explain my picture! So I was reading my Qur’an, and I got to Surat Al-Hud, when I came across this phrase:

20150704_203109-1I actually had to pause my reading to try to figure out how to properly pronounce it. In Arabic, I finally figured it reads “Umam-mimm-mimamm-ma’aka.” I have an idea of what it might mean, but in fear of spreading false information, I’ll keep my guesses to myself.

Sometimes in the Qur’an you get these tongue-twisters that really force you to slow down and focus on what you’re reading.