Ramadan Log Day 25: The Luxuries

My week off from school was the breath of fresh air I needed during what felt like a month of being pushed and pushed and pushed.

It finally felt like Ramadan. Without the demands of class work, I took the week to get back to projects I had postponed for months.

One of them is actually something I started last Ramadan. During my time of the month last year, I switched from reading Qur’an to going through a dua book my mom lent me for the week. I found so many prayers, for every moment of life you could think of, and decided to write some choice duas on paper decorated with henna-inspired borders and then hang them on my wall. The goal was to fill a whole wall with these dua notes, but I only managed to finish two last year. There are 28 duas in total that I wanted to include. I got eight done last year, and transcribed seven more this week.

It was nice to get something done that served both as a decoration for my room and a way for me to keep prayer more present in my life. I even had a crazy subhanallah moment. I was just getting started on the page dedicated to duas for when it rains and just at that moment, it started thunderstorming for the first time all day.

.سبحان الله

As much as I really wanted to fill the air with music as I worked, I opted for peaceful silence as I carved each Arabic letter into the paper. I’ll admit, while it was nice to have a chill week, I really missed my music and entertainment. For those who are new – in addition to fasting from food, I also take the month to fast from listening to music and watching TV/youtube. I have a couple of exceptions, like Sid and Dina or Trevor Noah, but in general the fast from music-related content is a significant struggle for me. In the past week, the season finale of one of my Korean shows aired and it killed me to see people online talking about it and knowing that I would have to wait a few more weeks to watch it.

.الحمد لله

Alas, my time off is coming to an end with Summer classes picking up this week.  While I am excited to be starting the next stage of my learning, I wish it could have waited just one more week so that I could fully soak up the last five days of Ramadan. I’ve only  gotten to Surah Nisaa’ in the Qur’an (page 77 out of 600), and I probably won’t have time to get much further with class starting.

Sometimes that resentment creeps in towards having to be in school or work and not be able to just stay home and be one with my past Ramadan habits, but then I remember those moms who chase around kids 24/7 or those people who work 12 hours a day just to be able to afford iftar for their families. I had the luxury the past couple years to have basically the entire fasting day to do as I pleased. Most people don’t have that.

I frequently need to remind myself that I am not abandoning remembrance of Allah when I leave the house. I have the ability to bring Him into my work. It’s all just a matter of mindset, and learning to see my work as another way of loving and praising God.

.الله أكبر

#AtoZChallenge Day 23: Wanting Too Much

W is for Wanting

W

Over the past few months, I’ve come to an odd realization:

I don’t think I know how to really want something.

I don’t know if I ever have in my post-puberty life.

Because I’ve learned that I need to be okay with not getting everything I want in this life. I need to be okay with loss and disappointment. I need to detach myself from this world and put more focus on the hereafter.

In the process of training myself to do that, I’ve also trained myself to just not want things very strongly so as to avoid disappointment and overattachment to this world.

Now I feel it has become a problem, because now it’s hard for me to pray for things. How can you sincerely ask God for something when you don’t intensely want it? There’s a fine line between trusting God to give you what you pray for and being okay with not getting it. And in trying to navigate where that line is, my duas have felt fake and insincere.

I noticed this when I was applying for graduate school. I realized last summer that as much as I grumble about continuing school, I did really want to go to grad school. And there was a specific program in a specific school that I had been wanting to get into for virtually all of undergrad.

So this past winter, when it came time to fill out the application and then go for the interview, I had to revisit that idea of really wanting to go to the school. As I visited the campus and talked to some of the current students, I realizes that I really wanted to get in to this program.

When it came time to tell the school why I wanted to go there, and then tell God the same thing in my duas afterwards, I was at such a loss of how much I should allow myself want this. It was my top school, but it was also competitive and I had already been rejected from there once before. If I was really relying on God, I would allow myself to be okay with not getting into the program.

But if I didn’t allow myself to feel that desire, how could I take the interview and my subsequent duas seriously?

So I decided to allow myself to want it. I wanted to get into this program more than anything I have wanted in years. I allowed the feeling of desire and longing to fill my heart so that I could give my all in the interview and shed tears when praying to God to allow the interviewers to see the potential in me.

Alhamdulillah, by the grace of God, I got in. I am finally enrolled in my dream program at my dream school. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.

But I still have my “wanting” problem. What if I hadn’t gotten in? Would it have been worth the disappointment to have wanted it so badly? Or was my wanting it and praying for it a way of relying on God that I hadn’t tried before, and He rewarded me for it?

I still don’t have the answers to these questions. I only have gratitude.

Ramadan Log DAY 20: The Famous Jugular Vein Ayah

We’re officially into the last ten days of Ramadan! It feels like day 15 was just yesterday…

So not exactly the best day ever today, but hey, sometimes there are good days and sometimes there are not so good days.  We just have to take it one day at a time.  I spent basically the whole day in my room, cleaning, on the computer, and reading.  I have rediscovered my love for Harry Potter this summer and have been passing the time very quickly rereading the series.  I just love the story and get so into it every time I read it.  I’ve also discovered a new youtuber! Her name is Amenakin.  She is a Muslim living in the UK and makes videos about Hijab and other “Muslim” topics.  I was watching a bunch of her videos today.  They are both entertaining and informative.  I just love the way she presents her ideas.  Very easy to relate to, mashaAllah.

I was very surprised at myself today when I read my Qur’an after Asr. My pre-iftar routine this month has been praying Asr, reading 4 pages of Arabic Qur’an, and reading 150 ayahs of the English Qur’an, which all takes about half an hour giving me around 15 minutes to prepare iftar.  Today, I started the whole thing as usual, but found myself finished with almost half an hour to spare until iftar.  It usually doesn’t go by that quickly, and the only explanation could be that I’m actually getting faster and more fluent at reading Arabic! I was reading Surah As-Saffat, which has really short ayahs, so that could have been why it went by so quickly, but it was a nice surah to read.  There weren’t very many unfamiliar words in the surah, and each ayah came off the tongue very comfortably.  It’s really interesting how that works.  I can often tell when reading the Arabic which surahs talk more about law even if I don’t understand it because the surah contains a lot more Arabic words that I’m not familiar with.  I remember Surah Nisaa’ was like that.

Today’s ayah of the day comes from Surah 50, Surah Qaf.  It is one I have heard many times before, but it brings me so much comfort that I have to share it.  Ayah 16 says “And indeed, We have created man, and we know what (evil) temptation his innermost self may bring to him: And We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.”  God is closer to us than our own veins.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knows not only what we do, but our desires and temptations.  I find this fact more comforting than intimidating.  Whenever I have a problem, it is so easy to turn to God because I know that he knows me inside and out.  He knows everything I keep hidden from the rest of the world, the thoughts that go through my head and the things I struggle with.  Who better to ask for help than the one who knows us best?  I’ve talked to friends who say it’s so weird for them to “talk” to God and make dua about their problems, but if you think of God as someone who knows you better than your parents or your best friend, it becomes so easy to just talk, let out your problems, and ask for help.  Since God knows us so well, he can give us the best help, most appropriate for ourselves and our own unique situations.

*IFTAR PICTURE OF THE DAY*

Day 20

Biryani and Chicken 65 from an Indian restaurant