In our latest series of articles, Arta A. takes us on her journey through the blessed month of Ramadan with weekly diary entries. From sharing her reflections on this important occasion, to sharing practical tips in overcoming the challenges faced, stay tuned for her updates.
Alhamdullilah, I am officially unemployed.
The first time I truly began to understand what it meant to thank and praise Allah after something negative occurred in my life was in 2012 – a good 6 years ago. Not to delve too deeply into the what’s and how’s of the actual event, it took one off-hand conversation and a small incident to put things into perspective for me.
A week before that incident I had heard of a story that I do not recall in its entirety, a testament to my concentration levels, but the broad underpinning of it was that someone had missed a flight or a train, only to have learnt that the train had crashed and everyone on board had died. When that person missed the train, the anger, as we can all imagine, probably overwhelmed them and they would have been in a fit and rage for being late, for missing that all important meeting, for having to call the manager for the second time that week, ‘Sorry, I will be slightly late today’…only to find out a few hours later that they had been spared from a fatal crash. We all have stories which really leave a mark on us, and this is one of a few for me. I thought, subhan’Allah, to have something supposedly terrible or inconvenient happen to you, not knowing that in reality Allah is saving you from harm or maybe saving you for something better.
Maybe a week later I lost something I really desperately wanted (cue vague story I clearly will do my best to not give in-depth details about) and I sulked for maybe 5 seconds. I remembered that incident I had heard the previous week, and instantly rubbished the whole thing and began to think of scenarios where this could be Allah ﷻ protecting me from something tragic or saving me for something better. Not even an hour had passed before I landed something a hundred times better than what I had initially wanted. ‘Alhamdullilah’ has been sealed in my heart ever since – for the good and the bad in life, because:
Perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. [Al Baqarah – 2:216]
So, if you’ve been laid off, if you didn’t do as well on your exams as you thought you would, if that conditional offer from that specific university failed to come through, if that marriage proposal didn’t happen, or you experienced a loss of any kind – getting into the habit of feeling blessed and leaning on Allah ﷻ will most definitely bring you success. Say and believe in ‘Alhamdullilah’, and you will never ever be able to find anything similar or better – and you will realise there is no loss there.
So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. [Al Baqarah – 2:152]
So, all of the above come to the following. Again, I am unemployed, and Alhamdullilah because we are now in the last 10 days of Ramadan, and for the first time in three years I have been blessed with the opportunity to focus all of my time on making the most of observing Laylatul Qadr.
All the social media platforms, various blogs, and vlogs are full of ideas and advice on how to make the most of these last ten days to make sure we catch that all-important moment. So instead of repeating what is out there, I will link what I found most useful in my ideas below and instead focus this last segment on those who are not able to observe these ten last days as diligently as others.
Read more: Ramadan Diary #3: In remembrance of death
Throughout this Ramadan Diary series, I have focused mostly on sisters with heavy schedules, our beloved mothers, our heavily pregnant sisters (or new mothers), those with demanding and long-hour careers, and those still studying and taking exams. Guilt and unfulfillment have also been a reoccurring theme in these series – and they’re probably most prevalent now.
When Ramadan’s end is just around the corner we begin to ponder: “How much Quran have I read? Did I try hard enough to rid myself of that particular habit? Did I learn any new duas I can implement in my daily life? Have I really committed to not repeating that sin that I have not been able to shake off?” It’s almost like that moment before you enter an exam hall, and you think about how many hours you spent revising for that exam, and how many you spent procrastinating and scrolling through social media.
Although I am pleased to find myself in the situation I am currently in, I was never guilt ridden in the previous three years that I didn’t have the time to dedicate to these 10 last days that some of those around me had because of these evidences:
The Prophet SAW said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Imam Nawawi also said: “al-Qadi ‘Iyad said that this means He will forgive him if he seeks such, will accept his repentance if he repents, will answer him if he supplicates, and will suffice him if he asks for something. It is also said that it refers to having hope and longing for relief, and this is more correct.” [Al Minhaj Be Sharh Sahih Muslim]
What is important to always remember is that Allah ﷻ knows at all times what condition we are in, and the capacity we have to do the best that we can in the situations we are in – and it is important to believe the best of Him ﷻ in these times. If we can only muster a few hours here and there, because of obligations in the household or restrains due to work or to school, it will never be something that will be disregarded or degraded – so long as that which we are doing is done with sincerity.
Something I like to always go back on are Allah’s ﷻ names, and accepting and believing that Allah ﷻ is Al-Alim (All Knowing), Al-Sami’ (All Hearing), Al-Basir (All-Hearing), and Al-Khabir (All Aware). Believing in His names will bring peace and order to how you approach and think of these last ten days.
- During these ten days the following is encouraged to say the following dua:
Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni
O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me
- Productive Muslim has the most comprehensive and useful plan I have come across in terms of how to approach these last days – from supplications, to how you divide your hours, to how to keep your concentration and energy levels up.
- Islamic Relief have a very useful initiative this year; My 10 Nights provide’s you with the ability to pick a sum of money you will be able to donate to a cause or pay your Zakah, and will split that sum equally across the 10 nights (or only the odd nights).
We have entered these last days, so strive to remember your friends, family, neighbours, and the Ummah at large in your duas. May Allah ﷻ forgive all our sins and accept all of our acts of Ibadah, whether they be small or extensive. May we reach the end of this Ramadan and witness many more. Ameen.