Since March of last year, our whole lives have been turned upside down. Allah SWT has shown us His Great Majesty and His Great Power and we have seen and felt the effects of all that He SWT is capable of. One of the things we have witnessed is the loss of loved ones, or we know others who have.
However, out of His mercy, Allah SWT has made available to us, through Prophet SAW, the most beautiful guidance on how to handle our grief and how to help our loved ones. Out of His Mercy, however, Allah SWT has made available to us, through Prophet (SAW), the most beautiful guidance on how to handle our grief and how to help our loved ones.
Imagine being on a journey through a treacherous land, something like the Amazon rainforest. Imagine being blindfolded as you walk through the forest. Imagine every trip, every cut, and every wound you encounter is ignored because you failed to take off your blindfolds. Imagine the luscious plants, the beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and the birds of different colours all missed because you failed to take off your blindfolds. Had you removed the blindfold you would have known that every hardship and every ease was teaching you something about the nature of this world and giving us the chance to recalibrate ourselves. All of this would make sense if you are paying attention. In this example, we are reminded to turn the face of our heart back to Allah, and in doing so we are reminded that this journey we are on, in this Dunya, is a temporary one.
Had we reflected upon the wounds we encountered we would find in them a reminder about the nature of pain. Had we reflected upon the beauty of this world we would have realised that the beauty of those experiences is ever fleeting. This should take our attention to a deeper abode. Our purpose for being in this world and ultimately the temporal nature of these experiences. This is the example of this world. We are all here because we need to build ourselves for a place that is everlasting. Both examples offer us glimpses of this world but that is all they will ever be. Glimpses. In the end, when our souls leave our bodies, and we are raised on the Day of Judgement, we will see the reality of what our actions led us to. A life in two very different abodes, but now experienced in permanence. Jahannam or Jannah. Hellfire or Paradise.
Ramadan is around the corner and many of us are excited about making plans for it—setting Qur’an and self-development goals, planning healthy meal recipes for our families, and trying to make the most out of this month. We all know that the Prophet (SAW) is the perfect example for us on how to live our lives so that we please Allah. So why don’t we revisit the life of the Prophet (SAW) so we can see what he did in Ramadan so that we can follow his example?
When we think of Ramadan, we think of families breaking our fasts with our families and friends, praying salah together, be it at the masjid or home. One of the blessings of Ramadan is the bonds we build with one another, growing spiritually collectively. If we reflect for a moment, whilst many of us take this for granted, many others amongst us do not share the same privilege. They usually spend Ramadan alone. This can be a very difficult experience and one that can leave us feeling isolated.
Some of our brothers and sisters are new Muslims, so despite being around family, they fast for the sake of Allah, whilst their families do not, and some of us have Muslim family members who do not fast, sometimes only one or two people from the family actively fasting. Some of us are sick, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some of us are in a vulnerable position with our health therefore unable to be around anyone. Just imagine feeling anxious about the arrival of Ramadan because of how it can affect your mental and spiritual health from being alone.
It is important we develop our perspective here; this helps us reorient ourselves, and doing so can aid us in being content with our individual tests.
Last Ramadan was our first Ramadan during the coronavirus. No one knew what to expect. Everyone was afraid of how lonely it was going to be, how we would get by without our extended family iftars, without our Taraweeh congregations, and qiyam nights at the masjid.
Some of our fears came true. We were tested with loneliness and the inability to meet many of our loved ones during this blessed month.
One of the biggest gifts we received last year, however, was perspective. Allah SWT taught us a lot about our priorities when it comes to Ramadan. With our social gatherings out of the question, we learned that we might have been spent our previous Ramadans wasting quite a bit of time socializing instead of spending it in the worship of Allah SWT. As our hearts yearned for the masjid, we also learned that we should have taken advantage of the times when the masjid was open by visiting more and spending a longer amount of time there.
While we anxiously wait for the blessed month of Ramadan to start, we often overlook the powerful months leading up to it!
Rajab. Sha’ban. Ramadan. Allah SWT has given us these three months in succession to gain reward and nearness to Him. May He SWT accepts from us all the good deeds that we performed in the month of Rajab. Now it is time for us to focus on the month of Sha’ban.
Sha’ban is also known as the month of the Prophet (SAW) and the gateway to Ramadan. It has its own special merits and rewards. So, we should try to be at the forefront of seizing its rewards and earning Allah SWT’s pleasure.