Friday, August 21, 2009

"Cleanse" - The Ramadan Experience

Zaara grew up in the perfect Muslim home; her parents were God-fearing and religious and taught her everything they knew about Islam. They were very involved in community work, Da'wah and they always looked for opportunities to fill up their books of good deeds. As Zaara grew up, she followed in her parents' footsteps. In short, she was really proud of being blessed with such good parents, and they were proud to have brought up a daughter like her.

Living Islam and preaching Islam was something that came naturally to her. She didn't need a force that would empower her from within to live the way she did; it had never occurred to her why she did something, or stayed away from something. After she finished High School, she traveled overseas so she could pursue her Duniyawi Ilm. Her parents always reminded her of sticking to the dheen wherever she went. And in a way, she did pay heed to their advice.

But now Zaara felt there was something missing in her life; she felt as though she led 2 different lives. One: the life her Lord Almighty and her parents wanted to live. She still continued to do what she did as she grew up- holding halaqaat, calling people to the truth, encouraging people to practice. In fact, her naseeha and advice made deep impact on the people she spoke to, than on herself. Her words were always profound, made people think and ponder, she spoke with feeling, from deep within- but she always felt that there was some major core of the heart where the "Eman" just didn't touch her. And she felt that this struggle to actually feel close to Allah was her second life.

And then one day, something happened. On her way to school, as she was crossing the street, yes- that's what happened. A reckless driver who had the music system in his car in booming volume (and hence, intoxicated) hit her. Zaara became unconscious, and when she regained her senses, she was in the hospital, and her legs were in traction. She had multiple fractures in her ribs and other bruises. Her eyes felt heavy. And she drifted back to sleep, on effect of the anesthesia. The next couple of days were a blur for her. On the third day, however, she felt her renewed energy level come back to her, and she was transferred to the normal ward.

As she lay in her hospital bed, with her right leg still in traction, and her room lit because of the full moon shimmering through the curtains, she suddenly felt something that overpowered her pain and aches. An emotion so strong that it was as though the moon light had penetrated into her heart, and it reflected back. but this light was brighter than the moon light itself. She suddenly knew why she was there. She felt totally at peace and this brought a big smile on her lips. She whispered out loud: Allahu As-salaam, Huwa Al-Haakim (Allah is The Bestower of peace, He is the Wise). Of course, she always knew the meaning, and she had always said this too. But this time, it was different. She understood it in its profanity, in a deeper and a higher level. Allah SWT had chosen her to be cleansed through her trials. Allah Azza Wajal knew that her soul had been searching for knowing Her Lord more.

All of us have such moments, sometimes in situations of hardships; sometimes when things go perfectly and there is joy around. Whatever the situation, we treasure these moments and crave for more. That is the fitrah of mankind that Allah SWT has blessed him with. We find comfort in being close to our Lord, in knowing Him more, and being His sincere slave in total submission. And that is why we love Ramadan!!! In Ramadan, we experience more "cleanse"-ing moments than at other times. Ramadan burns away our sins and bad thoughts and scars in the soul just as the extreme scorching heat of the Sun burns away matter. We feel that Ramadan just peeps in, and then rushes off. We never seem to get enough of it, SubhanAllah. (Let's do some serious soul search like Zaara, and then Allah will bring us closer to Him, and cleanse our souls. Let's not just think about this in Ramadan; at the same time, lets do our best now- Alhamdulillah He has blessed us with this month now.)

We live in an age where luxury has become necessities of life. We have a lot of everything- our refrigerator is full, our wardrobe is full, every family has 2 vehicles (both the latest models in most cases)- all but lesser time to reflect upon Nature and its Creator. We need to stop ourselves from our daily, busy, monotonous flow of things happening, and really think. Think so that we can cleanse ourselves, and experience the bliss of connecting more firmly with Our Lord.

Cleanse....cleanse your souls of sins, negative thoughts and unnecessary, lingering emotions- But How?! Cleanse the way Prophet Yunus Alaihiwassalam cleansed his soul when he was inside the whale. The way he had repented to Allah Subhanahu wa tha'ala with utmost humility and proved that he was in real need of Allah's Mercy. Cleanse the way we open up to the Majesty of Our Lord Almighty.

1. Pray Qiyamu-al-Layl and make lots of duah:

We have to let go of our ego, really humble ourselves as much as we can, and talk to Allah. Raise our hands and beg Allah. Your Lord is the Only One worthy of this begging. We do not have to beg anyone else to achieve some worldly gain. Let's remember and try to visualize how we will stand before Allah in the Mahshara on the Day of Judgment (and remember that the real picture is nothing like how we visualize.)

2. Count our Blessings- how we should actually show gratitude:

Alhamdulillahi Rabb-il-'Aalameen. Isn't it one of the greatest blessings that Allah Subhanahu wa tha'ala gave us yet another chance to experience Ramadan (May Allah give us all long lives, and many more Ramadan's that will be beneficial for our Hereafter, aameen), in spite of our lack of sincerity and negligence in the other months. We have to really value it, and treat it like the most honored guest of the year. If we do so, then inshAllah we will habituate the art of treating the less honored guests (the other 11 months) also with considerable love and zeal.

3. Remember Qur'an is the theme of this month.

Fasting has been prescribed for you in order that you main acquire Taqwa (Surah Al-Baqara: 183) - so that you may become more conscious of Allah, so that we may center our lives with the love of Allah. And when we love someone, truly love someone- we pay heed to His words. The theme of Ramadan is Quran. The Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan, and by fasting and other increased Ibadah, we show gratitude to Allah Azza Wajal for revealing the Quran to us. And The Book introduces itself to us that it is a Guidance for those who have Taqwa. (Surah Al Baqara:2)

So, Taqwa and Guidance, and Ramadan and Quran are all connected and intermingled with each other.

4. Ramadan Special goal-setting:

This is the best time to train ourselves to make our whole life surrounded by our purpose in life. It is the best time to start good habits, and make stronger the base of our old habits (the good ones). Allah has blessed this month so much that He SWT chains the devils- so isn't this the best time to get rid of bad habits too.

Set 2 special goals that we can accomplish, 2 things that will help us grow better bi idhnillah; that will raise our level in the Sight of Allah Azza Wajal. If we find it difficult, we have to keep striving. Practice, practice and more practice. What we are, is represented by what we do. Let's imagine it as mountain climbing, and bi idhnillah, if we reach this mountain peak, we have reached our goal. (till you spot another more promising mountain to climb!) We have to do what it takes to get to the pinnacle.

We have to cultivate the habit of journalis-ing our special goals. And keeping a track of it. Seeing is believing and often, a moment of realization. When we see it on paper, the result itself critiques us, it will connect with our souls and provide further motivation.

Make a Ramadan special schedule: Because of how blessed this month is, believe you me, we can do more than we ever did in the other months. Allah SWT has put so much blessing in this time. There is a special blessing in our physical strength and stamina too. Its all about the struggle to get organized and make the best use of our time, especially if one has little kids at home. The keyword is: do jihad, strive and don't give up. Maybe everything wouldn't have gone the way we wanted on the first day of Ramadan, but we learn from experience, and make each day better.

5. Don't carry excess baggage:


"Be in this world as is you are a wayfarer" - Can the one who is traveling carry more than the necessary? Can he afford to have a lot of excess baggage- most probably he will have to pay (duty/excess baggage) for it. So what all can we avoid and what should we carry, especially in Ramadan?

a. Too much food can do harm and prevent us from excelling in our Ibadah- We have to pay heed to the one-third rule- "One-third water, one-third food and one-third air". This is what the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wassalam advised us. Too much food means too much time wasted in the kitchen- so time subtracted from "Ibadah time". Too much food will make us sleepy, and we cannot stay up late or wake up in the middle of the night to pray Taraweeh or Qiyam-u-layl. Eating too much food especially in Ramadan even opposes one of the purpose of fasting which is feeling for the poor. The generosity boost we feel in Ramadan to feed should not be directed to our own stomach, rather the poor.

Follow the sunnah of Prophet Sallallahu alaihiwassalam of having a lot of dates and water. Water is the elixir of life- the one that keeps us going. Instead of having all those oil-fried items- have ones that are water-filled-like fruits and greens.

b. Over-socialising in the month of Ramadan- Keep your conversations over the phone and or in the masjid after Taraweeh to a minimum. InshAllah, we will keep it for Eid when we will celebrate with our loved ones. Time lost in idle talk cannot be brought back. This is one of the main regrets we have when Ramadan comes to a end- the regret whether we have utilised our time well or not.

At the same time, have company around you who are the bearers of the fragrance of musk. Have a Ramadan buddy with whom you can discuss how well you are doing in your ibadah, so that you can motivate each other. Let the people we are with, be the ones who will take us with them on the journey to Allah SWT.

c. And most of all, we have to develop a good heart, a good soul and a content mind. We have to strive to push away our negative thoughts and emotions and doubts/ suspicions about others. Ramadan is a month of forgiveness, Allah SWT forgives His slaves who ask for it with sincere repentance. We have to forgive and forget others' mistakes. Forget in a way that it is completely erased from our minds. A person who has accomplished this will have the most heart warming smile, a smile that can make someone's day, a smile that is da'wah for others. Now is the best time to bring out the hidden positive attitude inside us.

Let's succeed bi idhnillah, in eliminating unnecessary stuff from our bags and fill it with good stuff that will be allowed to pass through the Siraat-ul-mustaqueem without any repurcussions. Let's hurry and race for good deeds when their reward is on sale. Let's sincerely repent to Allah Azza Wajal and erase all our bad recording with the Mercy of Our Lord. May Allah accept our humble good deeds and our fasting and prayers from us, and forgive us our sins, and enter us all into Jannathul Firdaws without any ihtisaab(questioning). May the gate of the fasters (Ar-rayyan) open to us for us to enter through it (and all the other gates too). May Allah SWT bless us with good health and long lives so that we can do more ibadah and please Our Lord more and more. Aameen...

Inspired by Sr Heba AlShareef (Her "Cleanse" talk on iamsheba radio launch)- may Allah preserve and increase her.



12 comments:

  1. Masha Allah..

    Alhamdulillah.. very well written dear...

    it is really very nice:)

    May Allah reward you for all the efforts you take in imparting the knowledge you learn to us. Ameen

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  2. Subhanna Allah! I can not even put to words how I felt about this article; Jazaaki Allah khair...

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  3. JazakumAllah khair for ur encouraging words...may Allah make this Ramadan such a cleansing experience that our souls will never again become impure...U know there's an ad of a bath tub cleaner, that we can fix in the tub, and it keeps cleaning the tub continuously, and we have a streak-free shining tub all the time....i hope that this article, our ibadah and duahs will be like that tub cleaner inshAllah...

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  4. Masha Allah .. very heart softening and awe inspiring .. May Allah(SWT) help us in acheiving success this Ramadan and all future ones Insha Allah and not be among the losers who do not benefit from this month .. Aameen .. May He(SWT) forgive all our shortcomings and sins that we heedlessly commited or commit .. May Allah(SWT) bless you dear with good health to better perform ur worship and carry on with your attempt to stick to this noble task and work .. Aameen ..

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  5. Assalamualaikum Umm Hibathain,

    Jazakillah khair for this. I missed Heba's Cleanse program even though I planned to attend it. And Ameen to your dua.


    Juli

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  6. SubhanAllah!!beautiful writing

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  7. Masha Allah!!! Wonderful story and article. Ameen to your dua.
    Vinitha

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  8. Assalam_O_Alaikum wa wb...

    JazakaAllah khairun kaseerun.
    SubhanaAllah ! very inspiring
    May we make the most in this ramadan and the ones to come InshaAllah.

    Umme maryam

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  9. Assalam_O_Alaikum wa wb..

    JazakaAllah khairun kaseerun.
    SubhanaAllah! very inspiring.
    May we make the most in this ramadan and
    the ones to come with pure and sincere hearts.
    We surely need the cleansing to better view life in a different and higher prespective.

    Wassalam wa wb
    Umme maryam

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  10. Really it was very inspirational article. Keep it up by the grace of the Almighty.

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  11. mashah Allah...Excellent post

    May Allah accept
    SuccessMuslim

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