“Did you notice how my cousin was flaunting her Chanel bag at my mother’s funeral?” a friend of mine asked, piqued. I was at a loss for words at her statement, more so because she managed to notice the designer bag on her relative’s shoulder despite her grief on the death of her beloved mother.
I was watching them from a distance. They both had warm smiles on their young faces. Soon they were served with mugs of freshly brewed coffee, its aromatic steam making swirly outlines in the air.
Under the bright moon, the couple looked content and pleased with themselves. Supposedly it was their precious time with each other but it was poignant to see them immersed in their own individual cyber worlds that existed within their cell phones. They were smiling, sometimes smirking, at the screens of their gadgets instead of savouring the valuable moments of togetherness on this beautiful night.
“Should every woman have a vision in life?” One of the ladies tried to initiate a discussion at a get-together. It was a good lead; she started asking each one present about their aspirations in life.
It was astonishing to witness that some well-educated and well-informed ladies were surprised by the question. Some stared in mid-air, trying to come up with an answer and few asked what it actually implied. It was not because these intelligent ladies did not know the meaning of such a simple phrase but rather they did not comprehend what it meant in the context of their own lives.
“How do we get rid of the dark thoughts that are inside us, Mama?” “How do we remove them from our mind?” I was having a normal conversation with my daughter when she started this discussion. I was a bit surprised by her question. “I often think of frightening images and negative things and I feel so scared. I do my regular dua too but still it doesn’t go,” she said. I wondered what a child might be scared of. Could it be demon-like images that might creep up as nightmares or negative thoughts that might incite her to become a bad person? I wondered what the problem might be.
“…Ibrahim brought Hajar to a high hill called Al-Marwa, made her and her baby sit under a tree, placed a bag of dates and some water near her, and set out homeward. Hajar ran after him and said, “Are you going to leave us in this desert where there is no one to keep us company?” She repeated this many times but he would not look back at her. She asked, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He answered yes. “Then He will not neglect us,” she said.
Later…. some Arabs traveling through Makkah saw birds flying around Al Marwa. “They must be flying around water,” they said. When they arrived at the water, they found Hajar (alaihi salam) and asked her, “Would you allow us to stay with you, and use the water from your well?” She agreed and was pleased by their company.’
Back in my days of ignorance (my time before being close to Allah’s deen) I, like many other Muslims, experiencing the unidentified predicament of self-congratulation at the little ibadah done during the blessed month of Ramadan.
In the past, my entire year apart from Ramadan would be dedicated to seeking dunia, so I would feel satisfied with whatever little ibadah I could perform during Ramadan. It didn’t bother me much that my rituals were shallow and devoid of any sort of spirituality, so long as I tried to do what others were doing, because to me Ramadan was a tradition of rituals like any other tradition that one blindly follows.
“I have been meaning to talk to you… I have a request,” she said suppressing her overwhelming emotions. “Can you talk to the girls about the importance of the ‘mother and daughter’ relationship?” Fighting back her tears, she struggled to speak. “You know…. we were very close…me and my daughter…. we were friends…best friends…. but now she has become indifferent towards me and doesn’t want to share anything…I don’t know why I’ve tried everything…. I can’t seem to reach her.” Saying this she burst into tears.
This was one of many heart-wrenching incidents that I have come across where parents feel a drastic tear between them and their children. The most evident, expressive and apparent relationship is between a mother and her daughter. This mostly starts off as a bond between the two but due to various reasons it weakens, breaks or in some cases is destroyed.
The sudden dreadful crying and screaming woke Zainab up. She lay on her bed, burying her face into the pillow, trying hard to block out the growing noise coming from the other room.
It had hardly been two hours since she had cried herself to sleep. Her tender heart started pounding against her chest at the thought of what would follow this pattern. It was the norm; after her father would come home, her mother would scream at him, he would yell back, and then it would get worse until she, being the eldest child, would intervene, crying and begging her parents to stop the awful fight, the reason for which those little children could never understand.
Ramadan brings an annual tidal wave of optimism that sweeps everyone up with positive momentum and gives a spiritual boost for the year to come. The special quality of this holy month is that most Muslims reach a higher level of iman (faith) and ‘amal (deeds) during these blessed days than the rest of the year.
It takes resolve, sacrifice, commitment, patience, perseverance and oodles of hard work to shun the embedded evil and replace it with good, inside and outside one’s self. Ramadan also gives us an ambience and a productive environment that encourages collective and individual goodness to flourish.
Being raised in a society of ‘liberal’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims that believe in the freedom of expression, one is obliged to respect and tolerate matters that are against the teachings of Allah and His Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam). Those who dare to disagree are accused of being rigid, backward, fanatic, extremist, or narrow minded, depending on the category the individual best fits, according to their level of acceptance and their intensity of the reaction.
An average Muslim’s goal in life has become finding happiness by submitting to his own nafs (the base self) and keeping it satisfied at any cost. This contagious disease of wanting to acquire dunia, is what we strive to pass on to our children too.