It is only the 2nd day of Ramadan and it has already started out great. The days are long, the fast is hard, it's really hot and humid here in Maryland, but I feel wonderful. Yes physically I am suffering, but my spirit is great and isn't that what Ramadan is all about. Actually, Ramadan hasn't always uplifted my spiritual being like it should, in fact I had alot of stubborness and attitude when it came to Ramadan and Islam in general. I made a choice to become Muslim, but I wanted my Islam to fit all my preconceived notions about how things should go. I wanted to fast with water, because I thought it was backwards to fast without water, we need to be hydrated right? I wanted Ramadan on my terms: so what if I ate something 10 minutes after Suhur ended, I was fasting all the rest of the 9 hours and 26 minutes. I wanted to pick and choose what part of Islam I wanted to follow and I sure did not want to follow it as it was prescribed in the Quran and Hadith. I didn't care that people had been doing the same thing with excellent results for hundreds of years, I was ignorant, I was brain washed, and I was spoiled.
The biggest challenge for me was my tainted beliefs of an unconditional loving God, who let me do whatever I wanted. When someone said we should fear God, I would correct them and say "No, we should LOVE God" I wanted this watered down Hippie version of Islam, where everything was Love and Free. However, I learned yesterday what it meant to Fear the Lord of all Creation. The person I learned it from is awesome, a great teacher, MashaAllah. However, he has been just one of my teachers on this path out of ignorance that I have been on for a couple years. Although I took my Shahadah 14 years ago, only the past couple of years have I really been able to grow spiritually and get the most out of my Religion by unlearning all of my previous tainted beliefs.
And it was only yesterday that I learned what it meant to really Fear (and Love) Allah (God). The truth is both is needed, it should be a balance between fear and love. But it is not the fear that I was thinking of, the fear of being stopped by the police, the fear of a stray bullet, the fear of someone wanting to jump you after school. In fact, I don't remember knowing this type of fear before, I never understood that you could Love someone or something so much that you Fear them. You fear loosing them, you fear that if you do something wrong they will not look at you the same, you fear earning their displeasure. When you truly Love someone, you want to do everything to make them happy- you fear not doing your best. What kind of corrupt person could change such a pure concept of Love? Children who love their parents and work hard to make them happy in their school work, career, social life are looked at in our modern society as oppressed. Wives who love their husbands and serve them are looked at as oppressed. Students who love their teachers and work hard to learn what is being taught are looked at as uncool, teacher's pet, and a number of other unflattering names. This pure type of Love has been corrupted at the childhood stage for many of us, in school, at home, in front of the tv, so quite naturally if we unlearned how to love our parents, our spouses, our teachers, then how could we know how to truly Love God, a being we don't see. Our love for God at the most can only be appreciation, gratitude for the things that God has blessed us with. In fact our love for our parents, teachers, and spouses can be summed up to that for many of us. We only love our parents as long as they are doing things for us, but as soon as they can no longer provide we put them in a senior home or hospice. We only love our spouses for what they do for us, but as soon as they no longer do what we want, then we divorce them. We only love our teachers for a time, showering them with gifts of all types of creative apples, but as soon as we move on to the next teacher, we don't visit or check in on them from time to time. Our love is measured by what the person does or does not do for us, and our love for God is the same. Some of us go to the extreme, God didn't answer their prayers, so now they became agnostic, atheist, or a satan worshipper. We don't love them to make them happy, we love them to make ourselves happy. Thank you Imam Mikael for reaching me, for making me understand what Love & Fear really is. May I strive to Love & Fear Allah, and to truly Love the people God has blessed my life with.
If this is what the beginning of what Ramadan looks like, then I am excited for more spiritual growth.
There was more that I gained from being at the Makkah Learning Center yesterday, if you are in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area and you have not visited this Masjid then you are really missing out. Imam Mikael had me in tears, he was in tears as he led Taraweeh, it is not just because he is a good speaker with charisma, it's because he speaks from the heart. May Allah protect him and accept his fast. They gave out a great handout 20 Deeds for 30 days of Ramadan, a little card that can fit in you purse. I wanted to share it with all of you, so I asked permission from Imam Mikael to give it the Noor Janan touch.
Click to Download ~ Extra 20 Deeds for 30 Days of Ramadan.