People are usually very happy with the coming of Ramadan and have happy memories in relation to this holy month. I like Ramadan only because Allah (swt) and Prophet Mohammad (saw) put it in a very special status. However, I have a personal problem with it: Whenever I hear its name, I feel pressured. The name Ramadan makes me subconsciously feel guilty and delinquent. I always have the feeling that no matter how much I pray or read the Qur'an or do any of the acts of worship, I will still be way behind what I am supposed to do.
Besides, when I feel I do not like Ramadan, this adds to my feeling of guilt. As a Muslim who loves Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (saw), I feel I should love Ramadan. Actually, I want to love Ramadan and love to worship Allah (swt) and to follow the footsteps of His Prophet (saw). I want to feel the comfort and spirituality Ramadan is supposed to give. But I am deprived of all these feelings because of the dominating feeling of guilt that is always accompanying me and making my life really hard.
I believe that this point cannot be separated from the general feeling of guilt that has accompanied me throughout my life in all aspects. I take everything as an obligation — a heavy obligation, and hence I cannot enjoy doing anything. I need your advice as to how I could get rid of this deep-seated feeling of guilt.
Thank you for your question and your honesty regarding your feelings about Ramadan. I think your insight into your inner feelings is serving you well. It seems that Ramadan reminds you of a much deeper issue with which you have been struggling throughout your life: this overwhelming feeling of guilt, which you are carrying around for some reason.
Ramadan, for whatever reason, tends to magnify this feeling and, as such, you do not have the same kind of feelings about this month many other Muslims might have. It makes sense to me: If Ramadan exacerbates your feeling of guilt, then why should it be a special month for you? Thus, your question is not about Ramadan. The question is: why do you have such overwhelming feeling of guilt?
The way you described your feeling of guilt reminds me of what many Catholics experience as a result of the teachings and theology that focus much on the inherent, sinful nature of human beings and the burden of carrying the Original Sin. This tends to weigh on one’s conscious. Being constantly reminded of our inherent, sinful nature can be overwhelming and burdensome to our souls. If it is not understood correctly and in the proper context, and if it is not balanced up by believing in Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and mercy.
Thank Allah (swt) for the blessing of Islam. Islam has liberated humans from this excessive and incorrect worldview which has shackled humanity by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Islam set the record straight. The Original Sin, as taught in the Qur’an, was committed by Adam and Eve, and then it was forgiven by Allah (swt). Therefore, there is no burden that the humankind should carry.
We, humans, sin because we forget, but our sins are constantly forgiven, in sha’ Allah, through Allah’s mercy. He, the Almighty, loves to forgive, and He reminds us throughout the Qur’an and Divine Hadiths that all we have to do is repent, sincerely ask for His forgiveness, and change our ways, and then forgiveness would be granted to us.
So, the question is, why do you have this huge burden of guilt, especially when you know that Allah (swt) loves to forgive? Sin is not the centerpiece of our religion as it is in other traditions. Sin is something we do that merely takes us off track, but Allah (swt) has made it so easy for us to get back on track.
This religion, Islam, is about realizing Allah’s (swt) Oneness and seeking His mercy and greatness. It is not about sin, so why this feeling of guilt? This is what you need to think about. You need to seriously reflect on the reason why you carry this feeling of guilt around. You did not give us any real clues in your question, but maybe that is what you need to focus on now.
Make use of this Ramadan and try to understand yourself better. Look back at your life and your experiences: Who taught you that you deserve such feeling of guilt? What did you do that made you erroneously believe that you are too bad to be forgiven? Where does this belief stem from?
That is the work you need to do now. If you think we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to write to us again.
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