Ramadan has always been a time of reflection and devotion. This year was an especially significant and memorable Ramadan.
The world came to a halt, nearly each and everyone of us coming to a standstill. Being still has been a blessing for me. There has been a mixture of emotions for me. Many have lost their lives; families have lost loved ones, and many have suffered through debilitating sickness.
I know numerous people who worry about jobs; economies are falling and hardships looming, but these are the normal angsts of living, aren’t they? Isn’t this the uncertainty that is life?
Despite the challenges of trying to keep safe, away from others and avoiding social gathering, I for one had truly benefited a lot from the various scholars and sheikhs teaching online during this blessed month.
I would say I missed the Tarawiih congregation prayers for the reasons of socializing, (it was the interaction of the community I missed this Ramadan), but nevertheless, I truly enjoyed the quiet and collective sense of the lockdown Ramadan.
It has been rich! Alhamdulillah.
A Ramadan rich in learning
For example; the other day as the scholars, teachers and sheikhs were wrapping up their lessons, I sat down to participate in an online lesson on Prophet Yusuf [as]. The sheikh eloquently retold the story of Yusuf [as] with much passion and quotes from Surah Yusuf and hadith.
It got to a place where I felt it deep in my soul. The sheikh struck a chord. I, as a parent, have been praying hard for my child this Ramadan. What the story had brought to me at that moment was the constant reminder of what my parents did subtly in their loving handwritten letters to me.
It brought tears to my eyes. It brought the realization of the love of a parent. The wishes and the desires of parents for their children. It reminded me of the love my parents had poured into their letters when I had left home, living far away from them.
When was the “a-ha” moment?
The moment that was so profound for me at this time, (as we all know the story of Prophet Yusuf [as] has layers upon layers of lessons), was when after more than forty years Yacoub [as] and Yusuf [as] were reunited and embraced.
Yusuf [as] was sad to hear that his beloved father has been weeping for so many years until he became blind. As he hugged his father Yacoub [as] he whispered to him “Why were you so sad when we were going to meet in Jannah?” His father Ayoub [as] responded, “I was so scared you would have forgotten God and lost your Tawheed.”
Even Though Yacoub [as] knew that his son wasn’t dead and they would be reunited one day, his sole concern was that his son would lose Tawheed. He would lose his way.
That moment felt familiar. I went to find where I had seen it before amongst my collection of letters from my parents. I have seen this concern written down, I have heard it in the tone of their voices. They worried that I may lose my faith while away from them.
I found the passage and read it again. This time as an adult, as a parent, I read it with a heart understanding their worry and concern as love, pure love. I felt their love. Only through love you would want your beloved to be among the dwellers of the gardens of Paradise.
Sometimes when life catches up to you and you are caught up in its highs and lows you almost forget the intricates of the love that took to shape the being you are. So, I look into my parents letters for their worry and concerned love.
Opening my father’s letters, there it was:
“Dear Zeinab, I pray you’re well and that Allah SWT is blessing you with good company………Abo (as in Somali a father says ‘father to his child’) I am asking you not to forget to do your ibadah. Do your ibadah. I only ask Allah to grant me children that are practicing their ibadah. Zeinab; the key to Ibadah is Salah. Please pray…… I pray and ask Allah to grant you wellbeing, and rizq (earnings) that has barakah (blessing)….”
I then opened my mother’s letter. Hers too was full of the same worry:
“Zeinab, hoyo, (mum – again in Somali language a parent can call their child ‘mum’), be mindful of what you wear; don’t be tempted to be indecent – hijab is part of ibadah – be careful of the friends you choose – good friends are those who will remind you of Allah; choose well Zeinab. I pray every night for Allah to lead you on the straight line….”
So, Yakub’s [as] response was one of love, the love of a parent who would love nothing more than a child that has faith and piety. To want and wish for your child to live a life of truth, honesty and devotion, this is love, pure love.
My parent’s lessons
When I analyse both my parent’s letters, both never asked me about anything else but that I remember Allah. I am grateful. I am so grateful to both my parents as the shroud of their prayers has protected me through and through.
My father passed away last year. His letters and words are even more precious now than ever, reading them often to remind myself of the kind of human being he wanted me to be.
Do not tire making duas for your children. Write to them notes of your wishes and hopes. As we put so much pressure on our children to acquire things of this world let’s remind them gently and lovingly of the hereafter too.
Believe me, they will forever be grateful for your reminders. As Ramadan has left us, we take forward the lessons and pray that we maintain the quest to walk the path of truth.