I love riding roller coasters. It’s not just the thrill of knowing how fast I’m going or how high up I am.
For me, riding a roller coaster is all about the unpredictability. I feel it going uphill slowly and steadily and wonder when it will suddenly drop. Or I’m riding along and suddenly there’s a sharp turn that makes me feel like I’ll fall out sideways. And of course, the loops that turn me completely upside down, then right side up again, before I’ve really started to process what’s going on.
But an amusement park is the only time I enjoy roller coasters. There are also the roller coasters that life brings along, which are not as enjoyable. The ups, downs, and feeling of unpredictability. These roller coasters don’t excite me; they make me feel sick to my stomach.
The Ups & Downs of Faith
And then there’s the roller coaster of iman (faith). I remember when I first rediscovered Islam and had a religious awakening, it was the most exhilarating feeling I’d ever experienced.
My life, which had just hit a low point, suddenly shot upwards because I had a newfound love for this beautiful religion. It really did feel like falling in love, but better.
Somewhere along this exciting new journey, I started to have a few little bumps in the road. I found that I was becoming distant from my old friends. But it was okay, because I was making new friends that I had more in common with—a shared passion for Islam.
I also found that I was unable to keep up the many acts of worship that I had adopted all at once in my religious zeal. But I was still doing a lot more than I had in my “previous life,” so it was alright.
Then these little bumps in the road became big bumps. I had a spiritual crisis and started questioning my beliefs, with no knowledge of how to deal with it. I lost a close friend to a faith-based traumatic experience. Another close friend, who used to be a practicing Muslim, left Islam. I noticed my enthusiasm for worship and gaining new knowledge deflating, like a balloon that was running out of air.
Through these experiences, I realized that I had a choice to make. My options were either letting my life continue in the direction it was going, or taking things into my own hands. I decided that my faith was too important to just let it slip away. Something had to be done, and no matter how much I was struggling, I was the only one who could do it (with the help of Allah).
A Spiritual Reset
This is where Ramadan comes into the story. For me, Ramadan is like a spiritual reset button. It’s an opportunity for self-evaluation and action. The extra reward for even the smallest deeds, the community feeling that comes with days of fasting and nights of worship, and special night of decree… All of these things produce a unique spiritual experience that’s unlike any other time of the year.
I find that if I take Ramadan seriously and really put in a sincere effort, the roller coaster of iman doesn’t have as many ups and downs for the rest of the year. Ramadan helps me rediscover a sense of stability in my faith. It shows me my potential as a worshiper of Allah and awakens my love for the Quran again.
When I say that Ramadan shows me my potential as a worshiper, I mean that I stop underestimating myself. I stop thinking that I don’t have the time or I am not a good enough person. And I start seeing myself as worthy of Allah’s forgiveness and making the state of my heart more of a priority. I supplicate more. I open my heart up to Allah again.
Ramadan is a reminder to me that I can spend more time in worship on a daily basis than I had thought possible. It also shows me that I am capable of abandoning sins and dropping bad habits that I had previously numbed myself out to. And this is all over the course of a whole month, not just a week. This means that I can make these lifestyle changes and actually keep them up, even if life is busy. I am capable.
Ultimately, life will always have its ups and downs, and unsteadiness in our faith is a part of that. But it’s never too late to take the reins back into our own hands. Ramadan is an amazing opportunity to help us do just that.
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. (Quran 2:185)