Besides the fact that we can cozy up to that midday cup of coffee now, it’s hard to imagine that the month of Ramadan, along with all its blessings, is over. It feels like just yesterday that I ran around my kitchen attempting to cook the best first iftar meal. Now, I am taking down Eid decorations with my family. And instead of running around my kitchen prepping for suhoor, I am riffling through my camera roll in search of the best Eid outfit picture to upload.
Letting go of the month of Ramadan brings about feelings of joy, as we are able to return to our normal dietary patterns and are refreshed spiritually (hopefully). Yet, at the end of the month we are also facing an end to a time gifted to us by Allah (SWT); a time where the gates of heaven are open and so are the hearts of our community members. This complex emotional dynamic can be jarring but with a bit of reflection, we can hopefully gain deeper insight into all the everlasting feelings, experiences, and lessons gained from the holy month of Ramadan. I have been in the process of reflecting on this year’s Ramadan since the last 10 days were upon us, hoping to find moments that allow me to keep the uniqueness of this holiest month in my heart forever.
Months before Ramadan, I underwent a transitional life experience that left me confused and a bit spiritually drained. As someone who has developed a strong relationship with Allah (SWT)– a relationship that got me through the gut-wrenching experience of immigrating to the U.S and life as a visibly Muslim, working woman in one the most powerful U.S cities– it took me off guard to have fallen short on my spiritual wellness.
That being said, I spent the weeks and days leading up to this Ramadan building anticipation for a much needed emotional and religious revival. Finally, Ramadan came.
I spent the first few days waiting for enlightenment, as thought it would strike me like a lightning bolt surging with spiritual energy. Yet, much to my surprise, the flash of enlightenment never came. Or, at least it never came the way I had expected. As my disappointment began to surmount, I noticed my emotions began to edge around the black hole of depression.
I had spent the majority of Ramadan begging to be saved, that I forgot my sense of self in the process. I forgot that my wellbeing, and my religious experience, comes from within myself foremost.
Looking back now, those terribly low moments of doubt were vital to the spiritual highs that I was blessed with this Ramadan. Low and down in the dumps, I felt compelled to keep trying to save myself and my relationship with Allah (SWT). At first, it was not easy to pick myself up. I asked myself often: what does it even mean to repair yourself spiritually? Do I just get out of bed, pray and then I will be cured? Or do I keep reading Quran every night and my spirituality will come back? After many prayers and multiple late nights reading the holy book, I still found myself begging for a revival.
It wasn’t until I took a moment to sit and reflect on my painful experience, which initially triggered this low point, that I began to realize how I have approached my thirst for salvation all wrong. I had spent the majority of Ramadan begging to be saved, that I forgot my sense of self in the process. I forgot that my wellbeing, and my religious experience, comes from within myself foremost. Motivated by this new discovery, I took the time to reestablish who I am and spend time to learn to love my soul; after all I am Allah’s (SWT) creation, and loving myself as such is a vital part of being Muslim.
Now, a couple of days after the end of Ramadan, though I’ve shed a few pounds and many tears, I’m proud to say that I’ve gained a beautiful sense of self. And though seeing Ramadan go fills my heart with mixed emotions, it is fair to say that this year’s Ramadan takes its rightful place in my heart as one of my most formative spiritual experiences.
I hope that we all reflect and carry our insights into our future, and I pray that everyone has the opportunity to experience a formative Ramadan.