My Ramadan Diary: What will the People Say?

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By Umm Ibrahim

“Log kia kahein gy?”

“Log kia kahein gy?” – this has probably killed more dreams and good intentions than any other thought.

As Ramadan softens our hearts and shakes our conscience, we dream of becoming better people, we make good, honest intentions, but often the fear of people stops us from forging ahead. We hesitate to step out of our comfort zone, fearing the reaction of people more than anything else. Be it a beard, a hijab, praying regularly, joining a Quran Class or saying no to gossip and music- change and the associated questions and remarks it invites from the people around us make us very uncomfortable.

Our brain and the whispers of the devil play odd tricks on us. We play out worst-case scenarios in our mind until we lose the courage to change anything in ourselves for the better, stifle the squeaky voice of our conscience and settle back into the status-quo.

One of three things happen

From experience, I can tell you this: when you recognize the hollowness of the discouraging voices in your head, when you trust Allah completely and purify your intention, and just take the plunge, one of these things happens:

1- Nothing. No one starts laughing hysterically and pointing at you when you enter the room. The unnecessary drama that you concocted in your head never really takes place. Someone might even compliment you or wish that they could be more like you. Your confidence sky-rockets.

2- You get snide remarks and cutting comments. But Allah sends tranquility upon you, and the remarks just seem to bounce off you. You feel they should hurt, but they just don’t. Allah has toughened your skin. You are genuinely able to smile and shrug it off.

3- You get those questions and comments from everyone, and you become the laughing-stock. And it hurts. It seems as if a hole has been seared right through your heart. You can feel hot tears of anger and humiliation welling inside you. But then when the people leave, and its just you and Him, you pour it all out in front of him. You cry and babble in front of Him, and His Mercy envelops you. This one sujood, this one dua’ makes you taste the sweetness of Eeman that you had never even dreamed of. Your heart tells you then that it’s okay, that it will be okay, that it was all worth it, and that it will all be worth it.

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Cure Fear With Fear

Fear is natural. One of the cures for fear is a more potent fear. Normally, you might squeal at the sight of a cockroach, but if you’re caught between a venomous snake and a cockroach, you won’t even notice the cockroach. You might be afraid of an injection, but if the other option is a major surgery, you’ll go for an injection anytime.

When you hear the devil whisper: “What will the people say?”, ask yourself, “What will Allah say?”, and the absurdity of fearing the people will become manifest on you. You will also realize the need to purify your intentions for Allah.

“Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers.” (Surah at-Tawbah: ayah 13)

Dive In!

What are you waiting for? Sometimes you just have to take the plunge, even if it scares the living daylights out of you. If you want to learn to dive, you will have to dive in. You can dilly-dally and test the temperature of the pool with your big toe all you want, but in the end, you have to say ‘Bismillah’ and just jump in.  There’s the initial shock, the few gasping breaths you take, and then the blissful serenity of floating on your back, with the stars winking back at you. You will find other companions in the pool who will congratulate you and enthusiastically thump you on your back. The voices of the critics will fade in the background. And you will be left with the words of the Messenger (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) etched on your heart and echoing in your head:

“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim)

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