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Ramadan Confession #2: I have this type of Ramadan guilt every year

By Fatima Asad

Many things change in your life when you become a mother.  (Wait! This is not just another mama post; I need to tell you when I truly felt this guilt for the first time.)  In fact, you meet another person in the mirror when you are blessed with motherhood.  It was the first Ramadan after becoming a mama- I wasn’t fasting since the two-month old demanded to suck out my entire essence (along with the breast milk).  If you’re a mama who has nursed, you know the seemingly eternal hours you possess to write to-do lists (without getting anything done, subhanAllah), read that book (yes, that book that you attempted to read during the last trimester), stare at the walls, questioning your interior designing judgement, or contemplating life- really going deep within the mind’s avenues.

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It was during one of these must-feed-the-little-human sessions that a realization struck my heart chords hard. It was an overwhelming feeling of guilt that shoved me to such an extent that I felt myself freeze, choke and gasp simultaneously.  I couldn’t breathe during those moments, and I wanted to cry, but there were no tears.  I really wanted the tears to flow out so I could rid myself of this overpowering force, but there were none.  That in itself was another terrifying realization: why am I not crying? Why can’t I cry? Has my heart hardened to such an extent? Then, as I gently laid the baby on the bed and kissed her chubby little cheeks, I couldn’t let go of this affection.  As I reached for her tiny fingers, tear drops pattered on her palm.  There they were.  This miracle would continue to awaken an array of emotions I never knew were possible in the future years.

The guilt was because of this: I sadly realized that I had not been the best representation of Islam in the past and to think that I may have been the cause of even a single person missing out on this astounding blessing of Ramadan jolted me to the bone.  Having lived in America all my life, it had been a constant tug of war between faith and culture.  Most of us will confidently claim that Islam doesn’t contradict culture, but do we really believe it? Have we lived by it? Islam does not contradict culture, but I, like countless others, failed to be educated about this until it was too late in many aspects.  I had spent most of my youth years unconsciously trying to become a follower, trying to impress people through fading trends and false doctrines.  This is because I failed to understand my own identity, allowing others to pick and choose how they defined me rather than holding the reins myself.

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This guilt comes back every year, stronger each time.  I should have done more, I could have done more, I should have learned about my deen earlier, I could have paved a smoother road for myself and others, I should have embraced the real me more…ultimately: I could have painted a better, more authentic picture of Islam if only I had known it myself.  Even though the guilt increases, so does the hope.  In fact, the hope is slowly but surely outgrowing the despair and that is what being a Muslim is all about.  It’s about accepting your mistakes and circumstances, pairing hope with determination, and moving forward.  The past is just that: the past.  Look back to learn not to turn into stone, eternally frozen with despair over what can never be alive again.

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My Son, You Taught Me…


By Umm Ibrahim 

My Dear Son,

It has been a year since you entered into our world. When I saw you, I felt my heart would burst with love and happiness, although my body was broken and aching. What a roller coaster of a year it has been since then. It was tough but totally worth it.

Son, your Baba often reminds me that you are an amanah of Allah. Allah has placed the enormous responsibility of your upbringing on our shoulders. And what a momentous task it is! I often think of the long lists of things I have to teach you. I want to teach you to always love and obey Allah and His Messenger. I want to teach you the Quran and make you fall in love with the book and the pen. I want to teach you everything from Arabic to algebra. I want to teach you swimming, archery and shooting. I want to equip you to deal with the fitnahs of this day and age, and to revive the beautiful deen of our Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam).

But today, my love, I actually want to talk to you about something else. I want to tell you about some of the amazing things that you have taught me. Yes, you heard it right!

I always wanted to be your mama. I always prayed for you. But you took your sweet little time coming. I remember I was almost losing hope at that time. When all of a sudden, I got the good news that a new life had already started to grow inside of me. I fell down in Sajdah and cried a lot that day. (Your mama does cry a lot. Most women cry it out when their heart is brimming with any emotion.  I hope you understand that well and lovingly support your wife through her tears, just like your Baba does.) Good news of you renewed my faith in my Duas. You taught me to believe whole-heartedly in Allah’s Loving Mercy.

During the pregnancy, you being inside me made me take care of myself. I felt weak at that time, but now that I think of it, you actually strengthened me physically, emotionally and spiritually. For your sake, I ate better and healthier. I tried to stay happier and think positive always because everything I thought and did was affecting you.  I recited more and got closer to the Quran. Son, you pushed my limits. You taught me that I was stronger than I thought. You taught me to love like I never knew even before you were born.

Your delivery was the toughest thing I have gone through. Before you, I would kick up a fuss even when swallowing a medicine.  You made me so much braver and confident in my own self. With Allah’s Help with me, I feel ready to face anything and everything now.

My son, you taught me the true meaning of the hadith which mentions that Allah is more merciful to his slaves than a mother to her child. Now, I understand why Allah chose a mother’s love and mercy as an example. I can never quantify my love for you. The fact that He loves me way more than I love you just boggles my mind and makes me fall in love with Him. It gives me hope in His Mercy and Forgiveness. I feel relaxed leaving all my matters in His Hand.

My son, you taught me that love conquers all and makes all things easy. I could smile in the day despite being sleepless in the night. I could endure endless pain and fatigue for you. And one smile of yours would melt it all away.

You taught me to love my husband more. He is your Baba, and the way he takes care of you and me is amazing. Seeing him playing and goofing around with you is one of my favorite things to watch. Taking care of you has been stressful for both of us. We have fought and snapped at each other. But we have also taken care of each other through it all. All in all, you have strengthened our relationship and made it all the more beautiful.

My son, you have taught me to love and appreciate your grandmothers too.  Becoming your mama has put so many things in perspective. After becoming a mom myself, I have developed immense respect for your nani. I now realize fully how much she went through and sacrificed for me. She is an amazing super-mom. I can never ever repay her. I feel sorry for every time I disappointed her or was rude and disobedient. No mother’s heart should go through pain. I feel more love and respect towards your dadi, my mother-in-law too.  You are my first-born. Baba is her first-born. I can only imagine the way she loves him. She has raised him well. And for that I am really thankful to her. I feel more empathy towards her concerned behavior which might otherwise feel annoying or interfering. I know it is all coming from a place of selfless love. Baba owes a lot to her. And her prayers are his asset.

My dear son, I love your innocence and the way you giggle over small things. You have taught me that the small things are actually the big things. You have taught me to live in the moment, to be thankful for every small blessing.

8ce5c01a121ca4fea8780cec760e5f22--baby-hands-baby-feetYou love me so much too and those cute expressions of love make me so happy and proud. Everyday, you push me to be a better version of myself, to learn more, to grow more. Because I am your first school and your first teacher. You look up to me and I cannot let you down. I have to be a good role model for you. Before I can teach you good conduct, I must try and work on my own personality and guide you through example.

My son, you are sleeping peacefully at this moment and I must wrap up this letter before you wake up and demand all my attention. Being a mom is definitely the toughest yet most rewarding job ever. I will always make dua for you. I will always love you. I really have no words to express that love. I hope you grow up a fine young man, and are successful in the deen and dunya.

Your Mama.

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