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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.

Ramadan guilt 1

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.

Ramadan guilt 5

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.

Ramadan guilt 4

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The ‘Bad’ Guy

Last year I read a post (https://momsofmuslims.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/one-who-should-not-be-named/) written by a dear friend of mine, Maria. Its message tugged at my heart-strings and I remember exclaiming, ‘That’s  awesome!’

My eldest daughter was 2 years old at that time and I was confused as to how to explain the concept of evil/Shaitan to her.

A couple of months later I found a Bismillah song which became an instant hit with my kids. In this video, little parrots remind a girl to recite Bismillah before everything she does. When she forgets, Shaitan takes over and misguides her. Then, an angel inspires her to say Ta’wwuz, which causes the Shaitan to run away. (Ta’wwuz is a prayer taught to us by Allah to seek refuge from Shaitan.)

Satan

One random day, as my daughter was watching this video,  she looked at me and asked, ‘Mama he isn’t a very good uncle, is he?” (She meant Shaitan)

She was hardly 2 and a half years old then, but I realised that she was ready and took the opportunity to tell her about Shaitan in an age-appropriate way.

I sat her down and taught her that there is a ‘bad guy’ out there who wants us to displease Allah, who wants us to do all kinds of bad deeds. What we have to do is immediately realise that we are under his influence and recite the Ta’wwuz. She understood some bits, but not much.

Over the next few days, however, whenever we watched that song, she would want to hear the same ‘story’ and I would gladly oblige. I would tell her that ‘Shaitan’ inspires us do a bad deed. But, it’s actually our fault because we ‘choose’ to do it. We have free will and can choose to banish him and be the good people we are inherently supposed to be. In order to do that, however, we need Allah’s help and the Ta’wwuz is literally a plea to Allah against the devil.

At this point, I am also reminded of a scene from the Story of Yusuf (AS)- when his father told him that his brothers would plot against him because ‘Shaitan’ is definitely a great enemy. I find this very beautiful; he didn’t blame Yousuf’s brothers because it would have caused enmity in the heart of Yusuf (AS). Instead, he blamed Shaitan!

[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, “O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.” He said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. (12:4-5)

I’ve taken this lesson seriously as a parent. When my kids misbehave or throw a tantrum, I prefer to direct my anger towards Shaitan and remind them (and myself) to recite Ta’wwuz, instead of blaming and cursing them all the time. (Well, I do fail sometimes and end up blaming them for many things. After all, I am an average desi mom who needs much improvement as a parent!). Also, when one of my kids does something wrong to another, we try to recall blaming Shaitan. Even my 21 month old has started asking me, ‘Shaitaan?’ – (as in ‘Shaitan did it, right mama?”)

A video on anger management by Baba Ali (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGKzPL1lzsU), helped me understand more about how Shaitan works and how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to curb anger by reciting Ta’wwuz, sitting down, drinking water, performing ablution etc. I try to practice this at home too. Well, most of the time!

Cartoon Satan

 

I also looked for more ways to reinforce the concept of Shaitan in my daughter’s mind. Using the above  image from the book ‘A to Z of Akhlaaq’ by Sr. Nafees Khan, I told her how Shaitan makes a child throw toys and have tantrums (she had started doing that recently). She was quiet for a moment and then asked if that is the reason a ‘Shaitan’ is drawn above the boy’s head in the picture . I said, “Yes, probably!”.

Let me confess – while all this was happening, I was in a frustrated state of mind and was facing anger issues myself. So, helping my daughter learn all these key points would remind me of my shortcomings too. And since I believe in ‘parenting by example’, I started to work on myself as well.

Ever since, I have been a work-in-progress. I lapse often but now I have my kids at my aid. Every time I start to get angry, one of them has the guts to say, “Mama please recite ta’wwuz – Shaitan is coming at you!”

But, in the end, we are all humans. I am not perfect and I cannot expect my children to be perfect either. We work as allies against evil; I calm my daughter down when she needs a reminder and she advises me when I need it.

Perhaps, as children, it is easy to not hold a grudge against another person and blame Shaitan instead, but it starts to become increasingly difficult when we grow up. As adults, we blame people and are full of enmity and hatred against others. I hope I learn to let go of my resentments and that my kids grow up to be people who do not harbour grudges. How amazing would this world become if all of us apply this lesson!

Disclaimer: Although the picture above depicts Shaitan is inspiring the boy, we do not know what is the shape/form of Shaitan since these are matters of unseen in our deen.

About the author:

A Muslim by birth and choice, Accountant by way of studies, an artist at heart, house wife by profession and a blogger mom to two toddlers.
I blog at amuslimmama.com
Twitter: @asbahalaena
Facebook: @amuslimmama

Chapter 27: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 27: The Waning Dusk (series)

Myth: It’s family. Everything works.

It’s usually people close to us who get to see us unleash our full-blown tirade on them. Nonsensical quotes like, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you certainly don’t deserve me at my best” are partly the reason why we justify expressing our cranky side.

In this part of the Quran, the people of Paradise are engaged in a conversation about their worldly matters. When I read this verse, I knew I had a situation there:

They will say, “Indeed we were afraid (of Allah’s punishment) when we were amidst our family,  But Allah did favour to us and saved us from the torment of Fire’s scorching breath. (52:26-27)

I can give up music, I can give up TV-series, movies, can even try not to backbite but putting on the best conduct with family– that was just overreaching. Get your folks and friends in one place and when they’ll get around to discussing you, they’ll realize they’re not talking about the same person. You are just a fraction of your private self in public. Had a bad day– the family gets it, exam next day—moms get to dodge the mood swings, fight with a friend—passive-aggressive-serial-killer attitude all day long. It’s our families who have to tiptoe around our sensitivities while we go blasting our tempers off.

We borrow stuff from friends, and we pay it off penny by penny. Though with family, there’s some unwritten rule number 42 that whatever belongs to your sibling is yours by birthright and they spend weeks asking for it and we wriggle out waiving it off some way or the other. But yeah, it’s family. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Can’t stay mad at them for more than a few minutes. But that doesn’t mean you bake them in the heat of your moments.

And this is exactly what the people of Jannah had not done. They feared Allah in their dealings with their family. And no matter how many praises and compliments you get, you will never have truly nailed it unless your family testifies your good conduct. May we be as nice in our homes as other people believe us to be.good_family_quotes_for_pictures

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