Ramadan diary: day 16-17

Checked my phone this morning. 07.50. And my taxi is booked for 8. The guys are already in the car waiting.

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Repeating subhanAllah over and over and over again I ran around, adrenaline going, brushed my teeth, ironed my shirt (badly), put on the skirt from the night before (alhamdulliah I shower at night so no worries there!), scarf wrapped, socks on, laptop grabbed, face cream into the bag. And I was in the taxi by 8.05.

Great start to the morning.

InshaAllah the rest of the day will be much more relaxed. I have to travel up to a nearby town to help run a workshop but I am all prepped for that. The workload this morning is nice and easy. And my hot desk happens to be very far from my team so I can take my time doing it.

The day before I travelled down from one city to another with the ex-UKIP colleague. It was a beautiful route and although I was struggling to keep my eyes open, I am at least thankful he was doing the driving so I could relax. Regardless, all this travelling is taking its toll. Mix that with my general laziness and lack of motivation, I have been struggling to put into action all my goals.

The fardh prayers have been fine – and being a traveller they have actually been easy (since it is permissible for me to shorten and join them). It is my taraweeh, and reading and memorising the Quran that I have been missing. I usually get back with less than an hour before iftar. Winding down, showering and figuring out what I want to eat gobbles up that time. And before I know it I am just lying there with a few mins before breaking my fast, trying to desperately fill this void that should be filled with focus and to think of some prayers. My prayers feel empty and short-term – focused on the dunya (this world).

I am trying not to loose hope but the days are slipping away and I don’t know if I have improved at all this month. Thinking about it physically hurts my heart.

Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector. Help us against those who stand against faith.” – Quran 2:286

Ramadan diary: day 7

Wow it’s already been a week! Today I finally got round to reading back on my posts last year and I was surprised to see how little progress I’ve made in one year. My post-Ramadan goals are the same ones I am practising again this year.

On the 10th day I wrote:

My heart feels void. Even after 10 days I do not have the Ramadan feeling that it so desperately earns for, that feeling I have basked in before and that feeling I hear people talk about now. My prayers feel empty, my mind distracted and my body reluctant.

I feel so alone in my thoughts. Whilst everyone is on their high, I am at my lowest. I had hoped to spend this time reading, contemplating and watching inspirational videos. Instead I’m spending my days in bed, on my phone. Even starting this blog is a procrastination tool!

Though I am struggling again with gaining that Ramadan vibe I have learnt now that this is a struggle that comes with growing up. Perhaps the days of what I used to feel are gone and maybe that’s not a bad thing? That feeling came with no other responsibilities. No exhaustion. No worries.

Part of the beauty of Ramadan this year is it is real. How I practise my faith this year is how I can realistically continue to do so after Ramadan leaves us.

Now of course I want to do more. The blessings are exponential. We have Taraweeh. It is the month of the Quran. It is the month of mercy, forgiveness and salvation. But I want to do more – and so I can do more. It’s up to me. I don’t need a feeling to do these things and I shouldn’t rely on a feeling to do it either.

And part of the beauty of Ramadan itself is how it’s never too late to try again. I pray all our efforts are accepted and we are one of the lucky ones who leave Ramadan as if we just accepted Islam.

I am adamant on one thing though – next year I do not want to be making it a goal to keep up with my prayers. I will be so gutted if it is. In my heart I don’t see prayer as a little bonus in my life. It’s something I need to survive and be myself. So I don’t understand why I keep letting it slip and in the process feel myself slipping.

Ramadan diary: day 3

I have had a slight headache today which I believe has been caused by lack of sleep last night. I often found I was in a trance-like state, when you know you’re dreaming but continue dreaming. It was so bad that I ended up missing my isha prayer last night.

This breaks my heart as I was really set on making it habitual to pray my daily prayers on time. I often find it difficult to pray at work – and in fact I don’t usually pray at work at all. This is due to a number of factors, primarily my laziness but also the hassle of cleansing oneself in the bathroom. (The troubles of bodna/lotta!) But I am using Ramadan as a chance to practice praying at work – and hope to continue after too. After all, 30 days of continual practice should make perfect.
Isha comes in at 11.30 where I’m staying. And it’s pretty difficult to try and stay away after work, when you’re bored alone and have a full stomach! But today I’ll say no to the nap and maybe watch some YouTube videos instead.

So why is prayer so important to me? Well the fact it is a commandment from God – one that takes around 5 minutes to do. But it’s so much more than that. Praying allows me to take a few minutes out of my day – when I wake up, after I eat, at the end of my work day, in the evening and before I sleep – to spend some time in solitude, just taking some time out to breath. Every so often I can refocus my energy. No matter how difficult or how amazing things are, I can remind myself of my ultimate purpose. I can ask for forgiveness for the sins I know I have committed and hope for forgiveness on those I am not even aware of. I am human after all!

My soul needs prayer. And I know this every time I miss a prayer. I feel myself slipping further and further away from who I want to be.

More often than I would hope I rush my prayer. But when I pray properly, remembering why I do it rather than just getting it over and done with, I find myself. I feel the weight of the world lessen on my shoulders. Tears fall naturally. My heart softens. I am who I am meant to be again.

I find it helps to sit for just a minute before starting my daily prayer on my prayer mat. Close my eyes. Think of the things I am grateful for. Think of the things I want to ask my Lord for. Think of the things I love about Him. And then I open my eyes and stand up. Ready to bow down to my Lord.

“O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring, O our Lord!, and accept Thou my Prayer.” – Holy Quran, Surah Ibráhím, ayah 40

The first thing that Shaytan will try to do is get you stop praying. You know why? Because he has to kill the guard if he is to penetrate the castle. Once the guard is gone then Shaytan can open the floodgate of evil. And he has a lot of patience. He has done this to many people before so he’s experienced as well. – Nouman Ali Khan

Ramadan Reflections

The beautiful thing about Ramadan is how it lasts for a month. It is not just a day of trying your best, or a few days of trying hard. It’s a whole month. This allows us to train ourselves, to keep trying to get to where we want to be even if we’re not there right from the start, and to build habits. As only a few days remain, I look back over what I have achieved, what I hope I had achieved and the things I hope to continue. I aim to use this post to continually reflect throughout the year, so that hopefully this time next year I can have better aims – and from there I will grow strength to strength. Continue reading