I thought long and hard before writing this post. It’s a very personal one, and it’s not a topic that people often talk about. When I started my blog, I made a promise to myself that I would talk about the good and the bad, because that’s the only way I can stay authentic to myself. I hope this post finds whoever is reading it well.
A couple nights ago I heard a story about a Quran teacher in New York who molested four of his female students. Imagine going to learn Quran, but getting molested instead? I’ve been thinking non-stop about this story, but in a weird way it has brought me comfort.
The story itself isn’t what comforted me. What happened is absolutely disgusting. However, knowing that even the most “religious” of people, someone who has memorized the Quran and knows it well enough to teach it, has demons and skeletons, too. This Ramadan has been especially difficult for me because there is this constant feeling of guilt that stays with me. All of the mistakes I’ve made, all of the things i’ve done, they all stay with me. It sometimes makes me feel psycho just thinking about everything, and I get angry. Angry at myself, but also angry at God. I ask myself questions like why did this happen? Why to me? Why was I put into this situation? And even though I know it was a test, the feeling never leaves me. I get so angry that I just want everything to stop. To make it stop I have to forgive myself, and even though in my mind I have, in my heart I know I haven’t.
For me, I think the hardest thing in Islam is to obtain true Taqwa. Taqwa is when you see a path filled with thorns, but you still take the path, you just dodge and pass over the thorns. We, as Muslims and as human beings, always WANT and TRY to dodge the thorns, but sometimes it is inevitable.
The biggest thing that I wanted to work on this Ramadan was setting myself to a higher standard. I know what I want, and I’m determined, but I often find myself slipping. When Ramadan started I wrote down goals that I wanted to accomplish, and I have not accomplished any of them. I keep giving myself excuses for each goal, and even though I know that they are silly and unreasonable, I still accept them from myself. Ramadan hurt me this year because it showed me just how flawed I am. I’ve learned that it’s my personal nafs that is the monster, not always the shaytan, who I always blame my sins on.
Even though the start to my Ramadan has been rough, I hope to end it right. For me, coming to terms that expectation to achieve an extraordinary spiritual high this month is unrealistic for me. Understanding that I won’t be getting epiphanies on the regular, and knowing that my struggle is REAL and VALID is how I hope to end this Ramadan. I hope to end it by knowing that the habits I’ve built over the past 19 years in life are not going to be broken in 30 days. I hope to end Ramadan by forgiving myself, others, and starting fresh with my own relationship with myself. The entire dynamic of Ramadan changed for me this year. It’s not just about how many Juz I read, or how many nights I pray Qiyam anymore. It’s about learning to invest in myself, it’s about discovering what forgiveness is, and about acknowledging the flaws of my nafs.