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THE MONTH OF MONTHS

My heart sings with joy
The month of months has arrived
For many have yearned for it
But not all have survived

Such euphoria I get
When the warm air of my lungs
Caress my dry lips in supplication
As I pray the taraweh

In this miraculous month
Even the crooked find their way
Rich or poor no eating in the day
What a precious month I say

In it the night of nights
The night to better a thousand months
A night peaceful in nature
In it Quran descended to the greatest teacher

In it mosques fill to the brim
And everyone seems to be in the same team
We share, we care
Satan is chained he can only stare…

Photo Courtesy: https://www.alquranclasses.com/

Do you remember your first Ramadhan? I am talking about those days when fasting to you was for mum and dad’s sake. That is to say; if mum or dad and of course the “reporter” sibling in the family did not see you break the fast, your fast is still valid. You can deny it and I can, but Allah saw you every time you drunk half the water meant for rinsing your mouth while taking wudhu. But of course it was not a big deal, we were young and the thought of staying the whole day without food or water to drink either seemed torturous or mission impossible. I remember thinking to myself that even the adults sneak a sip or two of water when no one is watching because there is no way anyone can stay that long without water. At the age of 7 to 10 years Ramadhan to me was to be able to convince the people around me that I have stayed the whole day with neither food nor water.

Imam Siraj Wahaj puts it nicely when he says, Islam means progress. Right now I can look back at those years and see the progress in my Ramadhan. Maybe the adults around me understood it too and that is why they did not punish me when I broke my fast two hours to Magharib adhan (too dumb, I know that now). I was on training and it was okay to slip here and there, my relation with Ramadhan was still being nurtured. However, I never cease to enjoy the holy month. Apart from the hunger and thirst torture, there was the joy of having the extended family meeting up almost every day and excessive playing with friends (no wonder the unbearable thirst). Having the masjids full during all the swalahs, cooking the best foods and being able to witness the amount of blessings increase in the month. Till date, Ramadhan at my home is known as the month of barkah; not because we were taught so but because we saw the blessings. And then there was the ultimate joy that was Eid. So, in a nutshell, Ramadhan to most of us at that young age was torture from hunger and thirst, good food, friends and family.

When you do something wrong and you know it is wrong but no one reprimands you for it and they all act like it was okay for you to do what you have done, your conscious kills you. Or at least that’s what happens to me. At the age of 11-12 years, during Ramadhan all I could think about is that I got to do better. I have to see to it that I stay true to my fasting. It was a real struggle, reminding myself when it got hard that I can do it, I can stay the whole day with no water. Accomplishing this would make me happier than ever during the time of breaking fast and whenever I failed the enthusiasm of breaking the fast was lost all together. Ramadhan to me then was to be able to stay with no food or water the whole day; and it was enough.

Whenever I speak about Sheikh Khalifa, some people look at me with that eye of “oh she is at it again”. The truth is that given a chance to speak about my high school, I would not shut up. I love my high school. Not because it is the best high school in the Coastal province, though it is a bonus, but because of the role it played in building me as a young Muslimah. It was there that I also learnt that finishing the recitation of the whole Qur’an was highly recommended during Ramadhan. I still remember how people would struggle to finish the Qur’an at least twice while I would be struggling with my one khatm. I admit, I would be disappointed when I could not meet my one khatm goal, knowing that most of my friends had two khatms and others even three. All the Ramadhans in Sheikh Khalifa, my goal was that one khatm. I think I realized it once though I’m not so sure.

One of my biggest dream is to speak Arabic. I once told my friend that the day I would be able to speak Arabic fluently, I would not stop talking. He said that is the reason why I have not learnt Arabic till now. I am sure he is wrong. Being outside sheikh Khalifa my thirst for Arabic became intense; not just so as to be able to speak but I really wanted to understand the message in the Qur’an. My recitation was fluent but apart from a few surahs, I didn’t understand most of it’s message. So I asked one of the local ustadh to teach me Arabic at the same time I found myself a mushaf with the translation. And if you thought finishing a khatm was hard try doing it with the translation. Truth be told, I’m yet to accomplish it and I am disturbed by it. Still I was glad that I not only got to recite the qur’an fluently but I could also understand what it was saying to me.

Every Ramadhan has been different to me with different meanings. I have studied specific surahs, I have used Ramadhan to quit some sins. I have done memorizations of specific surahs, supplications and hadith. I have struggled to make each Ramadhan mean something to me. And it all comes back to; Islam means progress. I have seen my progress in my meaning of this beloved Holy month, and if Allah enables me to see more Ramadhans, I pray that I find more meaning to it.

Now as a 25 year old lady I ask myself what does Ramadhan mean to me and my mind goes back to the verses of the Qur’an that I memorized a long time ago due to how much they would be repeated during this month;
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” (2:183)
In them I get my answer. This month was meant for me to attain Taqwa. To build the strongest bond possible with my creator and as Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (Rahimatullah) said ;
“Taqwa is not praying long into the night and fasting long into the day but it is to abandon the obstacles between you and Allah (SWT).”
In other words, it is to abandon sin.

Ramadhan was meant for me to have that ultimate connection with the Qur’an. Not only by finishing multiple khatms or memorization but to be able to gain the guidance that Allah talks about when he says;
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which the Qur’an was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgement” (2:185)
So yes, Ramadhan is meant for sharing, showing love and compassion to each and every one of us, for the ummah to be united more than ever, but at an individual level, What does Ramadhan mean to you?

RAMADHAN MUBARAK. WA KULLU 3AMUN WA ANTUM BI KHEYR

By: Naima Baghozi

A girl in our school named Kela was the most selfish person anyone can come across. Read on and you will understand what I mean…

My name is Malu and I see myself as a very friendly and outgoing girl. This, you will know from the uncountable friends that I have. I couldn’t see anyone in a bad way; in fact I took everyone as friendly, outgoing and kind as myself. Therefore, it was a surprise to me when almost everybody tried to convince me what a bad and selfish girl the new student named Kela was. I just couldn’t believe nor accept it and I kept telling everyone that it can’t be true. That she is just shy, being new in the school and in town too for she and her parents had just moved from a neighboring town. I kept on finding excuses for her. However, my friends just would not understand why I wouldn’t believe them. This is because I am the sort of person who has to see things for myself without being told to believe, so I decided to keep my eyes wide open on Kela.

Luckily it so happened that Kela was placed in the same class as I and I decided to be my usual friendly self. I went over to where she was sitting and extended my hand in order to introduce myself. ‘Hello, my name is Malu and what is yours?’ I said with a big smile on my face but…

She just looked at my hand with such disgust on her face that one would have thought my hand was a snake ready to strike her. I felt so horrible and walked away slowly wondering what was wrong with her!?

That was my first experience with her but I refused to give up on her because I am not used to people snubbing me – so it was like a challenge for me and I decided to face it… She didn’t know what was coming, he, he, he…

All the way home and far into the night while lying on my bed open eyed, I kept trying to figure Kela out, wondering why she was like this or what made her be this way??? Questions, questions and more questions kept on revolving around my head. I decided there and then that I will do everything in my power to find out. I then fell into a deep sleep right away as I was very tired.

“Kela, Kela come play with me skipping rope please.”

“No Malu, I don’t want to.”

“Oh! Please, please, it is going to be a lot of fun.”

“I said no. I don’t want.” continued Kela with a long face and then even stuck her tongue out at me. That was very rude but I wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept urging her to go and play together…

“Come on Kela, I am just trying to be your friend…”

“I don’t have any friends” Kela replied.

“I know that, that’s why I want to be the first one.” I continued, “Please Kela! Here, shake my hand so we can truly be friends!”

Reluctantly at first a small smile started on Kela’s face and she actually looked pretty instead of her usual long face. She then took my hand in hers and her face lightened up with this beautiful smile and just said “thanks friend…”

“Malu, Malu – what’s wrong with you? Malu, can you hear me?”

I got up with a start and confusion, for a minute not knowing where I was and then I realized I was in my bed. My mother was hovering over me with a worried look on her face and I then realized all that was a dream.

My mom asked me, “Are you alright?”

“Oh! I am fine mom; I was just in a deep sleep and having a dream.” I replied.

“Well, you better get up, breakfast is ready or you will be late for school,” said my mom.

Strangely enough this dream gave me more courage to face Kela and make sure she becomes my friend because I felt there must be something sad that has made her become the sort of person she is now and I was going to make sure I find out what it was.

I quickly got out of bed and did my morning rituals, then right after breakfast picked up my school bag and off I went to school. On the way I met up with a couple of my friends and we went on chattering all the way to school.

The day was as normal a school day usually is. I decided I won’t be too forward with Kela and that I will take things as slow as I can so as not to give her the impression of my being pushy. So I greeted her and moved on.

I decided it would be best to just observe her and her habits and then and only then make my moves in trying to convince her to mend her ways.

It wasn’t long before I found out, for I sit right in the next desk from her, and I could see how terribly rude she was to almost every student who tried to be friendly with her. She would even make faces at their backs and this is a very bad habit for anyone to have.

As days went by I couldn’t help noticing how much she preferred to keep to herself and do everything by herself. She would come to school alone and walk home alone. I felt very sorry for this girl, I don’t know why but I just thought to myself what a miserable life she must be living!

To give credit to my friends, I must accept their opinion about Kela, for she did turn out to be exactly what my friends branded her to be:
“A BAD AND SELFISH PERSON.’

She wouldn’t even share anything of hers with anybody in class; not a rubber, a ruler or even a text book. If anybody dares request her to lend them one or any other of these things – then that person will definitely get a rude plain answer of “NO”.

Come break time when all of the girls don’t mind sharing whatever delicacies we bring from home, she would definitely refuse to even come near us, leave alone sharing her own which we never knew what it was anyway. Oh God! She is such a SNOB, we finally decided.

Thus the days kept dragging on in the same pattern more or less until…

Until one day I decided now this has to stop and I took it in my hands to just follow her home and see where she lives or what sort of life she was living in order for me to make some sense out of all this.

So, after school on this particular day I told my friends to just go on home and that I won’t be long before I join them. Luckily they didn’t question me as to why and why not.

After they left, I hid behind a huge tree which was near our school gate. Not long after, I saw Kela coming out. She first did a strange thing; she looked around all sides as though checking to see if anyone was looking at her. Thank God for the big tree which hid me well, for she passed right by me without even noticing that I was there.

As luck would have it, the path she was taking was quite the opposite of the one leading to my home. I was so glad because this way my friends won’t see me following Kela. My curiosity was driving me crazy about this girl; I just hoped it won’t kill me like it did the cat…

This was my very first time to take this route, so I tried to be very discreet so that Kela may not notice me. I kept quite a small distance between us and I hid behind trees and bushes as we went along – it was quite a distance but I kept on until we came to a little hill which I let Kela climb up and then she disappeared over it, I slowly climbed over it and at the top of it I stood still in shock with my mouth wide open with wonder seeing Kela slowly drawing her legs towards what one can call a home.

You see, what was down there was the worst horrific site of a slum village. So many lousily built box and paper houses clustered so unhealthily together, one would even wonder how anyone can know which one is hers or his.

Tears were rolling down my cheeks and a huge painful lump clogged in my throat wondering if Kela did even have any meal at all. I felt so sad for her and such strong feelings of pity filled the whole of me and for the first time in my life I lifted my face up to the sky and thanked God so much for the privileges that I had, which those people living down that hill never had. I vowed there and then to help this girl in what ever means I can.

Now, everything fell right in place in explanation to her misery and to her attitude in general. One thing impressed me though about her and which made me wonder “how does she manage to come to school so clean every day?!”
I looked down once more and then dragged my feet home like in slow motion, my heart feeling so heavy in sadness…

What will Malu do about Kela?? Wait for the next piece soon in shaa Allah!