In 2014, I reached into the blogosphere with hopes and goals for Ramadhan 2014. The year had already brought on plenty of challenges by moving to a small town, and I felt the need to reach into the blogosphere for support. In 2015, back in Ottawa (Canada) and surrounded by a multitude of Muslims/Muslim communities, I set out a few goals for the Holy Month. In 2016, I had hoped a more elaborate plan would allow me to change me physically and spiritually.
Time and times again, I have made elaborate plans for Ramadhan in the hopes that I would be led spiritually.
So here I am, soon be celebrating 5 years as a convert to Islam and my 8th Ramadhan since I first attempted the practice in 2009.
I know something’s broken inside of me in the last few years because I feel no such desire. While I have felt intense solidarity with my sisters in faith, the sexism, racism, ableism, transphobia, and homophobia I have witnessed and experienced inside mosques and communities have all but isolated me from the Muslim community at large. It has made my interactions laboured and half-hearted, and made it difficult for me to reach out and open up to fellow Muslims.
That’s not to say that my interactions with non-Muslims have been overly positive: many have made me and my partner feel like lesser person because of *my* faith. Attacking my belonging as a Canadian, my authenticity as a Muslim, questioning my mental health, and shaming me for what little I practice.
It has been a long and exhausting journey.
This Ramadhan will be, again, an exercise of mind over matter. My partner and I will spend much of Ramadhan packing to move to a new home and travelling to visit family and friends. So, sure, there’s lots I’d like to do this Ramadhan, but realistically, I anticipate that I will have little energy for any of it. I don’t want to give up making plans and intentions, but trying to be kind to myself, here is my modest goal for this month:
- Fast as many days as I can from dawn (Fajr) until sunset (Maghrib)
I’ve made more than my fair share of attempts at this. I am not good on schedules – never really have been – but here I am giving it my best shot, once more. I will focus on the dawn prayer (Fajr) and the sunset prayer (Maghrib). As they fall around meal times, I would hope to have a special spiritual focus to begin and end my fast.
- Visit the Assunnah Muslims Association (Ottawa) mosque
As I have previously mentioned, my partner and I will soon be moving into a new home. It turns out that the Assunnah Muslims Association (AMA) mosque will be practically in my backyards. As such, I would like to take some time during Ramadhan to become more familiar with the mosque and the community. I have already received some invitations from friends in the area to attend in their company.
- Memorize the Verse of the Throne [ayat ul-Kursi, 2:255] and the chapter of Disbelievers [surat al-Kafiroon, 109]
Many Muslims believe that reciting faithfully the Verse of the Throne [ayat ul-Kursi] can protect a believer physically and spiritually. As this life [dunya] continues to test me, I plan on memorizing this verse as a means to re-centre myself and focus my mental and physical energy in serving Him.
God, there is no god but He, the Living, the Sustainer. No slumber or sleep overtakes Him; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. Who will intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows their present and their future, and they do not have any of His knowledge except for what He wishes. His throne encompasses all of the heavens and the earth and it is easy for Him to preserve them. He is the High, the Great.
– 2:255, Quran: A Reformist Translation
The Chapter of Disbelievers [surat al-Kafiroon] is the first chapter I have ever studied back in 2009. The imam of my local mosque taught me that “disbelievers” referred not to those who didn’t believe in God, but rather those who heard and understood the message of God and distorted it for their own gain. As I face Muslims and non-Muslims alike who continuously fail to accept my practice as a Muslim, I aim to find refuge in this passage:
Say, “O ingrates,”
“I do not serve what you serve,”
“Nor do you serve what I serve,”
“Nor will I serve what you serve,”
“Nor will you serve what I serve,”
“To you is your system, and to me is mine.”
– 109, Quran: A Reformist Translation
- Gather with like-minded friends, family members, and communities
While in previous years I’ve mosque-hopped through the National Capital Region mosque and community gatherings, my goal this year is to focus on like-minded friends, family members, and communities. Spending my energies on those that can help me grow my faith will hopefully allow me to fuel my faith [iman] for the next year as the road is far from clear.