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Spiritual Cheddar

September 16, 2009 by Zahra M  

Filed under Featured, Spirituality

 “Mom, what do you mean? Are you serious that Eid is in 5 days?” Shock. Reality check.

Yep, we could barely feel it, a feeling you get when the warm, lazy summer days oozing with nostalgia slip out of your hands, a feeling akin to realizing you are no longer a teenager but an adult now… a feeling that you’ve done injustice with the time given to you. We’ve all read those amazing Ramadan articles and heard those tear-jerking lectures, right? They make us say, masha’Alah tabaarakAllah, ahsant, baarakAllahu feekum…they really and truly do happen to motivate us, even if we can’t implement all the great advice given. Those checklists? Gangsta, totally. They laid out for us A-Z where our eeman and actions could potentially be…someday. The talks after taraweeh? Inspiring, maybe helped us to evaluate our own wrongful states of soul. But, you can’t be serious that Ramadan is already leaving, can you?

The thing is, Ramadan is leaving, that’s for sure. But the feelings of guilt, the pangs of “I-wish-I-woulda-spent-less-time-on-{insert time wasting habit}-and-more-in-Quran-reading-and-charity-etc.,” continue to swoosh over your confused mumbo jumbo of an existence and refuse to leave, even after Ramadan. We end up carrying these negative feelings about ourselves throughout the year, blaming ourselves that even in the month of Redemption from all sins, we failed.

But is this the way we want to remember Ramadan? Do we want to keep feeling guilty and do nothing about it? Is there a chance for acquiring that fresh, clean, slate of opportunity left, even though there are only, like, a few more days of Ramadan left? The answer is, yes. There is always a second chance. And a third. And a fourth. And oh so many more.

In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah, The Exalted, says, “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The fact of the matter is, the doors of Allah’s forgiveness are always open. We might have started Ramadan with a motivation high and dipped and now we are feeling so guilty about ourselves. We may have continued to indulge in bad habits throughout Ramadan and now feel guilty comparing ourselves to others who seem to have benefited so much more than us. We may have been oh-so-busy with midterms in school, family pressures or work deadlines and couldn’t devote ourselves like we wanted to. Or maybe we didn’t even fast properly, pray on time or anything while the dunya kept distracting us. Our soul, whatever state it is in (and this matter is only known to Allah), is crying out for help: “What can I do???”

Some sincere suggestions, first given to myself:

1. Be happy you feel guilty. We are only human and make mistakes. Now use that guilt to better yourself and not to keep pushing yourself down. Remind yourself that Allah’s doors of mercy are always open. Now, go for it. Take the negativity, out. Period.

2. Call out to Allah from the depths of your heart. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “ad-Du’aau huwal ‘ibaadah” – Du’a is worship. Calling out to Allah, asking of Him, proclaiming His greatness is one of the best ways you can redeem yourself. Ask of Him sincerely. Don’t make it into a robotic thing!

When you go about your everyday actions- taking public transport, walking on your high school or college campus, sitting in your cubicle at work or treating patients at work, playing with your baby child, doing your homework, brushing your hair, whatever it may be, remember Allah with your heart. At a random moment when there is a minute, just remember God. Remember Allah.

About to walk into the class you despise at school? Enter with a whispered Bismillah. Who knows it but you and Allah? No one. Face it, you saw a good-looking celebrity on the cover of the magazine, knew you wanted to look again, but turned away with a whispered, Authu billah (I seek refuge in Allah). There’s sweetness in that, no doubt about it. Who would know that your heart screamed SubhanAllah on your evening commute, even though your stomach was rumbling and head pounding because iftar time is close and you’re drained. But you saw that mountain and remembered…Had Allah sent down the Quran on a mountain, it would have crumbled…SubhaaaaanAllah. Allahu akbar. That emotion, that high, that feeling of connecting with Allah is a beautiful thing, it is Dhikr (remembrance) that is a blessing from Him. No feeling could replace it, truly.

It’s CHEESY one might think to try to create these intimate moments between you and your Rabb (Lord), but who said cheese is bad? In fact, this ‘spiritual cheddar’ as I like to call it is a remedy for all our souls, it’s a medicine highly needed for our plethora of spiritual diseases.

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) has a powerful statement on this same topic. He mentions in al-Fawaaid, “If you seek to purify your soul, prefer Allah to your desires.” Think about this…be real with yourself, evaluate what are those desires and worldly pursuits which may be taking over your life, and once you’re truly honest with yourself, insha’Allah change will be right around the corner.

You’re human, suck up to it, you’re no angel. Despite that, keep remembering Allah in your daily routine, create these small, beautiful moments, and insha’Allah this is a sign of victory over your own soul.

3. Last 10 nights? Keep up with the marathon…Read Quran. Recite the du’a “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee” excessively–O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.’ “(Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi). Pray at night, even if for 15 minutes or ½ an hour before Fajr. You’re already gonna wake up for suhoor right? Then just pray a little. Make du’as for those things you really want and need. Allah will answer, insha’Allah, or give you something that’s better.

4. Think about Eid, it’s popping up around the corner soon, but make sure to not only think about Eid. Let’s try to use every minute possible to remember Allah. Even while wrapping those samosas, say Alhamdulillah. While making goody bags for the little kids, start with Bismillah. While cleaning your room, play your favorite surah. Point: keep the beautiful atmosphere of Taqwa – God-consciousness—alive in your life.

5. Keep the spiritual cheddar going. If you’re running a marathon, as Ramadan is likened to sometimes, you need to make sure you sprint in the last portion. Do that. And remember, our entire life is a marathon, so don’t give up those good habits you acquired in Ramadan when Ramadan is over.

May Allah (swt) accept all our good deeds, help us create those intimate, spiritual cheddar moments with Him and grant us, our loved ones and the entire humanity and ummah into His guidance and into the Highest of Paradise, Jannatul Firdous, ameen.


“Truly in the heart there is a void that can not be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”

- Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya (rahimahullah)


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