When Ramadan came while I was a full time undergrad and working part time, I was rushing to Taraweeh prayers between classes and homework. I was organizing events as MSA President and I was booking speakers for my local masjid. When I would enter Taraweeh, my heart had a hard time staying focused.
Ramadan began, the middle of Ramadan came- and my heart still didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel the Ramadan sweetness. I hadn’t shed a tear. I was angry at myself for not feeling like Ramadan was affecting me. Between school and work and organizing events, I felt like everyone had a part of my mind, a piece of my heart, and none was left for my relationship with my Creator.
I was so looking forward to hearing a specific surah and I was hoping to find renewal through it. But on the night it would have been recited, I had to help with a lecture. And by the time I rushed back into the prayer hall, it was over.
I was devastated. I hadn’t gotten to listen to the lecture I helped organize because I had to work crowd control. I didn’t get back in time to listen to the surah I so deeply needed. I felt completely lost.
I sat down and I raised my hands, heart heavy, numb, frustrated, angry- and finally- finally- I felt like the rock that encased my heart cracked. And I began to weep. And it wasn’t just because of that night. It was all I felt I had missed because I had been so busy with my life responsibilities. All I felt I had sacrificed for others without leaving enough for me. By the time I finished that duaa, I felt a peaceful closeness to God that I deeply had craved. And I had a realization.
School, work, organizing events- they are all acts of worship, yes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that actions are by intentions [bukhari]. But they are all means of drawing closer to God particularly in Ramadan.
In other words- you caring for your children; changing their diapers, dealing with their sibling rivalry, pulling your hair out because you’re going crazy not to be angry instead of reading Qur’an peacefully throughout the day and praying a calm Taraweeh in the masjid- that is an enormous act of worship. Does not the statement of the Prophet [peace be upon him], “Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, God will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter…” [Muslim] include supporting your own children?
You sleeping through some of the day and missing Taraweeh at night, not even feeling like it’s Ramadan despite your fasts because you’re working night shifts to stay financially stable and provide for your family- that is an enormous act of worship. Does not the statement of the Prophet [peace be upon him], “…Allah is helping the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother/sister…” [Muslim] especially apply to helping your own family?
You working long hours, barely sleeping, trying to keep up with reading Quran consistently, even when it’s a small amount, and praying taraweeh with as much concentration as you can, even when despite all your efforts it’s not nearly what it needs to be- that, in and of itself, is worship. Does not God tell us, “The most beloved actions to Allah are those performed consistently, even if they are few” [Bukhari].
And the list only goes on.
You may not feel the special “Ramadan feeling” in every moment of Ramadan. But don’t forget- whatever you do that encompasses His pleasure, with the right intention, is a form of worshipping Him.
When you become overwhelmed, your heart riddled with guilt, your shoulders heaving with sadness- when, in the middle of the month, you feel like it’s gone by and you haven’t even been able to do half of what you wish you could or used to do- remember the moment I had in the masjid. Pour your emotions into your duaa, your voice whispering the hoarse pain of your aching heart. Keep knocking on the door. Your daily actions are probably already those of worship. Ask Him to let you taste the sweetness of an intimate connection with Him through the actions of your everyday life.
May God bless you with an incredible Ramadan! Please keep me and my loved ones in your duaa!
–Shaykha Maryam Amirebrahimi
Photo: Moayad Hussain