This Ramadan, our special guest blogger and columnist will be sharing daily Islamic reminders with our community.
Have you ever been walking along a sidewalk and came upon a crack out of which was growing a beautiful flower? You may have thought that it was quite amazing that a flower would grow and even thrive under such conditions given the unlikelihood of its survival. But despite the less-than-ideal conditions, the flower grew where it was planted. Of course, it is most likely that no person planted the flower in that crack, but some seed was carried off by the wind and landed there and that is where the flower grew. The seed, it should be noted, did not have any say over where it would land or where it would sprout into a beautiful flower. I suppose if it did have a say, it would have chosen a more ideal spot in which to grow.
And we too, just like that flower springing forth from the crack of a sidewalk, must grow where we are planted. We may think that the conditions we find ourselves in are not ideal for growth to take place in our lives, yet we must make an honest attempt. For this growth to take place it is essential that we use the resources and opportunities that have come our way to the best of our advantage so that we can both grow and thrive, and not worry or stress over not being in what we consider the best or ideal conditions.
We cannot live in a world of fantasy where thoughts of “should” takes precedence over “what is.” If we wait for these so-called ideal conditions in order for growth to take place in our lives, we may never grow at all but stagnate and die from within.
You must come to terms with the realization that the reason you are in the place or situation you are right now is because that is what Allah has ordained for you. When you internalize that reality and stop pining over the fantasy of where you “should” be, then you will be able to grow and even thrive.
You should remember you can control how you choose to see and perceive the situation that you are in at the current moment. Learn to reorient the way you think about your current situation.
You must also be willing to accept change because change is both inevitable and necessary to bring about progress. If things always remained the same, there will be no personal growth or forward motion in your life. Look upon these times of change as opportunities and not something to merely pine over.
You should also try to be thankful and value what you do have right now instead of always feeling negative about your life, because negativity will affect your overall energy levels and make it difficult for you to achieve further growth. Focus on what you do have and work on that.
In addition, try to learn lessons from your circumstances. When you make mistakes or when you interact with other people etc, be on the lookout for life lessons that you can use later on. Even in really bad situations, lessons can be learned. When you have this mindset you will see those circumstances and people that come into your life not as a waste of time and energy but as opportunities for growth.
And, as I stated above, try to practice acceptance of the current situation you were in, especially those things that you cannot change at the moment. Accept the things you cannot change and work with them.
You can also take the time to learn about those people who in the past were able to achieve tremendous things even though they started out under very difficult conditions and circumstances. Just because things are difficult and not ideal does not mean that things are hopeless.
Wake up in the morning, express thankfulness to your creator and then focus on what are your tasks or obligations right now and get to it.
Yes, dear reader, it is possible to grow or you are planted.
— Surah Al-Isra 17:9
As we settle into the first week of this most blessed month, let us remember, that in addition to fasting, “Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed” (al-Baqarah, ayah 185). It is “a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard to distinguish between right and wrong.” (al-Baqarah, ayah 185).
Many of us will hear the Qur’an during Taraweeh prayers, and read it on our own personal time. This indeed, is the time, to develop a closeness the guidance from Allah. And one cannot do that without understanding the message of the Qur’an.
I grew up in a South Asian household, and as a child, I remember the importance of reading the Qur’an from cover to cover, in Arabic, phonetically. Once that was completed, families would often hold a celebration that their child had completed the Qur’an. While we are rewarded for this effort, it always bothered me that I never understood a word I had read. Not only that, there was so much reverence for the Qur’an, that It seemed like a distant, holy object – often read on the occasion of someone’s death. And, there was always a warning to stay away from understanding the message of the Qur’an on your own, lest one be led astray.
But I truly came to love the Qur’an later by reading a number of English translations, in order to understand the meaning and message from Allah (swt). The Qur’an became my daily companion throughout the year. And as I became more fluent in Arabic, the direct understanding became more profound.
When I lived in the US as a graduate student, learned from a group of African-American converts who would gather weekly to study the Qur’an. They loved the book of Allah so much – by understanding the meaning and message. They strove to learn Arabic, to get even closer. For them, the Qur’an was not a distant object to be revered, but rather, a close source of light and guidance. They carried their Qur’an everywhere, made notes, opened it often, and gave it its due respect by revering and following the message. Their Qur’an was not covered in a special cloth, nor was it in pristine shape. The cover was worn due to constant use. They showed me how a believer lives with the Book of Allah.
Let us take the time, during this most blessed month, to understand the message, to understand the words that our Creator has revealed for us. If you do not read or understand Arabic, find a translation that speaks to you. Read it constantly, and absorb the message. There will be some ayahs that reverberate in your heart – learn those by heart and recite them often. Let the Qur’an speak to you personally, to your heart – for this is the guidance from none other than Allah.
Today, there are so many sources on the internet and in bookstores to help understand the Qur’anic message. Consult those that you like, for additional understanding. But do not let go the constant companionship between your heart and the words of Allah (swt). Seek refuge in Allah before reading, and seek His Guidance while reading. If you have children, let them see you reading the book of Allah – it will make a huge impression.
Let this month be the month of cleansing and illuminating the heart with the Qur’an.