Since last Ramadan, there have been many changes in our lives. My children and I made a move to the mountains of NC due to my oldest continuing her education there. So far, it’s been quite a change; of scenery, of culture, of daily life, for all of us. The town is small, and there are tourists and students everywhere. It’s an adjustment, but the mountains are beautiful, the weather is nice, and the people are so friendly. We are blessed to be here.
But it’s also been a year of loss. Since last Ramadan, my father passed away. That was shortly followed by the death of my best friend, both of our cats, my uncle, and my fiancé. After my fiancé died, someone asked me, “How are you dealing with all that loss?” I said, “I just keep praying.” There are so many people who have it so much worse than I do.
For the past few years, my children have enjoyed making lists for Ramadan, trying to come up with new and creative ways to give, to be more charitable. And though they have made many lists already, this year I have a list of my own, personal things I want to work on myself.
This year, after a scare with skin cancer last year, I will remember to wear more sunscreen when I go outside, and make my children wear it too. My kids and I will finish our “little free library” project (https://www.littlefreelibrary.org) and put lots of children’s books in there (along with several copies of Qur’an). I will wear the pink hijab that I keep “only for special occasions.” Every day is a special occasion, a gift from Allah, and I will remind myself of that more often. I will give blood, register with the bone marrow donation program, and brush up on my Urdu. I stopped speaking it when my fiancé passed away (he was from Karachi).
This June, In’sha’Allah, I am working at a summer art camp for Spanish-speaking children, and will work on my Spanish-language skills at the same time. Now that we live in the mountains of NC, I want to take my children to play in the river. I’m going to dust off my pink bicycle and go bike-riding with them more. I will not worry what anyone else thinks. I will recycle more, conserve gas, and offer my time to the humane society. I will share dates with our neighbors and teach my children how to make bread, the homemade kind that takes hours to rise, and share that with the neighbors as well. I will tell my children more stories from their childhood, take more pictures, and keep my car cleaner.
I will be better to myself this year. I will ask Allah for patience, wisdom and humility. Martin Luther King Jr. once kindly said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I will smile more. I will try to eat less Cashew Rose Petal Chikki from Around The World Market (my one real weakness).
This Ramadan…resolve for yourselves…to mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter, share some knowledge, and give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Talk less. Listen more. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Let go of judgement. Think first of someone else. Appreciate. Be kind; be gentle; be generous. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more. Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Go to the mosque. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Pet an animal. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth, of everything Allah has created for you.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it still once again.
And when Eid-ul-Fitr rolls around once again, think back on all the blessings you’ve been given, the big ones and the little ones. Smile. Love. Peace.