My husband, brother and I got into the microbus heading back from Palestine to Cairo and rode almost silently with the five other male passengers, passing through the desert and listening to the van radio’s Qur’an only hours before it would be time to break our fast.
As iftar approached, one of the young men pulled out apples, dates and water bottles and began passing them around the small vehicle. Subhan Allah, if God hadn’t blessed us with food through this man, many of us may have had nothing to break our fasts with after hours of riding in the scorching desert heat.
After breaking our fast, one of the brothers busted out a cigarette pack. Out of his generosity, he shared the pack. One by one, young and old, almost all of the riders started smoking.
Soon, as the night sky of the last of the first 10 nights darkened, the Qur’an was replaced with massive beats blasting throughout the microbus. My husband, brother and I were almost choking on the second hand smoke, attempting to sleep through the loud music, exhausted from our long trip, while the other passengers partied.
Suddenly, amongst miles of desert, there was a café. “I see people praying!” exclaimed a young man. “Let’s stop to pray maghrib!”
So the bus pulled over and we got out and we prayed. And after the riders took a shisha break at the cafe, we piled back in and continued our music-blasting cigarette-smoking trip.
My first impression of these individuals was how much they were seeking Allah in Ramadan; with the Qur’an, with athkar, and with generosity to their brethren. And once the music replaced the Qur’an, and the smoke continuously filled the microbus, on such a holy night of the year, I realized how truly subhan Allah they really were seekers of Allah.
Clearly my fellow brother riders were smokers, yet they fought to refrain themselves from it during the day so that they could fast for Allah’s sake.
And even though they thoroughly seemed to enjoy listening to crazy loud love songs, subhan Allah, they perhaps fought their desire for hours to instead listen to the Qur’an while they maintained their fast.
And even while traveling and being excused from praying maghrib within its time as if they had been residents, they sought the first opportunity to maintain this specific connection for Allah `azza wa jal.
How many of us first read the two perceptions of the microbus riders and felt they were hypocrites for doing “righteous deeds” while fasting in the day and then engaging in seemingly “unrighteous” deeds in the night?
I emphasized the smoking and music because for many Muslims, particularly in Ramadan, those are two things we hear in our community that we should absolutely avoid- that fasting should help us focus on replacing bad habits with good ones, that Quran should always replace music, especially in Ramadan- most especially in the last 10 nights.
Yet how many of us fast during the days of Ramadan and gossip about others throughout its nights? How many of us read more Quran in Ramadan, yet are harsh to our parents and other believers in the masjid? How many of us listen to Islamic lectures on our long drives yet judge others and cause them to feel unworthy of being in the house of God?
How many of us pray taraweeh in Ramadan and weep, yet swear never to marry a brother or sister who is of another race? How many of us are giving charity in the night, yet fill our hearts with anger and jealousy over what others have and what we wish was only ours?
We all have issues. The point though is that despite them, we try our best to overcome them, to improve, to come back to God in the baby steps we can take. Yes, we don’t play games with Him. But we recognize we struggle while we try.
And perhaps, instead of hypocrisy, this is a sign of our belief in Allah. Perhaps we look at ourselves or even others and call good actions mixed with bad actions two faced. But perhaps Allah is calling His angels to witness our struggle, proud of our inner battle to please Him, knowing of the guilt which consumes us, ready to accept our repentance.
He tells us, “…"O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of God. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (Qur'an, 39:53)
This Ramadan, realize that when you struggle to do things right and yet still make mistakes- you aren’t a hypocrite. You aren’t an unworthy sinner.
You are a struggling believer. And God LOVES those who turn to Him. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you God closed His mercy for you. No one has the right to close that door for you.
Listen to the tugging of your heart that’s telling you it longs for its Creator. Turn to Him. You will find Him always ready to accept you.
Source: Maryam Amirebrahimi