Today I would like you to read a reflection written by brother Anish, 44, London.
What stood out to me in this blog is the determination, the step-by-step journey, the knowing attitude that ‘I am doing this for Allah swt and it is good for me’.
I took my shahada in the late summer of 2002, it was roughly 8-10 weeks before Ramadan. I was steadily learning about my new faith and I had kept it a secret from my family. Coming up to Ramadan, I had decided to disclose the secret to my parents, as I believed that the shayateen were locked up during this month, therefore it would soften the blow somehow. I decided to leave some Ramadan and other dawah material in my room, hoping my mother or my sister would see it, again, hoping it would not be a surprise when I tell them.
Building up to Ramadan I could sense the anxiety in my Muslim friends and not many of them were practising Muslims. Therefore, my initial anticipation of Ramadan was that it was going to be a ‘scary’ and arduous time.
As soon as maghrib of Ramadan set in, I felt instantly different. Fear turner into tranquillity and I was feeling suddenly connected to the masjid. I had probably visited the masjid on less than 5 occasions in the preceding 3 months. I remember praying esha and tarawih that night, then readying myself for the next morning. My friend gave me a timetable to follow, alluding to the start times and finishing times is all I need to know.
I woke up early the next morning, forcing myself to eat my suhoor and pouring all the water down my throat. Then made my way to the masjid for fajr, I had planned to go to work straight after. No one warned me that liquids do not stay in that long and what goes in equally comes out. Nearly had an accident on the way to the masjid, just about made it in time.
The day was extremely difficult, I was constantly looking at the clock, waiting for 4.40pm. There was even a free lunch (feasts in those days) from the medical sales rep at work on that day. I was not that bothered about the lunch all I wanted was my bed. I have never tried harder to stay awake in my life. Looking back at it now, it was not even that long of a day. I still think to this day, this was my most difficult fast. Maghrib eventually came and I broke my fast, water and a cheese sandwich had never tasted so nice up to that point in my life.
I felt like a sense of achievement finishing my first fast. The feeling did not last long when I looked at the time table and saw the other 29 days on the calendar. Boy, how was I going to go through this month? My emaan was still under development at that moment in time and the thing that kept me going was, If I missed a fast with no valid reason, then I would have to fast 60 days.
The next day came along and I repeated the routine, crossed off another day on my calendar. Again momentarily feeling a sense of accomplishment till I saw the remaining days left on the calendar.
For some reason, I thought it was the ‘fajar jammat’ time was the starting time, so I would eat and drink up to that point. I nearly did that for the whole month till I was corrected.
Then some days into the month, my parents confronted me, why was I waking up so early and where was I going so early in the morning. Eventually, I told them about my conversion and I still remember the look on their faces. I was expecting an angry, upsetting confrontation. But what I received in return was confusion and puzzled faces. Naively thinking, that was not too bad after all, felt enormous relief, Now I could tell the whole world, this does not have to be a secret anymore. The next few months and years were very different after the reality had kicked in.
Ploughing through the days, going to the masjid in the evening, it became an easier routine. I had managed to keep all the fasts which was a great relief and a sense of joy at the end of the month. Armed with this sense of achievement I believed I could accomplish anything. Soon I dropped my smoking habit where I failed numerous times before my first Ramadan.
I hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did. Having to plan how and when to tell your parents that you are a Muslim is daunting, if not stomach churningly terrifying. The learning of how to fast, figuring out timings of suhoor, the difficulty of working, clock watching, and yet, despite all of this, being overcome by such an overwhelming sense of achievement at the end of the day – Subhanallah. Brother Anish has truly touched on so many realities. He has inspired me with his love and determination for the deen, his achievements and sheer willpower.
Please share your comments and make dua that Allah swt increases our brother in emaan, gives him good in this world and the next, Ameen.