I Don’t Feel Ramadan


http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastlondonmosque/8612312539/“I don’t feel Ramadan,” she vented.  She, working night shifts and feeling exhausted throughout her days, expressed the same sentiment many others have during this Ramadan of long fasting days and short nights.

“I’m a mom of three small kids,” a sister explained. “I have health problems and can’t fast. If I can just get my prayers in on time, I’m grateful. I’m starting to get depressed because Ramadan is almost over and I haven’t felt it at all.”

“I’m taking care of my elderly parents and working long hours,” he sighed. “Work is hard and being there for my parents is stressful, even though I love them. I was looking forward to Ramadan because I so badly needed the spiritual boost. But now it’s here, and I feel worse because I haven’t felt any spiritual highs. I feel guilty because I should do more acts of worship, but I’m just too tired.”

Many of us have felt inadequate this Ramadan. Long hours of fasting with short nights have made it hard for those of us with life responsibilities or those of us who are unable to fast due to our health “feel” Ramadan. We have not been able to do the extra worship we used to and even when we get in our extra Qur’an or pray in the mosque we have trouble concentrating, so we end up just feeling lame.

But what we really need is a perspective shift.

We need to recognize that taking care of our loved ones, providing financial support for our families and taking care of our health are some of the highest forms of worship in and of themselves. We just need to make the intention and internally shift our perspectives.

Perspective Shift

Here are three action items for those of us feeling low eman (faith) this Ramadan:

  1. Change your perspective.

You are rewarded for your intention. Would have gone to taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) but couldn’t make it because of work hours and needing to get some sleep in? Couldn’t read your planned Qur’an because of the kids who won’t let up on your time for even five minutes? Couldn’t fast because of your health situation?

Your life circumstances simply do not allow even the small amount of worship you so desperately wish you could partake in. Even if you do have the time, you do not have the energy to focus internally and feel the drive. You are exhausted. You feel depleted.

And that is where your intention comes in. You would be doing all you could to rake up the spiritual vibes if it were possible. So, instead of lamenting your lameness, think of God’s greatness, subhanahu wa ta’ala, exhalted is He. In His mercy, He will reward you anyway for all of what you planned to do but could not. Think of the powerful words of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), comforting all of us in this exact situation:

“God ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write): If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then God will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then God will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times: and if somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then God will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then God will write one bad deed (in his account).”1

And if there was ever something you used to do but could no longer do it because of health or your life situations, recognize that you are still being rewarded for it. The Prophet ﷺ comfortingly told us,

“When a slave of Allah falls ill or goes on a journey, he is credited with the same amount of recompense as he used to do in his state of health or when he was at home.”2

And that is why it is so important to take advantage of your time and health when you have it. Because once they are gone, you will still be rewarded for all of what you would be doing if you could. But that is the key—doing it when you can.

  1. Drawing nearer to God happens through actions, not through feelings.

God tells us in a holy hadith (narration): “My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it…”3

We want that “Ramadan feeling” because we get the spiritual high of feeling close to Him. That is essentially what we are craving for.

But here He is telling us that the way we draw close to Him is through the religious duties He has made obligatory on us and then through anything extra. He does not say: “You draw close to Me through a feeling you get and that’s how you know you’re actually close to Me.”

We are so blessed that He did not require us to experience “a feeling”, an emotion, something we have little to no control over, in order to be close to Him. He does not demand we cry out of love for Him everyday, even if that is what we want to do. He does not ask us to weep for our sins every minute, even though that is what we probably deserve to do.

He is empowering us to take action in managing our side of our relationship with Him. If we are taking those actions, we are already near to Him, God willing.

  1. Take a moment and speak to Him.

Give yourself five minutes, just you and Allah. Sit and raise your hands and share what is in your heart with Him in your own words, even though He is well aware of it. Allow the burden of your frustration with yourself to be lifted off your shoulders and into His Hands.

“Dear God, I feel distant from you and it hurts especially because it’s Ramadan and I want to feel close to You in this month. Please, accept all my sacrifices for Your Sake and let me taste the sweetness of our relationship together through what I’m doing. As much as I wish I could be in the masjid and concentrate when reading Qur’an like I used to do to get that emanhigh, I can’t. But I’m doing whatever I can to fulfill the responsibilities You’ve given me in this phase of my life. So please, write me amongst the highest in Paradise, pour blessings into my life and let me taste the sweetness of my relationship with You through what I’m doing.”

 

As our responsibilities pile up, so do our inabilities to focus on the spirituality we were banking on to experience in Ramadan. In the weeks prior, we were so anxious for this opportunity just to get spiritually tuned.

And then once Ramadan gets here and we do not feel it, it is easy for us to sink into even more serious depression because what we thought would give us the boost did not work, so then we blame ourselves. We see ourselves as failures, so we assume that is the way He views us too. But our perception of our own selves is not a reflection of who we are in His eyes. His mercy overcomes any shortcomings of a believer who sincerely struggles to be close to Him, even when we fall.

Be Easy on Yourself

So be easy on ourselves, as Allah (swt) is easy on us. As you speak to Him, remind yourself that everything you do can be an act of worship in which to draw nearer to Him.

Even the mundane can be worship. You brushing your teeth to follow the Prophetic tradition, to maintain the health of your body, to have great smelling breath for your loved ones and the angels who surround you, is an act of worship in and of itself. You smiling at your parents, kissing your spouse, texting a friend to brighten their day; all of those are acts of worship in and of themselves. Your entire life, your entire day, is filled with actions which could all be acts of worship, simply through your intention.

The beauty of Islam is that it does not restrict worshiping God to praying, fasting and reading Qur’an. It can encompass your daily actions simply through your intention.

As the great scholar, Abdullah ibn Mubarak, is reported to have said: “Perhaps a great deed is belittled by an intention. And perhaps a small deed, by a sincere intention, is made great.”

You may not have felt that “Ramadan feeling,” but you may have been doing the actions of someone close to God, someone successful both in and outside of Ramadan, simply through re-framing your perspective, remembering God through the actions you are doing, and renewing your intention through even the mundane.

There is still time. Renew your intention. Reframe your perspective. In these blessed nights, make your Ramadan worship something transformational. Choose to understand your relationship with God as one that will continue even when your life changes. Choose to magnify your intention.

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  1. Sahih al-Bukhari 6491 []
  2. Sahih al-Bukhari 2996 []
  3. Sahih al-Bukhari 6502 []

27 Comments

  1. nb says:

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read, I am sure it resonates with the majority who try to be good but never feel like they are good enough..JZK

  2. Nadia says:

    Jazakallahu Khairan Sis, just yesterday I was discussing the same with my firend, feeling much better after reading this.

  3. khnan says:

    Jazakallah u khairan,
    this piece of writing lifted my fallen heart up to some great expectations.

  4. Danyal Saleem Qureshi says:

    JazakALLAH

  5. Lauren says:

    Moved to tears, alhamdulilah.

  6. Emaan says:

    Jazak Allah Khair. Such a beautiful and heartfelt article. I am a new Muslim and this is my second Ramadan. My first one I loved because I worked in an Islamic environment this time I am not.
    This article brought tears to my eyes and may Allah reward you for taking the time to write it to help others. I feel more inspired after reading this.

    May Allah accept all our fasts and our duas.

  7. Alia says:

    Maryam! asalam alykum (its ur sis Alia)
    I just wanted to say jazaki Allahi kheiran for your article, it really helped me.
    salaam and best to you and your family,
    Alia

  8. afia salmana says:

    I needed this so much, especially the dua. one of the best article I’ve read so far-encouraging as well as soothing and not at all criticizing. Jazakallaho khair, dear sister for such reassurance.

  9. Umm Khadijah says:

    Jazakillahu khayran for your words. Mashallah such simple and clear advice. Allah yahfathik.

  10. ameena shaffi says:

    You can always add to ur ibadah(work us worship)by praising Allah swt by reading small duaas and the Zikr of Allah will ease ur tasks for you Inshah Allah.

  11. Farhana says:

    May Allah reward you.

  12. asma says:

    Best article. Jazak Allah kher

  13. Chahrazade says:

    Jazakallah khairan for this very insightful and inspiring article!

  14. Nadia says:

    Easier said than done.

  15. Aiman Uslim says:

    subhanAllah.. I almost cried reading this

  16. hamza says:

    May Allah reward you for this inspirational article that is well needed to myself and many others. May you continue to enlighten us with these gems of wisdom!

  17. Iqbal Serang says:

    A wonderfully plain and heartfelt expression of “Ebadah” it is moving and inspiring, thanks and JZK.

  18. HelplessSlave says:

    Subhana Allah.

    I was not “feeling” Ramadhan even though I attend Tharaweeh Prayers, even the Qiyaam in the last ten, even after reading the Qur’an and doing all what I could and I used to ask Allah “Why don’t I feel close to you ?, am I so despicable to you that you don’t want me” and Alhamdulillah he has shown me that he cares, because Nothing is Random or chance with Allah .

    Subhana Allah Alhamdulillah Allahu Akbar ….
    Ya Rabb, forgive our sins and Enter us into firdouse ul Ala.

    May Allah enter the writer of this article with Jannathul firdouse with her family and all whom she loves.Great article,when I was reading brought a smile to my face, I had the “bingo” look on my face.

    Alhamdulillah

    But I would still like to feel that sweetness of faith .. :-)

  19. Sufi Altaf says:

    Thanks for this great inspiring and wonderful expression …May god bless you…

  20. Jomo Mingo says:

    Masha allah for these inspiring words now I dont feel so bad May Allah bless you

  21. Dini Mariska says:

    Masha Allah, thank you for this great article. May Allah SWT blesses you always with His Love and Blessings, aameen yaa Rabb. I am happy after reading this :D

  22. leoni says:

    All moslem need to be critics. There are differences between not capable and less attempt.

    One of the question in the dialogue between Rasulullah SAW and Iblees:
    Rasulullah SAW asked: “Who do you like?”

    Iblees replied: “People who relieve your syariat and hate people who learn Islam”.

    عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَـا ، عَنْ رَسُوْلِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِيْمَـا يَرْوِيْهِ عَنْ رَبِّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى ، قَالَ : «إِنَّ اللهَ كَتَبَ الْـحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّـئَاتِ ، ثُمَّ بَيَّنَ ذَلِكَ ، فَمَنْ هَمَّ بِحَسَنَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا ، كَتَبَهَا اللهُ عِنْدَهُ حَسَنَةً كَامِلَةً ، وَإِنْ هَمَّ بِـهَا فَعَمِلَهَا كَتَبَهُ اللّـهُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ عِنْدَهُ عَشْرَ حَسَنَاتٍ إِلَى سَبْعِمِائَةِ ضِعْفٍ إِلَى أَضْعَافٍ كَثِيْرَةٍ ، وَإِنْ هَمَّ بِسَيِّـئَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا ؛ كَتَبَهَا اللهُ عِنْدَهُ حَسَنَةً كَامِلَةً ، وَإِنْ هَمَّ بِهَـا فَعَمِلَهَا ، كَتَبَهَا اللهُ سَيِّئَةً وَاحِدَةً ». رَوَاهُ الْـبُخَارِيُّ وَمُسْلِمٌ فِـيْ صَحِيْحَيْهِمَـا بِهَذِهِ الْـحُرُوْفِ

    From Ibn ‘Abbas radi’ anhu from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam about the hadith which he narrates from his Lord Almighty. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “Verily, Allah writes the virtues and faults and then explain it. Whoever intends to do good but he is not do it, Allah will write it as one full goodness his side. If he intends to do good then do it, then Allah write on his side as ten to seven hundred times to many multiples of his goodness. Whoever intends to do bad, but he did not do it, then Allah wrote it in his hand as one goodness. And he intends to make mistakes and then do it, then Allah wrote it as a big as the mistake he did. “[HR. al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Shahiih book - al-Bukhâri (no. 6491), Muslim (no. 131 [207]) dan Ahmad (I/310, 361).]

  23. Tauseef says:

    Sometimes I get it, sometimes I have imposter syndrome. Sometimes I go to the mosque for tarawih and I find myself surrounded by people I can’t stand.

  24. fawad khan says:

    you are doing great work you love you parents and serve your parents instead of hard working of timing and having three kids.you just focused on Ramadan if you cant do offer prayers regularly but you just need some changes if you cant more but little bit e.g. zikr of Allah you can do little bit tasbeeh of Allah and that dont take your time so much…

  25. Salam, it is good to read views about Ramadan but only Almighty Allah (SWT) knows the intentions.

    On the authority of Omar bin Al-Khattab, who said : I heard the messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam say : “Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, his migration was for Allah and His messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.” ~ Related by Bukhari and Muslim

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