Ramadan Reflections: Hardships Are Hidden Blessings


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(c) Rehan Shaikh

By Lauren Tabakhi

The pre-Ramadan enthusiasm I felt within me was unmatched compared to any other point in time throughout the year. In prior months before this spiritual season, I regretfully admit to losing sight of many of the priorities and principles that I used to hold so dear. Thus, as Ramadan drew near, my spiritual preparations began. By mid-Sha’ban, my goals had already been set, my schedule was arranged and my heart was desperately anticipating the blessed month of Ramadan. However, despite all of the extensive and precise planning on my part, I had come to understand that Allah is Al-Khaliq, the best of planners.

One week prior to Ramadan, I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which cells within the patient’s pancreas fail to produce insulin, a hormone necessary to transport glucose into the body’s cells. Without insulin, the body is unable to use glucose for energy. Thus, diabetics recreate this process by injecting insulin into their bodies several times throughout the day. It is essential to continually monitor one’s blood sugar in order to maintain a precise, stable glucose level.

Unfamiliar with the disease at the time of the diagnosis, my first concern had little to do with my health, but rather whether or not I would be able to fast in the upcoming Ramadan. However, my doctors and family did not see this as a priority considering the disease had been developing within me for several months and their sole concern was to immediately begin treatment. Because I had been readily awaiting Ramadan for the past few months, this news was heartbreaking. I was absolutely crushed.

Completely terrified by this entire process, I quickly fell into somewhat of a depressive state for the days following the diagnosis. I was extremely frustrated by this whole situation and frankly, angry that this happened to me. The thought that consistently occupied my mind day and night was, “Of all the weeks to get diagnosed with diabetes, it had to be the week before Ramadan.” Even my doctors agreed that it was somewhat of an unfortunate coincidence. But nothing is ever a coincidence.

The first week of the diagnosis was the most disheartening, agonizing week of my life. All of my excitement for the upcoming Ramadan had instantly faded as I became so extremely occupied with doctors’ appointments and coping with the side-effects of the new medication. I was told that because I was recently diagnosed, fasting was not an option since regulating your blood sugar is a learning process that comes with time. Discouraged, I lost hope in having the much-anticipated “Ramadan experience.”

Although I was feeling weak in my iman (faith), I attended the first Jummah (Friday prayer) before Ramadan. As expected, the khateeb (speaker) gave a beautiful khutbah (sermon) about fasting. He explained how there is no act of worship comparable to this because it is the one act of worship done solely for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (Glorified is He). I felt as if I was hearing the concept of fasting for the very first time in my life; because for me, it was the very first time in my life where it was not definite that I would be able to fast. My eyes filled with tears as this thought became more of a reality. Last Ramadan I never would have considered the possibility that only one year later, I would be uncertain about my ability to partake in one of the most special parts of Ramadan.

I feel like I listened to the khutbah in a different light than everyone else that day. For others, it may have been an annual reminder about the blessings and beauty of the upcoming fasts. For me, however, it was an eye-opening reality that forced me to apprehend my lifelong ungratefulness.

As I broke down in front of my close friend that night, I grieved over the timing of this situation. She stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Perhaps this is the best time.” She continued to explain that yes, a significant part of Ramadan is about fasting, but it is also about developing and strengthening your relationship with Allah (swt). The beauty of the situation is that, while I may be experiencing one of the most difficult times in my life, I am doing so in the most blessed month out of the entire year where His divine mercy is shown everywhere. In that instant, I realized what an amazing blessing I was given. I realized that this couldn’t have happened at a better time.

“Verily, with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an 94:6)

As only a few days remained before the commencing of Ramadan, I met with my doctor and reluctantly asked her again about the possibility of fasting. I spoke from the heart and explained that one’s health is a priority in Islam, but it would mean the world to me if we could figure out a way to safely go about fasting, although we are still in the beginning stages of treatment. To my surprise, she was extremely understanding and willing to try any sort of changes in medication to make it work. Currently, we have entered into the last 10 days of Ramadan and I feel so unbelievably blessed to be fasting and experiencing this month as I would ordinarily.  However, I have come into this month with a new frame of mind. I am truly thankful for how easy my situation has become, and for every other functioning part of my body that I previously tended to neglect.

We are all faced with trials that come in different forms and at different times in our lives. Theses trials have the ability to make or break us. It all depends on your attitude and your willingness to put your trust in Allah (swt). I originally considered my diagnosis and its timing an absolute disaster. However, with a change in perspective, I am able to view this situation as one of the greatest gifts that Allah (swt) could have given to me. Not only is this hardship a means of attaining closeness to Him, it is also happening at one of the most beautiful, blessed moments in time.

May Allah (swt) make us successful in our journey back to Him this Ramadan. Let us never neglect to be eternally grateful for every imperceptible cell that seamlessly functions so efficiently and beautifully within our bodies. Ameen.

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19 Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for sharing this and having such a positive attitude which is truly very inspirational!

  2. Your attitude is inspiring. I’m so glad you are able to fast these last ten days, Alhamdulillah. Ameen to your dua’.

  3. Abir says:

    As a muslim and someone with type 1, I can whole heartedly say that I totally understand your frustrations and Allah swt does too. There is blessing in our struggles and like you said, Allah is the best of all planners. Congratulations on being able to fast!! As someone who’s also been discouraged from doing so time and time again, it truly is by the grace of God that we manage to do it :)

  4. Salman bin Muhammad says:

    Beautiful. Alhamdulillah glad to see your train of thought. May Allah keep you guided. #wordup

  5. saleeka mohammed-ali says:

    thank you for sharing…..i was diagnosed with type2 diabetes last year june…i too cried…my first thought was why me and i would have to stop fasting…having done this my whole life i could not think about giving up my fast…i prayed…Allah Taala has been good to me …i kept all my fast last year and this year…Alhamdulillah…i take my meds at nights…..We must simply put our trust in him at all times

  6. First of all I would like to congratulate you on fasting the month with such a chronic disease and pray for your good health.
    Secondly, I would like to add to thank you for sharing your personal experience with everyone and I am sure it will inspire many people who face hardships and difficulties of all kinds that turn into trails of faith and belief.
    It is also wonderful to hear that even doctors understand the merit of faith and they know that they are merely helping hands of Allah in curing anyone who He wishes.

  7. This is beautiful and so insightful. MashaAllah, I love it. Very eye-opening, indeed.

  8. Salma says:

    شفاك الله وعافاك

    Very beautiful and extremely inspiring … God bless you :)

  9. Heba says:

    May Allah reward your all good for your good intention.
    Put your trust in Allah and He will recover your disease.
    May Allah reward you good for sharing such blessing with us.

  10. Salome says:

    Assalomoualaykum Warahamatulahi WAbarakatu Dear Sister,
    I am sitting on the grass in the front of my building enjoying the sunny summer day with a nice breeze, alhamdulillah! Your story reminded me of how many things we take for granted. I had written a long Du’a years ago (that I can not find on my computer for some reason…. InshaAllah next time I look for it Allah swt will guide me to find it. Ameen) mainly being grateful to Allah swt for all the blessings we receive at each instant of our lives: breathing, seeing, hearing, touching, moving, walking, thinking, talking, reading, writing, learning, bending down, getting up, feeling. I am grateful to Allah swt for each of my little cells that work tirelessly to make our bodies function. Astagfirulah we take so much for granted, we abuse our perfect, amazing bodies and still Allah swt’s mercy make them heal themselves, continue on, resist and endure our abuse. I am grateful to Allah swt and to you for bringing me to tears realizing that fasting during Ramadan is a privilege. Allah Uakbar!

  11. umtalhah says:

    as salam alaikum,
    first of all, jazakumAllahu khairan to all who are involved in bringing this wonderful piece to us….
    anything that brings us closer to Allah is a ne’mah (blessing) from Allah whether we perceive it as such or not… Alhamdulillah it gave you the appreciation for fasting and reading your story, many more will be thankful to Allah to give them a chance to fast.
    last year i was diagnosed with arthritis at a young age a week before ramadhan and i went through similar emotions.
    may Allah give you a quick and complete cure and keep us all attached to His worship.

  12. Mehreen says:

    I just found this absolutely beautiful ‘ Let us never neglect to be eternally grateful for every imperceptible cell that seamlessly functions so efficiently and beautifully within our bodies. Ameen.’

    JazakAllah Khair sister for the amazing article.

  13. ubah says:

    Subhaan Allah. I can’t explain how much I was able to relate to this post. Jazakillahu khairan, may Allah (SWT) reward you with health and blessings ameen.

  14. Hasina says:

    My husband is a pharmacist, and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 10 years ago. Alhamdulilah, he has not missed a single fast in all this time despite often working 10-12 hours a day in his pharmacy. The first few days of Ramadaan are the most difficult – when he has to adjust his insulin dosage through trial and error at suhoor. It is only a pure ardent desire to please the Almighty that makes it possible for you sister Lauren! Masha’Allah!

  15. Nafeesa says:

    Thanks for the writeup.This is an inspiration which Allah subhana wa taala has blessed me with. During the first week of Ramadhaan, I was diagonised with major infertility.The hardship has steared towards increased ibadah. Pray that Allah may Bless me in this most blessed Month. ameen.Insha Allah

  16. zujaja says:

    my dad is more than 60 now, he had diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, but alhumdulillah he still fasts, he makes sure to eat his meds before the fast and afterwards. Sometimes you just need to push yourself to find a way

  17. Aziza says:

    Your positive attitude is highly contagious. JazakAllah Khair for this amazing article and may Allah grant you ease in coping with your diabetes and in all your acts of worship from here forward.

  18. Muna says:

    Jazakullah Khair for the amazing and inspiring article. Reading your statement about seeing Allah’s mercy in even the most challenging situations had a huge impact on me, and I’m so grateful that I had the chance to read it in the last few days of Ramadan, Alhamdulillah. May Allah (swt) continue to guide you and bless you for your kind deeds!

  19. Azra Jamal says:

    Assalamu alaykum
    I am currently studying an undergraduate degree in Psychology with Education Studies (Bsc). For my final year dissertation, I have chosen to research the topic of Ramadan and explore the lived experience, spiritual benefits and challenges of this Holy month. I will be analyzing online diary entries of Ramadan that people have posted.
    I will be working with a supervisor to assist me throughout my research project. He is an experienced researcher with an interest in Islamic perspectives. Having researched this topic, there have been many papers published on the health implications of Ramadan but much less academic work on the spiritual aspects. As a Muslim psychology student, I have chosen to study deeper into experiential accounts of fasting in Ramadan as it is an under researched area.
    I hope your diary entry can be one of the entries that can assist me into exploring experiences of Ramadan. To be ethical and respectful, I intend to only include on-line material from individuals who have given me consent by e-mail. If you are willing for me to include your web-posts in my analysis then please reply as I will only be able to proceed with your e-mailed consent. My e-mail address is: azra.jamal@myemail.dmu.ac.uk
    If you would like to discuss potential inclusion of your postings further before making a final decision then please contact me at the same address. Please be assured that you are under no obligation to agree to your data being included after our e-mail exchange if you decide to not give consent.
    You are also welcome to e-mail my supervisor Dr Iain Williamson at iwilliamson@dmu.ac.uk if you wish.
    Thank you
    Sincerely,
    Azra Jamal
    azra.jamal@myemail.dmu.ac.uk

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