Ramadan: where am I?

Ramadan is nearing its end, and I wonder where I’m at in my goals and my progress. Could Allah azza wa jall possibly accept my fast and my charity and my worship? Could He possibly be pleased with me?May Allah forgive me, I’ve spoken quickly and without much thought, in anger and frustration this month. I’ve had bad thoughts about my brothers. I’ve felt undue, excess pride, bordering on arrogance. I’ve prayed without even a modicum of khushoo.

I’ve spoken publicly about my faults… the hits just keep on coming.

Astaghfirullah. Astaghfirullah. Astaghfirullah.

So what, if any, good did I do this this month?

Well, I’m not sure it’s strictly good, but I introduced my darling, adorable wife to Bob Ross… Alhamdulillah there are a dozen or so episodes of Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere on Netflix, and they’re such a peaceful and positive way to wind down the day and get ready to wander off to the masjid.

I can be a bit sentimental from time to time. InshaAllah there’s nothing wrong with that. Beauty is Everywhere is probably a bit of a time waster, but it does help take the edge off a bit. We’ve watched a grand total of 2 episodes so far, and InshaAllah they haven’t detracted too much from our worship.

I had some nebulous idea to avoid the cameras for the month, and, aside from a bit of portrait photography for my sister-in-law and a couple of random pictures with the phone that I didn’t share anywhere, I’ve succeeded, and except for the hour or so I spent culling and editing the Fatema pictures, I didn’t even open Capture One or Lightroom all month. Allahu Akbar.

A couple of Kickstarter photography books that I acquired prior to Ramadan arrived during the month, and they’re all in a pile awaiting unboxing videos (if I get back into those): I’ve left the photography hobby and all the usual things on this blog for the whole month, and I’m not really sure what will come back.As a matter of fact, the blog might go dark for awhile while I focus on some photography projects and long form writing, and while I turn my attention to some activities or more immediate import. Allahu Alim.

But Ramadan really isn’t about giving stuff up… this isn’t Lent. Ramadan is about worship, about growing closer to Allah azza wa jall, obeying his commandments and devoting ourselves to Him alone.

I had an plan to write one post glorifying Him per day, and so far I’ve kept it up by the will of Allah alone. I had a plan to watch or attend all of Ustadh Nouman’s Surah Baqarah lectures, and so far I’ve kept it up by the will of Allah alone. I had a last minute idea to pray Isha’a and Fajr in the masjid every day for the last 10 nights: Alhamdulillah I adjusted my work schedule and have so far managed to keep it up, by the will of Allah alone.

Alhamdulillah, through fasting, through increasing my worship (however slightly), through researching and writing these posts, I’ve recognized some faults within myself. I see clearly how sugary and processed foods hamper my worship: they speed up my thinking and make me twitchy; the high pitched noise that I hear when I’m still and everything is quiet, that noise that I think is the sound of my nervous system (but that is really, perhaps, some minor form of tinnitus), dropped an octave after about 10 days without much processed stuf. Overall, I’ve found it easier to remain calm and keep my frustration to myself, and far easier to keep concentration in my prayer when I stick to the God made stuff and avoid the manmade as much as possible. So I know that I need to lay off that stuff, and InshaAllah I’ll keep it up. May Allah protect me from my appetites and impulses. 

Alhamdulillah, through leaving off the photography and the couple of hours of television (via Netflix) every night, I was able to write 1000+ words, every day, with only a little bit of effort. I plan to go back to photography some in a few days: I miss it, and the lack of creative visual action is wearing on me. But I know that I don’t need to do it all the time, and I know that little lifestyle changes are possible, and that little things, done regularly, can add up.

In general, I discovered that fasting helps my heart to soften and to remain soft. InshaAllah regular fasting in the rest of the year (Mondays and Thursdays, for example, and maybe the 3 white days of every month) will help to keep my heart soft and prevent it  getting as hard as it was back in May, after 8 or 9 months of not fasting (and eating loads of junk). Allahu Akbar.

Is that all? Sheesh. Surely everyone else has done so much more, been so much more careful with their tongues and their anger, been so much better with their friends and neighbors, spent much more time in dua and dhikr, and may Allah accept from us all. 

I’m way behind and there’s no time to catch up, and so I just have to keep going as I have, keep doing the little things I’ve been doing for the past 4 weeks and beg Allah azza wa jall for His forgiveness and mercy.

I started the month with no clear goals, and Alhamdulillah I’ve accomplished what I set out to… May Allah accept whatever little that I have done, forgive me for wasting this precious, blessed month, and may He keep me fasting throughout the year and seeking His pleasure in all that I do, Ameen.

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