This Ramadan has been different. More different than I could have imagined.
As the mother of a newborn, I approached Ramadan with renewed enthusiasm and energy. It was only just last Ramadan that I stayed awake late into the night – praying for a child. And one year later, subhanAllah, I am blessed to have a little one who is keeping me awake late into the night for very different reasons!
What I was not prepared for this year is the loneliness I have felt. My little one keeps me company throughout the day, and her smiles, coos, and little personality fill my heart with a joy I never knew existed.
And yet, I feel alone. And different.
No, not physically alone. Not even emotionally alone. But spiritually, alone.
The acts of worship and gatherings unique to Ramadan are missing from my life this year.
I am not fasting this year as I am nursing her. I am not going to Taraweeh prayers at the masjid as I did each night in Ramadans past. I avoid the busy, crowded, yet lively iftars that are just a bit too much for a little one her age. And, I miss out on the many Ramadan halaqat and programs that in the past, I would simply head off to in a moment’s notice.
Life has certainly changed.
The version of Ramadan I have come to expect and know over the years is a distant memory as I spend my days and nights caring for my little one.
Here, at the midway point of Ramadan, I admit that I have been grieving the loss of that Ramadan. A Ramadan experience I came to love, appreciate, and truthfully, expect.
But, alhamdullilah, I would not choose to spend this Ramadan in any other way.
See, in some ways I have felt that I have been ‘missing out’ on Ramadan. This perspective began to transform from a passing thought to an ingrained belief. I began to believe that I was being made to miss out on the blessings of this month. Unable to fast, missing Taraweeh, missing out on gatherings, and the list could go on and on.
Upon reflection, this is a perspective that is filled with despair and ingratitude. What I have failed to realize is the immense number of unique opportunities I have as a new mother to make this Ramadan my best and most rewarding one yet.
In order to appreciate these opportunities, I needed to shift my perspective from one of feeling deprived and to one of gratitude.
Am I less connected to others compared to previous years? Yes.
But perhaps, through this, I have an opportunity to focus my efforts on connecting more to Allah (SWT) instead.
Will I miss most of the nightly taraweeh prayers at the masjid? Yes.
But, I can still pray qiyyam al layl at home and perhaps will receive double the reward as my intention was also to be at the masjid.
Will I perhaps have less time for my own personal ibadat (worship) as I care for my newborn? Yes.
But, perhaps it is through caring for her as a parent that I will attain Allah’s mercy this month.
Most of us have heard of the well-known hadith narrated by Omar (RA), where the Prophet (SAW) said, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended …” (Bukhari).
In applying this hadith to my own circumstances, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for my role as a mother, and a mother to an infant at that. Every moment that I am nursing her may be rewarded as a form of ibadah (worship) to Allah (SWT). In fact, every moment that I am caring for her and working to raise her as a strong Muslimah is an act of worship and therefore rewarded by Allah (SWT). SubhanAllah, as a mother, literally every second can be an act of worship when caring for your child, and this is not hyperbole. If, and only if, we have the right intention and absolutely believe in our hearts that Allah (SWT) will reward us, will we attain this immense reward.
My husband has also reminded me this Ramadan of another beautiful hadith in which the Prophet (SAW) says, “When a slave falls ill or travels, then they will get reward similar to that they get for good deeds practiced at home when in good health” (Bukhari).
SubhanAllah, simply because we would have regularly practiced these deeds – going to taraweeh, attending gatherings, and so on – Allah (SWT) will give us our reward regardless if we can practice the deed under our present circumstances! What an incredible, incredible mercy.
You see, we can view the world through many perspectives. I can fall for the trick of shaytan and even mainstream perspectives, that somehow as a mother, I am missing out on the things I love to do. Or, I can be grateful and love the things I have and work towards achieving greatness regardless.
Yes, life is different. And alhamdullilah, it is a great deal better at that.