Ramadan Diary #3: In remembrance of death

In our latest series of articles, Arta A. takes us on her journey through the blessed month Ramadan with weekly diary entries! From sharing her reflections on this important occasion, to sharing practical tips in overcoming the challenges faced, stay tuned for her updates.

I decided early on during Ramadan, maybe the first or second day, that I would attempt to direct my focus and my duas so that they fall in line with the three stages of this month. Having stressed on the necessity of not offering these distinct times mere lip service by talking about it, I wanted to truly internalise Allah’s (1) mercy, (2) forgiveness, as well as (3) His protection and refuge.

Having already been blessed to have completed the first Ashra of Ramadan, the Ashra of Mercy, we’re now almost at the end of the second: the 10 days of forgiveness. And it could not have come at a better time, or be as poignant as it is for me at this moment in time.

The reason being, the reality of death:

Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion (Surah Al-Imran 3:185)

 And,

“Remember often the destroyer of all pleasures.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Last week, the father of my closest friend passed away. He passed away on Jummah, during Ramadan, and in the last hour of Asr. Ina lillahi wa inah ilahi rajiun, may Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah. Talking to my friend and hearing about the level of Sabr the family were being blessed with by Allah, their patience was also testament to the joy and pride they felt in how their father had lived his life, and the assurance they felt that he would be rewarded accordingly.

Read more: Ramadan Diary #2: Thinking well of Allah

This reality of death, as well as entering the second Ashra of Ramadan, then invoked two things in me; a desperate need to make sincere tawbah, as well as seeking forgiveness through constant dua. The hope and intention, to be able to reach a state, as my friend’s father had, where the thought of death and the thought of meeting His Creator felt welcoming – insha’Allah.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The gift to a believer is death,” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Whilst tawbah should be something we constantly strive to earnestly make, we all have a particular issue that haunts us regarding our faith that needs more immediate or more special attention. Whether it be rushed salah, missing salah, not wearing hijab, lack of patience towards parents; whatever that one thing, or multiple things, may be that we know is becoming most detrimental to our deen, we should strive to make a list of them all and make tawbah for each and every single one.

I have had times where I’d resist tawbah, not because I had no faith in its power and Allah’s capability to accept my repentance, but I was afraid that I would fall back into that same sin and the guilt would overwhelm me. Now I direct myself to the following narration of Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali:

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez said: O people, whoever commits a sin, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he repeats it, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he repeats it, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, for it is like chains around the neck of man, and doom lies in persisting in it.

To internalise this message, I did not then tell myself I could sin again and again, and it would not be problem. Rather, I was comforted knowing that if I were to slip, being the imperfect human beings we all are, I could never lose hope, and I would always be able to seek the mercy and forgiveness of Allah, thereby never falling into the trap of going down the slippery slope of guilt, which makes our hearts an ideal breeding ground for the Shaytaan to begin to strip away our deen.

As important as it is to seek forgiveness, as mentioned in my previous entry regarding mercy, we should also behave in a way we would hope Allah to also deal with us. In this instance, be kind and forgive all. Not the, “I will forgive, but I will never forget” – as Mohammed Hoblos said, at that point you have not forgiven to begin with. But forgiving and dismissing all issues you have with everyone – in its entirety. Forgotten. It did not happen.

Always remember during this time how blessed we are to have reached these ten days of maghfirah; we should be reminded by the passing of those around us, that reaching this Ramadan and being blessed with the opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness, is not guaranteed.

Arta’s ideas

  1. During these 10 days the following is encouraged to say the following dua:

 I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, from every sin I committed”

  1. In addition to the above, it is also encourages to use Allah’s names during dua to invoke forgiveness; whether it be Al-‘Afuww (He who pardons), and Al-Ghafoor (He who forgives), and Al-Ghaffaar (The Oft-Forgiving).
  2. As stated within this entry, try your utmost best to remove the pride and ego from within, and forgive all those around you sincerely.

I truly believe that with genuine and sincere tawbah and repentance, coupled with visible and tangible changes efforts to change our behaviour, character, and actions, this Ramadan will most definitely be one you will always remember.

Arta A. has completed her undergraduate studies in Law and Politics, and postgraduate studies in International Commercial Law – at each level using her modules and knowledge gained to research post-conflict Balkans. She hopes to carry on her research in this area at PhD level in the near future. You can follow her on Twitter at @Arta_Ldn
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