Another guest post wrote by my husband. I hope you all are having a good first day of Ramadan.
Few weeks ago, I was at the supermarket getting our weekly groceries, and while I was busy in my own little world loading bags into my van I heard someone behind me approaching and say something very softly, I turned around to see that it's the supermarket employee responsible for collecting carts extending his hand, he was a big guy (6+ ft), but handsome and young in age – around 20 years old, so I immediately took the last two bags from the cart saying “here you go”, while thinking to myself “he couldn't wait just a couple of seconds?” But then I was surprised by this soft spoken employee reaching out instead to shake my hand saying “Assalamu Alikum, I'm Br. James”*. After few exchanges with this young man I found that he is a new convert to Islam, less than a year, but what really made an impression on me was how his pride was just over-flowing that he's a Muslim! I asked him how did he recognize that I was a Muslim, he simply said “I saw you in the Masjid”, and right there I made a decision to look for him next time I'm at the Masjid and chat a little.
Last night, Ramadan was announced across the Muslim world, and like many I joined the Ramadan nightly “Taraweh” prayers, and after we were done at a rather late hour I noticed “Br. James” in the Masjid, so I walked up to him and as I taped him on the shoulder he turned to me with a face full of sweat as if he was just out of a shower – it was a really hot night and ACs where not cooping with a Masjid full of people. So I start a conversation:
Me: “Assalamu Alikum Br. James”
Br. James: “Assalamu Alikum”
Me: “So you broke a sweat?!”, my attempt to break the ice
Br. James: “It's my first Ramadan. Do you think Allah will understand if I drank water... I'm thirsty and its hot”
He stopped me in my tracks and for a couple of seconds I was not sure what he was asking. Seeing me confused he reiterated, “it is my first Ramadan”, almost apologetically. Then it hit me, “Br. James” is asking me if Allah will understand if he drank water at night, after Taraweh, because he understood that Ramadan started and clearly he did not understand the rules, not yet, after all it IS his first Ramadan. I went on to explain to him that although the month of Ramadan had just started at dusk that evening we did not fast yet, and that fasting is from dawn to dusk, and during the night it is completely fine to drink and eat. We spoke a little more, and I found out that he was working at the supermarket to pay his way through college. Few minutes later, I left him and headed home.
As I was driving as was going after what just had happened in my mind, his words “It's my first Ramadan” ringed in my ears, and I thought what a wonderful feeling to experience Ramadan for the first time... it must feel magical, the same way I felt when I knew Ramadan as a Kid. But what really struck me was his innocent question “Do you think Allah will understand if I ...”, and although it appeared that I know many time more than “Br. James” about Islam, after all I'm a born Muslim, I felt that he captured in his question so much more than what I typically do as a Muslim. To be honest, I typically look for an excuse to justify my actions, effectively I'm asking “how can Allah understand what I'm about to do”, not what my “Br. James” simply stated in his few words using his god given instinct as a new Muslim with an almost clean slate. That moment I felt what a true Muslim should be like.
Maybe I can be more like “Br. James” this Ramadan, and make sure “Allah will understand” my actions before I do them, if in doubt, better stop right there and then.
Ramdan Mubark to you all!
* I changed his name to maintain anonymity