The following is an article posted in The Patheos by SHARIF ALY as a guest contributor on June 11, 2018
This is Day 27 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers #Ramadan series.
This Ramadan, I am consumed. Consumed by the need I see all across the world. Consumed by my responsibility to ensure that critical relief and assistance is delivered to the vulnerable and poverty-stricken individuals both at home and abroad. And, consumed by the personal challenges I face on a daily basis.
Severe floods in East Africa have devastated a part of the world that has been so used to drought and famine that dry, arid land has not been able to absorb the rainfall. Flooding has resulted in the loss of many lives, destructions of homes, and the need for entire communities to be rebuilt. Even more, such disasters also lead to the potential outbreaks of disease. The consequences are tremendous and heartbreaking.
We are not only witnessing environmental disasters in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, but we continue to witness ongoing man-made conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Gaza, Myanmar and many other parts of the world. These conflicts have created a massive influx of refugees fleeing their homes to neighboring countries for peace and security. They have also brought upon immense destruction and casualties. The stories are harrowing.
While I am truly grateful to work for a successful and major humanitarian organization, I am nevertheless consumed by the overwhelming and persistent need for our services and the tremendous responsibility that it entails. We work tirelessly every day to ensure that we respond to each emergency and deliver relief to the most vulnerable people in the world effectively.
During Ramadan, the commitment from various stakeholders to providing humanitarian assistance is further intensified, and the profound trust the community places in our organization is truly a blessing. With this trust, however, we understand that we carry a major responsibility in front of Allah (SWT) to carry out our mission in the most responsible and impactful manner.
The world’s heaviness is only part of the daily challenges we face throughout our lifetime. I, as well as so many others, am consumed by significant personal challenges. Over the past few months, my family has experienced difficulties that we could have never anticipated. In the span of a few weeks, our home caught on fire, we were blessed with a beautiful newborn daughter, and then learned that our 2 year old son was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a lifelong condition.
Through the support and sincere prayers of our family, our community and so many people across the world, we were able to get through an extremely trying period of time.
Nevertheless, I am consumed. Consumed with an overwhelming sense of guilt and worry about my family’s safety and well-being. During the blessed month of Ramadan, I travel frequently and at times, I am ridden with guilt for not being able to support my wife and children directly while I am away from home.
Although we are grateful to have childcare to assist my wife during my travels and an extremely supportive community to help when necessary, my worries extends beyond the mere thought that physical requirements are provided. Rather, in times of hardship, being fully present with loved ones is especially important.
These circumstances led me to sincerely reflect upon and come to appreciate the variety of blessings that we receive during stressful times. As Allah (swt) promises us, with every hardship, comes relief. In the midst of our hardships, we were blessed with the sincere support from family and friends. Their constant advice and encouragement helped my family get through extremely difficult events in our life. And at that time, I realized that Allah (swt) was answering our prayers through people.
In particular, a good friend reminded me how to respond in times of tragedy:
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ – 2:156
Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” 2:156.
Repeating this verse brought my family a sense a comfort and peace; a sense of connection to our Creator. And even more, a sense of confidence and trust that Allah (swt) will provide what is best for us and a certainty that our son’s condition will be resolved in the manner that is best for him and for our family. We continue to pray for his full recovery, especially during these miraculous last ten nights of Ramadan.
During this very challenging period, I also realized that relief can manifest itself in many forms. I realized that the opportunity to serve Allah (swt) through my service to my family and to humanity was one way that I could earn His mercy and pardon.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Be in this world as if you were a traveler.” This life is brief and the trials and hardships we endure serve as a mechanism to attain Allah’s mercy. Understanding this allows us to not only aspire to live meaningful lives, but also remain cognizant that we should not overwhelm ourselves with constant worry and guilt.
Allah does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear. As we embark on the final nights of this blessed month of Ramadan, let’s consume ourselves with maximizing this incredible opportunity to increase our worship and devotion to Allah (SWT), as it may be the last one we are granted.
May Allah (SWT) accept all of our prayers and good deeds during this blessed month. May He heal the sick, grant forgiveness for those who have passed and provide us with relief after hardship.
Read the post on Patheos