Salaam alaykum, peace and blessings to all, and my sincere apologies for not updating my blog in so long! I’ve been buried at my job with the start of a new semester and am barely keeping up with all of my obligations as it is! When I come home in the evening, usually right around iftar, I’ve got about 2ish hours to figure out what to eat, make it, eat it, and then do everything else I need to do before the next day begins. So yes, I’m a bit frazzled! On the weekends I just want to do NOTHING, and most certainly nothing that has to do with my computer!
Nevertheless, some of my Ramadhan goals are going smoothly, alhamdilulah. I’ve been fairly successful at reading Quran almost every day during my lunch break, and on the days when I have to work through my lunch break, I just try to read more on the weekends to compensate for it. I’m learning so much – I feel like I’m reading a completely different book than what I read before! SubhanAllah, the Quran is truly an amazing book. InshAllah I hope to begin sharing some of the passages that have really resonated with me with you all.
My goal of being more present-focused is working somewhat. Mostly I’m just trying to survive my incredibly busy day, trying to get an impossible amount of work done in a short period of time, but I have been stopping myself every now and then to just be still, both physically and mentally, and carefully take in my whole environment and find something positive and uplifting. I love nature, so mostly all it takes is looking out any nearby window. 🙂
Exercising while fasting has been a challenge, but I’m getting through it, day in and day out. It’s hard to push myself as much as I’d like to when I have a parched, dry throat from a full day of teaching and from having an intense headache… But I am resolved to take the challenge and fight through it with whatever energy I have left, and I’m making it, alhamdilulah, with the strength of God.
My goal of focusing on akhlaq with students and colleagues is going semi-well – with students, I think I’m doing very well with remaining patient and kind, alhamdilulah (no matter how many times I’ve told them something and someone will inevitably STILL ask me cluelessly about what I just finished explaining). With my colleagues, I’m not doing such a great job of going out of my way to be kind and helpful though, as I’m usually really tired (and incredibly parched) after teaching and just want to go to my office and focus on prepping for upcoming classes as furiously as possible. I think fasting is also sapping all of my energy, because sometimes I can barely put two sentences together! So, with my colleagues I’m being pleasant but pretty quiet. Alhamdilulah, there are still two weeks left, so all is not lost – I still have time to step up my game somehow!
On to the more exciting part of the post (for me anyway): a verse of Quran that I’d like to share!
Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have fear, nor will they grieve. An honorable word with pardon is better than a charity followed by affront.
(Quran 2: 262-263)
When I read this, I see wealth as meaning not only our money, but also anything that we can give. So anytime we do anything for anyone else, it can be termed as charity. What we are being told to avoid, however, is following up an act of charity with grumbling or reminding the other person of what we did for them and making them feel indebted or obligated in any way.
It sounds obvious, but in practical application it is not always so easy. How many times in our lives have we gone out of our way to do something nice for someone, and they didn’t seem to appreciate it or even acknowledge it? We then may feel compelled to point out what we’ve done in an annoyed or angry manner (or at least silently hold a grudge against them!) – yet in doing so, we’ve lost the benefit of performing the charity in the first place. Other times we may do something so great for someone else that we (sometimes unwittingly) like to remind them of what we did, making them feel bad or as if we want them to pay us back for it.
God tells us to avoid all of this – once you perform an act of charity, it’s done. We have to always bear in mind that we give charity for God’s sake, not for any particular person’s sake. Our reward lies with God, and not with that person. With this mindset, even if the other person responds negatively, it shouldn’t affect us as we didn’t do it solely for them in the first place!
I think this type of bad habit occurs frequently with family members or those closest to us. Perhaps a husband seems to be unhappy with his wife for no apparent reason, and she decides to be charitable and let it go and respond positively instead of negatively. Yet when he continues to berate her, she explodes and, as a weapon against him, points out each specific circumstance in which she was nice even though he was treating her so badly. In doing so (becoming angry and using her acts of charity against him), her kind acts no longer hold any reward, because she was doing it in search of the reward and recognition of her husband, and not for God. Further, any good that might have occurred from her initial charity would be completely undone (if not worsened) now that she has blown up in anger and used her charity as a weapon against him – and the situation will inevitably continue to spiral downward.
SubhanAllah, the meaning in this last phrase (an honorable word with pardon is better than charity with affront) is incredibly profound: it is not only referring generally to any situation in which someone has usurped our rights, but also specifically to a situation in which someone reacts negatively to our charity: to pardon them kindly – to simply let it go.