Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above.
When I was in seventh grade, my school sent our entire class for a week-long trip to Williamsburg to help with our study of colonial America. While I was away on that trip, my maternal grandfather passed away. It was on the 21st day of Ramadan.
More than a decade and a half later, I still carry a lot of memories of my grandfather with me. All of my grandparents were amazing individuals and it's not with a sense of mourning or grief that I remember any of them. I remember my dhadhi-ami, paternal grandmother, would make shapes out of our french toast and other breakfast items for us. My dhadha-abu, paternal grandfather, would tell me he loved me and that he hoped I would become a great doctor one day -- it helped to just hear that he believed I had the potential to be great at something. My naani, maternal grandmother, was the last to pass away of my grandparents and I learned so much about strength from her, seeing how she maintained control of her house and life after my grandfather passed away, but would always take a moment to sit with me and let me lay my head in her lap. And my naana, maternal grandfather, just always seemed content and had the ability to make me feel content as well, seeing life for what it had to offer and not in any other way. They were all great people in their own respective ways and i do miss them - but I remember them with a sense of gratitude, not a sense of regret. Their treatment of me wouldn't allow for me to remember them in any other way.
My grandparents never let me believe they didn't love me. Definitely at times they scolded me and let me know when I was wrong. But even then it was done in a way where they made me feel like I was important and never put after their own needs. I don't know if I always do the same.
We waste so much time in our relationships by arguing, fighting and seemingly looking for reasons to get upset. So many of us put "me" before "us" and definitely before "you". We look for reasons to get offended instead of being understanding. We then find that we've pushed those who are closest to us away, and those who are little further removed, even further. Is that moment of anger really worth it?
"Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die, they weep for you, and if you live, they long for you." ~ Ali ibn Abi Talib
How will I be remembered by the people who are closest to me? Am I a person who knows how to honor the rights of those that are around me? Am I someone that my grandparents would be proud of if they knew how I lived my life today and how I treated others? Or am I someone who serves his own needs first?
We take for granted gifts and blessings that are in our lives by assuming that they will always be there. It's sad that it takes losing something in order to realize how important it actually is. I miss my grandparents but I don't remember them with remorse. They never gave me any reason to. The moments they shared with me years ago help me see the value of creating similar moments with those around me today. I just need to embrace the value and live it daily.