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.
Since last night, New York City has been getting ready for Hurricane Irene to hit our streets Sunday morning. Our Islamic Center at NYU has been putting together a team of volunteers, some of whom spent the afternoon today getting food and supplies to people and the rest ready to go after the storm should the need arise. Our volunteers will be working with Islamic Relief and The Red Cross in the aftermath of the storm.
Tonight was the first night I broke my fast on my own this entire month. With the subways and buses shut down in NYC and the weather forecast being as severe as it is, we decided to keep the Islamic Center closed for the weekend. I also prayed Maghrib, the sunset prayer, by myself. The first 26 days of this month had me eating with others, standing into the late hours of the night in prayer side-by-side with others, and doing most everything else in my day with at least a few other people. It felt quite strange to now do it alone but I am not really sure why. It's not like I haven't ever prayed by myself or eaten by myself. It just didn't feel right doing it on my own.
Prior to that, I felt really good despite the weather. It was nice to hear from different people in the last few hours to make sure I'm doing OK. My sister Aliya was the first person to ask me if everything was fine and told me to keep her updated on how things are going periodically. My parents then called me this morning and I got a text message from my friend Zainab Wasti saying to not pretend like I'm a superhero and to be sure to stay inside. It was nice to be remembered and it took away some of the loneliness I felt in breaking my fast alone and praying by myself -- but somehow the negative emotion lingered for a little longer than the positive one. It was really easy for me to forget my gratitude for having a good family and friends and focus everything on what I was missing. Now, as I sit here and watch the rain, I wonder why that is. It takes very little to get us upset, but it never takes very little to keep us content.
It seems like it's harder to be patient, understanding and compassionate, whereas it's really easy to get irritated, angry and frustrated. We have a tendency to focus on the wrong rather than the right at most times and in turn we become our biggest opponents. We make the world an angrier place by letting ourselves get so easily angered. We forget everything that we have been given by looking at what we don't have. And most of the time we can change our perspective just by the way we talk to ourselves.
As my reflection deepens, I think some of my anxiousness also comes from not knowing what will happen tomorrow or how everyone that I usually pray and break my fast with is actually doing. It would have been nice to see them today just to be sure that they are OK. Many parts of our city have been evacuated. For those of you who are in the area, please do your best to keep safe. For those elsewhere, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. In the aftermath, it will be important for all of us to do our parts to rebuild any damaged areas and provide support to those in need. If you have time in the coming week, volunteer. Ramadan will be ending in a few days but it's a good opportunity to maintain the spirit of the month by spending time in service to others in need.
You'll forgive me if this reflection is not as coherent as the others. It's been a long day, and I am about to get hit by a hurricane after all.