Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the third year in a row, 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, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
This morning, I was blessed to attend the bris service of the newborn son of my dear friend Rabbi Yehuda Sarna. Earlier this evening, my wife's friends surprised her with a cake and other sweets at our last iftar dinner to celebrate her birthday which will begin in 5 minutes at midnight, EST. Tomorrow and Friday, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, a holiday that takes place on the first of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan on the Islamic Calendar. As I end my end Ramadan Reflection series with this final post, I am glad to do so as I celebrate so many new beginnings. It helps me to appreciate more the time I had this last month rather than see tomorrow with discomfort.
Many of us at times leave the month of Ramadan in a state of anxiety rather than a state of gratitude or appreciation. As I've said before, the last 30 days and nights were not meant to be an escape from reality, but rather a means to enhance our understanding of it. It's understandable to long for Ramadan, but don't do so without asking yourself where that longing comes from. You can carry with you what you took from the month. You just have to let yourself. You can still lift your soul by feeding it more than you feed your stomach. You just have to see the benefit in the former and not focus on the deprivation that comes with the latter. You can still give, be generous, and gain a sense of fulfillment by serving others. You just have to keep seeing what others will gain and not focus on what you are losing. You can diminish the anxiety experienced by Ramadan coming to an end. You just have to see it with gratitude and appreciate that you witnessed it rather than focusing on it being gone.
It's a blessing to have seen another Ramadan but it's also a blessing to see the first day of Shawwal and every tomorrow that I will see. Don't focus on what you don't have. Definitely don't focus on what others see that you have. But just take a moment and think about all that you do have and let gratitude carry you through the days.
I don't know if I'll continue writing these reflections next year. I might write a book, but first I have to convince myself that anyone would actually read it and, more importantly, I have something substantive to write about. Nonetheless, the experience with these reflections has been most enriching for me and the feedback, emails, cards and letters that I've received from all of you that have read along for the last three years has been beyond encouraging. I don't really know why, but I have a feeling that this might be my last one. Allahu 'Alim - God knows best.
I am so grateful to each of you who has read along. I can't imagine what the ramblings from thoughts accumulated in my head and my heart have sounded like to others. But either way, thank you. It really does mean a lot.
If I can ever be helpful to any of you going forward, please don't hesitate in reaching out. I will do my best to help in whatever I can, and if I am not able to help in the ways that you need, connect you to someone who is better suited than I am. You can be touch with me at my Facebook page or on my Twitter. If you are ever in New York please feel free to stop by at an event or a program -- it would be great to see you.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, stood with his companions after the Mid-Afternoon Asr prayer, and addressed them with words as the sun continued to descend. Amongst the things he mentioned, one statement that stays with me often, "The sun is about to set, and what remains of this world, compared to what has passed, is like what remains of this day compared to what has passed."
Use your time wisely. Spend it only in pursuit of things that are good. Hold the world in your hand if you so desire, but never let the world use your heart as its abode. Your understanding of the world around you will based off of how you take care of the world within you. Treat your heart as something precious, and let only what is good for have the privilege of receiving its love.
There are many of selfish people in this world. People who think first of themselves. Don't be like them. Don't give in to the tyranny of your ego and self. Don't be hateful, don't be racist, don't be ignorant or foolish. Learn to appreciate diversity by actually experiencing it and not just talking about it or watching it on TV or in a movie. Talk to and build a relationship with someone that the world would fully let you get away with not interacting with, simply because it's the right thing to do and you understand that it will benefit you. It's harder to stereotype when you actually learn someone's name.
Let gratitude influence your worldview and gentleness dominate your demeanor.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "God is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what He does not give for harshness nor for anything else."
And in another narration, "Whenever kindness is in a thing it adorns it, and whenever it is removed from anything, it disfigures it."
Ask yourself regularly how the life that you live brings benefit not just to you, but how does it bring benefit to the people around you. Do good when the opportunity arises, not only when it is convenient. And when you have gone and done well and feel that suffices, go out and do some more. There will always be more to do.
You are men and women of great potential - have the courage and confidence to reach it. Never lose hope, no matter what the situation, and couple that hope with a firm footing in reality. When you feel alone, and think that no one understands, remember that there is a young Imam in New York City who is remembering you in every one of his prayers, regardless of the lifestyle you have chosen or the circumstances you find yourself in.
For those celebrating the Eid ul-Fitr holiday, Eid Mubarak. May your day be blessed and full of joy. For those not celebrating, may your day be blessed moreso. It doesn't have to be a holiday to feel uplifted. We don't need always need reasons to be happy, as we usually do to be sad.
May your noble intentions be elevated and life's objectives be facilitated as you continue to do all that you. May you be protected from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise, and eyes that have forgotten how to cry. May you always be successful, compassionate, understanding, and loved, and may you be increased in each of these values for every tomorrow that you see. Ameen.
Peace fam. It's been great.