07/24/2013 01:39 pm ET Updated Sep 23, 2013

Ramadan Reflection Day 16: Every Teacher Was Once a Student


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.

A companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by the name of Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas once asked him for advice. He responded by saying, "Oh Abdullah! Do not be like so and so. He used to stand regularly for prayer at night and then left the night prayer."

As we move into the second half of Ramadan, this hadith of the Prophet Muhammad sets for me a much-needed advice. Aside from the direct importance it's putting on dedicating a portion of one's night to spending time with the Divine, it also is telling us to keep up with things that we have adopted as practice and not let them go so easily.

Every shaykh was once a mureed. Every teacher was once a student. An expert in any arena started out as a novice, and you and I in our paths towards reaching our full potential are no different. Our respective journeys towards a mastery of our skills and acquisition of our credentials, degrees, licenses, and titles starts always with a step one. Before we do something, we haven't done it. The first step is thus an important one. But I would argue that the second step, as well as the third, fourth, fifth and so on are just as important, if not more so.

Fifteen days and nights have passed of this month and for those observing, you've moved in certain directions. Your fast of day one is most probably not like your fast of day 15 and you essentially are 15 steps ahead of where you were when you started. How large the strides of those steps will vary from person to person, but even baby steps are important as all together they can add up to a huge stride. With all that growth, or at least the potential for it, it wouldn't make sense to go backwards or, even worse, stop moving at all.

Begin to think from now if you haven't already started how you will carry forth with everything that you've learned about yourself, the world around you, the world within you, and the world beyond this world. Make a firm intention from now to not let go so easily. Solicit the help of friends and loved ones and express your goals and objectives explicitly so that you have something tangible to be accountable towards. And at the very least just try your best. You shouldn't expect anything other than that because the best is what you deserve, including from yourself.

Khalid Latif Reflections Ramadan 2013