This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2020 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.
By Adam Wright
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem. All of the praise is for Allah, the One, the Light, the Knower of all things manifest and hidden. We seek His Guidance to Him and His Forgiveness of our heedlessness. We pray for His Mercy to cover our shortcomings and beg for His Divine Acceptance. May His Mercy and Blessings be conferred to our leader and guide to Him, Muhammed, al-Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah, the opener of what was closed, the seal of what was passed, the jewel of perfection and upon his family, companions and inheritors. Amin.
As-salamu alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak! As I am writing this reflection for Juz’ 14 (15:1–16:128), we are in the midst of a “soft” national lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus scare. So many of the vanities of life have been stripped away and replaced with the basic needs or ingenious alternatives. There are so many aspects of this new phenomenon that echo our traditions in Islam that are being immediately executed, it leads me to think, that if they knew Allah, they would not be as panicked. What is eerie about this thought is that Allah says at the beginning of Surah al-Hijr (15: 1–2):
~Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the verses of the Book and a clear Quran. Perhaps those who disbelieve will wish they had been submitters (Muslims).
Looking at the condition of the world, things are becoming oddly familiar. We have people of other faiths, and, people without religion, exhibiting Islamic behaviors of seclusion, heightened cleanliness, and many other things. Though it is by force and not willing submission, it is still, nonetheless, being practiced. It makes me think, what would be the response to all of this if the majority of the Western population were “practicing” Muslims? Furthermore, this pandemic shows us, just how basic our needs are and how sometimes Allah has to debase our lofty ideas of self for us to see that and be grateful. For those who see this time as a recognition of all of the mercies we have been afforded by Him, they are the true winners.
Our aim as humans is to progress, but without gratitude, then towards what are we progressing? In this quest for modernity, our progression has been towards becoming self-satisfying, mindless consumers, blindly ravaging through every atom of existence with reckless abandon.
Our aim as humans is to progress, but without gratitude, then towards what are we progressing? In this quest for modernity, our progression has been towards becoming self-satisfying, mindless consumers, blindly ravaging through every atom of existence with reckless abandon. We have no reflection of what we are causing, helping or hurting, only how much we can attain, throw away and how fast. Being devoid of gratitude only calls us to corruption and this corruption manifests into the conditions we see. This behavior will only increase us towards hardship and heedlessness. It leads us towards an end that Shaytaan has promised to steer us into.
Juz’ 14, starts with Surah al-Hijr (15) and the aforementioned verse from our Lord. It continues with the description of people who are in staunch disbelief about their reality and the reality of what they are being called towards. Similar to now, Allah talks about how even with the clearest signs, people are still reluctant to release their grip of false hope. In every media update, people see blatant signs of the Majesty of Allah and His Call to our responsibilities. Yet for many, it only increases their arrogance. There is hope in gratitude, which we see in the next surah.
In Surah al-Nahl (16), major portions of the surah are dedicated to turning our attention to the favors of Allah. Early on, Allah begins by saying how He has provided us animals, not just to eat but to bear loads, provide comfort, companionship and for travel. Then, He mentions water with its innumerable benefits, land, trees, crops, mountains and the list goes on. Even that is multiplied because every example has its obvious literal meaning and the implied and analogous meanings. So, not only did He provide goats, but also grocery stores, and not just flora and fauna but also flat screens and Facebook. He (Glory be to Him the Most High) has provided for us everything we own and govern. All of it comes with the responsibility of gratitude. Taking a personal account of my own life, I can definitely see where I have fallen short of my duty to this Earth and I am sure there are many who share this feeling. Our mindless eating and waste, our clothes and shoes, gas, technology and such. We cannot go on thinking that there is no accountability in this life. We need not wait for the afterlife to see the fruits of our deeds. We can take the time now to direct ourselves to practice the restraint that we learn to build during this month. As Muslims, we are supposed to be people of gratitude, people of remembrance, people of responsibility. We are supposed to demonstrate our duty to this world, to ourselves and to one another. When we recognize our blessings and the conveniences Allah has given us, the test becomes infinitely easier.
We can take the time now to direct ourselves to practice the restraint that we learn to build during this month.
Near the end of Surah Nahl, Allah reminds us to eat what He has provided, be mindful and be grateful like Ibrahim (ﷺ) who was, “indeed a model” as Allah says. He (SWT) sums it up. Gratitude. Every month of Ramadan has a secret. I believe the secret in this one particularly as we face COVID-19 is a return to simplicity and gratitude. We are experiencing things locally and globally that have never been seen to this degree: levels of hate, as well as levels of love and solidarity; and levels of extreme ignorance and levels of brilliance. There is radical hate that is being orchestrated, yet there is radical love that is being forged through these trials. It is as though Allah is forcing us to unite due to this manifestation of human vulnerability. Maybe with a perspective of gratitude, we can progress as a species to reflect the character of our higher selves, the Adamic (AS) in mold, Muhammadan (ﷺ) in character, the self that Allah wants for us…inshaAllah.
For the past 5 years Sapelo Square has been delivering award-winning original content that centers Black Muslims in the U.S. — on a shoestring budget. Help up reach 5 more years and beyond. Donate today!
Adam Wright is a self-described “bougie bedouin,” spiritually traveling between space and place, philosophical and fresh to death at all times. He is a father, husband, son, brother and most anything else needed at the moment that he can be. Born in Oakland, Calif., into an extremely artistic and eclectic family, both immediate and extended, he picked up a sense of joy and wonder about the world at an early age which led him down many paths in life and, ultimately, to Islam. Originally a part of the Lighthouse Mosque Community in Oakland, Calif., Adam currently lives in Maryland with his family. In his free time, he enjoys writing raps and poetry for his personal collection. He is a teacher and muezzin at al-Khayrat Masjid in Oxon Hill, Md.