My Dearest Ramadan,
We waited for you for so long – an entire year almost. We counted the months, then weeks, then days until your arrival and yet, even with our constant anticipation, it seemed that you came suddenly and all at once. One day you weren’t here and the next day you were.
I was happy to see you but frustrated at your swiftness. I had intended to prepare for you much better, but you found me in the late stages of pregnancy – my house a mess, my spouse travelling, a bare freezer and young children who had recently decided not to share me with anyone or anything.
So, I welcomed you the way I welcome all guests these days, with an open door, a big hug and an invitation to “help yourself and don’t mind the mess”. I didn’t sit with you the way I was taught to sit with guests, I didn’t give you the time or importance a host ought to give those who visit. I tried to check in each morning and night but some days (let’s be honest, most days) fell asleep awkwardly on the sofa and woke up in a panic hoping you’d forgive my awful manners.
But you never complained and you never made me feel bad. On the contrary, like the best of guests, you brought with you many gifts – a little something for everyone. And for me, it was the all-encompassing feeling of goodness and peace. You let me know you understood where I was at and accepted my few good intentions and small tokens with much grace and encouragement.
In truth, I feel so ashamed – I took you for granted, but you took me as your friend. You made me feel special, important and worthy – all things that aren’t so readily felt these days. With the recent tragedy and hate mongering in the world around us, you reminded me of the greater purpose of my life and the miracle that is my own creation.
Good company is a Divine gift and as I sit here on what may be the last morning of our month together, I am reminded of the words of our beloved Prophet, abundant peace and blessings be upon him:
A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell of its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of his furnace. [Bukhari, Muslim]
You, my sweetest Ramadan, your presence, your light, your very existence are a gift to me beyond all measure. I hear you packing your bags, tidying your things, checking your departure times and I am sad. My heart feels full and my eyes overflowing but still, I am thankful that, by the Mercy of Allah, we have had this time together. That, like the best of company, simply being in your presence has enhanced me and though we soon say goodbye, your fragrance has infused my soul.
Thank you, my most precious perfume seller, my most honoured friend, and my most cherished houseguest. May we meet again.
As Jalal Al-Din Rumi advised, in this life “be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder” – so shine, row and climb along with us!
Aiysha Malik is a photographer, writer and award-winning designer. In 2016 she founded mamanushka.com, a popular lifestyle blog devoted to the experiences of being a mother and Muslim woman of colour. Originally from Canada, she now lives in the UK and has spent the last decade experimenting with how to build capable communities whilst maintaining the joy in life. Follow her work and inspirations on instagram @goodonpurpose