Ramadan, our guest for the past month has left us and we had a great celebration upon saying farewell to it.  What did we learn in this month?  What did we experience in this month and how will it fuel us for the rest of the year? 

I focus on the last ten days of Ramadan, in which in many ways I left the world and completely immersed myself inside the mosque, not leaving its confines for a single moment. The last ten days and nights of Ramadan are special. The Prophet (pbuh) told us to seek Laylat-ul Qadr or The Night of Power in which the Quran was revealed within these last ten days.  This night is better than a thousand months, as the verses go,

“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:Peace!…This until the rise of morn!” (Al-Qadr:97)

There were many other brothers who were doing Itekaaf along side me at MCC (Muslim Community Center, the heart of Chicago Muslims). There were brothers from Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, India, Phillipines, Iraq, Sudan, Palestine, El Salvador, Mexico, Europe and more. These brothers came from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Some were poor, some were rich, but all came together in humbleness and brotherhood seeking the face of God.  I slept on the average four hours. In the night we stood up listening to the beautiful recitation of the Quran by Qari Imam Faisal, who beside leading the Taraweeh prayers lead us in Qiyaam ul’Layl in the last ten night and completed the Quran from start to finish. We were also given very inspirational talks and advice by visiting Sheikh Ibrahim Zidan who besides having a masters in Chemistry and Physics is also an Islamic Scholar who studied with Sheikh Uthaimeen.

So much of our time was consumed by being conscious of God and increasing our connection and relationship with Him. Asking forgiveness from our mistakes and sins and being thankful for the countless blessings and support that He has given us in this life. We were beggars for His mercy and guidance and being Just and kind with our fellow humans.

Also it was a test in patience, as living ten days with a group of other people will  bound to get on your nerves, but the incidents were minor and were not enough to disturb the tranquility of the Itekaaf. I have the same annoyances at some brothers not picking up after themselves, cutting in line, leaving a place dirty, and oh God dont ask me about the washroom situation. Let it be known that everytime I went to the washroom I had to be armed with a mop. 

Anyway the most important aspect that I took away from this was that we as Muslims are not to be monks. We are not to live secluded lives away from the world, but rather we are suppossed to be people of God who struggle in his cause and remain connected to Him, knowing that we are not only from God but we are all returning to Him as well.