By Naila Sheikh - Houston, TX
Ramadan comes with the expectation and the mindset to sacrifice and let go of our inner desires that we seek out each and every day. This materialistic world and our temporary abode must be of some purpose as we strive to become better, faster, and healthier than the past 24 hours while we opt for skim milk in our lattes, park a little farther to walk the distance towards material goods and download another iPhone app to the emoticons of our high-maintenance, demanding lifestyle. Life is such. Day in, day out. Over and over again.
Once our wishes are fulfilled and we are content with the academic degrees in our hands, the money is in the bank and our tummies filled with delicious cuisines, we crash onto the sofa, grab the remote control and space out into the world of entertainment that broadcasts the citizens of this nation looking like utter fools on ‘Jersey Shore’ or makes us feel inferior about our bodies, status and societal appearance in the Real Housewives of Fake Town. We’ve arrived at an Era of ‘self-promoted-hoochie-mamma-ness’ where the face of a Kardashian is beautifully enhanced on Vogue’s front cover and the perception of freedom and sexual independence is celebrated through explicit behavior and Lady Gaga-ish expressions.
As a mom of a 21 month old daughter, I’m often frightened to see the girl-next-door change her face with the slippery temptations of today. This sweet, innocent girl we are familiar with isn’t perhaps living next door anymore; she has moved on to the ‘City of Sex and Sin’ where flirtation is an everyday norm and the show of skin is Carrie Bradshaw’s only wardrobe.
Am I freaking out for no reason? Have I become old-fashioned? I don’t consider myself ignorant as I am flexible to adjust to different cultures and embrace people from all walks of life. However, the alarm that is going off in my head gives me a warning of what I foresee in the future; a bratty, spoiled and narcissistic generation of America’s 21st century’s grandchildren. Aha, Facebook/Twitter and Apple deliverers! You’ve netted your worth on pure, unborn souls.
To this, I’d like to stop and pause. Give me a moment to take a deep breath. No, I did not use an iPhone app to measure the depth and sincerity of my breath. Leave the breathing up to me as it’s still humanly possible, I suppose. On second thought, my breath I don’t own. This world, I don’t possess. And the future? I’m uncertain of! Oh mother! Where are you mother? Why can’t I just rest my head onto your lap, listen to the sweet sounds of your lullabies like children of yesteryear’s and fall into blissful sleep? Where can I find my peace and the soothing answers to my ramblings?
Time for Isha prayers.
“Allahu Akbar” — God is Great.
I offer my rakaats for Taraveeh Prayers, seated on the carpet floor whilst my daughter is climbing the ‘Great Wall of Mommy’s back’ and pulling onto my silky veil. Her tiny fingers are sturdy enough to help her succeed in the mission she is so eager on accomplishing. I feel her feet softly kicking my ribcage and I smile. I remember the feeling of her movements when expecting during Ramadan 2010. I was ecstatic to carry her and I had flaunted ‘her’ with much elegance. I prayed furiously for a safe pregnancy and delivery sharing a seat next to the elderly in the Mosque whom I’d approach for Salaam and request for prayers. I prayed for my baby’s health, kismet and her every Dua to be heard by Almighty Allah. I knew He knew of my efforts then, but little did I know the gift He was about to shower me with. Today, I sit on the floor trying to control my child from falling and bumping her head once again. I look at her warmly and she babbles away. The feeling of motherly love overcomes me and I realize the difference two years has made for us. And here we are, yet again, 2 Ramadans later…
Your world is a beautiful one. Forgive me for doubting, for fearing, for questioning. You are the Creator, the Greatest, the Merciful and to You I shall always return for answers.”