By Farheen Shah

I SEE the sister next to me, devoutly praying her “taraweeh” (congregational prayers), but weeping profusely. I ask myself, “Is her agony much greater than my grief and despair?” “Is she in more need than me for forgiveness from her Lord, for succour and alleviation of her pain?”
I immediately see the verses of the holy Quran flashing into my mind “We will surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of health and lives, but give glad tidings to the steadfast.” (Baqarah155-157)
My self-introspection in Ramadan has impelled me to dedicate this article to every sister, who has been walking on this face of this earth. Sisters who are toiling this Ramadan to surpass their tribulations, endeavouring to assemble the shattered pieces of their hearts and souls.
Ramadan, the most awaited period in a person’s life, is that light that can illuminate the sisters who have already lost hope in themselves. Every sister knows well where her shoe pinches. She knows how her gruesome circumstances have made her numb. She knows how she has been left aloof amidst so much hue and cry. She knows how she has been betrayed and forbidden in her marriage, where she had given her heart and soul out.
One has engulfed the bitter truth, that she cannot make “sujood.” As her body fails to do so, her ailments progressing and her muscles deteriorating at the tick of the clock. Despite so much combatting, yet she wears a gleaming smile. Consoling herself that her Lord will accept her distorted endeavours.
I write all this in an effort to conjure the fallen spirits of a sister who cries every night to her Creator, pleading answers to her queries. To a sister who has been given her death certificate, breathing her last few moments. To a sister who has been relentlessly craving for a baby for years, yet has to endure probing comments from the insensitive ignorant family and friends. To a sister who has had a miscarriage and felt like a piece of her heart had uprooted and snatched away a precious one from her. More so to the sister who lost the apple of her eyes — her near and dear ones, whom she wanted to see one last time to tell them how much she loves them, loved them, or how much she could have loved them!
The sister away from her family, undergoing gruelling treatment for cancer and wishing for death, as her pain is beyond endurance. The sister who has shed her sweat out to shield her modesty. The sister who has been widowed, yet flapping her wings in buoyancy in her turbulent storms. That precious sister, who has been divorced for a fault she is unaware, is devastated and crawling to get back on her feet, one step at a time. My heart earnestly goes out to the sisters in Syria who have pulled up their socks and resolved, “We shall not lose hope in the mercy of Allah.” The sisters in the refugee camps who at the cost of life itself have refused to let their children go to sleep hungry every night.
My dear sisters, our grievances may be mountain high, but we must remember the “ayat” (prayers) from our Quran: “Verily in the remembrance of Allah, do the hearts find rest!” Solace and relief is near, if we truly believe in divinity. Allah is the best of planners. Who knows our needs before we can know it ourselves. He is Ar Rahman, the One who can confer upon you ease, who can relieve the futile burdens weighing on your heart and souls.
We must remind ourselves that our religion – lslam — gives us the prerogatives above any other man. We hold the utmost throne as queens of our homes. And for our steadfastness, know that humongous reward awaits us in Jannah, a place of eternal bliss, devoid of such “nakba” which we are undergoing now.

This temporary life will come to an end in the blink of an eye. So hold on to Allah, in the darkest hours of your life. When you feel, the entire world has deserted you. But with firm resolution, that we are too important, for Our Rabb to be forgotten by Him.
These thoughts are a strong reminder, to myself first, that we can never sense the pain of others, unless we intervene in their lives. As the saying says, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” But my elder sister nails it well by saying, “Because the grass is superficial and deceiving.”
As we proceed further in this blessed month, let us all take an oath to be more benevolent, to mitigate someone’s anguish where we can, and to remain more steadfast. Walk out of your house like a shepherd and help someone’s soul heal. A smile and a kind gesture to an ailing sister, could be that rekindling hope, she has been seeking all her life. Love you all my sisters for the sake of Allah!

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