What about 5,000 istighfars?
What about several hundred salawats on the Nabi (saws)?
What about the taste of a surat you never thought you’d read in Arabic?
Because it was too big? Too long? Too overpowering?
This year, I tasted these things for the first time. I tasted light on my tongue, and felt light on my hands. If you recall last year’s Dhul Hijjah, I entered an ibadah “game” of sorts with other women around the world, called Pilgrims from Home. In it, we try to max out what we can do worship-wise during the best ten days of the year, and literally become pilgrims from home while the hajj pilgrimmage takes place. This year, I entered again as a team captain, and though I had the same role as before, the game for me personally was very different.
For one, I had a different team. A group of the sisters behind the scenes of the Al Maqasid Reviving Remembrance Retreat were my team members. We called ourselves “Team Khidma” from what we learned from the retreat in our back-breaking service roles. And the momentum of serving with them through this “game”, just like serving with them at the retreat was nothing short of amazing. Seeing how hard the women tried made me push further than what I’d normally do. I mean we were calling and texting each other to get up for tahajjud prayers and fast. My 9 to 9 bedtime for my phone vanished before I even realized it. We did everything but have a sleepover, though we wanted that too, and I learned so much about the women who were close to me yet so far away. We saw each others’ strengths and weaknesses in a whole new light and worked to help each other overcome them. Those of us with babies already waking in the night helped others who were prone to oversleep from lack of babies waking in the night. Those of us more organized helped those less organized. And all in all, we did it as gracefully as possible…mothers….trying to manage reading an entire Qur’an in less than 10 days (because it took a while to build up our courage), and in the end I really feel like we won. I believe the winning is getting the point of it all, whether or not we come out with the biggest amount of points.
I guess what made the game different this time around was me and my personal development in what I am willing to do for a certain goal. I am different in so many ways this year than I was last year around this time. And so I thought about the opportunity that the game provided a little differently. I had been familiar with the ibadah it required from even before taking part last year. Some of them were a part of my wird. But some of them I shied away from. I just never thought I had the time or energy or patience to do it. Maybe I didn’t think I really could do it. I mean, come on! Me? A non-fluent but literate Arabic learner read surahs from the first several ajiza of the Qur’an? But alhamdulillah, this year I am different. I’ve learned to take humungous leaps of faith. And this year, I thought of the competition as a credit card. Yes, a credit card. With my Lord. With the only interest being in my favor in regards to multiplying rewards for worshipful service (inshAllah). And I thought–there’s no limit to this credit card! I’ve got to MAX IT OUT! I’ve got to spend all that I can in accumulating good deeds with my Enricher. And so that’s what I did. And last year I hovered between 29 and got up to 50. This year, on my best day, I hit 69, not including the special addition of a convert doubling bonus that was offered this year. It felt good. And it was because I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone–leaping in faith.
What I take from this whole competition is realizing that sometimes the things that are hardest to do are the ones we get the most points for in life :). Things that require patience, forbearance, and leaping beyond your imagination. The extra mile. The road less taken. And on the regular, required, normal routines of our lives such as our daily prayers…we should always rush for even just 1 point in making the required prayer within 15 minutes of the adhan. We should anticipate it and await its arrival like an old friend! And push harder than our imagination compels us to in keeping that friend around…all day long. And so I did push. And I read Surah An’am, a surah I never thought to read in Arabic. A surah that has changed my life and heart, and might be approaching near-favorite status. And from this little seedling of love, sprouts a new love for Qur’an that I never had before. It’s like…a door has been opened. Ya Fattah! I feel that I need to read Qur’an everyday. Little secret here. I take an herbal supplement to counteract my crazy hormones that I’ve had since having Safiyya. Since reading Qur’an in this competition, I haven’t needed that herb. In actuality, I’ve been off of it for several whole days without any crazy-woman-hormonal-imbalance explosions. SubhanAllah, there truly is a cure for everything in the Qur’an. If you just look deep enough…
I pray that I will always remember that I have a scoresheet with Allah and reflect and tally up my scores so that I’m always in the green and never in the red inshAllah. I have taken from this a new excitement, urging, and yearning to finish the Qur’an–not just once a year, but at least three times inshAllah…in ARABIC! As such, I’ve been working on a Monthly Khitma Project to do with my teammates, as well as anyone else who wants to be involved wherein we sign up to read at least one juz a month, and rotate ajiza so that at the end of the year, we will all have read the Qur’an at least once. The rule here is that we can’t read the same ajiza more than once until we’ve completed all the others to ensure that we not only finish the Qur’an once a month collectively, but also finish the Qur’an as individuals annually. I did say that I planned to read the Qur’an at least three times a year…the other two times would be Ramadan and during the next Pilgrims from Home game, inshAllah, of course!
–A special thanks and shout out to my family for being my support and allowing Mami to read Qur’an even when dinner needed to be cooked and the house needed to be cleaned. THANK YOU for taking my ibadah seriously. A special jazakAllahu khair to my DH for believing in me and counting my adhkar and saying them with me when I couldn’t count them myself, and when I didn’t believe I could repeat the adkhar THAT much. And last, but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, BarakAllahu fikum to the Team Khidma crew for inspiring, motivating, and putting flame under my burner to keep me going, even when the going was getting tough. May Allah bless you immensely for every act you did during these ten days, in your wakeful and sleepful hours…every time you were fatigued…every time you kept going and kept reading and kept praying…even when I was verging on stalker-like text mode! I pray that we keep the taste of light that we received during Pilgrims of Home throughout our lives and can pass the same taste to our families throughout the generations! Amin! What a way to end 1434AH! I spent the best of days during the last days of the year with you, and am excitedly anticipating a bright new start to our new year with you! Here’s to a Muharram Mubarak!~