Ramadan is one of the most blessed times of the year for a Muslim, it is a gift from Allah SWT as we are given the opportunity to increase in our worship and to connect with Allah SWT. No two Muslims experience Ramadan in the same way, each is on their own journey of connecting with Allah SWT who is Al-Barr (The Source of Goodness). Many Muslims however experience a barrier in their connection to Allah SWT in Ramadan and that barrier is shame.
Shame is that feeling we get when we hear things like “how come you only come to the Masjid during Ramadan?” Or “you’ve been a no show at Jumu’ah” or “how can you pray when you do such and such”, the list goes on.
Shame has no place in Islam, no place in our communities and no place during this beautiful month of Ramadan; shame hinders one’s pursuit to connect with our Rabb.
Shame can be born from within ourselves or it can be projected from others.
Shame from Self:
Every single person has experienced the emotion of shame, that whisper that comes from inside of us that traps us into believing “you are not good enough, how can you be worthy of God’s mercy.”
Shame locks you in a place where you see your sins as unforgivable and makes you see yourself as unworthy to Allah SWT. Shame does not lead to repentance; shame leads to despair. This is in contrast with what Allah SWT tells us in Surah Yusuf “….and despair not of Allah’s Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s Mercy except the unbelieving people.” [Qur’an 12:87].
Shame blocks the journey in asking Allah SWT for forgiveness and doesn’t allow us to acknowledge that we are human and it’s part of our humanity to make mistakes and sin. The names of Allah SWT tell us that he is “Al-‘Afuww” (The Pardoner), “Ar-Ra’oof” (The Most Kind), “Al-Ghafoor” (The Forgiving, The Exceedingly Forgiving) , “Ar-Rahman” and “Ar-Raheem”. Allah SWT understands that we make these mistakes and slip up, asking forgiveness is part of the journey and shame has no place in hindering that journey in reaching back to Allah SWT.
Shame from others:
Shame also comes from others; sometimes comments and actions from or towards members of our community can sprout shame in ourselves or others (if we are the ones making such comments).
Anas Ibn Malik narrated that “Whilst we were in the Mosque with the Messenger of Allah a Bedouin came and stood urinating in the Mosque. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Stop it! Stop it!’ and were about to attack him. But the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.’ So they left him until he had finished urinating, then the Messenger of Allah called him and said to him, ‘In these Mosques it is not right to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur’an,’ or words to that effect. Then he commanded a man who was there to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the (urine), and he did so.” [Muslim].
If the best of mankind dealt with someone who had urinated in a Mosque in such a gentle and kind manner, what right do we have to pass judgement, put down and to shame fellow Muslims who are on their own journey during Ramadan and are trying to pursue a better relationship with Allah SWT. Instead of shame and judgement (which are very easy to give), help them and encourage them in what they are doing well. We have all needed help at one point in our lives, so when you see someone else on their own journey towards Allah SWT, empathise and connect with them. They may not need an unsolicited khutba, what they may need is just a simple salaam and a smile to make them feel welcome.
As humans we require connection, connection to Allah SWT and connection to each other. Allah SWT has given us the month of Ramadan in which we can connect to both our Creator and to our brothers and sisters in Islam and in humanity. Do not let shame in any shape or form stop these connections, connections which are so crucial to each and every one of us. In these last few nights of Ramadan we implore you, the reader, to continue in your worship in whatever way you can, each act of worship is unique to you and your relationship with Allah SWT, success to Allah SWT is in our striving, and unlike the tests of this world, Allah SWT judges us not by our actions but by our intentions and efforts. So please in these last few nights, Shed your shame, let it go, Seek connection with Allah SWT in your own unique and beautiful way and know you are worthy of partaking in this blessed month of Ramadan.
We wish you all the best in these last few days of Ramadan, may your efforts and your intentions be rewarded, and your sins forgiven. Ameen.
As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
Nor and Josh.