Editor's note: All this month, Haute Hijab team members are bringing you our Ramadan Diaries, posts about how our month is going, things we've learned and struggles we may be having. We are figuring out fasting and worship at home, strengthening our connection with Allah (S) and how to build community while in quarantine, just like all of you! This entry comes from our very own Melanie!
Reflecting on this past Ramadan and how it stacked up to the past few, I can confidently say this year has been the most productive month I’ve had in recent memory. Before we dive in, let’s back up a bit.
Last year, Ahmed, myself and Gizelle were in Dubai when Ramadan started – hustling in meeting after meeting with investors, in humid, dusty warehouses selecting prints for our Tuesday drops for the next six months and shuffling across the textile markets meeting new and existing suppliers for new collection launches. (It was then that our Deco Collection was born!)
While it was so great to be back in Dubai for Ramadan last year (the sights, the smells, the food, tarawih at Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi!!), it certainly wasn’t a typical Ramadan for me and my usual worship routine. In fact – after a long, long time – it was a Ramadan in which I hadn’t finished reading the Quran (or even made a dent). Coming off of that disappointment, I did make my way home to Detroit for the last ten days to try and redeem my less than satisfactory month, which was the saving grace I really needed.
This year, I was a little apprehensive as Ramadan approached – not because I wasn’t looking forward to it, but because of my crazy work schedule. I can barely get in dinner on a good night, stumbling home from the office past 8 p.m. How would I juggle everything in Ramadan? Year after year, my schedule seems to get busier and crazier.
But then, COVID-19 hit. Secretly, as the world was freaking out, I was in a state of surrender.
Before even thinking through the ramifications of Ramadan – as we all sheltered in place, cancelled our travel plans, started working from home and stocking up on toilet paper – I was silently in a state of intense gratitude. Room to breathe! I like to joke that I haven’t stopped moving since 2016, and 2020 was already shaping up to be one of the toughest years for me personally and professionally. So, this was just the relief, reset and retreat I needed.
When Ramadan started, I prepared earlier than I ever have. With so much time at home, I had the luxury to sit down and write out goals for myself: Write out the du’as I would read to myself every iftar; think through my Ramadan schedule and how I’d get it all done. Day by day, I chipped away at those goals, created habits for myself and hamdulilah, it’s been exactly the Ramadan I needed.
Now, let’s not forget the title of this diary entry, "The Ramadan We All Needed." I want to reflect a bit on how this Ramadan has impacted our entire ummah collectively. There’s no doubt we all feel a sense of loss and longing for our masajid. Just thinking about those empty rows on Friday and every night of Ramadan makes my heart hurt. But with all things, you have to let the good in with the bad.
There are so many incredible opportunities that came out of a quarantined Ramadan that I doubt we would have taken advantage of had it been like any other year.
Melanie in her apartment engaging in ibadah (worship).
For starters, so many have gotten our time back this Ramadan. With no elaborate iftar parties to prepare for and attend, there’s that much more time to ourselves (or for our families!). And by possibly cutting out commutes, not driving the kids to and from wherever, or generally just not going out – we have more time.
In addition to more time, the amount of resources available to us are at an all-time high. So much so that I think many of us are even overwhelmed with the online classes, webinars, video series, IG lives and more made available this month. And, what a blessing! We have the privilege to pick and choose what organizations, speakers and events we want to attend this month – more so than any Ramadan in recent memory.
Lastly, without communal tarawih and qiyam prayers, virtual mosques and virtual qiyams have popped up in a way I don’t think we would have seen had it not been for the pandemic. What resulted are beautiful connections made online, particularly for those who may not necessarily have communities to turn to, such as newer converts to Islam, those who live far from a masjid or Muslim community and those generally on the outskirts who long for a sense of belonging.
I myself have attended virtual qiyams with women I haven’t seen or spoken to in years. Being connected in that way, albeit, online, has been so beautiful and welcoming in a way I don’t think I would have thought about otherwise.
The nature of humanity is that you don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. And when – just like that – our masajid close, interactions with family and friends turn digital and our comings and goings are now limited to movement from the bedroom to the living room, we start to appreciate all the little (and big) things we’ve all been taking for granted.
The beautiful silver lining of a quarantined Ramadan is that it’s the Ramadan we all needed. Not just some of us, all of us. It was the reset and readjustment to a dunya with which we became too comfortable. Indeed, it was Allah (S)’s will that Ramadan would hit in the midst of this pandemic, and the timing of it should not be lost on us.
This was God’s plan. It’s up to us to search for His wisdom and make the most of it.