30 Days of Ramadan, Day 12: Learning Forgiveness From the Little Ones

We’re into the second 10 days of Ramadan.

Remember that the first 10 days of Ramadan were of mercy. Now that we have entered the second 10 days of Ramadan we are in the stage of forgiveness.

So what is forgiveness?

Well, to forgive someone is to pardon someone of a previous mistake they committed. When forgiveness takes place, the expectation is that a dirty slate is wiped clean, and one can move forward, presumably without being held to said previous mistake.

Usually when I think of forgiveness, I think of all the forgiveness I need.

- Forgiveness for the road rage on 59
- Forgiveness for delaying my prayers for 10 extra minutes of snooze time
- Forgiveness for the flighty bits of jealousy I have felt for people who can eat all the fried goodies and still manage to lose weight while I really have to weigh the consequences of two samosas

And so on and so forth, the list can seriously go on.

Now I ask and ask and ask for all the forgiveness in the world but, if I have to be honest with myself, I can’t think of a thing I’ve done to deserve that forgiveness.

I would love to be able to tell you that I didn’t cut anyone off today on my way to work, but pretty sure I did…a few times.

I would love to be able to tell you I’ve gotten better with running to pray, but my bed and I have become best friends during this month of low energy.

I would really, really love to tell you that I am no longer a hater of well working metabolism! But I may or may not have taken my second samosa out of my cousin’s plate…

And so on and so forth, this list can go on too unfortunately.

Which brings me back to question: have I done anything to deserve the forgiveness I so desperately need?

No, not even a little bit.

If you’re in the same boat as I am…are you questioning what you should do next?  Because that’s where I’m at.

I’m happy to say I found some semblance of an answer via my younger cousin, Ali*, who sent out a message to all of his cousins, older and younger, asking for forgiveness and listing the traits he considers shortcomings in himself and how he attempts to remedy them – the ultimate goal being not only self-betterment but also actually attaining forgiveness instead of just asking for it.
This might be my bias speaking, but I think this is one smart kid.

Now my adult brain, pessimistic as it has become, immediately started to question the measurability of these actions and asking ‘how can you validate whether you’ve actually attained forgiveness,’ and etc. etc. – you get the idea. I was being a party-pooper before the party even started.  I had to stop and put myself in the position of young Ali who is viewing the world with hope of progression, and belief in no effort’s futility.

If that kind of perspective is not in the spirit of Ramadan and forgiveness then I don’t know what is.

Sometimes you just have to take a backseat and learn from the little ones – I feel as if they often get the big things that we miss.

So okay, referring back to Ali’s message, the first step he took was to ask for forgiveness. The aspect that struck me the most here was that he went to his younger cousins as well – that to me, is humility.

Step 1: Ask for forgiveness of the people around us *with humility.

Next, he listed his personal shortcomings, i.e., he did a self-evaluation.

Step 2: Self-evaluate to identify areas of character in need of improvement.

Finally, he wanted to work on the areas he felt he was lacking.

Step 3: Consciously work on areas of improvement. An example of this could be learning to control our anger by counting to 10 before reacting, or asking at least three questions before making an assumption; tiny actions that are easily implemented can start big internal changes.

Ultimate Goals: Self-betterment and attaining forgiveness. Now again, logically we know there is no way of telling if we have or have not attained forgiveness. But let’s try to remember, with Ali’s optimism, that only good can come from trying.

My personal goal, aside from attaining forgiveness from Allah SWT and the people around me, will be to instill this spirit of humility and progression that seems to shine particularly brightly during Ramadan.

Internal struggle of the day: Accepting that the rest of Ramadan will consist of four hours of sleep on the daily, which means the weekends will now be reserved for hibernation.

Internal affirmation: There are still some smart cookies to be found in the future generations! Case in point: Ali   

The 30 Days of Ramadan blog is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-Houston’s Operations Coordinator.

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