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Pinholes of light from the window blinds pierced into my room so that my eyelids could rise from its fasting slumber. I awoke to see a day recognized by many to share greetings of cheer to fathers everywhere. But at times my vision travels beyond the moment to know that holiday cards, trendy ties, and words of cheer can never be enough. If not chosen before, let today serve as an opportunity missed on most days to recognize the fathers that give well beyond their design. What I can offer my dad is a mere rain drop to an ocean of selfless concern he has given to me, our family, and the community in which he never gives up on. The best of me is from the best of him. But like any person he has his flaws. How else could he show us how to love even when imperfect. Like the many years before, I embraced my dad for longer than I intended. And like the many years before, my father wouldn’t be able to do the same for his. Your parents are a gift from God, and there will be a time when we all must return to Him without our permission. To both of my grandfathers, to the fathers that have left this world, and to the families they had to leave behind, know that within your example I am truly grateful for having been blessed to share Ramadan with my dad. I pray that I can honor the memory of what was taken from you by appreciating the memory of what is still given to me. Even in their absence, they still give.
As I awoke in the early hours before dawn, my Ramadan story began alongside the diverse narratives of over a billion others in my faith. Like the years before, I strive to unearth its rewards by digging through the layered habits that bury it. Food, drink, and pleasures that are permissible is abstained from dawn to sunset to know their true value. But Ramadan is an experience beyond just physical deprivation. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prescribed,
“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” (Bukhari).
A fast of the body than best serves to hunger for the soul. Realigning our thoughts, actions, and deeds to an awareness of God in our daily lives becomes the goal. Embracing all communities with this in heart is the pulse of Islam as it serves as a reminder to Muslims during this month. With the Charleston shooting that took the lives of 9 members of a predominately African-American church, my pains of hunger become overshadowed with the pains of fellow Christian communities targeted because of the amount of melanin in their skin. No house of worship should be marginalized, brutalized, or victimized for any reason. As we enter our own during Ramadan, let us pray for the safety of our Christian brothers and sisters insha’Allah (God-willing).
One day my story will come to an end
So that generations unseen can begin
Yet, if my heart still welcomes the pen
Dearest, read of me until we meet again