Ramadan Notions…

And So it Begins… 

It is a truth firmly established that human beings need to submit to the Divine. The objections raised against this Truth have no bearing on its ontological reality – it is a truth regardless. As I awoke before the dawn of twilight on a quiet night of Ramadan, a feeling of a higher purpose in life dawned upon me. I was here on this Earth not to gain my own egotistic desires. I had a much higher purpose. I am here to adore and serve God ‘as he commandeth me’. 

I performed ablution and started praying the Islamic ritual prayers of tahajjud. God heard me. I know that, for he hears all things; but at this time, with the silence of the world around me, my spiritual awareness was heightened. I spake to God. I humbled myself before His Majesty. I hymned His praises. And then, as the tears began to flow, my tears did the talking for me. Words were meaningless at this point. My feelings, my emotions, my sentiments and my awareness of God spoke to Him directly, telepathically.  

This is the Ramadan that I wish continues. Thirty days of constant doses of God consciousness. Fasting by day and praying by night. Nourishing my angelic faculty and taming my bestial ones. In a word, ‘submission’; Islam is submission to the Truth that is God.      

Because I Love You… 

The veil is lifted. The light of Oneness has appeared. I have sipped from the cup of Divine Love. Ever since He manifested Himself to me, I have become bowing and prostrate. Make ready for the theophany. . . 

The smallest breath of divine love, the faintest trace, is enough to dissolve and wash away the entire universe and all that it contains. All else dwindles to insignificance. As I ponder over the many saints gone aforetime, I recollect how many experienced this breath of love. Of the many giants who have written about this love are: Ahmad Ghazali in his Sawanih; Rumi in his masterpiece, the Mathnawi; Ibn Arabi in his Futuhaat; Ghazali in his Ihya; Ali Hamdani in his Khamriyya.  

This Ramadan, I wish to gain proximity to my Lord through His own words, the Quran.  

Lord divest me of all intellect that veils me from You or understanding Your verses or the words of Your messenger. Grant me the intellect that You bestow your elect.          

Forgive Me… 

Lord, Majestic and Most High, I come to your altar reeking of sin. I have violated your prohibitions and committed heinous crimes. But I still pluck up the courage to approach Your sacred precinct. I beg You, for in this august month of Ramadan, You reward the penitent. I confess all my doings and acknowledge my shortcomings, in the hope that You, out of Your Infinite Largesse, will not only overlook my shortcomings, but change my sins into good deeds. Place me, my family, and all those connected to me, in the van of those who love and honour You.  



Ramadhan: The Healer

As much as I hate to admit it, I was of those who were wishing that the coming of Ramadhan was delayed this year. Drowning in the toxicity of this life, I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I had prepared enough. So as others were restlessly counting down the days and hours till this beautiful of guests was to grace them with their presence, I felt as if my tongue was empty in its sincerity. I found my heart hollow in its hesitance.

But the mercy of this month does not exclude even sinners like I. As the first sunset on that first day  dawned, I felt a loosing of knots within my soul- as if someone was breathing fresh air into my flailing lungs. Almost as if my soul was reaching out for all that it had been deprived in these last twelve months. As weak as it was, it was slowly but reaching for what it knew it needed- like a frail beggar extending his hand in dire thirst for just that one sip of water- knowing therein lay its remedy. Maybe sometimes our souls know things our physical faculties can never comprehend.

And so that night as each moment elapsed, I felt that knot slowly loosening…loosening. And as I stood there in prayer with complete strangers, a sense of solidarity overwhelmed me- we are all here prepared with our unpreparedness. Standing, untethered hearts in hand, with the anticipation that He will mend what is broken within us.

Al hamdulilahhi rabil aalameen. He is the one who hears me even when I am silent. The One who has always nourished me. How then, can I deny that His is the perfect decree? AlRahmaan Al Raheem. Cradling me like a child His mercy envelops me, irrespective of whether or not my human eye can see. Maliki Yawm iddeen. He is the One I will return to. It has never been about anything or anyone else. All that matters is me and Him. Ihdinas siratul mustaqeem. Guide me towards what is pleasing to you. O turner of hearts! Turn me onto your way. And though I may lapse and let go of you again and again, never let me go. Never leave me to myself.

And so as each crisp verse from the tongue of the imam echoed around me. Words from my Lord meant for an undeserving I, I felt the shackles I had fastened around my heart slowly slacken. I can never be fully prepared for the mercies he showers down upon me. I will always arrive bereft and negligent. But He sees me. He hears me. He knows me. He knows that each year, I will need these days to come and fill my wounds. How each year as my life progresses and I grow, my wounds will be different but the healing they yearn for will always be the same.

This Ramadhan may we all find our healing in Him.

Ramadan The Healer (Arabic)

شهر رمضان المبارك

بقدر ما أكره  الاعتراف به ،أني لم أكن أتطلع إلى قدوم رمضان هذا العام، و كنتُ أتمنّى تأجيل مجيئه. لقد كنتُ غارقًا في مشاغل الحياة الدنيوية السمّيّة، لم أشعر بالاستعداد، و لم أشعر أني أعددتُ ما يكفي، فبينما كان الآخرون يعدّون الأيّام و الساعات حتى يكرمهم هذا الضيف المبارك بحضوره، شعرتُ كما لو أن لساني كان كاذبًا في ما يقول، و قلبي خاليًا عن أيّ تمنٍّ، وكان هذا القذى في جفني مدّ الطول

لكن رحمة هذا الشهر لا تستثني أحدًا، حتى المُذنِبين مثلي، فمع أفول الشمس حينما رُئِي الهلال، تبدّل الجوّ عاطرًا طاهرًا، شعرتُ بحلّ عقدةٍ في روحي، كأن أحدًا تنفّس الهواء النقي الصافي في رئتي المضطربة، كما لو أن روحي تمدّ يدها إلى كلّ ما هي محرومةً منه في الأشهر الماضية، كانت عطشانةً و لم تشعر، كانت جائعةً و لم تحسّ، كأنها تستخدم المخدّرات. لكن مع بدء هذه الأحاسيس و المشاعر شيئًا فشيئًا، كانت روحي تحاول الوصول إلى ما كانت تعرف أنها بحاجة إليها ، مثل الفقير الذي يمدّ يده في عطش شديد لرشفةٍ واحدة من ماء. ربما تعرف أرواحنا أحيانًا ما لا تستطيع أجسادنا فهمَه أبدًا

وهكذا في تلك اللّيلة المباركة مع مرور كلّ لحظة، شعرتُ أن العقدة التي حرّمتني الوجدان الروحي تحلّ و تتفكّك ببطء…و بينما كنتُ واقفًا في صلاة التراويح بين الأجانب تمامًا، غمرني شعور تغلغل في أحشائي و تمكّن في نفسي: نحن كلّنا هنا على استعداد مع عدم استعدادنا،و مع توقع أنه سوف يُصلَح ما انكسر بداخلنا

بدأ الإمام يقرأ الكتاب العزيز في الصلاة، الكتاب الذي حمَلَه المسلمون في فتوحهم الأولى، تلك الرسالة القوية الواضحة المشرقة، فأخذتْني الأفكارُ تطير بي، فالفاتحة التي سمعتُها من صوت الإمام كانت غير الفاتحة التي حفظتُها عن ظهر قلبي في صِغَري، نعم، آياتها كآيتها، و نظمها كنظمها، لكن معانيها كانت غير معانيها التي تعوّدتُ ذكرها. فغشيني موج كموج البحر فبدأتُ أغوط في هذه البحار العميقة

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ. هو الذي يسمعني حتى و أنا صامت، الرب الذي يغذيني دائمًا، الذي أنبتني نباتًا حسنًا، و أنشأني نشأةً طيّبة، له الحمد و له الجزيل الثناء

ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ : هو الرب الذي يحتضني كطفل، يغلفني رحمته التي وسعتْ كلّ شئي

مَـٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ: هو الذي سأعود إليه

إيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ: لا أهِمّ و لا أهتمّ  بأيّ شيءٍ أو أيّ شخصٍ آخر… كل ما يُهِمّني هو أنا وهو فقط

 ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ: أرشدني إلى ما يرضيك يا مقلّبَ القلوب! حوّلني إلى طريقك، وعلى الرغم من أنني قد أتركك مرارًا وتكرارًا ، فلا تتركني أبدًا. لا تكلني إلى لنفسي طرفةَ عين

وهكذا تردّد صدى كل آية حولي. كلمات ربي كانت تعني بي غير مستحق، و شعرتُ بأن الأغلال التي ربطتُّها على قلبي تتراخى، و كلّ آية أسمعها تفيضُ بالبهجة، وتموجُ بالنشوة، و تتفتح بالحياة الروحية

لا يمكنني أبدًا أن أكون مستعدًّا تمامًا للرحمة التي ينزلها عليّ ربّي، سأصِلُ دائمًا مجرّدًا ومهملًا، لكنه يراني، ويسمعني، و يعرفني حقّ المعرفة. إنه يعلم أنني سأحتاج إلى أن آتيه كل عام وأفتح جراحي. و كل عام مع تقدّم حياتي ونموها ، ستكون جراحي مختلفة ولكن الشفاء الذي أتوق إليه سيكون دائمًا كما هو، وحيدة، منفردة، طازجة كما قال ﷻ: وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ القُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِين

هذا رمضان! ربّنا يجعل لنا نجد كل شفاءنا فيه

شهزاد خان



A Day in the Life….





Dear Friend,

How are you coping after a month in lock down?

In case it’s any help I thought it might be worth sharing a typical day now that Ramadan and lock down coincide. Let’s look at how I spent yesterday, Monday 27th April:


2:30am Alarm goes off. Pray tahajjud and eat sehri: a bowl of porridge and chamomile tea. Read a portion of Quran and Altaf al-Quds by Shah Waliullah.

4.00am Fajr prayer, dhikr, muraqaba and Hizbul Bahr. Sleep.

8:30am At my desk in the study preparing for remote teaching.

9.00am Teaching English for Academic Purposes and Interactive Learning Skills & Communication. This is my first day of remote teaching. Students are in different time zones around the world.

11:00am Meeting with university staff.

12:30am I like to ‘sharpen my axe’ by reading each day, either learning something new or revising something I should already know. Today I spend an hour in the company of David Fromkin, reading his ‘A Peace to End All Peace’,  learning about how the Middle East was created and the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end.

1:30pm Zuhr prayer and reading Quran. This Ramadan I’m reading ‘Tafseer Azizi’ by Shah Abdul Aziz. Originally written in Persian – I have an Urdu translation. What’s unique about it is that it was entirely dictated by him from memory in his latter years as he had lost his eyesight.

2:30pm Another Zoom meeting with colleagues from the University of Birmingham.

3:30pm Spent an hour and a half with the children: This was an eclectic mix of algebraic equations, multiplication tables, binary codes, counting in tens, using hyphens and Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.

5:00pm Reading Judd Harmon’s ‘Political Thought from Plato to the Present’. This is a history of political thought and how the ancients still influence us today.

6pm Time for a little siesta. Didn’t actually fall asleep but just lay down for 30 minutes.

6:30pm Made black eye beans curry for iftar. Wife made the roti and salad.

7:15pm Asr prayer and then, rather later than usual, time to leave the house for the one hour exercise. How strange the dynamics of meeting people on the street have become. I’m not exactly sure what ‘gorm’ is, but lots of people don’t seem to have any of it. One problem is speed differential. I can cope with the cyclists, as they tend to stay on the road and give you a wide berth. My big issue is with the joggers, especially those who have only started pounding the streets since lock down began. You can tell them by the awkward gait, the red face and the ‘I’m about to have a heart attack’ wheezing. They splutter and snort sending bodily fluids way more than 2 metres. If I see them in time I zip across the road to safety.

The other issue is with millennials who seem to think they are immune to infection and that moving into single file would be so uncool. I’ve adopted a new technique: when I see a young couple coming straight towards me who are clearly not going to move an inch. Out comes the tissue and a combination of a sneeze and a dry cough usually does the trick.

8.30pm magrib and iftar

10.00pm Isha and tarawih

Another day survived…

Wherever you are locked up (sorry, down), stay safe and stay sane.

Until next time


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Self Mastery in Ramadan

Self mastery is gained by:

 1)      Fasting

2)      Prayer

 Allah Most High says:

 “O believers fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those aforetime that you may gain taqwa…When my servants ask you concerning Me I am indeed close to them; I respond to the supplication of the supplicant when he calls on Me. They should listen to Me and believe in Me that they may tread the righteous path.” (2: 183-186)

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