The First Ramadan Of A New Muslim

-by Tonje Hagen

Nervousness and sincere duas

As Ramadan approached two years ago, not even two months after my shahada (becoming Muslim), I became more and more worried. Fasting? For a whole month? Is it even possible for a day? 17-18 hours without food and drink? I cannot do it – can I? Isn’t there an easy way for totally new Muslims?

Then I remembered a very sincere prayer of mine from February that year, while I was visiting a foreign country and still a non-Muslim. Quite recently I had started looking into Islam and reading the Quran. The tiny bits of knowledge I had gained – by then – were really fascinating, interesting and convincing. And even though I hadn’t formally accepted Islam, I already had imaan, alhamdulillah, because I could not concentrate well on anything. I kept thinking about Islam, Koran and God. For the first time in my life I seriously longed to go home, but for no other reason than to read and learn more about Islam. It was a study trip with a busy schedule, so I was mostly surrounded by people and couldn’t really do what I wanted to do.

Every evening for the 10 days of my stay, when I was finally on my own, I bowed down before the One and felt so ashamed because I hadn’t even made wudhu (because I had no idea how to). I was seriously afraid that something would happen and that my time and chance (my life) would come to an end too soon. Therefore, the words coming from my heart – and leaving my lips – were “Oh God, please let me live longer! Please let me live until I’ve read the Quran and have enough knowledge to KNOW that Islam is the Truth from You. Oh God, please let me live at least until Ramadan, so that I can SHOW You that I believe.”

Therefore, when Ramadan was just around the corner I realized that Allah had answered my supplication. He had allowed me to finish the Koran (Norwegian translation), learn a lot more about Islam and say the shahada (testimony of faith). Now, I had to fulfill my promise.

When expressing my concerns and asking, “Isn’t there an easy way for totally new Muslims?” to my teacher of an Islamic course I took earlier that year, I was told that any mature, sane and healthy Muslim need to fast the whole month properly. More importantly, she advised me to ask Allah to make it easy for me to fast and to accept it from me. This duaa became my top priority which I utilized in all moments of accepted duaa. I was desperately in need of Allah’s help and support.

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Preparing my first suhoor

Then the first day came.

I woke up in the middle of the night. My mom and my guest were sleeping quietly in their own rooms. I had to tiptoe down the stairs in darkness, so that I wouldn’t disturb their sleep. My mom had made it very clear what she thought about my choice of religion: I was – without a doubt – the stupidest and most naïve person in the whole world. So, I knew she would be very upset and angry with me for fasting.

In the kitchen I could finally put on some light. Since I knew I had about 18 hours of fasting waiting for me, I prepared the healthiest morning meal I knew: Oatmeal porridge with raisins and apple pieces, two pieces of bread and lots to drink (juice, milk and water).

Important reflections and gratitude

You would imagine I felt very lonely and strange at this moment, but I didn’t – not at all. As soon as I had brought the food to the dining table and sat down, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude, peace and excitement. I wasn’t able to start eating until I had thanked Allah greatly for giving me the food with about zero efforts from my side. I thought about the wheat, which was once in a huge field; the raisins, which had once been hanging on branches of grapes; the apple, which had probably been surrounded by apples and apple trees and been transported across huge distances. I thought about how everything originally comes from the earth, that most non-believers end their reflection there, and how everything from the earth originally comes from Allah. He’s the Maker of all things, the Creator of the Universe. He’s our Sustainer and Provider. He’s the One who creates and gives us all the things, food and abilities we’re completely in need of.

Saying ‘bismillah’ right before eating was done with deep sincerity. I was thinking “I’m eating for You, Allah. I’m eating suhoor because the Prophet (saw) used to do it & I want to be of his true followers. I’m eating this because I’m preparing for my very first day of fasting. I will leave my food and drink – what’s normally halal – for You, all day, until maghrib.” Then I ate. And I enjoyed every bit of it. It was truly a moment of gratitude, joy, peace and sincerity. While eating I also remembered my sincere duaa from February that year and how amazing it is that Allah SWT answers our duaas. I reflected upon how incredibly lost I had been and how wonderful it was that I could sit and eat food before fajr, with the intention of fasting the whole day – and really, the whole month of Ramadan – for Allah SWT.

Allah gives Islam to those He loves

I was touched, knowing that Allah gives this world both to those He loves and those He does not love, but that He gives Islam and imaan only to those He loves.

There I was; in the middle of the night, everyone else asleep, preparing for a day of fasting, the only Muslim in the family. In this small town with 7 different churches and no mosque, Allah SWT still found ways to give me knowledge of His absolutely amazing and beautiful deen. Of all the people in Norway and the world, Allah chose me. He guided me. And of all the Muslims who know that Allah is One and that Muhammed (saw) is His slave and Messenger, Allah decided that I was going to be of those whose faith turns into actions.

Allahu akbar. That’s just incredible.

Since it had only been about 1.5 months since I made my shahada, I was still in the skies. My heart was filled with peace, joy, tranquility and gratitude. I was amazed at how Allah SWT had changed my thoughts, my feelings, my life and my world. Whatever I saw, whatever I did, wherever I went, I was reminded of Allah.

Reaching a spiritual high

My first day of fasting went great. I didn’t even feel hungry. When maghrib came I only ate because I could – not because of some need or longing for food. Subhanallah! How Allah SWT answers duaas! It was made super-easy for me to fast. Even when my mom came to me, trying to get to me and hurt me by her offensive and angry words, I kept my cool and simply thought, “I’m fasting, I’m fasting”.

First day, second day, third day – I experienced no trouble. I quickly came to love fasting. When thinking back on this blessed month I only have good memories. It’s the most fantastic month I’ve experienced. No month had ever passed that quickly ever before. My mom had never given me a harder time or more resistance before, but I was lost. Lost in Allah and lost in imaan. I was way up there. All her efforts to put me down or hurt me were useless. I couldn’t care less. Not a single word she uttered could enter my heart or ruin my feelings of peace, happiness and gratitude.

I was fasting and my intention was sincere and pure (may Allah accept it). I fasted for none other than Allah SWT and for no other reasons than the fact that it was His command. Also, I felt a need to show Allah that I believed and was grateful. I was seeking His pleasure, His reward and His forgiveness.

 

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Some pleasures of fasting

One week, 10 days, two weeks passed. My love for Ramadan, fasting and Allah only increased. I spent a lot of time walking in the nature, observing the beautiful creation, reflecting upon all sorts of things, doing dhikr (remembrance of Allah), reading Quran and a book about the character of the Prophet (saw) and working. I was working with home care for elderly (cleaning their houses), and even though it did tire me out a bit, it was never in my mind to drink a sip of water.

One of the greatest pleasures I experienced in the blessed month was being all by myself and passing by some delicious berries (in the nature). Normally I wouldn’t even give a second thought; I would immediately start picking and eating them. But I was fasting, and my desire to please Allah and earn Jannah (Paradise) was far greater than to taste the berries and have a few seconds of pleasure. Therefore I left them – smiling – knowing that Allah was fully aware and that I had just passed a tiny test of His.

Another one was after sleeping a bit in the middle of the day – which I usually needed to do after work – because at times my body was just super-heavy, exhausted and nearly impossible to move. I truly struggled to get out of bed. But again, I was smiling. I was thinking that I can read and hear a whole lot about how I am and all things, animals and human beings are completely dependent upon Allah. But since I’m blessed with incredibly good health almost all-year round, I never truly noticed or understood. My body is working just fine – about all the time. But now, when I haven’t been eating or drinking for so many hours, my body is so, so weak. Subhanallah, Allah is teaching me – in practice – that I’m totally dependent upon Him and everything He is giving me. Amazing!


The blessed month coming to an end

26 days – consecutively – was made obligatory for me to fast. Then I had my break, which was so weird, yet a blessing from Allah. Eid followed shortly afterwards. 30 days had gone. 30 days of Ramadan – all over. And I had successfully fasted the whole month. Allahu Akbar!

It was only by the will and help of Allah and due to the strength and determination He gave me.  Alhamdulillah! How could I not love Allah even more than before? And wish to improve and increase my submission and sincerity to Him even further?

Mixed feelings, hope and trust

Not even spending my first Eid in solitude could put down my gratitude to Allah. But since twitter and facebook made it possible for me to see how much of a family-thing the day was, I did feel a little left out and lonely. I had no one to celebrate with; no one to tell about my wonderful Ramadan-experience; no one to eat delicious food with; no one to greet with salams; no one to hug or smile to. Even my own family was spread out this day, so I was really alone. Being with them wouldn’t make it any better anyway, since they weren’t exactly happy with me being Muslim. So I had a funny mixture of feelings. On one side I was extremely grateful, happy and excited. On the other side I felt different, strange and lonely.

What saved me from becoming ungrateful to Allah was hope and trust.

Even though I was alone that day, I was absolutely certain that if Allah were to keep me alive some more years and allow me to experience Ramadan more times, then He would certainly send me some good company for other eids – and iftars. I trusted Him not to leave me alone, to give me a good Muslim husband when the time is right and to keep guiding me and giving me strength. And if nothing else, at least I had huge hope in His reward and promise. I had hope in meeting Him with a clean and pure heart. Not because of my righteousness or ‘perfection’ of ibadah (worship), but since some of my most common and sincerest duas the past month had been “Oh Allah, please don’t take me (my soul) back to You before You’re pleased with me and please make it easy for me to enter Islam completely”. I expected and trusted Allah to answer these.

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Not forgotten

In the evening of eid – all of a sudden – I was invited to my Albanian sister and her family. For some reason I hadn’t expected it at all. Their house is always full for eid. They receive guests and go visit others. My happiness rapidly reached the clouds. How wonderful it was not to be completely alone. Alhamdulillah, exactly what I needed. An hour was more than enough. I wasn’t forgotten by the Muslim ummah. Someone cared. Someone made me feel loved and appreciated. They didn’t do much, but the Prophet (saw) said “Never belittle any good deed even if it is meeting your brother with a cheerful face” (Muslim). Their hospitality, friendliness and generosity certainly went far into my heart.

 

Meet the author:

Tonje Hagen (21) was born and raised in Norway by Christian parents. She embraced Islam in June, 2011.She is currently studying development studies (full-time) and tafsir (part-time), but she aspires to become an author, personal life coach and teacher of Islam. She shares her thoughts and assists reverts at Dive Into Deen.


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2 Responses to The First Ramadan Of A New Muslim
  1. MashaAllah may Allah swt help u evry step in ur knowlege foe deen ameen

  2. Ameen, and you too! JazakAllah khair sister,

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