Start your Ramadan guilt free! [Message from Dr Tawfique Chowdhury]

As-salâmu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuhu

My dear friends, students, patrons, supporters, brothers and sisters in faith.

My deepest love and respects to you and your beloved ones on the advent of Ramadan. Like the other 1.5 billion Muslims on this earth, I am sure we cannot wait to start fasting daily and enjoying the blessings of prayer and the Quran in this month. Many positive feelings overtake us this month: excitement, happiness, anticipation of blessings and reward, joy upon meeting family and friends regularly and the delight of amazing delicacies on the iftar table!

However for many of us, it is the negative emotions that predominate at the start of this month: fear of yet another unsuccessful Ramadan, apprehension and guilt. We start this month of Ramadan feeling guilty for being away from Allah for so long; for not having read the Quran this year until now; of not having prayed any tahajjud prayer until now; of not having fasting throughout the year – except for now. This guilty feeling leads to a lot of negativity in our approach to this month and perhaps to the lack of optimism in retrying those special attempts we had made before to read the whole Quran or to pray taraweeh and tahajjud every night or some other good deed in Ramadan. In fact for so many of us, guilt takes us away from Allah and makes us feel inferior and sometimes cripples us to lesser levels of aspiration and success. “What can this poor slave of Allah achieve anyway, when he is so engrossed in sins having done so many evil deeds?” For many – the thought of what we have done in the past – cripples us to what we can do in the future.

However, I would like to ask you all to approach this Ramadan guilt free! Free of guilt of the past. Why worry about something you can’t change? It is not the past that should worry us or bother us, rather what could happen in the future. The past is the past – we can’t change the sins we have done in the past – so to constantly focus on that for the vast majority of us – is far more crippling for the future than anything else. The prophetic guidance is to regret the past sins and missed opportunities, whilst fearing the future possible sins and being weary of missing future opportunities.

It is as Ibnul-Qayyium said in AnNooniyyah: “By Allah, I don’t fear my past sins, since I have sincerely repented to Allah and Allah loves to forgive.However, what I truly fear is that in the future this heart of mine will cease to rule by this Quran and this revelation.”

Remember that Allah is AlWadud – the loving God – He is the one who loves you more than your own parents! Have you not heard how Sufyan atThawri said: “I would rather that Allah judges me on the Day of Judgement rather than my own parents, for indeed I know that Allah loves me more than my own parents!” [Reported in Hilyatul-Awliyaa] So overpowering is Allah’s mercy that it has transcended His anger. So wide is His Mercy that the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “If the disbeliever knew of the extent of the Mercy of Allah, then none would have despaired of entering His Paradise!” [Reported by Muslim] And plus, what past sins, when your sincere repentance with Allah’s Mercy would have wiped it away and replaced it with equivalent good deeds: “Except those who repent, believe and do righteous deeds – they are the ones who Allah will turn their bad deeds into good deeds. And indeed Allah is most Forgiving most Merciful.” [AlFurqan 25:70]

My friends, how do you dare to think that Allah does not love you when He says so clearly in the Quran: “Allah has not forgotten you, nor does he hate you!” [AdDuha 93:3] If He hated you, why did He keep you alive till another Ramadan? If He hated you, why does he provide for you even when you disobey Him? If He did not love you, why is He allowing you to taste the sweetness of loving Him this month by fasting and praying? If He didn’t love you, why did He keep you upon Islam?

So come back to AlWadud – your loving Lord – the one who loves you more than anything else. He is waiting for you and is more happy with you remembering Him than you can imagine. If you come to Him today, He will rush to you. If you remember Him, He will remember you. If you talk about Him, He will talk about you to those with Him. If you say sorry O Allah, He will forgive you and turn them into good.

So start your Ramadan guilt free and enjoy a month of renewed emaan and focus on the good that you can do this month. Learn from the past, but focus on the future! It is truly as the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Verily actions are judged by their endings.”

With all my love and prayer for your success in this month

PS Please forward to your friends and family

Your brother,

Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury
Director General
Mercy Mission World