I’m not sure if it’s living overseas or if it’s having children or both, but my Ramadans just have not been the same. Certainly not like the Ramadan of 1998! That was my first year out of Chicago and I lived in Northern Virginia and was attending an Arabic Institute there as well as being an active member of Darul Hijrah Masjid. To date that was my most memorable Ramadan. The sisters did a semi-itikaf during the last ten nights and I have never had such a fulfilling feeling since. I felt then like I had everything. I had the worship from staying up all night praying and reading Quran and I had the companionship offered by the sisterhood. Not to mention we had FUN! Most days we would arrive at the masjid to pray salatul asir. We would finish off our Quran reading for the day, break our fast, pray Maghrib and then have iftar at the masjid. Some would then leave for Starbucks…lol…unless it was one of the days we were trying to do itikaf. Then we would pray Tarawee, have a halaqah, read more Quran chit chat, sleep pray Qiyaumul Layl, have sahoor, pray fajr and go back to sleep at the masjid or go home and sleep.

Now, things are a bit different. I did thoroughly enjoy myself when I was in Makkah one year during the last ten nights of Ramadan. That was great and my schedule was similar to that mentioned above. Only I did not have my sisters. By then I was married with children, masha’Allah. Of course this Ramadan was more rewarding because my prayers were done in the haram. I would stay at the hotel for dhur and asr but would show up at the haram a little bit before it was time to break our fast. We would stay there into after fajr. It was so beautiful and so peaceful. Even with all those millions of people around (and it is truly remarkable to be there one day and not being able to imagine how anyone else can fit in yet watch the crowds swell as each day past with the 29th or 30th night having more people than you could ever imagine), it was still a quiet noise.

Both of those Ramadans will always remain special to me. The difference is that I had more khushoo before I was married with children, masha’Allah. This is to be expected and I ask that Allah make me and my children keep up our prayers, accepts our prayers, forgive me and my parents and all the believers on the Day of Judgement…Allahumma aameen.