Month 4 coincided with Ramadan. I had heard so much about how exciting Ramadan was here in Egypt prior to my arrival here. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, I'm quite the boring individual and felt no need to traverse the streets of Cairo looking for the awesome masjid to worship in. Instead I found refuge next door in our tiny but peaceful Masjid Al-Israa. Don't get me wrong, I went out once in Mokattam to Masjid Belal, or should I say Masged Belal? The place is massive and amazingly beautiful. The reciters certainly know what they are doing, but it is Egypt after all, and for prayer at the end of taraweeh they turn off the lights and its just something one has to experience. As for Studio Arabiya, classes have been shortened by an hour and it feels like that is only to give us an extra hour to remember that we are fasting. The biggest change with Ramadan has been my schedule. I haven't been able to get a firm grasp on it and it can be frustrating. The nights are so much longer as they are spent in worship and the days are spent attempting to catch up on much needed sleep so you're able to continue worship.
I've recently picked up a planner so as to organize myself a bit better and I've been using it for almost a month now and am quite proud with my progress. It's coming in handy this Ramadan specifically, as sometimes I lose the will to review my Arabic work as often as I should due to my being tired. I missed a few days of class near the end of the month as well due to a stomach virus and that also threw me off but, thanks to my agenda, I was able to get back on track quickly. The greatest difficulty I want to share with you is the homesickness and feeling of negativity. This Ramadan has been a trying one for Muslims across the world, just within 24 hours of me writing this, my good friend was shot and stabbed as he went for morning prayers at his masjid in the states, volunteers in another state were brutally attacked, a man from the UAE arrested and eventually passed out from the terrifying experience all because someone said he was a potential terrorist. Weeks ago, my hometown became the site of a horrible act of hatred by a homosexual who seemingly had strong issues within his homosexual community, but the backlash did not come upon the homosexual community (nor should it have), instead it fell on the Muslim community that had nothing to do with this act. Baghdad recently had an attack that killed over 150 people and here I am studying Arabic. It can be overwhelming knowing that all of this is going on around you and all you're doing is studying. I'm the kind of person that likes to act, to be in the community setting up events, raising funds for people affected, setting up programs for the youth so they are able to work through their feelings and thoughts during tragic events like this, that is how I cope, that is my mechanism. Instead, here I am having to learn how to cope in a different way, having to learn to cope by solely relying on God. It's actually difficult, maybe I'm the only one who feels like this (or only one willing to admit it) but when you leave everything behind for the sake of God and wish to study, the distractions come left and right. They try to pull you away from your nahw and sarf and attempt to pull your mind to them, but you can't allow that. Your goal, my goal is to attain the understanding of the book of God. To be able to stand in prayer listening to what God requires of me. To reflect, gain consciousness, cry and remember that I am blessed to call myself of those that submit to Him, to be a Muslim.
So Ramadan has been difficult, but on the plus side, my last exam I passed with flying colors. All it took was a bit more studying and kicking out the distractions, but I knew that was all I needed. God willing the goal is to continue to raise the bar as a student in this institute, to learn as much as I am able and to continue my path as a student. This is just life, and in life we are tested in various ways, and we already know for what reason.
He who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving - - Surah Al Mulk 67/ Ayah 2
Please send special prayers for our Ummah in these trying times.