News & Islam From the Imam’s desk... Making Hijra to Allah this Ramadan By Aliyah Umm Raiyaan Qaudri, founder and CEO at Solace UK They say that Ramadan is a visitor – an important and special visitor who arrives just once a year – for a specified limited amount of time, making the time spent in her presence – so truly valuable and precious. The analogy of Ramadan as a visitor is indeed an accurate one – Ramadan arrives and Ramadan departs – with billions of hearts longing for her return. On a surface level, Ramadan is an extremely important visitor whose presence touches everything and everyone within her reach. On a deeper level, Ramadan is so much more than that. Ramadan is an invitation; a special invitation. A received invitation brings such joy and happiness to the one receiving. A received invitation also produces something so beautiful, far greater and far more important than the invitation itself. It draws the heart of the receiver to the one inviting. It refreshes and strengthens the bond between the two. Appreciation is felt. Love is encountered. Connection is built. In the case of Ramadan, this is no different. Ramadan itself is an invitation to withdraw from our humanly innate desires. To fast, to abstain. Ramadan is an invitation to push ourselves to recite more Qur’an; to reconnect with our loved ones through the sharing of iftar; to humbly stand before the Owner of the Universe in taraweeh – hoping for His Mercy; to converse with our Lord as our hearts lift up the dua that escapes our lips. On a deeper level, it is so much more – it is something far more profound. It is an invitation to reconnect; an invitation to come closer – a call of nearness by the Most Generous Giver – Allah (azza wa jaal). Allah says in the Qur’an (Al-Baqarah: 183): O you who believe; fasting is prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness] To attain consciousness of Allah (azza wa jaal) is to pass through the days of your life with Him at the forefront of your mind; with Him at the centre of your heart; with Him as the One you to turn to – seeking His Guidance before you make your life’s decisions. It is to walk with Him as your Guide. It is to live with Him as your Most Intimate Companion. And so He invites us to Him through Ramadan each year so that we may journey back to Him and deeply reconnect with Him. When we receive an invitation to a wedding, an event or a function – we feel chosen. We feel special. We feel thought of. We feel remembered. We feel loved. Whilst Ramadan is a mass invitation to all believers, we need to remember not all invitees accept. One can only bask in the joys of an event if one accepts the invitation. Every Ramadan, the King of Kings invites our hearts and souls to Him. The invitation is open. It is sent annually. The question is, do we readily accept? Some of us do; we engage our hearts, bodies and minds in the worship of Ramadan so that we can attain that level of consciousness of Him. Some of us don’t and the invitation sadly goes unnoticed. Some of us place the invitation on a mantlepiece – a visible reminder so that we don’t forget; a reminder that yes, one day I must remember to respond. One day, I’ll RSVP. And before we know it, the thin silver crescent of Shawwal has been sighted. Regardless of whether we accepted the invitation of Ramadan or didn’t, something so incredibly beautiful takes places on numerous occasions throughout the rest of the year. Our Rabb continues to send special invites throughout the weeks, months and years after Ramadan has departed. Let me explain. We’re in agreement that Ramadan is an invitation for us to become deeply conscious of Allah. It is an invitation to reconnect. It is an invitation to draw our hearts back to the One we are journeying towards in this dunya. It is an act of love that sets us back on the hijrah we are all making to the One Who created us. It’s an invitation to journey home to Him and for Him; with Him. And whether we accept the invitation and embark upon that journey back to Him, or we fail to accept the journey, Allah in His Exquisite Love for us continues to send us invitations. These come in the form of decreed matters that are totally out of our hands, people, difficulties, heartache, loss and trial. When you think about Ramadan – it is an invitation to shed ourselves of that which we are attached to because Allah wants for us to attach ourselves so firmly to Him. We remove ourselves from food and drink, marital relations – the things we love and are attached to, so that there is room to attach our hearts to that which they were created to be attached to. You see, this level of special invitation is not restricted to only Ramadan. Ramadan simply is the highlight of our many invitations throughout the year. Dear reader, Allah interacts with your life in such an intrictate and intimate way, that He is constantly and consistently always calling you back to Him. When you are put to trial and something is taken away from you and you experience the depths of loss, knowing that no one can replace your loss – what else can you do except to beg Him to relieve you of your emptiness. When you feel burdened by the burden of your tests and you feel like you’re going to succumb because your load is already heavy enough - what else can you do except turn to the Only One that can carry it all for you. When you feel like life itself is so complex that it is hard to navigate - what else can you do except turn to the One, Who is the Only One that knows your future, and beg Him to guide you through. You see, invitations from the Lord of the Worlds are sent to us regularly for one reason and one reason alone. They are simply and yet beautifully, a pure act of Love from Al Wadud – The One Whose Love is Manifest – the One whose love is made apparent. The One who wants to show you His Love for you. The One who acts upon His Love for you. Just as Allah is the Lord of Ramadan who invites you to attain taqwa – consciousness of Him, so too is Allah the Lord of the days of your life who invites you, to either embark upon hijrah (the journey) to Him, or who invites you to get back on track on the hijrah of your heart to Him. One cannot help but smile at the depths of His Love for us. He doesn’t give up on us. He never does. He continues to send invitation upon invitation – whether that’s in the beautiful month of Ramadan, or a reminder that suddenly pops into your mind to do your adhkaar. Whether that’s a pull on your heartstrings as you listen to a beautiful talk, or the inclination you feel to set your alarm to wake up ten minutes earlier before fajr – to stand in tahajjud. Whether that’s placing you in difficulty in order for your heart to break into pieces so that you have no option but to collect those pieces and turn to Him and say, ‘Ya Rabbi, here. Mend it. Only You can.’ They are all invitations that lovingly force us to realise we’re not alone. We never were. And we never will be. He’s watching us, looking upon us as days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and months into years. He’s watching where we’re at on the journey of our hearts to Him. And He is lovingly and perfectly sending us invitations to return, to come back, to journey back to where our hearts will truly find peace and feel they have arrived home. My dear reader, as you read this in this blessed and beautiful month of Ramadan, having accepted the invitation of Ramadan or not; having utilised the gift of Ramadan or not, realise the following: You have a Lord who will never forsake you. You have a Lord who wants the very best for you. You have a Lord who loves you with a love that can never be experienced with a human being. You have a Lord who fashioned you and wants you so very near to Him. You have a Lord who does not give up on you, though others may have. You have a Lord who will continue to send you invitations. You have a Lord whose special invitations are not limited by your acceptance or rejection of them. Pass through the days of your life doing your very best to respond the invitations that are sent your way. You will only know the true extent of the beauty of that which you are being invited to, if you accept. But even if you don’t, or can’t or won’t – then remember this: you have a Lord who will keep sending you them anyway – because He loves you. Aliyah Quadri (Umm Raiyaan) reverted to Islam 19 years ago and has been involved in UK dawah for over 15 years. In 2010, she founded Solace UK, a registered charity that helps revert sisters who are in difficulty. In 2014 she launched the ‘Achieve Your Dunya and Akhirah Dreams’ course as part of her initiative, Sisters Achieve. She is a Trainer and Practitioner of NLP and holds a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature.