Taking you back to the year 2004, at about eight years old at the time, I was living in Sri Lanka with my mom, sister and my grandmother. The month of Ramadan has always excited me. But as a little kid, I didn’t have a deep understanding to what Ramadan was really about. A huge part of me was simply excited about the variety of food laid on the table. And another part of me was also looking forward to the times when I would receive an abundance of compliments from my family when I successfully fasted without missing a single day. I loved it.
There has always been something special about the month of Ramadan compared to the rest of the year. It's holy, spiritual and ever since I was little I have always seen how this blessed month unites all Muslims together and strengthen the bond between muslim borthers and sisters. As a child, all I could do was to mirror the adults in their ibadah. My parents told me that the beauty of Ramadan is that it brings a person closer to Allah, and so I made sure to do anything and everything to get his fullest blessings upon me.
That year, my mom thought it was high time that I learned how Tarawih prayers are performed. Proudly walking towards the mosque that night, there's a little spark in me that gives these jittery of my very first Tarawih. The fear of making mistakes during the prayer and to pray alone in the mens’ prayer area without my mom was all over me that night.
As I end my sunnah prayers, I noticed a man, probably around 60 years of age, handicapped on a wheelchair. The look on his face, it wasn't something I'm used to especially in Ramadan, the month of barakah. This man had a rough look on his face but at all that vanished when he suddenly smiled. As it hit me that he was a man with disabilities, I couldn't help but to look for his family members or someone that had accompanied him. Emotional, hurt, lonely, these were all I could think about when I look at him.
But why? Why was he alone and disabled? I wondered but of course I didn't have the guts to utter a single question for fear that I would be deemed insensitive. I remembered hearing a soft but soothing voice coming from him asking about my family and I. After a talk or two, I finally got the courage to shoot out the 'why question'. Calm, he smiled and told me that he was a victim of an accident that occurred 10 years ago. He was disowned by his own children after the demise of his wife because they thought he was a 'burden'.
Tears were clearly starting to form in his eyes. Once again in full calmness, the man simply patted my head. What he said next has always been vivid in my ears. He had told me that whatever happens in life, good or bad, is in the will of Allah and that no matter how hard it is, we must always and forever turn to Allah and In Shaa Allah, He will bestow His mercy upon us. Every word he said has stuck through me till this day. Never have I imagined to be met with this man on my first Tarawih and it truly is a blessing.
And 15 years later, at the age of 23, my new love for Islam has Alhamdulillah, shaped me into the person I am today. I thank Allah for allowing my path to cross his in the blessed month of Ramadan.