Ramadhan Experience: Musa Caplan
By Musa Caplan
Sept. 24- 30: Between Hope and Fear
My name is Musa, and I am only 15 years old. I have recently reverted to Islam (ma sha’ Allah) and this will be my first Ramadan.
I have mixed emotions: One side of me is excited, the other side of me is terrified. I do not think actually fasting will be my problem, but rather hiding it from my family and friends. I have not yet told my parents of my reversion and although I do wish to, it seems near impossible for me. I have approached them many times about this, and as soon as I am ready to expose my true beliefs, my mouth refuses to open.
Although I am so proud and glad to be a Muslim, I am almost ashamed to tell my parents. I feel they will be very disappointed considering they have this image of me being a more religious Jew than they are.
I go to a Jewish school right now, and it surely will not be an easy Ramadan for me. There are several Jewish holidays which fall during the month of Ramadan, one which requires eating before sundown! I assume that will cause a major problem for me. My best plan is to pretend being sick. Also, my friends will all ask why I am not eating in school.
As of now, my plan is to wake up before Fajr Prayer’s time, eat a large breakfast, then pray. Then I will convince my family to eat later (in sha’ Allah ), after sundown. I will tell my friends I have decided to eat breakfast, then lunch after I return home from school, and dinner a bit later. I assume it will be difficult on weekends considering my relatives prefer to eat early — around 5:00 p.m., and we eat with them nearly every week.
I pray for Allah to help me in my times of need. And if Allah wills it, Allah will forgive me if I am unable to keep my fast, for Allah knows my intentions! And I pray for Him to strengthen mine, as well as everyone’s faith!
Oct. 1-7, 2006: The Challenge of Yom Kippur
As-salamu ?alaykum. I ask Allah to strengthen the faith of all Muslims, including myself, during this holy month of Ramadan. This month has proved to be a challenge, an inspiration, and a motive for increasing my faith.
In the past, hearing about Muslims fasting for a whole month and praying a minimum of five times a day, I thought it was absurd. Of course I respected their personal decision, but never did I imagine myself worshiping God in such a dedicated manner. The most I would offer was a prayer before bedtime and studying in a Jewish school, but not praying five times a day! But as soon as I found that the Qur’an is the direct word of Allah and that Muhammad is our role model, I realized I would have to do both of these things — fast as well as pray.
Now that my fast has begun, I discovered it is exactly as I expected. Arising from bed around 5:30 is difficult for me, and my alarm clock has not been waking me. I have been waking up a few minutes into Fajr Prayer, which leaves me with a dilemma: Should I quickly grab a bite or should I just pray I will be strong enough to fast the whole day without eating in the morning?
On Wednesday, I woke up already feeling the pain of hunger and thirst. My main problem was that I had woken up 15 minutes into Fajr, therefore, too late to eat. I was unsure if I could last the day if I did not eat, so I took a bite of an apple.
Then a feeling of regret entered my body and I put down the apple, asking Allah to strengthen me by helping me fast with ease. I suppose I will have to make up that day after Ramadan, and pray forgiveness for breaking the fast so early in the day.
I have been successful in convincing my family to eat dinner at 7:00. As of now, my family has not caused much of a problem. The main conflict has been my friends because they keep questioning why I do not eat, why I do not drink. The best response I am able to think up is “I’m not hungry,” which I doubt will work for a whole month.
But for the first time I have had a major conflict. Today is Yom Kippur, a Jewish fast day from sunset to sunset tomorrow. Unfortunately, I had to break my Ramadan fast today because we ate at 5:00 with our whole family. When I raised the subject of Ramadan, which was probably a mistake, my grandfather said he is getting annoyed of hearing about Ramadan and Muhammad in the news. I told him it is a good thing so finally people can see the truth about Islam and Muslims, rather than the minority our media chooses to show.
Like many elders who are closed-minded, he immediately replied with prejudiced comments about Islam, which forced me to grow angry. Eventually, I just walked away, but the situation only grew worse.
In an attempt to show my parents that I am a thinking human being with individuality, I told them I have decided not to fast this Yom Kippur. My mom said that I must. I replied by telling her I have freedom of choice.
Unfortunately the commandment to respect your parents grew invisible for me.
She questioned me if I wanted to ask God forgiveness for my sins. I replied, “I can ask God that any day of the year, why on this random day must I?”
Well, the fight continued for about five minutes until I grew so annoyed that I called all nontraditional Jews nationalists and criticized her for only fasting because everyone else is fasting. Then I walked to my bedroom to be alone for a while. All hopes I had of telling my family of my reversion in the near future have now perished.
While fasting may be a difficult task, and there are quite a few distractions, I feel this is a test from Allah and it certainly has strengthened my faith. It has motivated me to accomplish whatever Allah has asked of the believers. The idea of submitting ourselves 100 percent to our Creator is a beautiful thing and filled with reward. I pray that all my brothers and sisters in Islam will have a great month, and may the disbelievers be guided to truth. Ameen!
Oct. 8-14, 2006: So Far So Good
As-salamu ?alaykum wa rahmatullah. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all in this holy month, and may He, the Most High, Most Gracious, guide those who do not see the truth clearly. Ameen.
Since my last diary entry, I have been doing very well al-hamdu lilah! Things have been pretty easy, I have had no trouble hiding my fast, and I pray to Allah the rest of Ramadan is like this.
Thursday was a “fast for Darfur” day; therefore it gave me an easy excuse. Friday we had no school because it was the day before the Jewish holiday, Sukkot.
Although, on Tuesday, my school is going to an amusement park and I am unsure if I will be able to make it the whole day without water, considering I normally become very thirsty after roller coasters.
I doubt this is a great time of the year to go to an amusement park, considering it is for amusement, and Ramadan is a time to remember those suffering. But I don’t really have much of a choice, unfortunately; this trip is mandatory, not optional. I am unsure how much fun I will have though, but Allah knows my intentions.
That is all I really have to say on the topic of fasting — my other studies have been progressing recently as well. I have taken advantage of this being a month to study Qur’an more then the rest of the year, which has benefited my Islamic studies greatly.
I make du?aa’ to Allah, asking Him to help me find someone able to take me to a masjid. As of now, I have never been, considering my situation. But al-hamdu lillah, I found a class that is not so expensive to study Qur’an. In sha’ Allah next year, if I am able to drive, I can do that class without my parents knowing.
Although, once again I am considering telling my parents about my reversion. It is not easy for me to keep a faith I feel so passionately about as a secret. I showed my father some videos of Shaikh Hamza Yusuf and al-hamdu lillah, he likes Hamza Yusuf a lot.
My cousin is doing a report about Muhammad and Islam, which I have offered to help with. I am praying that he will find truth in Islam while doing research. He is a very open-minded person, and I teach him about Islam quite often. Please make du?aa’ for my family and friends to find truth in Islam.
Oct 15-21: My Prayers Answered
As-salamu ?alaykum brothers and sisters in Islam. As this holy month of Ramadan is passing so quickly, I ask Allah to accept our prayers as well as our fast, and may He bless all Muslims in this holy month.
Although my past diary entry described Ramadan as seeming pretty easy, this week has been much different. This past week has possibly been the most difficult week so far, but al-hamdu llilah I have been more successful than I previously expected.
In Judaism, this past week was supposed to be a fun, easy week. Although I attempted to fast at the amusement park, I was unable to, considering the heat as well as thirst. Every day this week, food was served for free at school, both lunch and snacks. It became quite a challenge to make up a new excuse each day of why I am not eating. But al-hamdu lillah I was successful, and few questioned it.
Finally the last 10 days of Ramadan are upon us. I have been waking up at 3:00 am every morning to pray. It is a great feeling, and this morning as well as yesterday, I asked Allah to lead me to Muslims in my community.
My community has very few Muslims, but I do recall seeing a few in the past.
I noticed for the first time Allah has answered my prayers. While at the library yesterday, looking to buy books about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), I saw a family of Muslims, two women and three men. I was considering going to talk to them, but shyness kicked in. They walked out and I deeply regretted my decision not to talk to them. I felt as if I should run out of the library and try to catch up to them before they drive off. But I decided not to. I figured this may just have been coincidental, not an answer to my prayers.
But then today, something even more amazing happened. I was walking into a store and began to ask Allah silently, “Oh Allah, please lead me to a Muslim here who can help me, Allahu Akbar.” But little luck did I have. I thought there was a Muslim man, but after seeing his wife, I realized he was Indian. I continued with hope, but fifteen or twenty minutes passed with little success in finding a Muslim.
I decided to search for my mom in the store and ask her if we can leave. While searching, before walking down another isle, I asked Allah once again to lead me to a Muslim. And there, right in front of my eyes, stood a man with a beard and kufi (which I had never seen in my city), as well as two girls, maybe eight years old, wearing hijab.
Once again, shyness kicked in and I had a conflict within my mind. I stood beside the family, wondering if I shall at least say “As-salamu ?alaykum.” The little girl looked over at me, and I walked away, once again feeling deep regret. I felt my eyes well up with tears. The second time in just two days I had turned down that which Allah has granted me.
It felt like the most beautiful thing on earth to me. I now had personal evidence that my prayers are being heard by something greater than earth and all that is in it. I pray that Allah forgives me for not accepting the offer He has sent to me as a guide. I pray He will send more, for Allah is most forgiving and understanding.
I suppose I shall go ride my bike in hope of finding Muslims. May Allah bless you all, and answer your du?aa’ as He has done to my own.
Oct 22-28: A Test of Faith
As-salamu ?alaykum brothers and sisters in Islam. My first Ramadan has passed by so quickly, too quickly. One part of me is happy that it is over, the other part feels so unfulfilled.
For my first ?Eid, I was looking for a way that my parents would not make me go to school, and instead I could go to the masjid for the first time. But, a few days before ?Eid, I realized I had tickets for a concert that night that I had bought prior to my reversion.
I lost all the excitement I had for the concert. I really was so excited to go to the masjid for my first time, but I realized that plan failed. I tried to find reasons not to go to the concert without offending my parents. I had been waiting to see that band for a few years now, and finally my parents had allowed it. I was afraid they would be insulted if I told them I did not want to go.
The day before ?Eid, I decided I would really tell my parents about my reversion to Islam. I asked if we could go out to dinner, thinking maybe it would be a more relaxed environment. I brought up the topic of religion and Islam. To my surprise, it was going well. I was telling them about the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
I felt that I finally had a chance to tell my parents the truth. Just before I was about to tell them, fear went through my mind, and as in the past, I was unable to get the words out of my mouth. Once again, I have failed to tell my parents what I truly believe.
I feel like I live my life somewhat a lie. There is so much that the world does not know about me. The few people who do know, are only online. Just one friend knows I am Muslim, and he does not even live in my state. I really wish I could tell the world. I wish one day I will be able to pray in the masjid every Friday. I wish one day I can take Islamic classes, and study at an Islamic school. In sha’ Allah one day I may pray and fast openly, rather than behind locked doors. Right now that seems to be in my distant future. I hope one day I will be capable of telling my parents, rather then letting fear take over my body as it has done now.
But at least I now have a sense of what I must do for Ramadan so that it will be easier in the future. I understand how to hide it from my family and friends. Next year, in sha’ Allah, I will be able to fix all of the mistakes I made this Ramadan.
Though Ramadan has been a difficult experience for me, I truly feel it has tested my iman (faith). I feel as if all of these problems I am having are meant to happen, as a test from Allah (SWT). And al-hamdu lillah, I feel I am passing!
I hope you all had a great Ramadan as well as a great ?Eid. In sha’ Allah we will all be rewarded for the deeds we have done. Please make du?aa’ to Allah throughout the year, asking to guide my family to Islam. I have big dreams that in the future my parents will be Muslim. In sha’ Allah in years to come, they too will decide to fast during Ramadan!
Source: Reading Islam