This is the first, I hope, of many reflections made during this beautiful month of Ramadan. May it go slowly, and may its effects last throughout the year.
In Surat al Baqarah, page 6 of the Quran, God introduces the story of Adam (AS), the first man.
God says: Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (khaleefah).” The angels were surprised, and questioned God,
“Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?”
I ask myself this same question all of the time, how can there be so much destruction? We weren’t created for this.
What did God ignite in us that we haven’t allowed to burn yet?
What secrets of our capabilities are still hidden from our eyes?
How do we take those barriers down to be what we’re truly capable of?
How do we become the person that God alluded to when He responded to the angels and reminded them that “Indeed, I know that which you do not.”
There is knowledge of us (humans) of course that only He knows, and yet there is knowledge that He has taught us and that is available to those who He allows to know. When we seek this knowledge, and act upon it, we can rise above the lower version versions of ourselves. The version the angels worried about, and that unfortunately we see so often.
In this story, we learn that there is a huge trust that God has endowed upon us. God trusts us to be better than the terror, and damage and destruction that the angels predicted. He trusts that like the angels, we will engage in beautiful worship, but that we will also give in charity, build communities, and that we will love wholly and fully, and yes, even when the darkest of days are in front of us, we will still plant seeds to beautify this place. While God knew that we were capable of erring, he created us to excel.
So here we are, taking our first steps into Ramadan filled with hope and good intentions. I can’t help but imagine that this might be closest we will get to achieving our fullest potential. Let’s not take the responsibility before us lightly.
Today’s reflection was inspired by my Quran teacher Elham Hindy, Tariq Ramadan’s “Chronicles of Ramadan” and a conversation with my dad while cutting the salad.