It's hard to believe that we're already in the last 10 days of Ramadan! Seems like just yesterday we were gearing up for Ramadan - the iftars, the taraweeh, and the community spirit.
I came into Ramadan thinking it would be a quiet month at Nisa Homes. I had assumed people would be focused on their worship and spirituality. However, only a couple of days into Ramadan, I began receiving call after call from women needing shelter. One called me from her daughter’s home which she had to leave as her abusive husband would otherwise easily find her. Another was a new Muslim whose husband abandoned her causing her to get evicted and call us from the streets of Ajax. A third caller was a Canadian living abroad who was being physically and psychologically abused in a country she didn't know, away from her friends and family and whose every minute was being monitored and controlled by her husband. We've actually received a total of 11 requests for assistance since the start of Ramadan, not withstanding the 19 women and children currently staying at Nisa Homes.
The reality is many of us forget why we're fasting, or what we're fasting from. We aren't simply fasting from food and drinks, we are meant to be fasting from gossiping, hatred, anger, negativity, and any other ailments that plague us regularly. Unfortunately, we end up simply getting "hangry", and sadly that brings out the worst in us. I share this as a reminder for myself first and foremost to renew my intentions for Ramadan and remember why I am fasting; for the sake of Allah to control my body, my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts and most importantly my actions during these last blessed days of Ramadan.
I also wanted to share with you the Ramadan experience of the women and children at Nisa Homes. The majority of the women currently at Nisa Homes are single mothers, and it's a challenge having to take care of your kids alone, picking up the pieces of your life, finding a job and a place, all while trying to make the most of Ramadan and reach that spiritual high. Normally, you would think with so much stacked against them, getting that spiritual satisfaction is highly unlikely. The incredible thing is that they do achieve it simply because of the sisterhood they create within the house! Just the other day one of our residents stayed up late into the night teaching the other how to read and write in Arabic so she could read the Quran, BUT she herself only knew the Arabic letters! She would spend the mornings teaching herself and the evenings teaching her co-resident. SubhanAllah, if that isn't the definition of selflessness, I don't know what is!
These women prepare iftar together so no one is alone, left out or reminded of how normally this month would be one of gatherings, iftars and community. It's extremely heartwarming to see women who are not even fasting due to health reasons make iftar for others who they know are fasting and tired. They pray taraweeh together as transportation and children are a barrier. And they wake each other up for suhoor and fajr.
The women at Nisa Homes remind me what Ramadan is really all about; helping others, caring for others and realizing there is so much more to our lives than the hustle and bustle of food, work, and school, we all have a higher purpose.