As salaam alaikum,
Each Ramadan, I learn more and more. For me right now, it's amazing how shallow my Islam was even just before this Ramadan. It's true that one should, instead of simply decrying evil in others, work on their own shortcomings. Not that I was not conscious of those, step by step, but that is what I needed to do.
In the past year, I've had some missteps and mistakes that are in fact not out of the blue but are actually manifestations of previous attitudes that I left unchecked because I hadn't actually "done anything wrong." And while the last year was painful for me, with the entry and exits of B and the less mentioned K, I think all that I went through was necessary to get me to what I pray is a new phase in my life, though I shudder in the remembrance.
I always recognized that there was a difference in believing in God and believing in God, and I can say that about most things I believed God, but for whatever reason, the weakness of my own spirit, I did not believe that God would provide for me a husband. This disbelief haunted me from my teenage years and has caused me to waste a lot of time and energy and has affected my health. In this is the source of most of my weakness in faith. I think when people say they believe in God, they mean, believe in the existence of God...but believing God is something that takes time, I think, especially for those prayers that take a long time to be answered.
Very few of us are ones who, even if a prayer is not manifestly answered in 10 years time, believe Him organically. I certainly was not one. And even now, it's a struggle. Believing in the Last Day is as easy for me as believing that the sun will set tonight, insha'Allah. Believing that I will graduate from medical school and forge onward in my career is as easy for me as believing the sun will rise tomorrow, insha'Allah. Believing that I will marry someday is very hard for me to believe right now. I have to remind myself at all times. And I guess that's why salat is five times daily, because even more frequently for those things that are hard for us to grasp, we need to be reminded.
But one thing that struck me this Ramadan is that I'm not just a believer by virtue of believing in God. Insha'lAllah I'm a believer by, as if often repeated, my doing good deeds, my keeping constant in prayer, my avoiding evildoing, my giving in charity...things that I all knew, of course, but resonated with me even more on the eve of a challenging year in faith.
"Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers: those who humble themselves in their prayer, and who turn away from all that is frivolous, and who are intent on inner purity; and who are mindful of their chastity, [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses--that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]: -- for then, behold, they are free of all lame, whereas such as seek to go beyond that [limit] are transgressors; and who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges, and who guard their prayers [from all worldly intent]. It is they, they who shall be the inheritors that will inherit the paradise; [and] therein shall they abide." (23:1-11)
I must say, coming up in a society where extramarital sex is usually the norm and not even the same gravity is placed on affairs anymore, premarital sex, for example, never seemed quite the abomination that we're supposed to believe it is. Which is unfortunate. As long as I keep my own self in line, I don't think that it will ever seem that horrible to me, just because of the context of society...and if it ever did, I'd be insulted on the regular and I don't think I could be an effective clinician for, for example, my unmarried teenage moms who I saw today in clinic. People of olden times would have thought we would have long perished the way that morals are these days in the dominant societies, but Allahu a'lam, we're still here. It could be that we're gone tomorrow, poof, like that, prostrate in our homes by morning, and the truth of all this we can't know, but it's my personal belief that there are still too many believers out there and too many good, God-fearing people of other religions to render our societies a total loss. Not yet, amazingly. God has great mercy by the fact we're still here.
And this is something that I often remembered that kept me in line during the non-Muslim man era that may just be coming to a close: I did not want to be a corrupt woman relegated to a corrupt man, though I know, in my heart, I'd be hard pressed to allow myself to become corrupt:
"[In the nature of things,] corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men, for corrupt women--just as good women are for good men, and good men, for good women." (24:26)
So many things are clearer for me now. Alhamdulillah.