The beginning of Ramadan always brings me a streak of sadness. While I am excited to welcome the holy month in all its glory, its visit always reminds me of the people with whom I have had sour relationships over the years – those who I might have hurt with my words, gossiped about or held enmity against. Will they ever forgive me so that when Eid ul-Fitr comes I can be what every Muslim wishes to be on this day: as sinless as a baby?
Mending broken ties is arguably one of the most difficult things that we have to do in our lives. It requires us to reach out, expose our vulnerabilities and involves us saying what is probably the heaviest word in the human vocabulary: ‘Sorry’.
But let’s consider some of the alternatives. I know a couple of elderly people who, sadly, have to spend their old age in loneliness because during their young, powerful years they often treated people harshly. Their formidable egos prevented them from apologising to others, and so, gradually, they lost their friends and family.
That’s not how I’d like to spend my old age.
Even more importantly, when my soul departs this Earth, I would like it to float away as light as a feather – unrestrained by strings of resentment that people attach to me and unburdened by negativity towards others. I’d like to return to my Loving Creator pure and clean, carrying only peace, love and contentment in my heart to show Him.
Since we can never know when our life on this planet will reach its end, as challenging as it may be, let us always strive to fix that which has broken.
Besides, if ‘sorry’ is such a difficult word to say, there are many other ways to express our apologies to others. The Qur’an declares, ‘Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds’ (Hud 11:114). If in the past we have talked badly about someone behind her back, we can begin to redeem our misdeeds by saying kind words about her now. Icy relationships can be thawed by a simple ‘hi’ as a first step. Some relationships take more work than others, but as long as the right intention is there, sincerity can always find a way over hurdles.
A famous quote by Leo Buscaglia says that gentleness can only be expected from the strong. Similarly, an ayah in Surah Ash-Shuraa declares, ‘And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination’ (Ash-Shuraa 42:43). It is clear from this ayah that, contrary to what our self-serving ego often leads us to believe, forgiving and apologising are not a sign of meekness. To the contrary, only the strong and determined can take on these actions and adopt them as personal responsibilities.
And there is no better time to instill those characteristics in ourselves than during Ramadan.
Afia R Fitriati, Culled from Aquila-Style.