One thing Ramadan during a pandemic made clear was the incredible plethora of Islamic resources available online. Nearly every organization and institution in North America flooded the internet with weekly and daily lectures, live streams, and recitation. The eager drive to fill the absence of community taraweeh and masjid gatherings was palpable from every corner of the States. For a moment, it was overwhelming; I took out my calendar to schedule the classes and live streams I wanted to attend only to feel guilty I wasn’t making time to listen to every material that was available. Even though I couldn’t possibly do so, I felt like I was wasting the benefit of the material I was leaving out.
There is a mindful reminder in the tradition of the Tableegh that states the quality of the salah prayed in your home can affect a radius of 40 houses around it. There is an intangible impact one gathering, one habit of good, can have on the community that surrounds it. An intangible impact.. like barakah. Or good vibes, if you will. This reminder helped me put my dilemma into perspective. Just because I couldn’t attend to every material that was generously available, did not mean I wasn’t still benefiting from it in some way. I turned my dejection and feeling of guilt into a state of conscious gratitude. Conscious gratitude in that I was verbally thankful to Allah for making such resources available to us, not just to me, but to anyone who could turn to them when they needed it. I built a habit of praying for the success and reward of every effort and for the team behind it. What previously felt like an overwhelming wave, now felt like a warm embrace, a tingly good feeling. I felt like I was banking in on the global barakah each of those hundreds of individual endeavors were contributing to.
I’ve felt similar guilt with the breadth and variety of scholars whose material we have access to. But even if I don’t “follow” a scholar (spiritually or on social media), either because their style of content isn’t my speed or I don’t align with the perspective they focus on, I can still express the same conscious gratitude. I don’t have to be learning from them directly in order to recognize the benefit they provide their community, thus me by extension. “[They] are the shields against fitan,” Shaykh Umair Ahmed reflected recently at the passing of a great scholar. Our religion has a beautiful tradition of narrations, chains of knowledge and character, leading from one scholar to the next, up until the fountainhead that is our Beloved ﷺ. It is a grounding and humbling reality, an opportunity for us to recognize the intangible benefit of the sacrifices of all of the great generations before us. We are not disconnected from those sacrifices, we are a product of them–and if we choose, a continuation.
Our actions can carry their own intangible good vibes. Recently many of my friends, not to mention people I don’t know personally, have been applying themselves to their art and contributing to their communities through different ventures. One of my friends who started one such endeavor joked about how it was a bad time to start after seeing others put forth their passion similarly. I feel the opposite, it is the perfect time to start. Sincere efforts resonate with one another, not cancel each other out. More ventures, more innovation (the good kind, guys), only increases creativity and exploration, it never diminishes it.
So I’m telling myself–and you if you need to hear it–don’t underestimate the impact of your actions. Be actively appreciative of the good that takes place around you. Be mindful of its presence and the positive impact it is having on you indirectly. Tap into those good vibes and feed into it yourself. Like all the lectures and classes that took over our feeds at the beginning of the pandemic, our actions can be a thread that helps weave a global barakah, a boundless blanket of protection and goodness around ourselves and our communities. So, go forth. Do your thing. I pray it is successful.
Arabic words translated in order of appearance:
- Barakah: Immeasurable Good/Blessing.
- Ramadan: Islamic Month of Fasting.
- Taraweeh: Communal Prayer during Ramadan.
- Masjid: Mosque.
- Tableegh: Muslims following certain optional practices.
- Salah: Obligatory Ritual Prayer.
- Allah: God.
- Fitan: Conflict.