Today Dr. Rami Nashashibi shares a reflection from Juz 28. Subscribe to the series to receive the video of this reflection along with the other daily reflections each morning. Join Islamic Relief USA in exploring the Qur’an this month.
My reflection this Ramadan morning is on a verse that I often fall back on during this extraordinary month. And it comes from Surah Al-Hashr. Allah (SWT) says:
And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He caused them to forget their own selves. Such are the ones who disobey.
It’s a profound reflection for me because this idea of remembering, that this is a month of dhikr, it’s a month of remembrance of God is in fact the greatest thing the human being can be engaged in. But what does it mean to remember God? I think remembering God helps us to really understand the full depth of what the Qur’an calls us to in this month. What God Almighty challenges us with is not just the understanding of remembering God, but also what it means to forget God. And I think this is profoundly spiritual, it’s a spiritual agitation in this verse to suggest that forgetting God is in some way forgetting yourself. I’ll share a small story I’m not a Muslim scholar in any way, shape or form, and just your brother. But I reflect on this in the context of my work. This verse was really made palpable for me on one occasion many years ago.
Among the things that IMAN does of course is work with many individuals who are dealing with a whole range of challenges in their life. In this particular case, it was an individual who came into our office who unfortunately was addicted to crack cocaine. It was actually a Muslim of immigrant descent. He had been a refugee and had really fallen on extraordinarily bad times. He had just smoked crack cocaine and had come into the office and was in a really extraordinary state. I tried to escort him our into the office into the back alley and talk reasonably to him and try to council him. There was a moment as he started to get his wits about him that something just triggered inside him and he grabbed a bottle from the alley, and I’ll never forget this, smashed it against the wall and broke it into pieces, shards of glass, and literally in front of me took the glass and ingested it into his mouth, ate it and swallowed it. And I was just completely horrified. Immediately someone in my office called an ambulance, but for a number of minutes after he did this he was still standing, he was screaming he was yelling, he didn’t want to live anymore. But there’s a happy ending to his story.
The realization for me was the next day. He woke up that morning in, as you can imagine, a profound amount of pain from what he had done to the internal organs in his body. He thank God, recovered. He changed his life around and in a year or two after this particular moment had completely become a very different human being. But I remembered in that moment particularly it made me think of this verse. I thought about this idea of forgetting God. What does it do to the human soul? What does this verse challenge us to do? We are not even fully aware of what we are doing to our own souls when we deprive ourselves of this very innate spiritual aspect of every human being, the ability to connect to the Creator. And the forgetting of the Creator is in many ways forgetting this very essence of who we are as human beings, that we are not simply physical beings, we are spiritual beings that crave the connection with the Divine.
I pray that this month is a month where we are connected to God and remember what it means to be fully awake, live, dynamic, human beings connected to one another for the sake of the greater good in this life and God willing in the next.