reflections

On Feeling Guilt

Salaam y’all.

So I am writing this on a Thursday afternoon, just as February is about to begin. I don’t know if it will get posted anytime soon, but I wanted to share some reflections that I have been having today.

As you all may or may not know, I try to make it a habit to fast every Monday and Thursday, as well as the “white days” of the month. Which means I should be fasting today; I am not travelling nor am I on my menstrual cycle, so according to me the only excuse is my own laziness.

To be a bit more fair, I started off the day fasting. I woke up around 5:30 AM, prayed a couple of extra rakat and made plenty of duas for help in these troubling political times. I ate a suhoor of some fruit and yogurt, but I was just feeling kind of off. I prodded my husband awake for fajr after I heard the athan, and while he stayed up to have breakfast and head out for a day of fishing, I got back in bed for a couple extra hours of sleep.

Upon re-waking up and trying to begin my day, I was feeling icky to begin with. And then, around 11 or so, I began to get one of the most dreaded feelings I can even describe: I was starting to get all of the warning signs that happen at the onset of my migraines.

I started getting a little sweaty for no reason, a little dizzy, and the pain started coming and going in my left eye. I did what any rational person (heavy sarcasm intended) would do, and started working really hard at the “denial” method of treating migraines. Which is basically where I tell myself I am not getting a migraine, and essentially try to think my way out of it.

How many times has this worked since I began getting migraines at age 10 or so? Zero. Do I still do it every single time I get a migraine? Yup.

At any rate, I was denying particularly hard today because I really, really hate to break a fast that I have started unless it is absolutely mandatory. Eventually the pain began to increase to a point where I knew I had to eat something and take some meds or else I would end up crying in pain and throwing up for the next indefinite amount of hours, so I tossed back another cup of yogurt and some extra-strength paracetamol+caffeine business.

Alhamdulillah, it like 80% worked (which is often far more than I am expecting when a migraine starts coming on), and I am feeling alright. My mother-in-law (may Allah bless her) even sent over a whole pot of mashed potatoes (I love potatoes.), half of a chicken, and a giant baguette of delicious Algerian bread (and I wonder why I have gained weight since living here…) upon hearing that I was having another migraine and I had broken my fast.

But the thing that is still really bothering me is the fact that I broke my fast. Yes, it was voluntary, and it wasn’t even a mandatory make-up fast for missed days in Ramadan. And yes, I had a technically valid reason—if I didn’t eat something in order to take medication, I would have spent many hours, maybe even all day, in extreme pain and probably end up becoming quite ill.

But for some reason, I have so, so much guilt over breaking fasts.

Where Islam-y things are concerned in general, I tend to have so, so much guilt.

I have an issue sometimes (alhadulillah not lately) where I literally just don’t wake up at fajr. I can set three different alarms, full volume, right next to my face, plus the two athans that I can hear like the muezzin is standing in my living room, and I still won’t even wake up. It’s not that I hit the snooze button, or I am too lazy to drag myself out of bed, but I literally just don’t hear anything.

This happened to me the very first day of my very first Ramadan. I missed tahajjud, suhoor, and fajr, and upon waking up at around 8:00 AM, I promptly called my friend, in tears about how I had just “ruined my whole Ramadan.”

And you know what she told me?

I remember this very clearly, because it is something I have to keep telling myself, over and over again whenever things like migraines or missed alarms happen; she told me that that is good. It is good that I feel guilty that I have missed an obligatory prayer, or that I don’t like to break my fast for frivolous reasons. It is a sign that my heart is still softened to Allah’s swt commands, and what displeases Him is also displeasing me.

But she also told me to straight up get over it. Once you have felt the guilt, you have asked for forgiveness, and you have set your intentions to improve,  you have to trust in Allah’s swt mercy. You have to trust that He knows your intentions, he sees your repentance, and He puts you in certain situations with an exact plan.

I remember an imam saying something much the same in a lecture I was listening to: why do you feel the need to constantly beat yourself up for something that Allah swt probably forgave you for long, long ago (in the case, of course, that you took all of the necessary and sincere steps of repentance)? Do you have more right of punishment than Allah swt?

At any rate, that is just a little something I wanted to share with y’all about how I was feeling, and some ways to think in a more positive light about the guilt that can sometimes come in times of low iman and faith. Does anyone else out there suffer from these kinds of feelings when you make a mistake, or need to break a fast? Is this a convert-y kind of thing or is it more universal? As always I would love to hear from you!

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22 thoughts on “On Feeling Guilt

  1. I think it’s universal.
    You don’t have to do kaffarah but I think you have to make a single qadha because you did start it but then had to break it.
    May Allah always keep you strong in your imaan.
    I really enjoy reading your posts. They just so heart touching.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Jazakillahu khayr sis. I really needed this. And yes, it’s universal. Mine usually go like this -I make taubah (repentance) and I decide that tomorrow, I’ll be a ‘perfect’ muslimah, only for me for example not to wake up for tahajjud. I’ll feel soo guilty, feel like there is no possible way I can be better, my day is all ruined, and I’ll go back to the same bad habits. So, my dear, it happens to all of us.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wa iyyaki. I’m really glad to know it was helpful in some way! And thank you for sharing your story as well. I think that is part of the problem; we as humans tend to have this “either I’m perfect or I’m awful and there is nothing in between” kind of mentality that is so hard to let go of, which is where a lot of these feelings come from, at least for me. Jazakillahu khairan for you comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry. *Wa iyyaki (auto-correct problems). And it’s true (makes me feel like an obsessed perfectionist…he he). But we are just humans, and we are prone to make mistakes, and our mistakes are what make us, or break us.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s OK, I know the auto-correct struggle. Every time I try to write the word “deen” on my phone it corrects it to “fern”…have made some pretty ridiculous statements that way!
        But yes it is very true, we will always make mistakes, it is how we respond to them that will either improve us or throw us into a downward spiral.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing that, you are definately not alone in that sis! And your friend is right, (it was good to have that reminder) that feeling guilty is a good thing. Otherwise we become ‘okay’ or accepting to the action or situation. May Allah swt reward you for you efforts, and reward you as though you have completed the fast, ameen. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  4. As Salam Alikum sister, sorry you stuffer from migraines they are horrible, I to suffer from them and once they hit it’s usually a wait until it passes thing with me medications don’t really help that much even if I take it at the first signs of one

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wa alaikum salaam, yes I know what you mean! I used to be exactly the same but alhamdulillah I actually found one medicine that will work for me sometimes, but I have to really catch it in the first five or so minutes or nothing will do it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The one that works for me is called Panadol Extra- they are large tablets that dissolve in water, containing paracetamol and caffeine. I always got them in the U.K., I am not sure if they are available or not in the U.S., but they may be worth a try if you can find them where you are=) The fact that they are dissolved in water means they can work a bit faster than others, so if you catch it within the first five minutes or so it may provide some slight relief in shaa Allah. I hope you don’t mind my suggesting; I always want to share when I find someone else with migraines, just in case it could provide some relief for them in shaa Allah!

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  5. Aww this is something I need to remind myself too. Missing fajr happened a lot to me when I was traveling. I was so off on my sleeping schedule and I literally didn’t hear any alarms. I start to get so worried that Allah (swt) doesn’t love me enough anymore to wake me up. But feeling guilt is actually a sign of a heart full of love for Allah and His beautiful religion. So we need to be happy for the guilt. feel it, seek forgiveness, and move on without beating ourselves up. We weren’t created to be perfect. Another thing I’ll add is that sometimes Allah causes those things as a mercy for us. For example, if we miss fajr without doing it intentionally, it might be Allah giving us some extra sleep that we desperately need. =). I pray Allah (swt) grants you full shifa from your migraines and causes any pain you experience to be a means of expiating your sins, ameen =)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ameen 💕
      That is the balance that is so hard to strike: feeling the guilt that is a good sign, but then letting it go once we have made our tawbah.
      Also I love your point about Allah giving us these little mercies sometimes, especially in the case of fajr. I always get angry at myself but if i literally just didn’t hear any alarms or athaan then I must’ve been in a super deep sleep, which usually means my body needs the rest!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Same! If i dont wake up I always have that fear that oh no I’m so distant from Allah coz sometimes He Subhanahu Wa Ta’aalaa opens my eyes without any alarms alhamdulillah so when it doesn’t happen I freak out.

      It’s nice to hear that I’m not alone in berating myself over mistakes made. May Allah make our mistakes less frequent and make it easy for us to forgive ourselves.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Your body has rights over you. Why feel guilty about giving something its right? Your body needed you to break your fast, so you did. Your body needed you to stay asleep, so you did (the pen is lifted at that time anyway). No big deal; you weren’t being disobedient.

    “No harm, no foul,” as they say.

    But you do need to make up that fast… according to Hanafi madhhab anyway 😉

    Liked by 3 people

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