My lips cracked today while I was fasting. It didn’t feel very deep at the time, but when I saw a small red drop suddenly appear on the floor by my feet, I realized they were bleeding. My first thought was, gross.
My second thought was, Oh My God. One drop of blood. This may have been the first time in my life when I have ever shed a drop of blood for something, anything remotely Islamic.
I have bled before, gotten bloody knees from rollerblading, given myself bloody palms from crashing my father’s motorcycle and a bloody leg from a bicycle accident, but none of this blood had any meaning.
But this blood though, it meant something, that I was suffering for Islam, right?
But how can I compare my one drop to the rivers of it that practically flow out of other places, out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan, out of Palestine, out of Algeria. How can this tiny little splotch measure up to bloody handprints on broken concrete walls and deep maroon stains on the floors where my brother has tried to break his fall? One person alone has enough blood in them to stain the front of my house, and I got all happy over my one drop of blood, my little blot of inadvertent and inconsequential suffering from fasting in pleasantly cool weather. My little sacrifice.
Ramadan is about introspection, about not only looking at one’s soul, but seeing as well. Let’s have a look then. Who am I? What, if anything, have I done to help the Ummah I claim to be a part of? Where am I going? Am I making any effort whatsoever to grow spiritually? Or have I been stagnating at this level for years? I took a few steps up the ladder a while back, but I haven’t climbed for a while. There’s a long way to go, but I’m not even looking up any more. I’m looking around, wasting my time, staring at the ground- this same ground with one drop of blood.
This all points to the question of sacrifice, and why I don’t seem to be making any. Why have I not been better about realizing what needs done, and then just doing it? Why am I waiting for someone else to take action for me? Why am I sleepwalking through the only chance I get to prove my soul worthy of Paradise?
Why am I clinging to my spot on the ladder like it’s the destination and not the journey?
Up the ladder, where the rungs disappear into the clouds, are footsteps of those who have gone before me. And they are marked in blood.