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Show Up As You Are: Overcoming Ramadan Guilt For The Last 10 Nights


last 10 nights

“To my brother or sister who, as we approach the last 10 nights of Ramadan, is looking back at the last 20 days in distress and regret.

To you who is burying yourself into the ground. Guilty. Guilty; for not having read enough Quran, for not having prayed enough, for not having given enough; for having shouted too much, for having eaten too much, for having wasted too much time.

To you, my brother or sister, realize the pain you feel is a sign you have progressed in your journey towards taqwa; deep consciousness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). For it is only a believing heart illuminated by faith that grieves over missed opportunities with and for the Lord of the Heavens and Earth. It is only a lover’s heart that laments over what could have been with his or her Beloved. What has passed is the past. The inadequacy you feel today is so very loved by your Lord.

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You cannot see that He loves you for feeling the way you do, because He sees your sincerity of wanting to be and do better for Him.

Turn your guilty tears to tears of joy, for you have a heart that is beloved to your Beloved. Know that Your Lord has reserved Perfection for Himself. He only wants to see you do your best. And He accepts your efforts, even if it is only that of a guilty heart wishing he or she could have done more.

He accepts all of it. Fully.”


I remember where I was and exactly what I was going through when I wrote this piece a number of years ago. I was in the midst of one of the most difficult trials I had ever experienced. I was exhausted, tired, and had commenced Ramadan that year in physical and emotional pain. I was just about able to fast and was unable to do anything else. Ramadan, that year, was 30 days of pure survival.

As with any challenging experience I encounter on this brief and yet important journey of life, by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)vPermission, I was able to get through the difficulty and guilt of not being able to utilize Ramadan in the way we are encouraged to, by writing. Writing has always been a release for me – a way of connecting with myself to make sense of what has been decreed for me – to then be able to take it to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in du’a.

That Ramadan, it pained me to hear my favorite Islamic scholars speak about the extra push one needs to give in the last 10 nights of the blessed month. That Ramadan, I felt like I was drowning in my own guilt for having only been able to fast and not do very much else. That Ramadan, I felt like precious days and nights had passed me by without having taken any real benefit. I felt like a failure. The despair was heavy. And I felt that I had truly missed out. To top it all off, I was about to embark upon the last 10 nights of Ramadan – the most spiritual and precious nights of the year.

I cried deep tears. And after I finished berating myself like a teacher admonishing me for not having been righteous enough, I broke in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and whispered, “Help me.”

And then, as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) deals with His Servants when they take even the tiniest step towards Him, He turned to me and provided me with more than I could have hoped for. More about that towards the end of this article!

The opening came in the form of guidance in remembering one verse that I had come across often.

“I did not create the jinn and the humans except that they may worship Me.” [Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51;56]

My Lord’s Words hit differently that day. It reminded me that whether in Ramadan or outside of Ramadan, I am here to worship Him alone – exactly as I am and in the very circumstances I find myself in. What that looks like day to day, Ramadan to Ramadan, will be different. It has to, because we change. Life changes. We and life are never one season.

There is a notion that we should not compare ourselves to others except by wanting to be inspired by them. And then an alternative is offered: we are encouraged to compare ourselves to ourselves – being better than we were yesterday.

And whilst both are true, I would like to propose something different for those whose Ramadans of yesterday were full of ‘ibadah and striving and are experiencing a Ramadan of today that seems so far from that ideal.

Worship is in the here and now. Worship is comparing yourself and up-ing the game from yesterday, if and when you can. But worship is also very much accepting what you are able to do today, when you can’t or have not been able to up the game.

And so what did I do? I took my pen and wrote the piece you read at the beginning of this article. I looked at my current state and realized that worship is very much the state of the heart as well as the action of the limbs. When my limbs have not been able to prostrate, my heart in its guilt, yearning; and desire to strive is very much prostrating too.

Dear reader, as you read this short article, I don’t know what circumstances you find yourselves in. I don’t know if you’ve been able to fast, if you’ve exerted effort this Ramadan or not. I don’t know if you feel happy or guilty or even both.

But know this: There is much weight in how you feel about your lack of worship and in your yearning and wish to be a better believer. There is no action a believer undertakes except that the intention behind it is examined first.

Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Verily, deeds are only with intentions, and every person will have only what they intended. Whoever emigrated to Allah and His Messenger, his emigration is for Allah and His Messenger. Whoever emigrated to get something in the world or to marry a woman, his emigration is for that to which he emigrated.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

We study this hadith as one of the first when seeking knowledge, for it is the foundation of our worship. And in it is a beautiful secret because it provides a soothing comfort when things don’t go to plan, which leads us to feel we are less than others.

Your intentions, your hopes, and your yearning are not in vain. They are accepted by The Most Appreciative as we find in the following hadith:

‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that Allah, the Glorious, said,

“Verily, Allah has ordered that the good and the bad deeds be written down. Then He explained it clearly how (to write): He who intends to do a good deed but he does not do it, then Allah records it for him as a full good deed, but if he carries out his intention, then Allah the Exalted, writes it down for him as from ten to seven hundred folds, and even more. But if he intends to do an evil act and has not done it, then Allah writes it down with Him as a full good deed, but if he intends it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

And with that, I wish to share with you a few very easy simple steps you can take in these last nights of Ramadan – making them a means towards your goal of being a servant that He azza wa jal is pleased with. And you can do this exactly as you are – the sinner in you, the righteous part of you, the striving you, and the lazier you. You can use these steps to transform your engagement in these blessed last 10 nights of Ramadan just as you are, in your exact current state and circumstances. And if that isn’t true servitude and slavehood – to present yourself to your Master – authentically and needy, then I don’t know what is.

  1. Turn up to du’a as your raw self and tell your Lord the state you are in, and the state of faith you yearn for and feel you are struggling to achieve. This instantly softens the heart, attaches your heart to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and is worship.
  1. Intend big. Realize the generosity of Al Kareem – The Most Generous is more than you can ever imagine. His Generosity means that we can one day find mountains of good deeds stored with Him just through the sincere intention of heart, when our bodies or circumstances did not permit us to act. So intend big and yearn away.
  1. Worship from moment to moment. If you are feeling low because of your circumstances – cry to your Lord knowing this is ‘ibadah. If after your tears, you feel an inclination to read just one verse – push through and read that one verse, thanking Ar-Rasheed for guiding you to take a step toward Him. This is ‘ibadah. If you feel grateful, go one step further, and in your next moment, do more or give more.

We are human beings living out moments. Turn each moment into worship. Sometimes that will be through action during the summers of your life. And sometimes that might be through the only thing you currently have –  the feelings and yearnings of your heart during the winters of your life.

I now smile as I look back because everything is perfectly written, planned, and executed by Al Wakil – The Best Disposer of Affairs. It warms my heart when I see this piece of writing shared far and wide every Ramadan – giving hope to thousands of believing souls as they aim to make the most of the last 10 nights with who are and what they have. Sometimes what we perceive to be an obstacle in our path can lead to a very different type of opening with Him which then becomes an opening for others, by His Permission.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept our efforts in all the seasons of our life. Ameen.



Podcast: A Paradigm Shift For The Last 10 Nights –

Make The Last Ten The Best 10 –

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Aliyah Umm Raiyaan converted to Islam 24 years ago and has been involved in UK dawah for over 20 years. In 2010, she founded Solace UK, a charity that helps women who have converted to Islam and find themselves in difficulty. In 2019 she launched a YouTube show called Honest Tea Talk which brought unscripted conversations to the table about raw unspoken topics related to the Muslim community. She continues to devote her time to helping women achieve their full potential whilst emphasising the importance of developing a personal and close relationship with Allah. In 2022, she was approached by the publisher Penguin to write and publish a book. The book, Ramadan Reflections, was published on 2nd March 2023 and has become a Sunday Times Bestseller. She lives in East London where she home educates her children.



  1. Anon

    April 14, 2023 at 3:55 PM

    There should be awareness that women are not supposed to fast while they are having their periods.

  2. Zohra Patel

    April 15, 2023 at 8:52 AM

    Brilliant article Masha’Allah. I particularly have felt this way when having young children and being too exhausted, literally falling asleep on the prayer mat! This Ramadhan I’m working through your book and Alhamdulillah what an excellent book it is. I’ve never been one to read Islamic books nor am I someone who possesses the patience or consistency to digest information bit by bit. (Binge reader/watcher here) however every day this Ramadhan it’s the first thing I do, go straight to your book and see what gems are waiting within. I will be sad when Ramadhan ends and the book ends with it. Sunday Times bestseller is a well deserved accolade!

  3. Addict

    April 16, 2023 at 10:46 AM

    @Anon: Women fasting zealously all 30 days and ignorant parents waking up their daughters for suhoor all 30 days is common.

  4. SanZ

    April 17, 2023 at 2:11 AM

    JZK for this inspiring piece. Let’s make the most of these last few blessed days!

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