I saw the moon from one of the upstairs windows last night. It’s waning.

Reached full last weekend I think, and now it’s getting smaller and smaller and soon it will disappear for a few nights to be reborn.

Kind of like how life goes.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the month goes by.

No matter how long the fasts are, the month whips by.

Lack of sleep is starting to take its toll.

So is the wondering what’s happening with the Hajj novel.

How do you make the waiting time go by faster? On Thursday it’ll have been four weeks!

Always in the past I took my mind off the waiting by diving into a new project.

And I have been doing that.

Began writing the first few chapters of a novel for Scholastic Canada. Then I sent that to my editor and now I’m waiting to hear about that too!

So now I’m in waiting mode squared!

I’ve revisited my pseudo-sequel to WANTING MOR.

Started reading it again and darn it, it still makes me chuckle.

It’s a nice reprieve.

So I get up in the morning for suhoor, the morning meal before beginning the fast, and I write a bit and do some chores till it’s about 8 am when I go down for a nap.

The days have settled into a different rhythm.

And I’ve been trying to read more Quran.

And get all the baking done.

Just found out that one of my husband’s cousin’s cancer has returned.

It does not look good!

Makes the Hajj novel all the more relevant to me as I wrote it, hearkening back to about eight to twelve years ago when three people I knew died. My husband’s fourteen year old nephew, and middle-aged cousin and my older sister Bushra.

From 2000 – 2004, those three people died, and all three of them very much influenced my Hajj novel.

And now another one of my husband’s cousins is dying.

The fourteen year old died of cancer, and was absolutely remarkable in that I never ever saw him complain.

The middle-aged cousin of my husband was a philosophical, intensely spiritual woman. I used to go over and be with her after her dialysis treatments.

She was strong enough in her faith that she actually made the choice to give up the dialysis, which is a form of life support, and in that way she embraced her own death.

She once said to me, with tears in her eyes, “You know Rukhsana, we never really got to visit much and spend that much time together, so I prayed to God to give me a big house in heaven, and you too, and all the family, so we can visit each other and have good times.”

Amazing woman! I learned SO much from her!

But the thing is that most family actually consists of people who are not like this!

People who live their lives day to day, just going with the flow, occupying themselves with MUNDANE nonsense! More money, bigger house, better cars, blah blah blah!

Most people do not give a second thought to the FACT that they’re going to DIE!

Theoretically they know that no one gets out of this life alive, but they don’t really KNOW it.

That is, it often doesn’t hit them till it slams into their face!

So how much sympathy can you dredge up for people who’ve never given a thought for anyone but themselves?

Who’ve never dedicated themselves to bigger causes, better deeds, helping those who are suffering, doing something that matters, that benefits those who have less?

Who’ve never basically given a thought to padding their bank accounts for the hereafter!

And you can only pad that account with GOOD DEEDS!

I remember when the fourteen year old died.

I went to the family gathering, kind of his ‘wake’, and these young cousins were gathered around telling jokes or playing cards like it was any other day. Like they were completely unaffected by the death of this courageous boy.

And I was disgusted.

My extended family is no better.

If this sounds judgmental, that’s just too bad.

I think most people have a judgmental streak in them at times, and I even think there are times when being judgmental is appropriate.

Pretending you aren’t judging wrongful or silly behaviour would be disingenuous. And even kind of falsely modest.

And which is worse? Being judgmental or being disingenuous with a touch of false modesty?

I know people who look down on those who try to live their lives by religious principles. Atheists can sometimes believe that they’re so much better because when they do altruistic deeds they’re not trying to get any recognition or good deeds for the hereafter.

But I don’t think that trying to pad your hereafter bank account with good deeds makes any good deeds you do any less noble or altruistic.

Because any reward is not ‘guarranteed’. No matter how firm your belief in the hereafter is, you’ll never really know till you die. That’s when the matter will be settled.

Until then there’s always a bit of faith and uncertainty involved.

So doing the good deed is still altruistic even if you’re doing so with the intention of pleasing God and gaining a reward in the hereafter.

So go ahead and pad your hereafter bank account!

Just as you’d put aside funds for your retirement, PLAN for your hereafter!

It’s STUPID not to!

Good deeds and repentance after death is staring you in the face just CAN’T mean the same thing as when there is no threat to your life!

Start small.

A good deed every day!

And it doesn’t have to involve money! It could be a small kindness. A smile at a stranger. Moving a thorny branch out of a pathway. Keeping a door open for someone coming behind you. Carrying the groceries of an elderly lady to her car.

Make it a habit.

And then when death comes to face you, you will be ready.